Former 'Sun' editor MacKenzie outrages Scots

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The Independent Online

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former Sun editor who enraged Liverpool football supporters by blaming them for the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989, has made himself millions of new enemies with a barrage of anti-Scottish comments on BBC One's Question Time programme.

More than 200 viewers had contacted the BBC by last night to complain about Mr MacKenzie's disparaging remarks about Scots and his swipe at Gordon Brown's Caledonian roots.

Mr MacKenzie, a panellist on the political programme on Thursday, was jeered and booed by thestudio audience when he claimed that Scots lacked entrepreneurial ability. Generalising wildly, he said that while they enjoyed spending money, they tended to be rather less concerned about making it. Going on to attack Mr Brown and his Chancellor, the Edinburgh South-West MP Alistair Darling, Mr MacKenzie referred to the Prime Minister as "a socialist Scot who wants to spend every single penny you earn. Never forget that."

Challenged by a fellow panellist Chuka Umunna, from the left-wing pressure group Compass, Mr MacKenzie insisted that his references to Mr Brown's Scottish identity were relevant to his argument. The journalist, who still has a column in the English edition of The Sun, added: "Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like in London and the South-east. He [Brown] could not find anybody who could carry his bag better than another Scot, so he grabbed Darling from wherever he was. The reality is the Scots enjoy spending [wealth], they do not enjoy creating it, which is the opposite of down in the South."

In a statement, the BBC stressed that, while the programme's makers did not endorse panellists' views, neither could they condemn Mr MacKenzie's comments. It added: "Question Time considers him to be a suitable panellist, since the programme is committed to including a wide range of views and perspectives. His views are controversial but robust argument is what the debate on Question Time is all about."

Duncan Bannatyne, the Scottish tycoon who stars as one of the dragons on the BBC's Dragons' Den series, said: "MacKenzie's comments were an attack on the character of the Scottish people. Although I am a high-profile Scottish entrepreneur, there are countless others who have made a real economic contribution to the entire UK."

The remarks and the reaction

* Kelvin MacKenzie

"Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like London and the South-east ... The reality is that the Scots enjoy spending it, they don't enjoy creating it which is the opposite of down in the South... There's no doubt that if it weren't for London and the South-east, Scotland might well be heading to becoming a Third World nation."

* Duncan Bannatyne, Businessman and star of BBC's Dragon's Den

"I think Kelvin Mackenzie is a raving lunatic; I think he's a complete idiot and a racist idiot at that. There are some phenomenal Scottish entrepreneurs, I could name so many. There's Sir Tom Hunter, Brian Souter, Sir Tom Farmer, you could go on and on, there are many of us."