Not Saussure

June 10, 2007

Kirsty Wark and Alex Salmond on Newsnight

Filed under: BBC — notsaussure @ 10:09 pm

Crikey! I’d read that there’d been some contention about the way the BBC’s Kirsty Wark treated Scotland’s new First Minister, Alex Salmond, in a recent interview about his objections to a memorandum of understanding Mr Blair has recently signed with the Libyans about an exchange of each country’s nationals held in the other country’s prisons — of some relevance to the Scots, since the only Libyan national held in a Scots prison is Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. But now I’ve seen the interview, I’m not surprised people are a bit upset with the Beeb.

Apparently, while Mr Blair says the negotiations were nothing to do with Mr al Megrahi, the Libyans are saying, on the contrary, his case was the whole point of the agreement, at least as far as they’re concerned; and, as Mr Eugenides says, this raises the difficult question of whether we believe the British or the Libyan government — a question that shouldn’t be difficult to answer, but, unfortunately, is rather problematic after recent years.

Anyway, whatever the rights and wrongs of this, the BBC has apologised, rather half-heartedly, in my view, for the way Mr Salmond was treated by Ms Wark. I’m no great fan of most politicians, and certainly no great fan of Scottish Nationalism (unless they promise to take Mssrs Blair, Brown and Reid back home with them and never let them south of the border again, in which case by all means they can have their independence tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned). But this seems no way for a supposedly independent interviewer to behave, even though she is, apparently, in her private life a close friend of the outgoing Labour First Minister, Jack McConnell, and his wife. Take a look at the interview, via Beau Bo D’Or, and see what you make of it.

As Beau Bo D’Or suggests, while her colleague Jeremy Paxman gives politicians a hard time when he feels they’re not answering his questions, the problem here seemed to be that Mr Salmond was answering Ms Wark’s questions but she just didn’t like the answers she was getting. And as for her editor’s comment, in his sort-of-apology, that

the encounter was indeed intense and at times tetchy – Mr Salmond is always a robust and challenging interviewee,

all I can say is that only one person in that interview came over as ‘tetchy,’ and it wasn’t Mr Salmond.



  1. The interesting thing here is that Scotland now has a foreign policy.

    Comment by Alex — June 11, 2007 @ 10:10 am

  2. Yes, it does look a bit foreign*

    * With apologies to Spike Milligan

    Comment by Tom — June 11, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  3. Wow. That is some appalling interviewing.

    Alex, how does this amount to a Scottish foreign policy, rather than the operation of Scots’ domestic criminal law?

    Comment by Marcin Tustin — June 11, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  4. “by all means they can have their independence tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned”

    Sorry to break this to you but it’s not your descision to make. Whether or not Scotland becomes independent from the rest of the UK is for the Scots to decide.

    Comment by Jason — June 14, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

  5. I don’t think it is, Jason. It might well be that, in the event, the UK Parliament would leave the decision up to the Scots by passing a Scotland (Independence) Act that repealed the Act of Union but only became effective after a referendum vote. But unless such an Act were to be passed, I don’t see how Scotland could legally declare independence from the UK any more than could the West Midlands County Council.

    Comment by notsaussure — June 14, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  6. Do you really think that if the Scots voted for independence and Westminster decided not to ‘give it to them’ that the Scots would say “fair doos, it was worth a try”.

    There would be blood on the streets!

    Comment by Karla Forbes — June 15, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  7. I’m sure there would be, as eventually the Army would have to be sent in restore the rule of law rather than the rule of some made-up body; which is why it wouldn’t come to that. The most the SNP or anyone else will give the Scots is a chance to vote on whether they’d like independence as a means of persuading Westminster to give it them. Then, doubtless, Westminster would pass an Act saying they could have it, subject to another referendum.

    Comment by notsaussure — June 15, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  8. “eventually the Army would have to be sent in” – Unlikely, they’re all in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    If Scotland votes for independence it will simply take it. Remember, Scotland isn’t a county of England, its a seperate country with its own legal system – its just bound with England by a treaty of union, one which could easily be dissolved if the people vote for it.

    Comment by Stuart — June 15, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  9. Really, Stuart? This isn’t an area oflaw about which I know very much, but I’m sure there’s no provision in any treaty or the Act of Union to say that ‘this can be dissolved if the people’ (or or anyone one else)’vote for it.’

    Where do you say the authority of the state to collect Income Tax and VAT in Scotland comes from? Who do you say passes most laws that apply there?

    Comment by notsaussure — June 15, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  10. Wow… I had heard about this but missed the actual screening, so, thanks for putting it up to be seen. Un-be-liev-able was my first thought, then, of course, common sense kicked in, and yes, it’s only to be expected since (in my opinion) KW’s interview technique has always been a bit like a rotweiler on heat – and is (again in my opinion) the worst thing to come out of Scotland since Carol S….. We Scots should be well ashamed – and the BBC [Scotland] should take a long hard and serious look at the way they present our news. [PS I don’t vote SNP as it happens…]

    Comment by Bill Gunn — June 26, 2007 @ 2:54 pm

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