Brian Wilson: Remembering a journalist who asked the right questions

Remembering BBC political reporter Kenny Macintyre should cause self-appraisal among his successors. Picture: BBC
Remembering BBC political reporter Kenny Macintyre should cause self-appraisal among his successors. Picture: BBC
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This week marked the 20th anniversary of Kenny Macintyre’s death and prompted musings about how different Scottish politics might be if he had lived – itself a rare tribute to a mere broadcaster.

I spoke at Kenny’s funeral service in Taynuilt, and said: “Kenny asked the right questions, Kenny punctured pomposity. His sole satisfaction was to inform. His role was not to spin or hurt or destroy, it was to communicate real information about issues and events. He did it better than anyone else. He was a man without malice who cared deeply about the work he did so well. Many listeners came to regard him as a reliable friend.”

To those who post-date Kenny, that perhaps gives a flavour of the man whose authoritative Tobermory tones dominated Scotland’s airwaves. Remembering him should cause self-appraisal among his successors.

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Kenny and I were old friends, like our fathers before us. But when Kenny switched on, there were no half-measures. He wanted the real story which was probably not the one you wanted to give him. If you walked away (as Norman Tebbitt famously did), that became the story.

It is a far cry from the formulaic coverage with which we are now familiar – Government press releases with pre-cooked, unchallenged ministerial sound-bite, apparatchiks hovering to ensure sure nobody asks unwanted questions.

Kenny would never have allowed that culture of entitlement to develop. He would sill be chasing ministers and First Ministers down corridors in search of real answers. That is why every leading Scottish politician was at Kenny’s funeral. They respected him for his integrity, professionalism and as an intellectual equal, with whom it was a privilege to joust. Such respect is worth earning.

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