Rehearsal Over

A lot of thoughtful and varied responses. Sorry for the awful quality, probably shouldn’t have bothered, but I think a lot of politically-minded people would listen with interest for the messages contained therein. Steven Purcell, whatever your own politics, is a very well informed observer who knows how to get votes in Glasgow, knows what motivates Labour people and how they relate to the issue of independence. One Yes-minded person who worked with him described him to me as “political genius”. You may laugh but what that means is that if you want Scotland’s largest electorate to vote for you, arguably no one knows better how that is done.

I didn’t interview him in any BBC style because that’s not what I’m doing…I want to do the reverse of a standard BBC devil’s advocate challenging discussion in order to get someone to open up and expand on their thoughts, let ideas develop in a way that hardly ever happens on the airwaves because of time constraints and, yes, the dreaded balance. It is only through listening I believe that we learn what our opponents and others really think and why.

I’m not trying to justify anything in Steven’s record in office, but to probe him on what he thinks, how that opens doors to Labour voters and how and why Labour may be making mistakes – or even what they are getting right. I’ll do the same with a Tory. It is a long listen if you’re used to conventional radio but if you want to learn something new, sometimes it requires patience. I allowed Steven to talk about his personal issues because he’s entitled to that. Many people “enjoyed” his trials but whatever errors he made, and he doesn’t deny them, he proved to be fallible, as am I. This is about what we, as people who need Labour votes to win independence, can learn from an expert. That he agreed to share his thoughts shows I think that he’s not stuck in the Labour mind-set.

You can disagree with him but I think he represents an intriguing cusp in Labour thinking. I don’t believe he’s at all afraid of independence, just not convinced it’s necessary, like the hundreds of thousands Yes needs to turn. But he does passionately want major reform and wants it across Britain. If there’s isn’t independence, I agree with him. If you listen closely, there is the clear dilemma of many of our fellow Scots who don’t support the SNP but want major change and have been denied by their own party their favoured option and are hovering, ready for one last push to Yes. Steven Purcell may only represent the failed Labour Party to you, but to me, and I suggest to seekers after independence, he embodies the agonising choice of those whose votes will determine our nation’s future. And after speaking to him, I really couldn’t tell if he’ll vote No or Yes. Imagine the impact if he declared before September 18. (I’ll have to ask him back).

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29 thoughts on “Rehearsal Over

  1. I enjoyed listening to the interview and am looking forward to more. I do think though that you may have missed a trick by not asking his opinion of LFI , a group as you well know are campaigning for a return to “traditional” Labour values.

    Would he have rubbished LFI as inconsequential or described them as a threat particularly if Scotland does vote Yes? Looks like I’ll never know, still I’ll settle for a program that can bring more information and debate that can truly be seen as unbiased.

    I wouldn’t worry about quality or style, substance is more important anyway.

  2. Mr Purcell is interesting in another way.

    When he resigned the BBC in Glasgow circled the wagons to protect him. Ex-Labour spin doctor Lorraine Davidson was the person chosen to interpret events and tell us there was nothing untoward.

    Blether with Brian started mass deletions and banning of comments at that time. He even posted more blogs in that week than he had in a month, seemingly to push the offending blog down the list.

    You say the BBC isn’t biased, maybe not, but it knows its own and they protect them. They also attack the enemies of their own.

  3. the sound quality was fine
    the interview technique let the subject talk,and give his views honestly,and i really thought he was honest
    a refreshing change,from a person who seemed to have not a lot to lose
    his analysis matches mine,and gave me a lot of hope that we might get a yes vote
    people i hope are realising this not a vote for snp,but freedom to choose a scottish mp who suits your taste
    by throwing in with the tories and toeing london party lines they lost me

    • Thanks for that, saved to Zotero for future use. A fascinating read and critique. Not being resident in Glasgow I was only vaguely aware of these issues. I agree with the critique that local bodies as entrepeneural entities are engaged in a competitive race to the bottom with cities everywhere and only private capital benefits.

