Paxman: the gowk goes over the top.

Playing the man I know but needs saying:

Not Newsnight’s finest hour. After a twee introduction from a whisky sampling reporter then came Paxman’s interview with the Times’s Briton of the year.

You can see some of it here.

Zimbabwe, Mugabe, One party State?? Opting out of the BBC? the cheek of it all.

Some of us might have been interested in what Alex had to say in the Hugo Young Lecture. (Worth watching the that sample video from the Guardian  – they have the  full video here.)

Or,indeed, of his plans for today. (Today’s referendum consultation from the Herald)

But insight from Paxman? No, interruptions, hectoring and trivial irrelevancies.

He must do better than that – how much do we pay for his nonsense?

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  • Mick Fealty

    His plans for today are to kick a can a little further down the road.

    I agree Paxo’s been let off the leash, again (revealing a London deficit in understanding the Scottish – or indeed anywhere beyond the M25 – question) but I thought it notable that Salmond when pushed said that Labour had been progressive in the past, a clear sign of his strategy of pulling in former Labour voters.

  • More grist to the mill of course.
    I think it was the novelist brother of Sinead O’Connor who said that English cannot understand the Irish for not wanting to be like them.
    Likewise the Scots.
    Likewise the Welsh.
    And really the achilles heel in “Englands” increasingly hysterical response to Mr Salmond is the attitude of the English.
    “how dare the Scots………how very dare they”?

    Curiously the anti-Scottish (anti-Celt?) response is helped by the fact that Conservatives and Labour are both at it.

    The Tory response is of course based on the truth that English people are much better than other people….a divine right to rule lesser nations.
    While the Whiggite (Labour/Liberal) response is all Internationalism, brotherhood of man and post enlightenment (and lets forget History).

    So it has to be welcome to nationalists everywhere. Besides the whole business of the UK breaking up being fun in itself, it is impossible to be an Irish natioanist or Costa Rican nationalist and not support Scottish or Welsh nationalism.
    Thats how it is.
    As always the English can be relied upon to act stupidly.
    Devolution is the Genie that wont return meekly to the bottle.
    Yet it makes little sense……..the ENGLISH nationalist on News 24 Channel got an easy ride cos hes hardly a threat………but he had a valid point that you can have a British Health Minister representing Edinburgh deciding on prescription charges in “England” but not for his own constituents.
    Signing up to Devolution……..or the Good Friday Agreement for that matter is signing the UKs suicide note.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a tad overdone FJH. Also, I think you’ll find that what remained of the whiggish tendency (small government, free marketeers) was folded into the Tory party in 1912.

    You’re making the same mistake a lot of nationalists do, and counting your eggs long, long before they hatch.

    Nice riposte on the BBC right at the end, when Salmond said at the end his SBC would happily buy programming from the BBC (like, erm, Ireland doesn’t, bitterly adds Paxo).

    Should the Scots pay for English paid for programmes? Come to think of it, if the licence base is going to shrink, should Ireland?

  • Your comments are perhaps a tad underdone Mr Fealty .
    I do know the history and changing allegiances of Tory and Whig from 1700……in fact I have often referred to the contradictions on this very site…….ad nauseum.

    These particular nationalist eggs are not mine to hatch. Who knows waht will hatch. The point is that something will. And I expect to enjoy it.
    Of course there is a valid point that as Albion prepares to get Perfidious……….anything could happen………it would actually make a good book and TV series…….but its already been done by Douglas Hurd.

    A man of my advanced years has no need to dwell on the subject of licence fees.

  • Mr Beach

    Paxman may have been blunt and over the top but what else do you expect? I am growing tired of this growing faux-offence from the Nats- especially when they claim that this apparent English arrogance drives more voters toward independence. It is surely paradoxical to complain about something, whilst simultaneously believing that it is beneficial and advantageous to your cause.

    The SNP would like to claim, as they always do, that Paxman’s interview was another sign of the English ‘bullying’ the Scots. Anyone who has actually bothered to watch Paxman on Newsnight would realise that this is just par for the course.

  • Mick Fealty


    Where’s the perfidy?

  • “PREPARES to get Perfidious”
    Experienced Albion watchers will know that Alec is a target and they will certainly try….
    I bet somebody somewhere (maybe in a newspaper office or MI5/6) has been asked “what have we got on him?”

  • It is indeed “faux-offence” but thats the point.
    Nationalism actually NEEDS grievance… thrives on it. And at least the English are reliable …..they provide the building bricks.

  • Neil

    Faux offence or a debating tactic? Let’s face it the English have a bit of a reputation for being arrogant. The old joke is ‘Did you hear the one about the Englishman with an inferiority complex? No? Me neither’.

    No-one expects Alex to respond ‘why that’s a good point you made there, maybe this whole devo/max thing isn’t for me after all’. He has to respond with something, why not point out that the parties in Westminster – as Mick has posted on, a wholly London centric crowd, should really not come across as lecturing people on what they should choose to do with their own country.

    It’s like trying to arrange a breakup while your soon to be ex girlfriend witters on about how you could save some of your bills by sticking together, and if you go you’ll wish you hadn’t. At that point you start looking for the door.

