Talk:Ruth Deech, Baroness Deech

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External Link Suggestion[edit]

Gresham College have a nice biography of Baroness Deech on their website: Linked to this are the various lectures of hers made available through the website. I think that this would be an obvious and unquestionable addition to this page. (I only don't put it up myself as there is a possible conflict-of-interest as I am connected with Gresham College, where the lecture was given). Jamesfranklingresham (talk) 12:34, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Views on Scottish politics[edit]

A pair of single purpose (in one case) and nearly single purpose (in the other case) accounts have been edit warring about this section. I propose that they, and anyone else, discuss it here before re-inserting.

Two points: First, it needs to be established that her views on Scottish politics are relevant to her biography. That she made a comment on one occasion (a comment that, it appears, was pretty aggressive and possibly said in jest, it's hard to know without third party coverage) is not enough: it has to be shown that this comment or this comment and others like it have received significant attention and/or had significant influence or impact. Second, we can't do original research and editorialize that her comments weren't factual.

I would argue that unless she's known primarily or at least importantly as an anti-Scottish politician, this doesn't really belong in the bio at all.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

In reply to your first point: Baroness Deech spoke out on a live broadcast programme which has resulted in a raft of complaints to the BBC about the overt racism and xenophobia she appeared to assert on that show. Since it has created a scandal in Scotland, this controversy must be considered relevant to her biography. It is something that she did and for which she is now known in Scotland. Perhaps the problem here is that her biography is so slight that inserting this incident into it would effectively double the page space of what she has done in life and would distort the impression that a reader would get about her. The solution is not to remove the "scandalous" material to save her blushes but to enlarge upon her other deeds.
In reply to your second point: I agree, reluctantly, that the third paragraph you removed is editorialised and needs to be taken out (although it is also factual and relevant) but the first two paragraphs were a simple statement of fact and a direct quote which allows the reader to come to their own conclusion about her. I suggest that we reinstate the first two paragraphs of this section and call it "Controversy about Scotland".
Finally, if it wasn't for the Wikipedia biography, her racist remarks about Scotland would be the *only* thing that I knew about her. The point being that, thanks to Wikipedia, I have learned some good things about her, why do you object to also listing the bad? This is not gossip, it is the reporting of her own words that are (or can be) fully referenced.Cattwister (talk) 12:28, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that some small mention of the incident would be valuable in the context of a full biography, but the way we do things around here is to write the full biography first and then insert the potentially problematic content. It is not ok to make a biography heavily unbalanced in the vague hope that someone will fix it someday. I make it my hobby to write about members of the Lords, but I'm quite busy of course, so I don't think I will personally have time to do much on this one, although I will try as I can.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
"the way we do things around here is to write the full biography first and then insert the potentially problematic content" - If that was correct then only those who could spend a significant amount of time researching and compiling would be able to add anything, and nothing would be able to evolve over time. The strength and indeed the accuracy of Wikipedia is all down to the evolution of information through numerous contributions from different individuals. I am fully aware, as are you, no doubt, that this is likely to be a flash in the pan. Two months from now, unless some legal challenge or some other incident escalates matters, this outburst of hers will fade into the background. It won't be forgotten but it will have a less damning persepective put upon it. You, I feel, are anticipating that possibility and are premature in *completely* removing the entry like this, indeed it smacks of censorship (pretending it never happened?). Instead why don't we let it stand for a few weeks and then see how things have panned out? At the moment we are only arguing over the insertion of a simple fact: "she said X" which has caused outrage in Scotland. Facts, in context and in perspective are what Wikipedia entries should be striving for in the long term. Breaking news items, like this, will always fail in that since "perspective" takes time. But using that as an excuse to write *nothing at all* about an incident within the context of a *living document* such as Wikipedia is wrong. Please consider reinstating those paragraphs.Cattwister (talk) 23:34, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Response to Views on Scottish politics[edit]

These comments have had significant impact and influence. The particular BBC programme in which Baroness Deech made these comments was broadcast to the whole of the UK and recorded in front of a clapping audience in England. However, they were not jocular remarks, but very agressive xenophobic ones. She was clearly playing to and whipping up the audience. Indeed, another participant subsequently felt encouraged to take up her line. This broadcast has been the subject of many debates on the BBC blogs and the blogosphere in general. It has been written about in national newspapers and many letters and comments have been written in response. In fact, a subsequent programme on the BBC was nationally broadcast which debated her and the other participant's comments. Most phone-in and written comments broadcast during this programme were highly critical of Baroness Deech's behaviour. Both broadcasts are freely available on the internet: [1]

I would therefore argue that she is certainly now widely known as an anti-Scottish person, or at least a person with unbalanced and prejudiced views about Scots and that she is willing to express them in public without any remorse. Chickenlickentime (talk) 22:20, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

It seems a shame that an illustrious career has been blighted by this now well reported racist polemic. However it is the reason the majority of people are aware of her name. Perhaps a short remark "She came to wide public notice after being roundly condemned for racists comments made on a BBC Radio show on August 20th 2010" would suffice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:36, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

The quote has been contextualized better at the request of Cumnor. In response to their query concerning the exact identity of the Campbell mentioned by Baroness Deech, it seems this could be referring to one of several people. To resolve this, a link to the Wikipedia page: Campbell (surname)has replaced the previous link. This statement has caused a great deal of public debate and therefore merits inclusion. However, in the interests of balance, a short descriptive remark along the lines of what the contributor above has suggested, could be inserted instead.Chickenlickentime (talk) 15:18, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