  4. Yes Derek good idea and I look forward to more now I have sorted the techy issues.Letting people talk is always useful cheers

  5. Jock Erskine Dun Eden

    Terrific news that you are setting up a Referendum Radio Station! Your previous hints were vague but this step of opening up a new front through radio is a real doozy! More than we could of hoped for. Just in time, as I’ve been glancing longingly at the razor blades while listening to ‘our’ BBC Tedium Scotland in the morning. I have to say though, Hayley this morning gave an auld yin (moi) a little excitement and titillation in her destruction of Jim Murphy. That feisty wee quine has been seen in a whole different light, long may it last!

  6. That he agreed to share his thoughts shows I think that he’s not stuck in the Labour mind-set.

    Agreeing to share his thoughts in no way shows he is of a different mind-set from any other Labour politico. In my experience, Labour politicians will share their thoughts at the drop of a hat – and you won’t have to pay a penny for them.

    Those thoughts normally revolve round what is best for the Labour Party and their own advancement within said Party. Never do you hear any of them enthusing over policies they’ve came up with that will be of benefit to Scotland or Scotland’s people.

    BTW, I think that the thoughts he shared shows that he is stuck in the Labour mind-set.

    That said, good luck with your new venture, Derek.

  7. Aye Hayley really did the job on Murphy this morning ,left him floundering , a wee chink of light at BBC she actually sounded pissed off at his nonsense.

  8. Steven is in many ways a tribal Labour voter….sure on the face of it articulate intellegent and open minded. But his emphasis on party political tactics rather than seriously proposing ways to tackle the poverty and unfairness in west central Scotland is illuminating. I agree he symbolises the huge Labour party machine and party culture…much less sure that he is in tune with Labour voters. I don’t think there is any chance of him voting Yes and even less in him coming out publicly. There will be a major role for him if we win Indy…..possibly as leader of a re aligned left. There is bound to be a new Labour Party post Indy where the old Unionist structure will wither on the vine. However he has a lot of competition…Robin MacAlpine…Alan Grogan and many others who have committed will have much more moral authority to lead….still he is young and its a long game. Great news on the broadcast…..provided it can be done on air and not on line……you need a mass audience….ideally flog it to the BBC….maybe in Ken MacDonalds slot. Btw that was a great prog…..why thats getting the chop I dont know. Failing that a link up of the independent radio stations would be good.

  9. The approach was valid. Allowing people to speak in the right and reasonably relaxed circumstances lets them open up. It is important to understand your opponents. Is Purcell on a journey? Backing federalism is a big step when he is looking for a way back within the Labour party. It is however a dead end. England is decades behind. Scotland’s opportunity is now. As the polls close more within Labour will come out for independence. The leadership may go down with the ship but their strategy is fracturing. A 3 line all party whip is impossible at the best of times, but with the UK general election just over a year away the unionists are already positioning themselves for that contest which to them is the real prize.

    If I were a Labour strategist I would be thinking – just lets back off a bit and let Cameron be the one who loses Scotland. That would mean a bit of play around ‘devo bits and pieces’ while giving actual serious thought to how Labour could become a genuine Scottish Party capable of developing a vision for independence. Bookmaker odds on that 1000 to 1
    I don’t know if Purcell is on a real journey or not, but some others are.

    The unionist parties all had a chance to join with the SNP government in arguing for more powers to be added to the Scotland Act at a time when a united position from all the parties in the Scottish Parliament could have actually delivered some of these powers they seemingly are now in favour of.
    The Scotland Act did not deliver all the Calman proposals so they had already jointly agreed powers that they refused to endorse when given the opportunity to underline their commitment to Calman and their own party policy.

  10. Good luck with Referendum Radio. We really need it. Mr Purcell came across well in interview …and argued a good case for a devo plus option,I reckon he will vote no as he is at heart a Labour man.

  11. Nice speech by Alistair darling on GMS this morning. Pity about the couple of interruptions by Gary Robertson. Another opportunity missed. Where’s Hayley?

  12. I put my observations on the content in the previous thread.
    I liked the format, it wasn’t too long, as it gave the speaker time to develop his thoughts and explain, ‘where he is’, in politics. This is really important as I had wanted to get some understanding of inside Labour. Previously I had just supported their general policies when voting. Though should add I won’t vote for them again, at any level, having gone through a voyage of discovery over the last two years of the Referendum debate. Almost debate-free from Labour but loaded with tactics, which for me explains quite a lot.

