Jude Collins

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Barry and John: was your journey really necessary?

How important is the wrapping on a present? Or the print lay-out of your newspaper? Last night the BBC's 'Spotlight'  took Barry McElduff and John Laird to Edinburgh to learn more about the move towards Scottish independence. We got nice shots of the underbelly of a plane taking off, flowers,  Barry drinking from a glass and John Laird chewing his grub, a few guys playing at a pub session - oh, and a few jokes exchanged between Barry and John. The two men came back shaking their heads and saying they'd learnt a lot from their trip.

Eh? Lucky them. I learnt nothing. Nothing was said that couldn't have been said at least as well and probably better in a five-minute discussion in a TV studio in Belfast. There may be a great deal of complexity to the Scottish question or it may be clear and stark, but the visit left me none the wiser as to which was the case. The nearest the programme got to an articulation of the case for Scottish independence was a brief chat with a Pakistani-Scot who's an MSP and, we were told, is tipped as a future leader of the Scots Nat party. He said it was insulting to compare his party's drive for Scottish independence with the IRA's campaign for Irish independence, since the IRA was a group engaged in "mindless thuggery".  You can only hope he has a better grasp of the Scottish question than he has of the Irish question.

Am I being too hard? Do people need to have the pubs and dinner tables and plane underbellies and little jokes before they'll absorb information on a political question? I don't think so. If the topic is important enough - and what could be more important than national independence? - and views presented thoughtfully enough, most people, in my experience, are more than willing to listen.

Next time, guys, just put Barry and John in a room and ask them to say three interesting things about Scottish independence and its relevance to us. It'd save a lot of time and even more public money.


  1. Think your 100% Jude on what a waste and lack of substance but its the BBC you need to take that up with. If they are looking political parties to engage in this type of stuff then you the parties feel obliged to put someone up to get their viewpoint across - the format and expenditure are down to makers - so should not your disappointment should be aimed at BBC

  2. Jude, some good points, I know this is off - topic, but did you listen to BBC Radio Ulster today? There was a guy on it this morning, I think he Was called Brian Walker, from QUB, and he has a new book out, saying that a lot of the gripes that Nationalists had in Derry (housing, employment) in the 60's, were unfounded, he did acknowledge gerrymandering existed, then he went onto make the point that the nationialists didnt want to share power with the unionists in the 60's, saying that Sean Lemass more or less told nationalists to "get on their bike" and start sharing power.

    I cant seem to find any sign of this book for sale online, so, what was your experience of the 60's, do they tally with what Brian Walker says?

  3. I like your charts just goes to confirm how undemocratic the United Kingdom really is. I would expect similar charts on Irish Unity with the Republic and the Uk backing unity and only good old Northern Ireland blocking matters

  4. Sorry one more point that everyone is missing. The threat to the union isnt from the Scots or the Welsh or even the Irish, its obvious from all the polls that the real threat to the union is English nationalism. Its only apathy that seems to keep everything together because certainly all polls suggest they would be happier without any of us pesky celts