Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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Jack Perry, the Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise chose to devote his speech at the Press Awards dinner last Thursday night to the subject of confidence. In it he made clear that he believed a widespread negativity and lack of confidence in Scotland undermined the Scottish economy. He also claimed that in Scotland we find it hard to celebrate success and indicated that there was something of a culture of mediocrity in Scotland. Given that his audience were mainly journalists and senior media figures he then went on to say that the press could do more to recognise and celebrate achievement. He made it clear that he wasn’t asking the press to stop being sceptical or abandon their role as watchdogs. In fact all he was asking them to do was be a wee bit more positive where it was warranted.
From what I can gather the speech had a mixed reception. Some journalists thought it was good and well-delivered. Others felt they were being lectured and ‘tell’t off’. Interestingly the only paper that mentioned the content of the speech at all was Scotland on Sunday. They used it as another opportunity to rubbish my book, The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence, and the Centre. In this piece, as in a previous story in Scotland on Sunday, the journalist completely distorted the facts about the Centre. It is not a creation of the Scottish Executive. It is not receiving huge amounts of public money. In fact it doesn’t even have core funding from the Executive, only the commitment for a small amount of funding for specific projects. The Centre is not a hairbrain scheme I’ve thought up and persuaded my so-called pal Jack McConnell into funding. Various organisations, across the public and private sector have come together as founding, supporting or sponsoring organisations to get the Centre off the ground and positioned to make a difference in Scottish life. These include – Scottish Enterprise, the Hunter Foundation, the Scottish Council Development and Industry, the Scottish Leadership Foundation, BT Scotland, the Royal Mail Group, Logica CMG, the Clydesdale Bank, the University of Strathclyde, the Scottish CBI, Communities Scotland and three departments of the Scottish Executive – Social Work, Education and Mental Health. Oh and I should also add that at the launch of the Centre's programme in the Scottish Parliament building, MSPs from five different parties spoke in support of the Centre's work. The length of this list shows just how much people working across the public and private sectors in Scotland believe that lack of confidence, optimism etc is an issue in Scottish life. None of this has been reflected in the pieces in SOS. But then again why should journalists such as these, let facts stand in the way of a negative story?