There are two massive stories around the country today. Stockmarkets across the world are in turmoil after the USA has its credit rating downgraded and in the Eurozone there is a concern that both Spain and Italy cannot meet their borrowing repayments. The risk of a second recession is very real. And in London there has been rioting and looting in the streets after the police shot and killed a youth on Thursday. But what is it that whet’s the interest of the press in these parts?
Of course, let’s have another bash at the SNP, regurguitate another Labour press release, and sit back and wonder why the latest circulation figures show further sharp falls across the board with our two ‘quality’ daily papers, The Herald and The Scotsman, suffering declines of approaching 10%, and seeing circulation fall dangerously close to 50,000 and 40,000 respectively. Is it possible, I just wonder, if the sales figures are in any way related to the quality of the jornalism on offer?
It is some time since I gave up the habit of my daily Herald, disgusted with the political reporting and slant, but continued with the Saturday edition, joined with the Scotsman of that day. My weekend reading is driven by the desire to see the book reviews and the travel articles. Everything else is superfluous although the weekend TV schedules are useful. A quite hour or two with a pot of freshly brewed decaff roast is a pleasant time, before lunch and then the football. Of late taking the lawnmower for a walk seems more attractive. After several dire editions of late my Saturday Herald has now gone the way of the daily editions and I will make that purchase no more. A few weeks ago the magazine carried no travel article, whilst last Saturday we were treated to a few shoddy paragraphs that were little more than an advert for a hotel on Mull, and certainly not a travel article on the island. Commissions for freelance travel pieces seem to have finally died, after too long feeding us bits of staff reporters’ holidays. This depresses me in my periodic quest to put some words together, but in the terms of buying that edition of that paper, at £1.30, it is the last straw. Herald No More.
Ignoring the finacial markets and the instability on the streets though, our media are focusing on a suggestion, by a Labour MP, that the SNP are involved with a ‘cash for honours’ scandal after thier largest single donor, Brian Souter, received a knighthood; and in a motion put forward by SNP MSP John Mason on the topic of gay marriage ceremonies.
Now in my view Mason is very misguided, and possibly allowing his own religous beliefs to impinge on his services to his constituents in the quest for a better nation. He suggests that registrars should have the right to decline to provide services where they morally disagreed with the act involved. Now there are employment issues at stake here and terms & condition cannot be over-written just becuase of religous hoo-ha. If my business were to exclude from its potential clients, any one group, be they Muslim, Jew, Gay, or whatever, I would struggle to keep face and keep faith. To give the same leeway to an employee, against the practises of the employer is untenable. The employee can seek another position elesewhere and be replaced.
Scotland today is a secular country. All religions are in the minority. Christain dogma since the Romans were overthrown, outlawing those who preferred the same sex, (possibly just to annoy said Romans) is out-dated and not part of a modern secular society. I would posit the view that same sex relationships have existed since long before the time of ‘Creation’ espoused by the the three ‘peoples of the book’.
Bringing forward a motion on the service at the public registry simply opens up the debate to religous views, as witnessed by the discussion at Newsnet Scotland. In a time when the religous bodies cannot make up their minds over gay clergy, to bring that debate to civil servants seems to me to be unwise. I cannot understand the concept of gay Christians – who would want to be a member of a club that debarred his own preferences? Rather than seek a civil ceremony would it not be better to ask a Humanist celebrant to carry out the service, away from all religous overtones, and the risk of any animosity by a registrar carrying out his duties through gritted teeth?
Then there’s Souter’s knighthood. On coming to power in 2007 the SNP government distanced themselves and their ministers from the odious UK honours system. The previous incumbents, the Labour-LibDem coalition executive, have confirmed that their First Minister and Ministers did indeed make honours proposals. These are the same people, particularly in the form of Cathy Jamieson MP and former MSP and Minister in that same Executive, now castigating the SNP over Souter. Yet the SNP Government are not involved in honours nominations. Scotland has a separate, and independent, committee for the purpose of Royal recognition for its worthies. And the angle that the press take? Well what do you think? You could read the daily papers, seemingly intent on writing themselves into the administrator’s office, or give yourself a better view and visit Newsnet Scotland. I know what I do, each and every day.