    If the English want in the debate then maybe expressing positively why you want the Scots in, as opposed to getting someone with George Osborne’s accent to explain to the natives that bog wogs aren’t really smart enough to run a country and if you have any sense you’ll go and have a drink and leave the governance to the masters.

    But then the only English based output I’ve seen is either of the type above (mana from heaven and in any debate on the issue and worth pointing out from a Nationalist perspective) or the results of polls which suggest the English would rather have shot of the Scots more than vice versa.

  • Dewi

    “I am growing tired of this growing faux-offence from the Nats”

    Honestly it’s frustration and a bit of anger. I just thought Paxman was childish and pretty pathetic. I’m paying him a pile of dosh and expect some understanding and sophistication in his interviews.

  • Jo

    What you actually pay for this is licence fee divided by 000’s hrs of programming multiplied by 45 minutes.

  • Well to be honest…….theres a change from Angry Young man to Grumpy Old Man….. He is not exactly the same interviewer who made Michael Howard look like an eejit.
    Not the force he was.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure why I ought to defend Paxo’s bad manners when, one, he’s been doing it for years, and two, I’ve been saying for years that I don’t like it. So I won’t.

    But I can contrive a limited defence for London’s lack of readiness for Indy light/devolution max: not only have we not got it yet, we don’t know what it would look like.

    Salmond has the advantage of playing with a phantasm as though it were real. In this case Paxo’s pointing out that, in the case of a further devolved or independent Scotland is premised on taking for free things, like the BBC, that it currently pays for.


    He made himself look an idiot over Howard. This comes a distant second.

  • Mr Beach


    Of course you are perfect entitled to your view on Paxman’s style. But I don’t see why disillusionment with him should be confined to the ranks of Nationalists. If you separate out a lot of Paxman’s hyperbole, he did ask some pertinent questions- questions that Salmond struggled to answer.

    Obsession with Paxman’s piece also ignores the piece immediately before it from the Newsnight correspondent which was much more restrained and informed.

  • Dewi

    “he did ask some pertinent questions”
    Can’t think of one to be honest.

    “…piece immediately before it from the Newsnight correspondent which was much more restrained and informed”

    What from the bloke drinking Whisky in a London Scottish Army club?

  • Mick Fealty

    Try the one I’ve just pointed to Dewi?

  • Mr Beach

    What such as:

    How much debt would Scotland have; whether Scotland could bail out its own banks; how much of the share of British gold would it have; who would control Sotland’s interest rates; would Scotland still be able to watch the BBC; what Salmond meant by ‘progressive’ and whether this term was the sole property of the SNP. Oh yes, all pointless questions.

    And are we to remove all humour and entertainment value for our programming?

  • drc0610


    I think what fjh meant to say was
    “As ablion prepares to get perfidious, again” They have form on this one. The McCrone report, the 40% rule to name two examples of magnificent perfidiousness.

    The nats have one advatange, they’ve achieved a majority in a referendum prevously.

    One point that you and most english commmentators make is that given that there are many complex issues to resolve, Salmond is not presenting a done deal, he is asking for the right to negotiate the deal, there’s 2 years to stake out the positions, hence the long wait for the referendum, the third option, the national conversation, you know actual trying to deliver the best solution for the people, (admittedly something most politicians aren’t bothered with)

    Obviously you would hold the referendum tomorrow morning if you merely wanted to rubber stamp the status quo and had no interest in what the people of scotland want or achieving the best consitutional settlement for people in Scotland and England.

    Again something the tories have form with the AV vote.

    the next 2 years could be a period of enlightened debate about the consititional make up of the uk, the role & relationship of the different nations to the uk and each other.

    Or it could be 2 years of patronising drivel as per Paxman and the Telegraph.

    ps Newsnight has form also, back in 2007 Kirsty Wark did a hatchet job on Salmond as well, the fact she’s close personal friends with a certain Jack McConnell never clouded her proffesional ability. It’s on You Tube well worth a watch too

  • Mick Fealty


    Only the Tories voted against devolution in 1997. Labour, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, and Scottish Greens all campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote. I’m not sure Alex is going to get a white charger moment this time either.

    I agree on the need for a proper debate, and one in which Scotland wilfully pushes it’s own boundaries. If anything the problem all the ‘unionist’ parties in Scotland had is that they wanted to move Scotland Forward as far as the first referendum and have since given the impression of not having been interested after that.

    The reference to phantasm was to the moment when Paxman rounds on him about the BBC, and Alex speaks about a Scotland that has yet to be agreed through the process you mention. As noted by John Curtice today, this will not be a smooth path for anyone concerned.

  • Dewi

    Question – would Scotland take a fair share of assets and liabilities? Answer: Yes.
    Question – will you pay for the BBC: Answer: Yes.
    Is that it?

  • Mr Beach

    Salmond has been unclear on the level of debt Scotland would take, and even less clear about how it would pay for it. He also said that Scotland would have the same arrangement as Ireland in terms of the BBC, i.e. ‘How boot you gies it for free?’

