RIOTS AN ENGLISH EVENT
The General Secretary (GS) of the Celtic League has written to the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond to congratulate him on the comments he made following the riots in England last week.
First Minister Salmond pointed out that the riots that were occurring in England were not `UK riots’ as they were initially described by the first media reports, but `English riots’. Salmond stated that in broadcasting this distortion the
media was potentially indirectly damaging the economy of Scotland, especially tourism, because people were being put off from visiting the country. Salmond’s political opponents complained that in pointing this out he was being a
“political opportunist” and “small minded”, but some overseas governments did advise its citizens against travelling to the UK last week as the riots spread across England.
In his letter to the First Minister the GS suggests that he was right to criticise the “inaccurate” and “misleading” media reporting, because of the damage that this could potentially cause to the economy of other areas of the UK as well as exposing the bias and politically motivated journalism that can sometimes be found in some media reports.
The full text of the letter from the GS can be found below:
“15 August 2011
Dear First Minister Salmond
I am writing to congratulate you for publically expressing the opinion on BBC Radio Scotland last week that the riots that were taking place in cities across England were not `UK riots’ and should not be described as such by the media and
I fully agree with you that to describe the disturbances in the broadly general terms as `UK riots’ is potentially damaging to the economies of other areas of the British Isles. In the present harsh economic climate local economies cannot
afford to have tourists put off from travelling to UK destinations outside of England at this important time of year, because of ill thought out remarks made in the media. I personally experienced the damaging affect on the tourist trade
that can be potentially caused by such reporting, when a couple of friends from abroad who were planning to visit Cornwall phoned me last week to check if it was safe to do so after reading reports on BBC online about the riots. When my
friends could not contact me they were thinking of calling their trip off, even though they were travelling directly to Cornwall and were not going near any of the English cities that were affected. As you may be aware Cornwall is heavily
dependent on tourism and is one of the poorest regions of the European Union, so it is essential to the economy that the overseas tourist trade continues.
For the media to describe the riots as UK wide was an inaccurate, misleading and politically charged message in a devolved UK. Even though there were some minor disturbances in Cardiff last week, you were right to point out that the communities of the devolved nations of the UK are distinct to those of England and it is unlikely that riots will erupt in these communities for the same
reasons as they have in the English nation. The media should be aware of these distinctions in the same way that they are careful not to describe the disturbances in the north of Ireland as `UK’ events, but `Northern Irish’. In
addition to describe the English riots as `UK’ based could in fact deflect the focus away from the real causes of the riots, which need to be immediately addressed by politicians to prevent these events from happening again.
Regardless of how the overseas media describes the `UK’, the Celtic League believes that it is necessary that media reporting within the UK is accurate and unbiased. Even though it is unfortunate that the overseas media sometimes
misconstrues and/or fails to understand the political state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is nevertheless important that high journalistic standards are aspired to among media sources here.
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.
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