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Friday / 14 December / 2018

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP at The Scottish Press Lunch 2018

By Milly Vincent

THE Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, was guest speaker at the Journalists’ Charity Scotland Christmas lunch on Friday December 14th.

A traditional journalists’ lunch was had by all as more than 300 supporters attended the event at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow, which was sponsored by RBS and raised many thousands of pounds for the charity.

Mr Gove praised the charity’s work and the vital role played by newspapers, saying ‘The pursuit of journalism is the pursuit of truth and without it democracy dies in darkness.’

Former Scotland captain and BBC rugby pundit Andy Nicol conducted the raffle draw, which included flights, weekend breaks and lots of Christmas drink.

Andy Harries, Journalists’ Charity chairman in Scotland, said: ‘After another extraordinary week in Westminster, we were delighted Michael was able to attend. It was tremendous to see many of the charity’s supporters at the lunch and I’m very pleased that we were able to raise so much money.’

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, who began his career as a journalist at the Aberdeen Press and Journal in the late 1980s, kindly delivered a speech on the importance of the media to democracy after an ‘unnerving and surreal’ week.


Introduction by Andy Harries, Editor of the Scottish Daily Mail and Chairman of the Journalists’ Charity in Scotland:

‘He belongs to a very exalted club whose members include Churchill, Bill Deedes and Michael Foot as having been both the dog and the lamppost. Michael has always been a staunch defender of the fourth estate indeed he wrote recently: “Our free press is a precious thing, it depends on proprietors being able to appoint who they want, editors being able to say what they want and reporters being able to write what they want. Free speech doesn’t really mean anything unless someone is offended and if the people offended are me and my colleagues then we must accept that’s a price we pay”.’

Spoken by Michael Gove MP:

‘I’m a journalist gone to the bad, I’m a gamekeeper turned poacher. I’m a dog who has become a rather bedraggled lamppost. In making the switch from reporting to politics I left a profession that I loved and admired for a complex of reasons. But one of the reasons why I love and admire journalism is that politicians rather like nappies have to be changed often and generally for the same reason. But while politicians are dispensable in a democracy, one thing is indispensable and that is a free press.

‘One of the sadnesses of my adult life time has been the decline of the local and regional media in this country. The newspaper in which I cut my teeth, The Press and Journal, is often caricatured for its provinciality. The fact that of course on the day that the Titanic sank the headline was “north-east man lost at sea”, on the day that World War One broke out their headline was “giant neap found in Edzell”. Laugh though we might, The Press and Journal’s closeness to its readers and its communities gives them a voice. The fact that those newspapers have been progressively undermined and see their market model eroded by technology, competition and digital invaders is a source of sadness to me. You can’t turn back technology and nor should you try. But there’s a responsibility to do all we can to keep local media vital and to ensure that people have a voice.

‘Another truly indispensable thing that the media does is to hold power accountable. We’ve seen all too many occasions of politicians drunk on arrogance or convinced of their own righteousness and have needed the voice of the media or the investigative power of journalists to bring them back down to earth and to bring our democracy back to health. I Know sometimes newspapers and commentators can be savage and vicious, partial and biased but so they should be. The only way that our democracy remains healthy is if we have a range of voices contending. If we have different newspapers, different TV channels, different sources which you can turn to and be challenged or to confirm your opinion in order to ensure that our democracy remains vital. SO that is why I’m so pleased to be here today to say to all of you thank you.

‘Journalism is a trade not a profession, it can sometimes seem a bedraggled trade at times, but it’s a noble one because the pursuit of journalism is the pursuit of truth and without truth democracy dies in darkness.’

A great thanks to Cameron Stark pipe major of St Columba’s School Kilmacolm for piping in our Environment Secretary Michael Gove and guests.


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