It is not appropriate to term the comments 'racist' - particularly without a source, as Scots are not a race, and the remarks were purely political and not about Scots as an ethnic group at all. I remain unconvinced that this incident is of any importance whatsoever outside of a narrow portion of the blogosphere.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:21, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Addendum - a query for 'Deech Scotland' in google news archives for the last month - the comment was made 11 days ago on August 20th reveals zero news stories about this remark. It is therefore not appropriate to include in Wikipedia, as a minor incident of no importance. Claims that the remarks were racist are clearly outrageous and unsupported by sources.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:28, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Incorrect: the Scots are a race. A simple Google search will turn up several pages that assert that. Here is one from "The Celtic Review" published in 1910 entitled "The Scottish Race" - Perhaps you would like to explain exactly what has happened in the last 100 years to un-make the Scots as a race? That aside, looking purely within Wikipedia itself, try the entry for "Racism" and you will find this: ' British law the phrase racial group means "any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin".' So if racism covers "national origin", and since Baroness Deech's remarks were about Scots, Scotland and the Scottish Government, then it is 100% correct to term her remarks racist. It is disingenuous of you to pretend otherwise by undefining the Scots as a race. Sophistry, even.Cattwister (talk) 23:27, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

The Scots, and indeed the English, are covered under the UK's Race Relations Act 1976 (to be replaced eventually with the Equalities Act 2010). See Souster v BBC, Court of Session, 7 December 2000 - This decision of the Court of Session followed the decision of the House of Lords in Mandla (Sewa Singh) v. Dowell Lee [1983] 2 AC 548, the leading case on race relations legislation, holding that Sikhs were protected by the 1976 Act. Higher authority that Jimbo Wales on the subject, I believe Randomwaffle (talk) 22:52, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Firstly, the insertion does not use the term 'racist,' so this assertion is invalid. The text merely quotes Baroness Deech herself. Her comments at the end were clearly referring to the Scots as an ethnic group, but again this is not made explicit in the contextualisation. It is left up to the reader. If it doesn't state "racism" or "ethnicity" in the insert, how have you deduced that that is where the controversy lies? This incident has been the subject of letters from Scottish MPs to the BBC and various news articles, particularly in Scotland. As you may imagine, this is where this incident is not of "minor importance." Chickenlickentime (talk) 16:24, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Sources?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:34, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Try here: This news source establishes that: Sir Robert Smith MP (Liberal Democrat) has written to Director General of the BBC Mark Thompson regarding the broadcast. Annabel Goldie MSP. Leader of Scottish Conservatives finds (basing her opinion on a transcript of the words she used) "some of the content is misinformed while other comments completely disregard the reality of devolution and of course that a minority SNP Government does not speak for all of Scotland." Tavish Scott MSP. Leader of Scottish Liberal Democrats thinks "the comments are offensive." We all believe in free speech, I hope. Just as Baroness Deech should be completely free to say what she likes, it is also quite right that if what she says is offensive to such a wide group of opinions, quoting what she has said in an accurate and objectively contextualized manner should not be censored. The fairest way to represent her views is to simply quote her own words. Making the entry shorter would be possible but this ruins the risk of ruining the neutrality of the context.

You didn't answer my other points above. Chickenlickentime (talk) 18:37, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

This purported source is a blog post which doesn't even mention Baroness Deech at all. That's not even remotely good enough.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:22, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

You can find a recording of what Baroness Deech said and how she said it here: recording of comments Chickenlickentime (talk) 00:00, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

This source is better, as it is directly about the remarks in question.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:23, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
If you listen to the audio, it is clear that her remark about taking Scottish politicians back is a joke - the tone is joking and the audience erupts in laughter.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:37, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I think we should leave that up to Wikipedia readers, rather than censor the content.Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:02, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Editorial judgment is not censorship.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:11, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

In this specific case, it is. Especially considering I have repeatedly asked for advice on how the information could be presented in a condensed format. Simply erasing this valid information is censorship. Chickenlickentime (talk) 18:24, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I remain firmly unconvinced[edit]

So far we have exactly one newspaper blog post discussing this - no actual reliable sources to give any indication that it is notable. Rather than revert again, I've asked for more people to take a look at it, over at the biographies noticeboard.

It has been claimed here that this remark received widespread press attention and is notable. If that's true, it's about time to bring forward references. So far, we have one blog post that is relevant, and nothing else. Nothing. Additionally, a search in google news archives for the relevant time period reveals nothing at all.

