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Showing posts with label Unite the Union. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unite the Union. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Johann Lamont and Gary Robertson interview – Sunday Politics Scotland

LETTERS 30th Oct 2013 "TV interviewers must do better" John Kelly

I took issue with John Kelly on a number of observations and facts, and sent a letter to the Herald setting out my core point. It wasn’t published, probably because the Letters page was full of much more topical and vital material on subsequent days, so I have no complaints about the Herald’s priorities and editorial decision.

However, I thought my more extended analysis of the Lamont/Robertson interview might be worth setting out here.

 

Reading John Kelly's letter I wondered if he watched the same Sunday Politics Scotland broadcast as I did.  The anchorman was not Andrew Kerr, as stated by Mr. Kelly, but Gary Robertson, a highly experienced television and radio journalist and expert political interviewer. In just over eight and a half minutes, while allowing Johann Lamont every opportunity to answer questions and make her case, he managed to reveal the gaping holes and contradictions in her position on welfare and benefits, and a misleading an inaccurate campaign leaflet distributed in the Dunfermline by-election by Labour.

It is not the purpose of daily newspapers to hold our elected representatives to account - that is the job of the electorate and, where appropriate, the law. The role of newspapers and the media in general is to tell the truth to power by informing the electorate of the facts that politicians often do not wish the public to know. One of the most powerful tools for doing that is the televised political interview.

A television interviewer’s job is not to act as a a chat show host, allowing his or her celebrity guest to use the 'interview' as a platform for their unchallenged views or as a party political broadcast - the interviewer's role is to explore with penetrating questions the contradictions inherent in all political policy and to elicit answers to questions that the politicians do not want answered, or at least make it starkly evident that the politician is either unable or unwilling to give such answers.

Reading John Kelly's letter I wondered if he watched the same broadcast I did. The anchorman was not Andrew Kerr but Gary Robertson, a highly experienced television and radio journalist and expert political interviewer.

Robertson, on the Grangemouth crisis, asked: "Had you been in Alex Salmond's position, would you have been compromised by being a member of Unite?"and also Lamont’s position on the central role of Stephen Deans in the dispute and police involvement over emails.

She denied seeing the emails, and tried to move away from the issue, denying that the shambles in Falkirk was over the manipulation of candidate selection. It patently was.

Robertson's question on the Dunfermline by-election victory margin and its significance produced an extended reply, with only one minor query from Robertson, and the observation that by-elections rarely change anything, adding that an IpsosMori poll showed 57% electorate support for the Scottish government, and that they seemed to be doing well. Lamont said it "didn't feel like that" to her. Robertson put all his questions briefly, courteously and concisely and Lamont was given every opportunity to respond, which she did at length.

Robertson went on by saying that Labour had said what it was against - independence and the bedroom tax ("eventually") - but what was it for, what was it pro? He interjected - as any competent interviewer would - to try penetrate vague generalities that came in response, asking "What are the issues you are for, then?" Lamont simply persisted with a recitation of problems - all without offering a single policy or what Labour would do about them.

Robertson then moved to the contradictions inherent in the election leaflet put out in Dunfermline, and Lamont's own position on welfare, the welfare budget and her Cuts Commission, contradictions between Labour’s and their key policy adviser Professor Midwinter's views on welfare, council tax, and his position that it was an inefficient use of public funds.

In just over eight and a half minutes - while allowing Johann Lamont every opportunity to answer questions fully and make her case - he managed to reveal the absence of any coherent Labour policy, and gaping holes and contradictions in her position on welfare and benefits.

Gary Robertson did his job superbly well – perhaps that is what really bothered Mr. Kelly.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Independence, Grangemouth – and facing economic realities for YES

Grangemouth – and I mean the town, not just the plant – is saved. Can anyone not celebrate that? The answer unfortunately is yes – there are those who welcomed the good news with less whole-hearted enthusiasm. I am not among them – I am wholly in tune with the mood of the returning workers – ranging from infinite relief to ecstatic joy - at least as captured by this clip, which of course some will argue has been manipulated by the ever-Machiavellian BBC – the Union’s not-so-secret weapon. etcetera, etcetera.

The  Sunday Herald (27th Oct 2013) offered excellent coverage of the events leading up to the closure crisis and the subsequent deal, and Iain Macwhirter wrote an objective analysis that doesn’t duck the patent facts that many other commentators have avoided – that Unite the Union (aided by a chorus of ill-informed Labour and left-wing politicians and alternative media commentators) made an ass of itself and endangered, not only the livelihoods of their members, but the entire Grangemouth community and the Scottish economy. The management don’t smell of roses either …

I’d plan to say a lot more than this, but decided that, after the resignations of Stephen Deans, it would be counter-productive.

QUESTIONS

Was the management blameless?

Clearly, no.

Is it a good thing that the fate of hundreds of workers and a key part of the Scottish economy is in the hands of a global company with one dominant shareholder?

Again clearly, no.

Have trades unions - and specifically Unite the Union - a vital role to play in Scotland and in an independent Scotland?

Absolutely and unequivocally YES