Arnold Kemp archive

BIOGRAPHY

From The Herald 10.09 2002 : " Arnold Kemp was considered by many to be the most outstanding Scottish journalist of the second half of the 20th century, being instrumental in modernising and revitalising both the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald...In his 14-year editorship of the Herald, his urban style attracted readership loyalty and reinvigorated what was an ailing newspaper when he arrived in 1981, as it took on the challenge of great technological change... In 1991 (under his leadership), the circulation peaked, record-breakingly at more than 127,000, before the Murdoch-inspired price-cutting wars began."

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Summary of a talk about 1979

‘1979: Scotland’s First Constitutional Referendum’

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On 5 November 2013, the Centre was pleased to welcome journalist and writer, Jackie Kemp, who discussed ‘1979: Scotland’s First Constitutional Referendum’. Below is this listener’s brief summary of the lecture.

Jackie began her lecture by quoting the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: “Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards”. Living as we are in the shadow of the upcoming 2014 referendum, obtaining knowledge of past constitutional experiences in Scotland may well be enlightening.

The 1979 referendum for devolution of a Scottish parliament was a watershed moment in post-war British history. Many important concepts were in flux, such as social justice, gender relations, the NHS, worker’s rights, and the class system; the referendum was a cusp moment for many of these ideas.

 

Jackie drew on her father’s work and legacy for much of the discussion. The well-respected Arnold Kemp was Herald editor for fourteen years, and commentated on much of the 1979 campaign. (Read more about Arnold here) One day after the referendum, March 2 1979, many of the Yes campaigners were found in a local watering hole mourning their marginal defeat. Many felt there was no future for a devolved Scottish parliament. However, Arnold strode in, ordered champagne, and declared ‘We won, right?’.

Media coverage by The Herald in the lead-up to the referendum.

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The Arnold Kemp Archive

The Arnold Kemp archive you will find on the right hand menu on this page is an attempt to compile some of my father's writing. For many years, he wrote reflectively and thoughtfully about many things. He had an international outlook and travelled widely. He was fluent in Fench, read Le Monde, loved Paris and often wrote about it. He was less confident in spoken German but made a habit of reading Die Zeit. He also spent time in Moscow, Berlin and New York and sent many dispatches back from the US, Germany, the former Soviet Union and Asia. He met many of the most important figures of the age: Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, the Queen and Ronald Reagan.

He saw himself a a European but also loved Scotland and he had an unusually deep knowledge of his country's history, politics and culture. Over his more than two decades as deputy editor at the Scotsman and editor of the Herald he had a lasting influence as a advocate of devolution.

Towards the end of his life, Arnold Kemp found a new role as foreign news editor at the Observer in London, a role to which he brought a lifelong study of world affairs and his talents as an editor and journalist. He also wrote a column for the Scottish edition.

It is many years since his sudden death from a heart attack at the age of 63 in 2002. In that time.  A decade after his death, with the support of his partner Anne Simpson who is also now deceased, I produced an anthology of his work, part memoir, part anthology called "Confusion to Our Enemies".

 

Observer stalwart who revelled in the joy of journalism

Robin McKie The Observer, Sunday 9 September 2012

Arnold Kemp

Arnold Kemp in a bar, where he would lead glorious conversations that could go anywhere. Photograph: Observer.

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A Tribute to Arnold Kemp

 From The Herald, April 15, 2013. 

ARNOLD Kemp, a former editor of The Herald, was toasted as "one of Scotland's finest ever journalists" during an event to celebrate his life at the Aye Write! Festival in Glasgow.

TRIBUTE: Robin McKie, Jackie Kemp, Julie Davidson and Magnus Llewellin celebrate Arnold Kemp at the Aye Write! festival. Picture: Gordon Terris arnold kemp: Editor of The Herald between 1981 and 1994.
TRIBUTE: Robin McKie, Jackie Kemp, Julie Davidson and Magnus Llewellin celebrate Arnold Kemp at the Aye Write! festival. Picture: Gordon Terris arnold kemp: Editor of The Herald between 1981 and 1994.


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Let The Presses Roll - Alan Taylor

"He was a man you don't meet every day." Literary journalist Alan Taylor remembers Arnold Kemp in a review of the forthcoming anthology 'Confusion to our Enemies'. From the Scottish Review of Books, August 11, 2012. (Note by JK at the end)

‘Like my fellow countrymen,’ he wrote in The Hollow Drum, the only book he published in his lifetime, ‘I am a confused traveller, but I travel hopefully.’ Kemp was writing in 1993 when devolution, let alone independence, seemed a distant prospect. Separatism, as he surmised, was ‘theoretically remote’, not least because of the attitude of Scottish business community who, then as now, were fearful of any change to the status quo. With uncommon prescience, he noted the power of ‘foreign exchange dealers’ and ‘major industrial and commercial enterprises’ and the influence which they exerted over national governments.


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