I am fully prepared to change my opinion on the notability, if sufficient sourcing can be found. In that case, my attention will turn more to WP:UNDUE because one remark, which seems to have caused minimal news attention anywhere, including Scotland, hardly deserves mention.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:32, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, if reliable sources aren't talking about this, why are we? I've removed it pending some evidence that this is actually controversial. --Cameron Scott (talk) 10:33, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Agree, can't find a source showing this as a controversy. Here in the UK that is quite a common joke (at least in the last year or so) - usually from comedians, often on BBC radio. Whether she meant it as a joke or seriously is a matter for reliable sources, as are claims of a controversy. And I can't find anything :) The added content was definitely undue --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 10:41, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant: That this kind of talk is commonplace, I'm afraid, is no basis for excluding this quote. That is precisely the point made by the article in The Scotsman cited below, whose title is ""BBC failing Scots by allowing prejudice on the air." As we all know, received and unchallenged opinions can be very divisive. Secondly, comedians are one thing. Peers are another.Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:33, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Even so, she said it in a joking way, and the audience laughed. So it was clearly a joke. Whether it is notable or not is not really only up to us, but up to reliable sources.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 11:44, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. And as I said above, that should be left up to Wikipedia readers. The priority should be to present the content as objectively as possible. Let's not get subjective. Remember, Baroness Deech is a UK peer. What she says is taken seriously. Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:56, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Let's not get subjective. saying this, then this Remember, Baroness Deech is a UK peer. What she says is taken seriously. is contradictory. I logged into Athens and got a copy of the article you mentioned; it's an opinion piece. Which is fine in one respect. But on the other we have one opinion that this was a controversial statement which is not particularly compelling. We don't even have a reliable source talking about the controversy (i.e. saying "this statement caused a controversy with XYZ"). It's very tenuous. If her statement is/was taken seriously (which I really doubt) then there will be sources backing that up. So far they are lacking. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 18:45, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
So you don't think the content of what peers have said when they are giving their opinion in public political debate (not a comedy programme) is to be taken seriously? It seems you also think that it should not be discussed. These are very subjective opinions. Chickenlickentime (talk) 19:08, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
From my perspective; yes, I would take it seriously - in this case it was a joke, some are certain to be offended but *shrug* some people always are. However mine or your opinion on whether it is serious opinion, whether it was a joke or not and whether it is notable is not relevant. We need sources and so far these are insufficient. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 19:19, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
What she says is taken seriously - we need a source for such things. We need a source highlighting this as a notable issue not just a contentious one. The content you added was not objective and certainly [{WP:UNDUE]] --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 12:03, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant: The writer of the article in The Scotsman cited below is Joan MacAlpine, who has been editor of Sunday Times Scotland. Is that not notable enough? In what sense is the erased content subjective? If you tell me, perhaps we can sort it out. Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:26, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I found her comments utterly disgusting, and in no way "jokey". I find it a great controversy that a board member of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, can utter such a prejudicial attack on the people of Scotland. The panel members themselves described their words as "anti-Scottish rhetoric". For me the controversy is that she is a board member of a body that compiles and maintains a database of antisemitism/racism in media and correspondence, yet deems it acceptable to attack and abuse the people of the country of Scotland. It is shameful that this debate is being had, and in my book it is tantamount to censorship that the reading public are denied an opportunity to see the predjudice espoused by a woman who allegedly stands for something better. The controversy wording should be reinstated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:20, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Another Reliable Source[edit]

In response to your request for additional reliable sources, the controversy has been taken up by The Scotsman newspaper. This is a serious, high circulation newspaper in Scotland, with a strong pro-union editorial stance. This article,"BBC failing Scots by allowing prejudice on the air", appears in its printed edition today. The journalist heavily criticises Baroness Deech and another participant in "Any Questions?". Online, this is unfortunately classed as a premium article and cannot be seen without purchasing a subscription. But here's the link for verification purposes

It seems the discussion has taken on an overly subjective tone and I regret that. Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:18, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I would agree that the incident featuring in the Scotsman increases its notability. I think whether it increases it enough is something for editors here to comment on. If so, then perhaps it can be included, but I also think it attention needs to be paid to WP:UNDUE - it seems very unlikely to me that this deserves anyhting more than a passing reference, and it still remains to be seen whether it should be inlcuded at all. --FormerIP (talk) 11:31, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
The article in the Scotsman is an opinion column by a Joan McAlpine. Per WP:RS it should only be used to give the opinion of the author. Is Joan McAlpine's view significant? That her name is redlinked suggests not. I agree that the section gave undue weight to what currently appears to be a very minor incident in this person's life. This may change with time, of course, if other secondary sources take it up. --Slp1 (talk) 11:56, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
There are 5 hits in google blog search for the past 7 days, and 2 of them are not relevant.
Of the 3 that are relevant to this case, 1 of them simply cites Wikipedia, which suggests that the POV pushing in this article has had some impact already. Wikipedia is not the place to drum up a nationalist campaign, I'm afraid. The blogs don't seem to care very much.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:06, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Slp1: I am sorry you think Joan MacAlpine may be irrelevant because she is redlinked. In actual fact, she has been editor of the Sunday Times Scotland and is a very well-known journalist in Scotland. Jimbo Wales: I simply believe these comments to be false and offensive and to have been voiced in an inappropriate public setting of supposedly serious political discussion. So spare me the nonsense about nationalism, please. Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:20, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

What you and I and anyone else believes is irrelevant. Everything can offend someone. Unfortunately this is just not a notable part of her biography - it seems to have caused no widespread outrage or condemnation etc. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 12:23, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Let me rephrase that, then. That you believe the comments are false and offensive are a perfectly good reason for you to go comment on her blog about it, or on a newspaper blog, or on your own blog. However, you being offended about this one comment which has gotten virtually no news or blog coverage and seems likely to be completely forgotten within a few more weeks has no bearing on whether or not it belongs in an encyclopedia entry.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:53, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Let me rephrase that then. You think coverage by a regular columnist on The Scotsman, a major Scottish newspaper, and an ex editor of The Sunday Times in Scotland is "virtually no news coverage"? Who else do you think would take up this controversy apart from a journalist based in Scotland? So to recap: Its factual-this is what Baroness Deech said. It's objective since it simply states what was asked, quotes her directly, and provides a link to a live audio recording as source. The controversy has been established. The notability has been established. I have repeatedly asked for advice in how it could be better be presented to fit in with the existing article. But no, it's simply erased. Chickenlickentime (talk) 18:50, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant: On the Wikipedia page I didn't state what I believed, I left it open to the readers. I agree, what I believe is irrelevant. That's why the input is presented as objectively as possible. If you feel that could be done better, please advise. I repeat my comment made above. Joan MacAlpine, the writer of the article cited above "BBC failing Scots by allowing prejudice on the air" has been editor of the Sunday Times Scotland. Doesn't that mean anything? Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:36, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I can't speak for the others with certainty, but no one has suggested that it doesn't mean anything. It just doesn't mean enough.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:13, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

