The strange case of the ex-editor with Scottish blood who just can't resist attacking Scotland

KELVIN MacKenzie likes to consider himself a latter-day "hammer of the Scots".

The former editor of the Sun seized his chance on the BBC's Question Time programme on Thursday evening to tear into Scotland once again, this time claiming there were no entrepreneurs left north of the Border and all the Scots wanted to do was spend the money made by others.

This outburst was milder than previous references to Scots as "tartan tosspots" and a call for Hadrian's Wall to be built higher.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Mr MacKenzie rarely draws attention to his own Scottish links.

With such a Scottish name as Kelvin Calder MacKenzie, it is no surprise he should have some Scottish history in his family, but what the former editor never mentions when he goes on the attack is that he has to go back only two generations to find his Scots family.

Mr MacKenzie's grandfather was from Stirling and, by all accounts, a champion Highland Games competitor.

Mr MacKenzie remained unrepentant yesterday as the fall-out from his latest outburst continued and, unsurprisingly, he made no reference to his Scottish background.

He had sparked the row on Thursday when referring to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Mr MacKenzie said: "Brown is a Scot; he's a socialist Scot who wants to spend every single penny you earn. Never forget that."

Challenged by another panellist, Chuka Umunna of think-tank Compass, he insisted that the Prime Minister's Scottishness was relevant.

He added: "Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism, like in London and the South-east. He [Mr Brown] could not find anybody who could carry his bag better than another Scot, so he grabbed Darling from wherever he was.

"The reality is that the Scots enjoy spending it; they do not enjoy creating it, which is the opposite of down in the South."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Amid jeers and boos from the audience, Mr Umunna described the comments as "absolutely disgraceful". Mr MacKenzie just smiled.

Duncan Bannatyne, a Scottish entrepreneur and panellist on the BBC's Dragons' Den said Mr MacKenzie was "plain wrong" about Scots entrepreneurs.

Mr Bannatyne said: "

Britain's rich list demonstrates that Scottish entrepreneurs are alive and well."

However, not only did Mr MacKenzie refuse to take a step back, he elaborated on his remarks in a series of television interviews yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said: "If it wasn't for London and the South-east, Scotland would be heading towards being a third-world nation now."

And, on Radio 5 Live, Mr MacKenzie added: "Basically, the Scots exist solely on the handouts of the clever English, generating wealth in London and the South-east.

"By the way, that's also true, unfortunately, of other parts of the nation and the money is generated down here and it goes up to Scotland. They are no longer the wealth generators that they once were."

Wendy Alexander, Labour's leader in Scotland, said she "could not disagree more" with Mr MacKenzie, while the SNP's Stewart Hosie described Mr MacKenzie as "laughable".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A spokesman for the BBC said 350 complaints had been received about Mr MacKenzie's comments, which had been pre-recorded an hour before broadcast.

But the spokesman defended the programme, saying there had been no plans to change it. "His views are controversial, but robust argument is what the debate on Question Time is all about," he said.

"There is no question of the BBC or Question Time endorsing the views of any panellist who appeared on the programme."

Scientists refer to the "Kelvin scale" when measuring temperature. It now seems that the BBC will have a rather different meaning for the phrase, depending on how many complaints Mr MacKenzie can generate in a day.