On Liberal Democrat Voice Caron Lindsay asks:
Could it be that Salmond’s discourtesy has something to do with a visit he received at Bute House two weeks ago from the Chinese Consul-General as reported in The Times? We know from reports in the Independent and the Courier that the Chinese authorities have been visiting local councils from Leeds to Inverness to discuss their involvement in the Dalai Lama’s visit. Only SNP-run Dundee City Council and the First Minister seem to have taken any notice of them.And Caron also quotes the condemnation of Salmond's decision by Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Lib Dems:
This is a missed opportunity. By failing to meet with the globally respected spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the First Minister may leave the impression that he is more concerned with pandering to the diktat of the Chinese government than promoting human rights. We ignore China’s human rights record at our peril. I appreciate that China would be sensitive about such a meeting but the First Minister should stand up for what’s important.I am instinctively sympathetic to the idea of small nations, but today's events have done nothing to make the prospect of an independent Scotland more attractive.
They have reminded me of Alex Salmond's appearance before the Leveson Inquiry. You can read his evidence on the inquiry website, but this quote from a Daily Record report is telling:
“I have no responsibility for broadcasting policy, I have no responsibility for plurality in the press but I do have a responsibility for jobs and investment in Scotland.”I don't find the idea that the provision of jobs in Scotland trumps concerns of media plurality or media ethics appealing. And if you heard Salmond you would have gained the impression that he would have little time for such considerations even if they were his legal responsibility.
It is easy to imagine an independent Scotland, at least one with Salmond and the SNP in charge, being a little too keen to placate the powerful and unattractive, whether it is Rupert Murdoch or the Chinese government, out of a fear of losing jobs.