  • HeinzGuderian

    Well I never .
    Big Al being asked tough questions ?
    There’s a first.

    I’m afraid Al has no intention of answering any tough questions anytime soon.
    But try as he,and his supporters might,they will have to answer them sooner,rather than later.

    That,ladies and gentlemen,is when the Independence wheels come off !

  • galloglaigh

    Mr Beach

    Scotland would have the same arrangement as Ireland in terms of the BBC, i.e. ‘How boot you gies it for free?

    I live in Ireland and I pay the licence fee!

    Jeremy Paxman: The epitome of English arrogance and self importance!

  • Mr Beach


    And what part of ‘Ireland’ do you live in? Yes I’m sure Vince Cable, David Cameron and Ed Miliband believe that Paxman is how you describe him.

  • Neil

    Regarding the BBC thing, I suppose that’s a discussion whose time has come. Pre digital I suppose Ireland could say we won’t pay. If you broadcast over our airwaves and our citizens tune in that’s your problem. If you want to prevent it stop broadcasting on Irish airwaves.

    Come end of year though that’ll be the old days, everyone will be on digital and if the beeb decide to block out areas they can do, probably.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Neil. Be interesting to be a fly on the wall in those negotiations (I imagine they must exist). But the problem with that debate in the context of Scotland is that it is clear what Ireland is not paying. It’s not clear what Scotland is paying in comparison with say England or Northern Ireland. It would have to be proportionately considerably less, given the overall population spread.

  • I would assume that proportionately RTE loses more income thru Northerners not paying a fee than the BBC loses thru people in the Republic not paying a fee.
    It all seems a bit academic as UTV which I know does not benefit directly fro a fee seems to conduct its advertising on the basis that their programmes are being watched in the Republic.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure that’s right FJH. RTE don’t take advertising from NI and UTV don’t go south.

    The UK and Ireland did sign a Memorandum of Understanding, which was to provide a free digital BBC to the Republic, to reciprocate the Irish government’s commitment to free RTE digital services to Northern Ireland.

    But, it seems, the British had second thoughts (when they costed it no doubt):

  • “He is not exactly the same interviewer who made Michael Howard look like an eejit.”

    fjh, it seems Paxman had to extend that interview but had run out of questions:

    Paxman revealed much later that because there had been a delay elsewhere in the programme he’d been told to fill time; hence asking the same question again and again. While this may be an accident rather than great journalism, it’s still a pretty good example of why politicians are not the most trusted members of society. .. source

  • Im pretty sure its right about UTV. In fact Im absolutely certain.
    The catchment area of Quays Shopping Centre, Newry, Foyleside in Derry, Erne Shopping Centre is not exactly just Newry, Derry and Enniskillen.
    I dont think its realistic that advertising managers in say a newspaper would merely want to tell potential advertisers how many newspapers were SOLD. Surely they say how many are READ.

  • galloglaigh

    Mr Beach

    And what part of ‘Ireland’ do you live in?

    The part that the British government doesn’t want 🙂

  • HeinzGuderian

    The part the Republic of Ireland doesn’t want either,I’d bet ?

    ‘It is indeed “faux-offence” but thats the point.
    Nationalism actually NEEDS grievance… thrives on it. And at least the English are reliable …..they provide the building bricks.’

    You may think that fitsy,but the irish nationalist ‘grievance’ is not with the English. 😉

  • Dewi

    to be honest I reckon the Scots would pay to get rid of Paxman.

  • antamadan

    very good slugger. Arent they awful *******. So the south will let RTÉ into the north for free and the south can pay for BBC. I think history will show either a very unattractive cultural imperialimsm, or a people with a a fear that Irish culture could predominate in the north unless a cultural elimination policy was undertaken. Look at old Irish Times reports of the British complaining to the Dublin Govt. that their RTÉ booster in the 60s was being received in Beleek Fermanagh (to the delight of 80% nationalist of the population, and not forced watching for the 20% unionists), but of course it got switched off. Máire Geoghean (spelt wrongly sorry) Quinn published a letter in the Irish Times maybe 10 years ago to say that as minister around 25 years ago she got agreement from the British that they would allow RTÉ into the north where it wasn’t received, but they still blocked it. And I still couldn’t get RTÉ on a boat in Beleek at my last recent visit. I clearly remember Lord Trimble boasting that RTÉ wasn’t watched much in NI at all as if it had been freely available for children all through their lives, and they had decided that the British media was all they needed.(I find it hard to respect the angle he was selling)
    Isn’t it amazing the elimination of Irish culture that wasn’t of British origon didn’t work?. But I suppose as well as stopping the gaels from watching Irish programming in their growing-up years, the super-brit unionists also insisted on union flags all over the place (a la Ballymena today) and so the cultural wipe-out plan went too far and nationalists reacted (as of course they will in Ballymena today).

  • Dewi
  • Mick Fealty

    Nice one Dewi!

    Heinz, you should read this quote from Salmond:

    ‘Scotland is not oppressed and we have no need to be liberated’. This is as much a quest for practical agency as abstract freedom.