Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXV: Ewan Crawford

Ewan Crawford: I trained as a newspaper journalist with the East Anglian Daily Times, before joining the BBC. While at the BBC I produced a range of news and current affairs programmes including Good Morning Scotland. I was private secretary to the leader of the SNP from 2001-2004. Now a lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, I also contribute comment pieces to The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and The Guardian.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I could barely get through a BBC news bulletin or an edition of The Sunday Times without complaining about the coverage of some story or other, so instead of moaning to myself or my wife I thought I might as well do it online.

What is your best blogging experience?

I emailed the brilliant Daniel Finkelstein once about one of his blog posts. A few minutes later he was referring to my note on the Times' Comment Central blog. It brought home to me the speed, informality and connectivity of blogging. I've written a decent number of opinion pieces for newspapers, but the process is much longer and can involve a negotiation process.

And your worst?

Nothing personal to me, but the anonymous abuse directed at high profile writers such as Polly Toynbee, Jackie Ashley and others is depressing. You can dress it up as robust debate if you want, but it's just moronic ranting from people who, I suspect, would be ashamed to have their identities revealed.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I have no idea

Favourite blogs?

Tom Harris - well-written, if at times tediously New Labour (it's over Tom); Iain Dale; SNP Tactical Voting; Roy Greenslade.

What inspired you to go into politics?

My father was an SNP MP in the 1970s so in some respects I suppose it was in the blood. Also, the repeated attempts by Labour and the Tories to crush Scottish self-esteem - resulting in appalling levels of child poverty and inequality - made it hard to simply accept the status quo.

You have mentioned the development of the SNP as a political party. Is it a left wing or a right wing party?

Moderate left-of-centre and interestingly for a nationalist party, very liberal on immigration and asylum matters: the SNP has been at the forefront of the campaign to shut down the Dungavel detention centre, where children are locked up for the crime of having parents who want to start a new life in the UK.

You recently mentioned a casual prejudice towards Scotland from British newspapers. Granted there is that in some sectors, but isn't there a casual prejudice towards England in some quarters! Is this a new development, and how can we tackle it?

The big difference is that serious newspapers in Scotland would never indulge in the kind of attacks launched against Scots by Simon Heffer and others in what are supposed to be quality newspapers. I am genuinely astonished at the level of invective prompted by the fact that Gordon Brown is Scottish. How can we tackle it? By Scotland becoming Independent - we in Scotland would then have no-one else to blame; and Simon and his mates would have to stop their game of "why oh why are the Scots living the high life on the backs of the hard-working English." Our relationship would be much healthier: one of equals.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Sweden, New Zealand and plenty of others.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Melbourne (It snowed!) and Venice

Who, excluding the present SNP leader and First Minister, do you regard as the best First Minister, and who do you regard as the best SNP leader?

Donald Dewar as First Minister. The SNP doesn't change its leader all that often. In my lifetime apart from Alex Salmond, John Swinney and Gordon Wilson have both been outstanding.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Nelson Mandela (a great nationalist in the best sense of the word); Sean Lemass, Winnie Ewing.

Favourite Bond movie?

Any Sean Connery if course!

Favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

The Beatles

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Cambridge - I used to live in Suffolk and could easily get to my favourite town in England, Bury St Edmunds.

Favourite national newspaper?

The Scotsman (Scottish), The Guardian (UK)

What would you say your hobbies were?

Playing and watching cricket; watching football and rugby, reading political biography.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?


Into my arms: Nick Cave

A man’s a man: sung by Sheena Wellington at the opening of the Scottish Parliament – an incredible moment.

Hallelujah: Jeff Buckley.


Sunset Song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The Redundancy of Courage – Timothy Mo

Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

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