To you. Of course not.Chickenlickentime (talk) 18:50, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Or indeed to the rest of us from the thrust of the conversation here - it simply WP:UNDUE to include based on the sources discussed here. --Cameron Scott (talk) 19:01, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

If you actually addressed the points I have raised your contribution would be more appropriate and helpful. Chickenlickentime (talk) 19:27, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi Joan McAlpine here. Re the controversy over my CV. I have been a weekly columnist more or less continually in Scotland for the last 20 years. Currently with The Scotsman, previously The Sunday Times and The Herald. I am a former Journalist of the Year in the annual Scottish Press Awards. As well as being a former editor of The Sunday Times in Scotland I was deputy editor of The Herald, Scotland's leading quality daily newspaper from 2001 to 2006. I contribute fairly regularly to BBC Radio and Television myself. For example I was one of four panellists on BBC Scotland's annual St Andrew's night debate last year. I am a regular guest speaker and chairperson of events in Scotland such as The Edinburgh International Book Festival and in the Scottish parliament itself Hopefully this clarifies things, I have often wondered why I am red linked too! Re the Baroness Deech controversy, a wide variety of people have complained officially to the BBC and the corporation has issued a detailed response. Might it help to find out how many complaints have been made? Also, I am really surprised that Wiki is saying a story is less relevant because it is an internet phenomenon and requires verification in the mainstream press. Surely that runs counter to your own values? In Scotland we have a peculiar situation with the MSM which is overwhelmingly hostile to anything with threatens the union with England. AS a result the pro-independence movement is more active online. It is, however, a significant movement. The pro-independence SNP are currently the government of Scotland, and the number of Scots favouring full independence regular exceeds 50%. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Joan McAlpine states that "the number of Scots favouring full independence regular exceeds 50%" - that is not true and is very misleading,see —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:12, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi, it's not a problem with your CV, simply that the matter hasn't been mentioned by multiple reliable sources, so by the standards we use here for a controversy, it's not. If multiple reliable sources had mentioned it (for example as they have for William Hague's recent problems) we would stick it in. As for your red link, I'll look in it, I think you are notable by our standards. --Cameron Scott (talk) 20:52, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Hello Joan, and welcome. A couple of words of explanation. WP focusses its content on what we call reliable sources because, as you no doubt know, there is all sorts of rubbish out there on the internet (including in WP articles, sadly!). If WP permitted the blogs, webfora and other internet phenonema, 9/11 would be the work of aliens and the earth flat. Biographies of living people would be full of salacious "facts" that somebody made up and posted on their website- not the specific problem here, but I am sure you get the point. WP doesn't seek to do original work, but in a rather boring fashion, it seeks to summarize the work of others published in the high quality sources. WP doesn't seek to be an up-to-date news service either. I've seen it suggested that editors writing biographies should think about whether an incident will be considered significant in a person's life 10-20 years from now. With the limited coverage her comments have received so far, I don't think this is such an event, but obviously that could change. One way you could help would be to link to the BBC's response/official statement; that might change the level of significance of the event. --Slp1 (talk) 21:08, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Oh, and yes I agree, based on a closer look that you are very likely notable enough for an article here. But just be aware that it can most definitely be a mixed blessing, as this very article has shown! --Slp1 (talk) 21:17, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

(edit conflict) In fact, I think all the points have been addressed. This is an encyclopedia, which aims to accurately and neutrally summarize what other reliable sources have said about a subject. This doesn't mean collecting together all the information out there. It also doesn't mean trawling through someone's writings or speeches to find the "bad" or the "good" parts to prove a point one way or the other, most especially with living people. People get pissed off at public figures all the time, but not every complaint is worthy of note. If what Deech said has struck a chord or a gong, reliable sources such as newspapers will note it. And then WP will too. If they don't, then WP won't. To date we have one opinion column from a writer and former editor of the Sunday Times Scotland (for about 10 months, about 10 years ago)[[1]. This article is simply not enough to establish that this incident has enough importance to include in an encyclopedia article. --Slp1 (talk) 20:49, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Slp1: Joan McAlpine has been a major commentator and journalist in Scotland for twenty years. Don't be disrespectful! Accuracy and Neutrality. Absolutely agree! That concurs with the nature of the most recent entry removed. It is being talked about in a major newspaper, online, and among politicians and the BBC as Joan McAlpine, a reliable source, has confirmed. There is even a primary source, a studio recording of the actual spoken words of Baroness Deech. Yes all the points have been addressed. It should be re-instated. Chickenlickentime (talk) 21:15, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Just to reiterate this - as the message does not seem to be getting through.
  • We have one primary source, which is not usable for notability
  • We have a single reliable source opinion piece calling it controversial.
  • We have no sources discussing a controversy and highlighting it as notable
As a result there is just not enough sourcing for this to be a notable incident. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 21:23, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Indeed. One secondary source, an opinion column, even from an unred-linked Joan McAlpine (and as you can see above, I agree that she should be), is simply not enough to make this a significant event in Deech's career. Outrage on the internet and chatter among politicians and the BBC reported in a WP posting simply aren't reliable sources. --Slp1 (talk) 21:51, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Though it doesn't seem to have had a significant effect, it is perhaps worth noting there has been some off-wiki efforts to recruit editors to this topic. --Slp1 (talk) 22:15, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

There has been a lot of discussion of this controversy on this particular site /source you link to. It wouldn't be surprising if these people and others on the internet had become aware of the changes happening on the Baroness's wikipedia page. It is, after all, the first search that comes up if you google her name and quite a few people are talking about this. Chickenlickentime (talk) 23:00, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Joan McAlpine blog post[edit]

Joan McAlpine has written a blog post about this exchange (apologies if this has been mentioned before but I can't see it) -

It's been a long time since I've edited at Wikipedia so I can't pretend to be steeped in the proprieties that are being used as figleafs in this duscussion, but two things that Jimbo Wales said leap out at me as utterly incredible - firstly, the bald assertion that the Scots are "not a race". To coin a term, "source?" Did I imagine the tick-box in the census allowing me to list my ethnicity as Scottish? Why do the police regularly investigate instances of anti-English racism in Scotland, if the English are not a race? And if the English are a race, how can the Scots not be?