    The interview approach works really well.

  13. Yes Derek, interviews do tend to last longer if you allow the interviewee to speak without constant interruption, and so enable her/him to present their views in a non-competitive atmosphere.

    Sound quality I would would put at least on a par with Radio Scotland which seems to suffer from fluctuating volume control, and once in a Nicola Sturgeon interview silence as she spoke.

    Next interviewee please!

  14. Nothing wrong with quality of sound. i enjoyed the interview.

    It will be interesting to hear the views of Mr. Purcell and like minded Labour supporters after the European Parliament elections. Will the need to “protect / stand up for Scotland” be more widely focused among our citizens?

  15. Refreshing to hear an interview without constant interruptions and also where the interviewee doesn’t just repeat the same prepared soundbites ad infinitum. I too wonder if Mr Purcell will come around to Yes before September 18th.

  16. I agree that the sound was fine. The echo on your mike got better but the sound on Mr Purcell’s mike was just fine. As for the long form bring it on, lang may yer lum reek. If nothing else you are engaged in recording voices that future historians will find absolutely fascinating. So the project is worth doing for historical archive reasons. This referendum will be pivotal an thus we need to retain as many points of view in depth as we can. So the academic in me applauds your initiative from that position.

  17. Great idea Derek – very worthwhile even if we could not hear you so clearly. Focus was on the interviewee which is exactly right. And I’m totally convinced that understanding how Labour voters are thinking, how they see things – which by definition will not be the same as the majority of those reading your blog, is critical to the final result. If Steven is right that many Labour voters do favour independence and are not afraid of it any more then sufficient push from the right people in the right places could cause the Scottish Labour leadership to crumble. Remember latest poll already showing 25% Labour support for YES.

    Anyway well worth the bother – something of value always better than doing nothing or waiting to get it ‘perfect’. One plea I would make is to ask for broadcasts to be downloadable as I am often unable to find anything worthwhile on the Radio when driving. Also I hope you might make them avaliable for BBC & others to broadcast (for a standard fee). It would help penetrate the “offline” people who rely so much on MSM. Would also help them to achieve the overall balance they need to get to. Although BBC had a better day yesterday. #KeepItUp

    • One thing I would have liked to hear you ask was: “What would it take for you to vote Yes? “

      Truthful answers to that would be a substantial contribution to the debate and understanding.

  18. Derek, I see you haven’t perfected the ‘BBC delay’ between interviewer and interviewee that breaks up the conversation making it difficult to follow. Also you need to turn up the background noise so that we we find it really difficult to hear the answers but not the questions posed.

    Apart from that everything sounded fine.

  19. Sound quality fine. Interesting interview. look forward to more. Echoed with me as a Labour party escapee committed to Yes

  20. Went back to your previous blog first thing this morning to see if I could “fix” it and delighted to find that it was now possible to listen to your interview. So, dispensed with GMS (a wise move by all reports) and settled down to listen to your recording. Derek, you’ve nailed it! We’ve been starved of intelligent discussion on Scottish radio and TV for so long that I hadn’t realised just HOW starved. And your approach – a gentle, considerate drawing out of thoughts and beliefs, treated with respect – is like the sun breaking forth on a dull day. You could teach many of the BBC journalists a thing or two………There’s another job for you! There’s not enough hours in the day for you to cover teaching as well as running the SBC AND have your own programme….. Oh yes, and there’s the historical aspect also. You may consider yourself busy today but after September 19th you won’t have a minute.
    Enjoy the easy life while it lasts!

  21. Just listened, sound fine. Very interesting interview. Maybe I’m biased (oh oh, there’s that word again) but he sounded like a man that would be a pretty good leader for Labour in the indy 2016 general election.

    Wonder if he’s thinking the same way? He’d certainly give the SNP a run for their money in that election and position Labour well for the next one.

  22. Edward Barbour

    Very glad that you did the recording and looking forward to hearing more, now that you’ve dipped your toe back in the ‘broadcast’ waters As the saying goes you cant make an omelette without cracking a few eggs (I’m sure that’s the right saying)

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