Key figures appointed to Yes Scotland
By Fiona MacGregor
Yes Scotland is delighted to announce the appointment of Blair Jenkins, one of Scotland's most respected broadcast figures, as our Chief Executive. The former Director of Broadcasting at Scottish Television and Head of News and Current Affairs at STV and at BBC Scotland will lead the campaign to secure a Yes vote for an independent Scotland. Dennis Canavan, one of Scotland’s longest serving and most experienced parliamentarians, will chair the Yes Scotland Advisory Board.
Mr Canavan said: ‘I very much look forward to working with Blair Jenkins who has the skills, experience and commitment to meet the challenge ahead."
Mr Jenkins, 55, who was awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting in 2010, is making his first foray into an area of public life outside of broadcasting and journalism. He emphasised that Yes Scotland is an all-embracing campaign group open to people of all political colours and none
He said: "For more than 30 years my professional life has been about impartial journalism. I’m not a member of any party and I’ve never engaged in any form of political activity. But this is just too important. This is a once-in-a lifetime campaign for me, personally, and for the people of Scotland. They will be asked to make the most important decision for the future of our nation in more than 300 years and I am totally committed to ensuring they have the best possible information to help them make the right choice.
"The Yes Scotland campaign is the people's and the people’s referendum. It will be represented and supported by people from across the political spectrum and none. It will not be dominated by party politics."
Mr Jenkins revealed that the Yes Scotland campaign HQ will be located in Glasgow – with an extensive network throughout Scotland - and that a number of city centre premises were currently being considered. He said that a number of senior executive positions in the Yes Scotland team would be advertised in the next few weeks and the campaign would also seek to recruit local organisers around Scotland.
He added: ‘I am determined that the Yes campaign will be run with passion, discipline and integrity and our guiding principle will be to provide high quality information to the greatest number of Scots so that they can make an informed choice in 2014.
"Now that both sides have launched their campaigns, I sincerely hope we can have a sensible and mature debate free from Punch ‘n’ Judy confrontations. I want to run a campaign that all of Scotland can be proud of."
Mr Canavan said: 'I am very pleased and honoured to accept the invitation to chair the Advisory Board of the Yes Scotland campaign. I very much look forward to working with Blair and other board members.
"I see this job as a great challenge, with the aim of organising a broad-based, inclusive campaign embracing people from across the political spectrum. We shall take this campaign to every part of the country in order to win the hearts and minds of the people of Scotland to the cause of independence. We already have a good, solid base of supporters to build on and we aim to win many more converts to the cause."
The former Labour MP added "I myself am a convert and my conversion is based on my experience of 25 years as a Westminster MP and eight years as a Member of the the Scottish Parliament.
"I have reached the conclusion that Westminster is completely out of touch with Scotland whereas the Scottish Parliament responds more readily to the values, priorities and aspirations of the people of Scotland. In an independent Scotland, the Scottish Parliament would have the power to do much more to build a better Scotland and to help build a better world."
Born in Elgin, Moray, Mr Jenkins rose to become one of Scotland’s most prominent figures in media after starting his career as a trainee journalist at the Aberdeen Evening Express in 1974. While at the paper he became Young Journalist of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards.
He joined BBC News in London in 1980, moving to Scottish Television in 1986 and became Head of News and Current Affairs four years later. He joined the main board of STV as Director of Broadcasting and was also a member of the Broadcasting Board of the ITV network. He was Head of News and Current Affairs at BBC Scotland from 2000 to 2006.
In 2008, Mr Jenkins chaired the independent Scottish Broadcasting Commission set up by the Scottish Government to make recommendations on the future of the industry. Its recommendations were supported unanimously by all parties in the Scottish Parliament.
From September 2010 – January 2011 he chaired the Scottish Digital Network Panel which examined funding models for the proposed new Scottish public service broadcaster.
He is a Fellow of the Carnegie UK Trust. His report for the Trust on the future of news media - Better Journalism in the Digital Age - was published in February of this year.
Mr Jenkins is a Visiting Professor of Journalism at Strathclyde University and a Governor of Glasgow School of Art. He is a graduate of Edinburgh University, from which he has a first-class honours MA in English Language and Literature. He will be stepping back from all other commitments to focus on the Yes Scotland campaign. Mr Jenkins is married, has three daughters and lives in the southside of Glasgow.
Dennis Canavan, one of Scotland’s longest serving and most experienced parliamentarians, was first elected to Westminster in 1974 as Scottish Labour MP for West Stirlingshire. After boundary changes he represented the Falkirk West constituency from 1983 until 2000.
Throughout his entire political life he has been an avid campaigner for a Scottish Parliament. In 1999, at the first Scottish Parliament election, he was rejected by New Labour as an MSP candidate despite having 97% support from local party members. He stood as an Independent and was returned with the largest majority in Scotland.
Mr Canavan resigned his Westminster seat in 2000. He retained his Holyrood seat in 2003, again with the largest majority in Scotland. When he retired before the 2007 election he was the longest-serving Scottish parliamentarian, having spent 33 years at Westminster and Holyrood. He has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde.
There is widespread confusion among some politicians and media pundits regarding the independence referendum planned for Autumn 2014 and the Scottish general election scheduled for May 2016. Many pundits are treating the two events as if they are the same thing. They are not.
Personal accounts, sent in by Yes Scotland supporters, telling us in 100 words or less, why they are saying yes to an independent Scotland.
In these early days of Yes Scotland, we are giving top priority to two things: engaging with the many thousands of people who have contacted us to get involved and offer support, and putting in place the structure and the resources the campaign will need to deliver the right result for Scotland.
Today we are delighted to introduce the members of the Yes Scotland advisory board who will help drive the campaign towards referendum success in autumn 2014.