Talk The Talk

Aaargh…life has take over blogging and I’m fighting for time on the screen. Babies, operations, London, Edinburgh, Commonwealth Games and school holidays have taken over. I knew July would be tough but maybe now it will calm down a little after tonight’s opening ceremony – assuming I work out how to get home with two kids at midnight.

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One event I will be ready for is this Friday when I follow up the conversation with Alex Salmond by staging a similar event with Patrick Harvie. These hour-long sessions are illuminating because I try to find out more about the person not just the politician and the policies. What motivates them…how did they get into politics…will they reveal something about themselves…

I try to steer but not to obstruct. Too often our interviews are messy staccato affairs more about the interviewer than the subject. There are times I think for letting the politician lay out their view and vision fully so we can all take what we want from it and obviously disagree where necessary.

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Patrick is one of our finest exponents of the political arts and has won awards. He has a lonely job in a big parliament and often the Greens have their policies pinched by others and their agenda flattened. Yet it is surely still the most pressing problem facing us all with or without independence.

You’ll hear him on batemanbroadcasting of course but if you’re in the city why not come along and join the audience. You might even get an autograph! (Patrick’s)

We have a prestigious location – the Grand Central Hotel in Gordon Street in the city centre. We will have a Q and A session afterwards so you can put your points to him – or to me. Come along and meet Patrick. He could have a key role in events after September. Just log on for tickets. It’s in the Clyde Room at the Grand Central at 12.30pm this Friday. See you there. Book here.  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-audience-with-patrick-harvie-tickets-12356290999

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Cor Blimey (Episode 7)

I am writing to you from Kensington which seems a pretty wealthy part of the world to me. Put it this way, I won’t be buying a home here any time soon. Business appears to be booming and they definitely aren’t short of immigration to help boost the economy. (And they’re getting my money and hotel taxes)

The economic disparity created by London’s success led us to wonder what we should be doing about it. So we put the team at batemanbroadcasting.com on the case and produced what I think is one of the most enlightening shows so far. I am not a natural businessman and neither are all those supporters of Common Weal and yet what we hear in this episode opens up to all of us the very real possibilities for improving our nation’s wealth.

Wea hear from economist Graeme Blackett how we lack coherence in our economic planning, how government works in policy silos and his control of the key levers can ensure our economy advances effectively. Two actual hard-nosed, money-making businessmen discuss how an intelligent approach to planning and investment can create generational companies rooted in their community, even in remote areas, providing local pride and long term employment aided by localised low cost investment loans from banks which themselves recognise the value of investing in their community. It is the German system and it was set up under the Marshall Plan after the war – deliberately to disperse power from the centre. (Getting the message yet?)

And a Conservative who cannot explain how his own party fails to see the advantages of independence, sees an chance to get rid of all the I build British obstacles to business. Committed people with knowledge and insight adding to your understanding.

Also, this week one of our team of reporters caught up with Jenny Marra MSP to ask why she. Remains committed to the Union if it is social change she’s after. Interesting stuff.

Try episode seven at batemanbroadcasting for a better quality of radio. You can find us on iTunes. Our handle is bateman_podcast and you can just Google us.

Get in touch too.

I’m off to have a pint of London Pride and some jellied eels with Dick van Dyck. I hear that’s what they do in Kensington.

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Unfriendly Games

I used to be regarded as an establishment figure because I was part of a public organisation that owed its existence and its loyalty to the State. So long as I too was loyal, I was accepted or at least tolerated for my indiscretions and complaints.

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The organisation I worked for was created partly to examine the society we live in and to scrutinise the activities of the authorities on behalf of the people who pay for it.

Central to this role is that of criticism. Questioning elected representatives, doubting policy and challenging motives lies at the heart of that organisation’s role.

Strange then that when the organisation itself becomes the subject of criticism its reaction appears to be to repel both the criticism and the critic.

My outspoken words on BBC management were bound to sting. There are few more potent opponents than one who has just deserted and can speak out with knowledge still hot with immediacy and relevance. Naming names just isn’t done…Generalised attacks on the BBC are scoffed at and brushed aside although publicly treated with manufactured concern. I did name names and did provide not just blow-by-blow accounts from inside but a comprehensive critique of what should happen instead of what actually does.