The second incredible comment is the citing of the English audience reaction as some kind of 'proof' that this is no big deal. If an all-white radio audience in the 1960s had erupted in laughter at a public figure making racist comments ("jokes" or otherwise) about African-Americans, would that have somehow lessened the offence caused, or exacerbated it? Please take the blinkers off, Mr Wales. It's hard to escape the conclusion that, at a gut instinctive level, you are in tune with the London metropolitan interpretation of the Scottish reaction to these sorts of incidents (marginal, trivial, not to be taken seriously) and have been scrabbling around for anything that will justify the way you acted upon those instincts after the fact. Sofia9 (talk) 06:14, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

If you want to soapbox to Jimbo Wales, take it to his talkpage. --Cameron Scott (talk) 07:15, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Nice try, Cameron, but won't wash. My comments may have been pointed, but they were specifically directed at the stated reasons for Mr Wales making the editorial decision he did. If that isn't the function of this discussion page, I don't know what is. In a hierarchical decision-making structure, where Mr. Wales has absolute discretion to veto any other contributor's edit, and when by his own admission he bases his decision primarily on 'editorial judgement' (ie. something that will always be highly subjective), it is not possible to meaningfully challenge an unwarranted decision he has made without first challenging the worldview that lies behind that judgement, which he could hardly have made clearer with a series of "this is how it is because I say it is" remarks both about the status of Scots as an ethnic group (ie. they're not one), the motivations of the person who made the original edit ("POV pushing", "drum up a nationalist campaign"), and his extraordinary proposition that Deech's remarks can be deemed non-controversial simply because a portion of the English radio audience found them funny. The fact that some of the audience clearly shared her objectionable views does not, I think, take us much further forward - except that it perhaps ought to assist an understanding of just why this incident caused so much offence. Sofia9 (talk) 15:09, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Generally speaking, from a scholarly perspective, the Scots are not really a race - they are an ethnic group. You may be confusing race and ethnicity. It's a minor difference; but racism is certainly not an apt term for such thinking (maybe Xenophobia). The main point, though, stands - which is that no reliable source has accused her of racism. So the wording was inappropriate. The English audiences reaction is a reasonable test; unless, of course, you are suggesting the English are generally xenophobic about the Scottish... on the one hand this is an important issue at the moment (the whole Scottish devolution thing and the way money is divided right now etc.) - she was making light of that, I think. I did a quick straw poll of my Scottish friends and they couldn't see the offence. As with most of these things you will find a small minority of people writing to the papers in outrage, just as you will find a tiny minority of English people writing to the papers in support (after taking it seriously). People tend to look for offence where they can. Such things always happpen - is it a notable controversy though? Not based on the current sources. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 17:33, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
I suggest you take up your 'scholarly definition' of racism with the police and courts in the UK - I don't know how on earth Wikipedia would go about recording a criminal conviction for anti-English racism in Scotland. "The conviction should have been for xenophobia, but according to the erroneous laws of Scotland it was racism", perhaps?
"no reliable source has accused her of racism"
Do you want to stop and have a think about how ridiculous that sounds? No accusation is a "reliable source" - an accusation is a willful act, not a factual report. The real point, however, is absolutely not the question of whether she has been accused ("reliably" or otherwise) of racism - I don't see anyone demanding that the word 'racism' absolutely must be included in the article. The issue is whether there should be an objectively-worded (and perhaps quite brief) reference to comments that were perceived as anti-Scottish and caused controversy on that basis.
"The English audiences reaction is a reasonable test; unless, of course, you are suggesting the English are generally xenophobic about the Scottish"
The words "logical fallacy" are springing to mind. We don't know exactly what percentage of the audience laughed and cheered, but what I am suggesting (and I think this is fairly self-evidently true) is that the people who did so generally sympathised with her anti-Scottish sentiments. If you seriously regard that as a "reasonable test", I can only assume that you honestly imagine a Scottish audience would have given her a similar reaction. If you do, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Suffice to say you're wrong.
"I did a quick straw poll of my Scottish friends" - oh, please. I consulted my mates down the pub and they were all really offended - are you impressed? Thought not. Let's be serious. Sofia9 (talk) 23:04, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
The words "logical fallacy" are springing to mind, no the point I was making was that the fact the audience laughed indicates they found it funny; for which the explanation is a) it was meant light heartedly or b) the audience was xenophobic...
This is not a controversy; no reasonable, verified source has established this as a notable controversy in her life - we are not here to record every minutiae that perhaps overly sensitive people find offensive. We have a single reliable source calling this anti-scottish. No comment is made about any controversy. Without sources we have nothing to work with.
The race discussion came up in relation to the word racism, which was originally included. It is a very strong word that was used in a marginal context with no source, I think that was Jimbo's point. My comment about a quick poll was to point out the problem with taking a sounding from a small subset of people. You say that this caused "so much offence" but the lack of coverage suggests strongly that it is a minority taking offence. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 23:35, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Errant, it has already been pointed out to you and others that the very fact that the BBC issued a statement rebutting the suggestions of anti-Scottishness is in itself evidence that there were a significant number of complaints - they would not have done so for a trivial number. Short of a scientifically-conducted opinion poll, both your impression and mine of where the balance of opinion lies is utterly meaningless - there is, however, more than sufficient objective evidence of significant numbers of people in absolute terms who were offended, most of which you are discounting on technicalities. I'm glad you are at least now conceding there is one reliable source - I presume that was the Joan McAlpine article? Yes, in spite of people's best efforts, it's a bit difficult to keep up the pretence that this controversy has been dreamt up from scratch by a 'POV pusher' when it's made its way to a prominent column in one of Scotland's two leading quality newspapers.
"the audience laughed indicates they found it funny"
You don't seem to have noticed that no-one is actually disputing the fact that they found it funny - that, in many ways, is the whole reason why the incident caused such deep offence. Both you and Mr Wales seem to be struggling with this concept, and I genuinely don't understand why. People who hold chauvinistic views tend to find chauvinistic jokes funny. Part of the function of that kind of humour is social validation - hearing other people laugh along with you brings the reassurance that your views are "OK" and nothing to be ashamed of.
Now, you're of course trying valiantly to force me into a false choice of either a) it was all just a harmless joke, or b) it wasn't a joke at all and the entirety of the English audience were xenophobes. But I'm afraid the answer is c) it was a joke (in the sense that it was calculated to provoke mirth), but one that pandered to ugly prejudices and was consciously intended to wound, and the section of the audience that responded enthusiastically to those views - and only that section - were indeed, for the most part, betraying an anti-Scottish sentiment. Sofia9 (talk) 00:16, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Ruth Deech's comments on BBC's "Any Questions?".[edit]

