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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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Posted 08/01/2006

I’ve just read the article on page 4 of Sunday Times Scotland and I feel speechless at the cynicism of Kathleen Nutt, their supposed ‘news’ journalist. The Centre, according to this fictitious report, is promoting the idea that families ‘write mission statements, hold regular meetings and set targets.” This is a bare-faced lie and I have witnesses to prove it. When I spoke to Kathleen Nutt on the phone the other day I made it quite clear that the Centre was not putting this forward as a proposal. In fact I also told her that I would not want to do anything like this for my own family and that many people, with very good reason, were very sceptical about this type of approach in organisations so why would they want to run their family life on this basis? In the course of the telephone conversation I told her various other things I would suggest but she kept bringing it back to family mission statements, asking me why some people might think they are a good idea and it was in this context that I made some observations which she turned into a supposed quote to look like the Centre was promoting the idea. In the piece Ms Nutt says that the idea is promoted in a Centre ‘report’. But there is no report. What she is referring to is a pack of materials (tools, tips and techniques) which we put together for the last day of the Vanguard Programme. This consisted of 45 separate items and were no more than ideas for review by participants in small groups. They were not being put forward as ‘proposals’ but simply things that participants may decide to try or dismiss out of hand following discussion. The list was drawn up from a variety of sources and the family mission statement was not one submitted by the Centre. All of this was clearly explained to this ‘news’ journalist and evident from the pack.

In the course of her ‘news’ story Ms Nutt also put in information which I made clear to her was inaccurate. I explained that we were an independent organisation but still she calls us a “Blairite’ think tank. She erroneously refers to me as a ‘friend’ of Jack McConnell and mentions that we have £450,000 of Scottish Executive funding. But as I explained to her on the phone this has been reported inaccurately. The Centre receives no core funding from the Executive. In other words, they don’t pay my salary or the Centre’s overheads. The Executive have no-one on our Board and aren’t part of our decision-making structure. Three departments in the Scottish Executive – Education, Social Work and Mental Health – believe that there are certain things we can do which could help them inject new ideas and thinking and consequently help them to improve the effectiveness of their workforce. So they have earmarked some project funding – up to a total £150,000 a year for three years. The fact that they sit down together and discuss possible projects is a good example of how the Scottish Executive is genuinely trying to take a ‘joined up’ approach. To date we have carried out four action research training courses, put some measurement tools on-line for project leaders to use and have started to help the new Schools of Ambition measure the impact their work has on pupil confidence. That has come to about £80k since January 2005 – nothing like £450,000. I do not sit down with Jack McConnell, or other ministers, to discuss ideas. The Centre has no link with the Blair Government. I personally dislike the Blair Government's management by objectives approach and the idea that I’m now wanting to extend this defunct idea to families is laughable.

I agreed to my picture being taken because I was assured by Ms Nutt that the Sunday Times wasn’t in the business of misinformation or out to write a negative story. In the immortal words of Cliff Hanley ‘aye that’ll be right’.

As I have said in this blog before, in the cynical world of huge swathes of the Scottish press, the mantra appears to be - ‘don’t let the facts get in the way of a negatitive story’. What a disappointment that a supposed quality paper like the Sunday Times should stoop this low and for what reason? What are they trying to prove? I just don’t get it.

I thought the job of a news reporter was to find out the news and report on it - not sit at your desk and make it up.

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