I didn’t expect thanks from those dodging my bullets. But I expected it to follow a long and honourable tradition of acknowledging criticism and ostensibly accepting it and moving on. I expected to be patronised.

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What I didn’t expect was to be blackballed – to be silently marked with a spot, marginalised and ignored. It isn’t that I harbour designs on contributing to BBC programmes – I don’t need the exposure and have enough to do – but the total exclusion in the year since I left must mark some kind of record. When Scotland is abuzz with debate, when programme makers are searching for voices, is it believable that not one producer or reporter thought of asking Bateman? You may genuinely hold the view that my work is execrable…but compared to all those other voices and views pushed at you every day?

I’ve been on the media in Japan and Russia, I am followed online in the US, Australia and 120 different countries, I’m on Twitter with 4000 followers (on 800 tweets), you can’t exactly miss me on Newsnet or Bella, I have to turn down meetings across the country, I’m on community radio and podcasts, have my own internet radio station which included a special with Alex Salmond who, unlike the BBC, does know what I do and yet…not one phone in, not one Blether With…not one programme. Odd, no?

Perhaps I should ask for a BBC manager to come on batemanbroadcasting…

Tonight BBC Scotland airs a documentary looking back at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. I covered that event for the Glasgow Herald along with my colleague Derek Douglas and wrote a book about it – Unfriendly Games, Boycotted and Broke. We were interviewed in the old Meadowbank Stadium by the late George Hume on Reporting Scotland. As a result, the BBC offered me a job. Since then when the Games come round every four somebody in the BBC will interview me about 1986 for telly or radio to remember the Bob Maxwell fiasco and the boycott. (I recall being on Radio Four for the Manchester Games)

But not this time. BBC Scotland’s latest programme has, quite justifiably, interviewed instead my co-author, the other Derek. Although they did call me to get his contact details.

In other words somebody at Pacific Quay has, as they do every four years, said: Let’s get Bateman – he was there and he’s a broadcaster, you know! Then, knowing my current state of pariah, decided not to bother. Get somebody else’s number off him instead. It couldn’t made any clearer – you don’t piss into our tent and get away with it.

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It’s similar to the treatment of John Robertson of UWS– dealt with without respect.

I think it’s worth recording as a further insight into the small-minded and dysfunctional ethos now operating at Pacific Quay that critics will be excluded. It is exactly the way Maxwell himself operated – dictatorial, high-handed, dismissive and disrespectful. But it came at a cost – Maxwell was universally loathed. The same fate may be the legacy awaiting management at BBC Scotland.

(The programmes’ on at 10.30pm)

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It’s Pimm’s Time

I sat on the bench in the garden of First World War remembrance beneath the lilac shading me from the sun and watched the ladies dispensing drinks from the Pimm’s Tent as the jazz band set up under a canopy decked with mini Union Jacks. Ladies in summer frocks bustled around the headstones of the long dead with earnest fellows in Panama hats and the volunteer gardeners trimmed the churchyard hedges while up on the church tower where the flag of St George hung limp in the heat, they were throwing teddy bears in parachutes for the children to raise parish funds. Handel’s Water Music filled my earphones and I sighed in contentment.

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This is St Mary’s Barnes, an English church as a child might draw it, with ancient flint walls and centuries old corners dating from the 12th century. It is linked to Magna Carta and on a sunny weekend it was forever England. I expected Captain Mainwaring to stride up the flagstone path and bark orders.

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It sits just south of the Thames in an oxbow in the river, part of Richmond, and is joined to London by the Hammersmith Bridge. It is upmarket and sought-after and with the fair on around the duck pond it was alive with happy people relaxing in the heat. Later I watched it all with some envy from the beer garden of the Sun Inn, my pint of London Pride in hand.

When I looked in the estate agent’s window the most common price for the handsome homes that line the road into London appeared to be £2.8 million. The average price for a house in Scotland is about £160,000 although I don’t think the Barnes Road homes were typical of an English market.