I would like to recap on and ADD TO the sources discovered concerning this event. These provide ample justification for a mention of this incident in Wikipedia. How this should be done, I re-iterate, to maintain fairness and objectivity is the issue which needs to be addressed, rather than simple inclusion/exclusion. Please advise.

Impact, Contention, Accuracy and Notability underpinned by the following reliable sources:

1. The BBC: I refer you to their complaints policy:

In the section, “What does the BBC publish about the complaints it receives?” it explains the area of policy relevant to this case. I quote: “On this website we publish public responses to issues of wide audience concern if they cause a significant number of complaints or involve a significant issue.” A BBC response concerning this incident was published (see link below), indicating that as far as the BBC is concerned, this is CONTROVERSIAL and NOTABLE enough to merit attention: Note the comments about the audience reaction. This clearly accepts that the laughing was disagreeable and asks the reader to accept that this reaction may not be representative of the whole audience. THIS REFUTES THE IDEA THAT THIS “INCIDENT” WAS A LIGHT-HEARTED ONE, AS CLAIMED EARLIER IN THIS DISCUSSION. The letter also REJECTS accusations of RACISM OR ANTI-SCOTTISHNESS. PERHAPS THE RELEVANT COMMENTS SHOULD BE QUOTED IN THE INTERESTS OF BALANCE AND FAIRNESS:

2. Newspaper article printed in major Scottish newspaper. Available online (as a premium article): THE SCOTSMAN article by Joan McAlpine:

3. Follow up article on Joan McAlpine’s personal blog about the controversy, Wikipedia publication and the Baroness’s Wikipedia page.

Accuracy and Controversy 4. The factual accuracy of the content /quote can be established by listening to the BBC Any Questions? Studio recording can be found here: Please also note: one of the other invited panellists in the course of the programme actually described the comments made by Baroness Deech and fellow panellist Douglas Murray as “ANTI-SCOTTISH RHETORIC.” This also highlights the CONTROVERSIAL aspect of this event.

The following sources were returned by a Google search titled “Deech anti-scottish” on 02 September 2010 at 15.46 hours GMT. The sources quoted below are from ONLY the first two pages of this search.

Online News 5. The following publication is web only, but has a very high number of visits. “Fury at BBC’s ‘anti-Scottish’ broadcast”:

Blogs and Public Debate Forums 6. Baroness Deech’s own blog at the House of Lords (Baroness Deech responds in the course of this moderated debate):

7. Listener’s blog: Complaint - Any Questions 20th of August, 2010

8. Public debate forum:

9. Listener’s blog:

10. Public debate forum:

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Chickenlickentime (talkcontribs) 2010-09-03 10:53:46

You are now suggesting original research based off your reading of BBC policy pages, it's just not going to fly. --Cameron Scott (talk) 11:03, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Only #2 is a reliable source. And it constitues commentary/opinion so is not suitable as a neutral analysis of the controversy. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 11:18, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Which takes us back around to the start of the conversation, it would be WP:UNDUE to include this on the basis of the coverage in the WP:RS. --Cameron Scott (talk) 11:20, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

The BBC published a general response online. The policy page merely explains, in very neutral language, on what occasions they do this: When enough complaints have been received or when controversy clearly exists. This supports the case for inclusion. Perhaps you should also read the rest of the post a little more carefully. This suggestion is not merely based on the BBC's policy or indeed response. Finally, "a neutral analysis of the controversy?". Before you were simply asking for evidence of controversy. That has been established! I reiterate, a balanced Wikipedia entry, quoting the BBC response or even Baroness's comments on her own blog is quite possible. Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:32, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Just to underline that this controversy really does exist, if you now do a Google search on "Deech anti-Scottish", many more relevant hits are returned in the first two pages. Chickenlickentime (talk) 11:47, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

