Gordon forgot the Scottish angle.. now why was that?

When I’m on about devolution I see it was left to the Times of London to produce the classic piece about how irrelevant Gordon Brown’s leader’s speech was for Scotland, at least in the early internet editions. From Angus Macleod the Times’ Scottish political editor:

“Anyone in Glenrothes watching Gordon Brown’s big speech yesterday might have been excused for wondering what it had to do with them. Free universal check-ups for the over-40s? Extension of nursery places? No prescription charges for cancer patients? A commissioner for victims of crime? More children connected to the internet? All England and Wales only, I’m afraid… It was a speech that underlined just how wide the domestic policy divide between Scotland and England is nowadays, especially when the party in charge in Edinburgh is different from the government in London.”

Whereas the Glasgow-based Herald tucked the point away at the end of a leader. “However, if the battle lines with the Tories are being drawn, this speech left no clue as to how Labour can take on the SNP, which is its most pressing task, given the proximity of the Glenrothes by-election” The Scotsman similarly marginalised the Scottish angle: “Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said Mr Brown mentioned Scotland only once, adding: “Where Brown did make policy commitments, he was playing catch-up with the SNP in Scotland on carbon emissions, free prescriptions and GP surgeries.” (yawn).

The staid Scottish national heavies are so keen to stress their UK heavyweight credentials that they play down the Scottish dimension on UK stories, whereas if they would only admit it, their reports of UK centre seldom match their London counterparts for authority. The Scottish angle should be their USP, you would think. Tellingly the tartanised editions of UK national papers ( and to some extent Irish editions too including greentops) are eating into falling circulations, to which the Scottish heavies so far have few answers. As leading journalism analyst Roy Greenslade has reported in his blog, these former stalwarts of Scottish life and opinion are now “in great peril.”

  • Dewi

    Brian – you messed up the end…and

    Ruth Kelly resigns What timing!!!

  • Dewi

    “recent decision of Scotland’s councils to start their own public-sector-jobs websites”

    Quote from Greenslade – this trend has huge implications for MSM – especially regional and non-English language press.

  • Greenflag

    dewi ,

    BW must have got news of Ruth Kelly’s resigning and was so shocked he just stopped 😉

    Falling circulations for ‘national’ heavies is an inevitable by product of the internet age .

    As for Gordon Brown he probably spent too much time at number 11 . We may yet see the same phenomenon with Peter Robinson in NI ?

    The ‘dour’ scots presbyterian mantle seems not a good fit for the national stage .

    Who now remembers the last couple of years of Tony Blair when the Labour Party could hardly wait to replace Blair with Brown .

    They got their wish .

    Have to feel sad for Gordon though . Bad luck to get to the top job just in time for recession 🙁

  • Brian, the ‘great peril’ analysis should properly be attributed to Arthur MacMillan, not Roy Greenslade.

    After paying handsomely to acquire titles of world renown, Johnston Press (Scotsman) and Newsquest (Herald) have stripped resources to the point where quality journalism is largely impossible. This has resulted in publications unable to pursue their primary function — to operate as a news medium. Coverage too often is a combination of superficial “what some MSP said yesterday” reporting and, with a few honourable exceptions, dull commentary on a regular basis. The consequence has been a loss of authority and an increase in reader disaffection. If a newspaper cannot deliver much more than what a BBC radio news bulletin said yesterday, what is the point in buying it?

    Presumably many of MacMillan’s observations also apply to here, considering Johnston Press’ holdings in local and regional papers.

  • Good points, well made. Luckily most people now realise that the Scotsman and Herald are irrelevant papers and take their various opinions with a pinch of salt.

    The Sunday Herald isn’t too bad but remains shy about supporting independence unfortunately.

  • Dewi

    Joe – what’s the chance of an SNP supporting paper?

  • We had one for a little while, the Scottish Standard but it didn’t last for long unfortunately.

    There have been some rumours that the English owned Express was going to support independence but while it has been sympathetic to the SNP Government I don’t think it has supported independence yet.

    The ‘Scottish’ Sun did do so for a short period, but it was a short lived marketing ploy and it didn’t last long.

    I would like to see it happen but I think we may have to wait for independence to actually happen before our local media lend it any support!

  • Jocky

    It’s got far more to do with the media’s (both print and TV) extremely cosy relationship with Labour in Scotland.

    Despite the obvious the cant bring themselves to compare and contrast Labour with SNP for fear of upsetting their cosy relationship.

    So after they lost they’re all out war on the SNP at the last election they are set on a slide into irrelevence. As out of touch with the public as their political masters. Mirroring how inertia turned into stagnation turned into incompetence and irrelevance.

    Both Labour and the Media are in denial, blaming the public for not getting the message. Where the reality is it’s the other way around.

  • Dewi

    What do do then Jocky ? Should the SNP start a paper?

  • Jocky

    Dewi, Cant see there is anything to do. Launching a newspaper is a difficult business at the best of times, nowadays forget it.

    Besides papers are no longer setting the agenda. Merely something to pass the time on the bus.

    They can only continue to fight the good fight. In a way it’s a bonus as their supports is based on grass roots activism, no splashing big bucks on adverts.