So was I resentful – as every ‘angry Scottish Nationalist’ should be at others better off? I don’t think I was. I liked what I saw and found the atmosphere infectious. It’s hardly the fault of the locals that this is where the money is found and, since the spiralling absurdity of Better Together trumpeted a mock referendum in Corby this week, it’s notable how opportunity and higher incomes will always draw people. Just as Scots headed south for work in the steel industry in the thirties, so today’s Scots seek success where it can be found.

It will always be true, so do we just accept that London is too big a draw and give up? Isn’t that why we now need so much foreign immigration – because our own people have drifted away and over the decades the working population has fallen (with reverse spikes from time to time). We are berated by the Unionists for having an ageing population which we can’t service with taxpaying citizens, but only because we haven’t created the jobs to sustain the population.

Young talent will always be lured elsewhere and so it should be when there is a world out there to be experienced but the home country should also be able to offer opportunity to retain enough and attracted back those who have been away and are ready to return.

Unionists know this too but their reaction is to surrender not to compete. What can you do? they moan. They utterly accept not just the domination of London which is undeniable but its unchallenged right to suck up everything that is good from all corners and leave us with what is left. Even the Prime Minister claims the economy needs to be rebalanced, he just can’t do anything to achieve it.

We can. If we have the strategic capacity – the access not just to corporation tax and income tax but to public procurement, competition policy and immigration – all the levers that allow adjustments to meet specifically Scottish needs. That’s how the small nations do it, be it Denmark, New Zealand or Ireland. They adjust the dials to keep up with their needs and mould policies to suit themselves. It is the lack of strategic control which has left for example our shipyards dependent on defence contracts with no ability to expand and diversify. They are now hostages to the Union.

Immigration control allows us to keep the students we have educated from abroad here in Scotland to make a new life and contribute to our economy.

And yet it seems the belief among the Scots is that just a wee bit more power at Holyrood will be enough. Many are satisfied that ‘something’ will emerge and that it will somehow change our society and they will give the benefit of the doubt to those who have made no commitment to delivering anything. To me, that needs more blind faith than believing in your country’s ability to run itself independently.

A No vote will hand back the powers we need and entrust them to those who have only ever delivered when there was a threat. Remove the threat and they will relax again and quietly ignore.

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I don’t imagine the good people of Barnes and Chiswick will give more than passing notice to a No vote either. It won’t change anything in their lives. The power and the money will stay near them, the talent will flow their way and the natural order will be restored. It will be time for another Pimm’s.

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Vote Katie Morag!

Batemanbroadcasting has another serving for you from the national debate this time with FOUR voices – starting with the editor of the only national newspaper title so far to back a Yes, Richard Walker, of the Sunday Herald. He gives us his views of the media coverage and the issues faced by journalists and says another paper may declare for Yes.

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Stephen Noon is chief strategist for Yes and is therefore the architect of the campaign. He puts his faith in the graded canvass system measuring opinion from one to 10 rather than in the traditional opinion polls. I brought him together with writer Alan Bissett who’s a kind of one-man creative industry at the moment. If his level of activity is this high before the vote, he’ll turn into a global corporation after a Yes. He has a great story about an encounter on the Glasgow train…

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Then there’s one of my favourite people, the scriptwriter Sergio Casci,

EIFF-8currently lead writer on the Katie Morag series authored by Mairi Hedderwick and a favourite read in our house. Mairi’s a Yes so I ask Sergio if Katie Morag is moving in the same direction….Sergio’s enthusiasm is boundless (he’s half Glasgow, half Italian) and he is convinced we’re headed for independence and No voters will have to face themselves afterwards if we fail.

It’s lively and enlightening and there’s no Jenny Marra. (Although if she’d like to talk to us, she can. You’d still listen, wouldn’t you?)

Our Twitter thingy is @bateman_podcast. And there will be an iTunes whatsit as soon as we straighten out WordPress…

We’re at http://batemanbroadcasting.com/episode-6-creatives/

Shameless Katie Morag plug…..katie_morag_main_slide

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