You misunderstand; clearly the BBC source is of interest. But it is primary material and makes no critical commentary of any controversy or what that controversy might consist of. Combining that with the BBC complaints policy is original research and synth - which we avoid. So far I have seen no evidence of a controversy; all but one you your sources are blog/forum posts and other "questionable" sources. To put it another way - almost anything can cause an online controversy, the ease of personal blogging ensures that. For it to be a substantial reportable controversy someone notable, reliable and neutral must have noted it and recorded it. There is, currently, no evidence of a notable controversy. Regarding Google searches, please see WP:GOOGLE --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 11:49, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
to provide a different example, William Hague *is* caught in a controversial situation and we have reported on that because we can find multiple reliable sources referring to it, that simply does not exist here. We aren't going to construct an entry based on original research, Synthesis and some non-notable blogs plus an op-ed piece. --Cameron Scott (talk) 12:02, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant: "But it is primary material and makes no critical commentary of any controversy or what that controversy might consist of." Oh yes it does, totally regardless of BBC policy. It's a valid and reliable source which can be quoted in the Wikipedia entry. Cameron Scott: Many of these blogs have won notable awards for their political commentary. They also cover a broad political spectrum. Is Baroness Deech's blog, moderated by quite a panel of peers in the House of Lords, an unreliable source? Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:15, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Yes, as a Self-published source, it's rely for statements of fact about herself only. See WP:RS and WP:SPS for more. --Cameron Scott (talk) 12:22, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

So we can quote what she says about herself then. That's fine. Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:37, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

I repeat, some of the blogs commenting on this have won notable awards for political debate. See: and And as I said, they also cover a broad political spectrum. Chickenlickentime (talk) 12:35, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

The issue is not to do with how good they are. It is to do with editorial oversight and fact checking - i.e. we cannot trust them to be verified. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 13:00, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

So, to recap: Based on arguments presented above, the following are good sources and could be used in the following way: the BBC recording (factual-establishing the actual event did occur- no opinion should be expressed by wikipedia contributor- there should be a hyperlink to the audio file), the Scotsman article (this should not be quoted from without it being made explicitly clear that this is a journalist's published opinion, the name of that journalist and where it was published), the BBC public statement (we should not refer to BBC policy but simply state the position as stated in the public response published online-perhaps as a short quote to provide balance and neutrality), Ruth Deech's page on House of Lords blog (helpful for balance-but we can only use /quote what she herself has said about herself). On the other hand, blogs, including the popular news site "newsnet scotland" cannot be considered reliable sources (no information at all should be used from them in the contribution). Chickenlickentime (talk) 15:40, 3 September 2010 (UTC) Chickenlickentime (talk) 18:59, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

And it still adds up to a whole lot of nothing in wikipedia terms, we are going around in circles here - you have failed to convince any long-term editors to shift their position or reading of policy in any way. --Cameron Scott (talk) 20:02, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Based on today's discussion, that should be "either", not "any" long-term editors, I think. But I can see where you're coming from. Chickenlickentime (talk) 20:21, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Another intersting article DISCUSSING the controversy: The author, Mike Small, writes for Scottish Left Review, Variant, Red Pepper, New Statesman, the Guardian, Open Democracy and co-edits Bella Caledonia. Chickenlickentime (talk) 19:39, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Sadly another blog. I have been trying to find sources for this - but it is as I expected; very little actual controversy. *shrug* it's just the bloggers getting on their high horses I think --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 19:43, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
And the first line is 'When is a media row not a media row? When the media doesn’t report it.' I think you know the drill by now? No RS, no mention because it would be WP:UNDUE. --Cameron Scott (talk) 19:52, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

This was published more than two weeks after the event, so the controversy can hardly be dismiissed as bloggers getting on their high horse. Sorry. The first line suggests that by writing the article the writer is trying to re-adress the imbalance caused by the media failing to report it. This is a very popular and respected political blog in the UK. Chickenlickentime (talk) 20:00, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Regardless. It is a blog and therefore fails WP:RS. Honestly, this is just certain bloggers getting all up and excited over "nothing". if it were a notable controversy we would have been able to source it, but there is nothing. None of the usual political commentators have mentioned it - so in respect to her biography it is a non-entity. Consider; we write our biographies here from the perspective of "what would be significant and relevant 10 or 20 years from now". At the moment nothing exist to indicate this will even be remembered in a month or so (if it still is) --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 20:09, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Same article in India Times: Chickenlickentime (talk) 20:25, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant, with this much typing here, regarding her public faux pas, it IS notable. Brendandh (talk) 21:36, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

@Chicken - that's just a link/syndicate. Same issues. @Brendandh - what we say doesn't really affect the matter. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 21:48, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

The Indiatimes is not a blog, but a member of huge media publishing group: I agree, Brendanh. Reading through this discussion the consensus actually seems to in favour of a brief entry. Chickenlickentime (talk) 21:51, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

No, the Indiatimes website is not a blog. Here, for whatever reason, the website is linking to the original source of the blog at a website called "Liberal Conspiracy" which hosts blogs. Neither the website, nor the blog are appropriate RS per BLP [2].
In contrast to Chickenlickentime, my reading through this discussion suggests that clear that the policy based arguments of experienced editors are that the information should not be included.--Slp1 (talk) 22:27, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Errant - I see no reason why there would be very little actual controversy and just bloggers on high horses, when the complete opposite occurred with Kelvin Mackenzie, Anne Robinson, Andy Murray, Jeremy Clarkson, and others fairly recently in the same media, which were frankly all much lesser than this thing. It has been kept off the radar, along with some other unrelated political stories, for as yet unknown reasons. Deech being a Baroness in the House of Lords (not some "celeb") and a former governor of the BBC state broadcaster does nothing for both of these establishments at an important time in the waning UK mark-up. Revolt (talk) 09:58, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

