Harmonies For One

The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia

“A collection of heartfelt, self-penned songs ... an emotive mix that touches on themes of love, heartache and social commentary” - The Sunday Herald

“The considerable value of this book lies in [Roxburgh's] painstaking and empathetic effort to understand how Mr Putin came to power, why many Russians still support him today, and how the West's approach to Russia has helped to shape his rule.” - The Wall Street Journal

“... admirable even-handedness and insight.” - The Independent





9 Jan 2012

BBC Meet the Author
12 Jan 2012http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16538475
The inside story on a new documentary on Russian president Vladimir Putin - The Sunday Herald, 15 Jan 2012. READ HEREjournalism/Entries/2012/1/14_The_inside_story_on_a_new_documentary_on_Russian_president_Vladimir_Putin_-_THE_SUNDAY_HERALD.html
Russia’s spiral back into the cold - The Sunday Times, 18 December 2011. READ HEREjournalism/Entries/2011/12/17_Russias_spiral_back_into_the_cold_-_THE_SUNDAY_TIMES.html

Putin, Russia & The West

a four-part BBC TV documentary,

watch on YouTube

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watch videos here >music.html
read lyrics here >lyrics.html


Putin decoded - cover story in Christian Science Monitor. 6 May 2012 READ HEREhttp://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0506/Putin-inauguration-World-view-of-a-Russian-feeling-dissed
Scotland’s EU bombshell? It’s bunkum from Barroso. The Guardian, 20 March 2013
READ HEREhttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/20/scotlands-eu-bombshell-bunkum-barroso
BBC website - Scots Hotel: Why the Church of Scotland has a Galilee getawayhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20126585

Also available in Chinese, Estonian, Polish and Romanian, and soon in Uighur, Kazakh, Mongolian and Kirghiz.

Why an independent Scotland will not have to “re-join” the EU - The Sunday Herald, 4 November 2012   READ HEREjournalism/Entries/2012/11/4_If_Scotland_votes_yes..._Europe_will_find_a_way_to_accept_it.html

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Shortlisted for International Affairs Book of the Year, Political Book Awards 2012

Lecture at LSE - audio
10 Jan 2012http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=1295



Broadcasting and the Scottish referendum


In his New Statesman interview, Alistair Darling likened Alex Salmond to Kim Jong-Il for remarking that UKIP’s unexpected success in Scotland was partly due to the extent to which Nigel Farage had been “beamed in” to the country during the European election campaign. In fact, Salmond’s observation was spot-on. It highlights a fundamental problem affecting Scottish television. It used to revolve around the argument over whether there should be a separate Scottish Six O’Clock News, given that since devolution the national Six’s coverage of health, education, policing and many other matters is irrelevant north of the border. Now, the problem has got much worse.

In my view, the blanket coverage of Farage seen in Scotland almost certainly helped the hitherto unpopular UKIP to enjoy its first success here - and it is not the SNP that might have won that sixth European seat, but the Greens. UKIP won 10.5 % of the vote, the Greens 8.1%. For anyone to argue that the two parties had equal coverage is preposterous. I rarely saw a Green on TV, whereas Farage was rarely off it. This is because the BBC’s priorities, and allocation of air time, reflected the parties’ positions in the UK as a whole (read England), so we in Scotland had to suffer wall-to-wall Farage even though before the campaign his party barely registered in opinion polls north of the border. It is not at all far-fetched to argue that the BBC’s national criteria skewed the election result here in Scotland.

The lack of a “Scottish Six” (and “Ten” and “Breakfast” and “One”, of course) is a fundamental democratic flaw. Every night, BBC viewers in Scotland have no choice but to sit through half-hour bulletins which, depending on the main stories, may have no domestic news at all that is relevant to their own lives. We hear about Gove and May squabbling, we see reports on Hunt’s plans for the English health service, we see Pickles, Greening, Grayling, Paterson, Javid. Not one word that any of these ministers says affects us. We have to wait for the end of the bulletin, for the “news where you are” before the most important stories of the day get aired – and then on a regional news programme that is starved of resources and talent.

The independence campaign has thrown up a new problem – quantified by Professor John Robertson of the University of West Scotland as a bias in BBC coverage of 3:2 towards remarks favourable to the No side. Many Scots are struggling to discern any real facts lurking in the jungle of speculation, scare-stories and sheer propaganda, so every nuance counts. Now that the official campaign has started there are rules governing how much time is given to the Yes and No campaigns. But practice shows that it is not about minutes measured with a stopwatch, but about attitudes and assumptions.

I have been taking notes. The most notorious lapse in impartiality was Andrew Marr’s interview with Jose Manuel Barroso. Not only did Marr fail to challenge the European Commission president when he likened Scotland to Kosovo and declared EU membership “difficult if not impossible”, but he felt free to interject: “I think it would be quite hard to get back in, I have to say.” Well, that was something a BBC presenter certainly does not “have to say”.

On another occasion Gavin Esler hosted an edition of Dateline London in which the four guests (all critics of Scottish independence) literally mocked Alex Salmond, though neither he nor any representative of the Yes campaign was there to give balance. Discussing whether Scotland might have to join the single currency, Esler opined: “Scotland will have to take the euro, that’s the deal.” Really? A deal, surely, will come at the end of negotiations, and since there is no rule and no precedent regarding a region seceding from an EU member state, neither Esler nor anyone else should be making such categorical statements. Sweden, which formally did sign up to join the euro 20 years ago, has no intention of doing so.

On Good Morning Scotland (the equivalent of the Today programme) a business leader, discussing the argument over whether or not an independent Scotland could use the pound, wondered if you could really call a country independent if it had to cede some sovereignty over its currency. The presenter, Jim Naughtie, chimed in: “Well yes, that really is the question.” Is it? Perhaps he should have challenged his guest about whether France, Germany and Belgium are not independent countries just because they share sovereignty in the euro zone.

Standards of broadcasting are at the very heart of democracy. As the people of Scotland search for facts, shorn of opinion and bias, the BBC needs to sharpen up.