"which were frankly all much lesser than this thing. It has been kept off the radar, along with some other unrelated political stories, for as yet unknown reasons." get a blog if you want to engage in original research, this is not the place for it. --Cameron Scott (talk) 10:01, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Baroness Deech's anti-Scottish comments and Wikipedia[edit]

In the The Herald (Glasgow) (formerly the Glasgow herald) of 11/10/2010 (11th October), the political diarist Robert McNeil has this to say about this issue

"But it’s not as democratic as it looks. After Baroness Deech made controversial remarks about Scots on Any Questions, Wikipedia refused to add these to her entry, even without

In praise of ... Wikipedia

You will notice that Mr McNeil refers to this as a "big controversy". It was and is. The lack of media coverage used to deny this incident mention in the actual entry is also a controversy. The decision not to include this is baffling —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hurcheon(talk contribs) 09:37, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

gawd, not this again. Give us some reliable sources showing a significant controversy and not a load of bloggers (yes, most of the sources were blogs) getting all het up. The linked article is navel gazing so not really relevant to sourcing the issue, it certainly presents no content about the significance of the controversy. As someone who spent an annoying amount of time trying to source this take it from me; there was no real controversy, a few people get mad (the same ones as usual), most people didn't give a crap and one news paper picked it up in their opinion column. No significance. shrug. A journalist should be able to understand the difference between a news story and, say, a sourced encyclopaedia, it always interests me to see the ones that don't... they always seem to be the outraged ones too... Therein is the difference that gets overlooked. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 10:14, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
I would consider that the Glasgow Herald is a newspaper. I noted that Mr McNeil is a political diarist. Since the points against inclusion were predicated on "no one is talking about it" here is a reference some time after the main discussion. There is a broader discussion about the media that this incident highlights, but I feel that this article is worthy of inclusion into the discussion about the delted material, even if it does not warrant resurrecting it from the bin it was consigned to by wikieditors. Hurcheon (talk) 11:49, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Yeh but the source does not deal with the event, it makes no statements about it other than calling it a controversy (which is then not substantiated or clarified). The source you cite is about wikipedia not including the content in her article. Do you see the distinction? This is a source that could relate to content about it not being included in the WP article, this in itself appears pretty insignificant in relation to her BLP (one op-ed piece that does not deal with the subject very well). But it is useless as a source to show there was a meaningful controversy --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 12:34, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you are correct, Hurcheon, that the Glasgow Herald is a suitable source, and it was a good idea to bring the article up here on the talkpage. Based on what you say above, it seems that you recognize that this brief mention by in an opinion column might not be enough to tip the balance into including the AQ episode here. I have to agree that it doesn't. The article is about Wikipedia and no context of the incident is provided; it also doesn't seem that well fact-checked (which is a problem with opinion columns) in that we all know that the removals of the content did not happen "without comment". Once again, most we could say is something like "Columnist Robert McNeill wrote that there was a big controversy over remarks Deech made on Any Questions". I really think it would be giving undue weight to a very minor mention. If this is going to be a major part of Deech's career, then over time other sources will discuss it. --Slp1 (talk) 13:20, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Slp1, Hurcheon made clear in his original comment that he felt reference to the controversy should never have been deleted in the first place, so that should be borne in mind before suggesting that he recognises that the new article doesn't "tip the balance" for inclusion. Scotland has two quality newspapers - with the Herald piece, both have covered the controversy. I'm beginning to think even a best-selling book entitled "The Deech Controversy and It's Effect on Modern Scotland" would be discounted on a technicality. Sofia9 (talk) 07:13, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
Hyperbole doesn't really really help the discussion, but to answer your comment seriously, I think it is highly unlikely that the incident would be discounted if there was bestselling book about it. To answer less seriously, (and this is meant humourously!) it is possible that the typo in the title might lead some editors to argue that there wasn't enough editorial control over the book. But as long as it wasn't a self-published book I'd be arguing for its reliability and use in the article, since I possess a book of two in my library with cover typos!
To summarize, if this is going to be included, we need some reliable sources backing up the claim that Deech came to "wide public notice after being roundly condemned for racists comments". They just aren't there and I have deleted it per BLP. here. I realize some see the failure of the media to cover the incident as a controversy in itself, but WP can't and won't get second guess what secondary sources have chosen to report on. Slp1 (talk) 12:57, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
That original wording was clearly unjustifiable, and in a sense it's a straw man argument to suggest that those of us who feel that a small reference to the controversy is more than warranted have failed to come up with reliable sources to back up the "roundly condemned for racist comments" bit. I pointed out earlier that it was very troubling that Mr Wales claimed that the comments literally couldn't be racist because the Scots aren't a race, but my concern there was more to do with the prejudices he was bringing to bear on this discussion, and how they were impacting upon his editorial judgement. Clearly the original wording didn't merely suggest that she had been accused of racism, but implied that she is a racist, and that obviously can't possibly be justified in a biographical piece.
The more pertinent point is whether there is not now enough permissible source material to demonstrate that the controversy was real (and not a figment of the imaginations of a few over-excitable bloggers), that it was significant, and thus to justify a brief and more neutrally-worded mention. Sofia9 (talk) 04:13, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
(Just to clarify, when I wrote the above, I wrongly assumed your link was to one of the original reversions, and not to your reversion of a more recent edit by an anonymous contributor. The point still stands - the test is whether the fact of the controversy has been established, not whether over-the-top NPOV claims have been sourced.) Sofia9 (talk) 04:30, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

When will a mention of this now well documented controversy be included in the bio? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:00, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

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