Political conundrum: If a speech is removed from a website does it really exist?

In March 2008 Alex Salmond addressed an audience at Harvard University.  Some of you may remember it. In the speech the First Minister referred to the “arc of prosperity” or Ireland, Iceland, and Norway; he referred to ” the remarkable success of indigenous companies that have become global, Nokia in Finland, Ericsson in Sweden, Maersk shipping in Denmark or for that matter the Royal Bank of Scotland.” (not the last of his praise for the Royal Bank); he said “the lesson we draw from our neighbours in Ireland – the Celtic Tiger economy – where annual growth has averaged more than 6% over the past two decades, is that with the right strategy, there are no limits to success in the modern global economy.”; and a hymn of praise to Scotland’s financial sector “of course we Scots are lucky enough to have the one of the best brands in the world – a global recognition and affection for our culture that money cannot buy. Take financial services. With RBS and HBOS – two of the world’s biggest banks – Scotland has global leaders today, tomorrow and for the long-term. And a growing number of American firms – not least JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and State Street – are discovering that the Scottish financial sector can do anything you can do in London and can do it better and rather importantly in the current environment can do it at lower cost.”

At the time this speech was heavily publicised on the Scottish government website. They issued a press release about it. And they put the whole speech on the Scottish government website for your delectation and delight. The speech was here. But for some reason that speech isn’t there any more.

In fact if you go to the full collection of the First Minister’s big set-piece speeches since taking office you will discover that while the speech is referred to the Harvard speech is the only one that does not have a live link. And the only one without a live link is the one where Alex Salmond, seer of seers, praises the Royal Bank, HBoS, and praises the Irish economy as a model to follow. Now some people might find that a bit odd. And might consider asking the Scottish government why this speech is the only one missing? It seems that someone has made a horrible mistake by inadvertently deleting such a well-known speech.

Perhaps this is a philosophical conundrum. If a speech by the First Minister has been removed from the Scottish government website does it really exist?

Well, luckily for whoever removed this speech in error from the Scottish government website the speech can be watched in full here and you can download it to keep for ever, just in case any other on-line copies of it go astray.

or you can access it from the Way-back machine .

Edited to add (at 17.33) I incline to the cock-up not conspiracy view of public life. As of this afternoon the Scottish government has replaced the speech on the website. The speech was not there this morning at the pages people suggest in the comments below. A search for “celtic lion” on the Scottish government website did not bring up the speech (and at the time of writing still does not suggesing the uploading of the speech has taken place fairly recently given the time required to index for a search engine). The link from the list of the first minister’s speeches was (at the time of writing and for a period thereafter) not linking to any page. This was not down to a problem with the “this-week” link, as attempts to link from the general list of pages or either link on the government press release page were not working and were providing a 404 message. The correction of the website coincided with enquiries from the New Statesman via blogger David Allen Green. As is indicated in comments to David Allen Green’s blog post by Unity (at 16:03) he will ” blog this tomorrow over at my own place (Ministry of Truth) but I can prove that the speech was not uploaded to the Scottish Government website until today, after its absence was picked up by Love and Garbage.” I await Unity’s post with interest.


Edited to add (28th June. 8.55 am) Unity has a detailed account confirming that a working link to the speech was uploaded yesterday (27th June) subsequent to this post and David Allen Green’s enquiries. As Unity notes,

“Ordinarily, whenever you contact an organisation about a broken link on their website, their side of the conversation goes something along the lines of…

Really? Can you give me a minute while I check that…

… Oh, you’re right – Sorry about that.

Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll give the techie who looks after the site a call in the next few minutes and get it fixed.


The over-reaction from the press office at the Scottish government seems a little odd given that the problem was a dud link now corrected. But then, we know that there is a tendency in these days of the new majority government to never knowingly underreact.

About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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11 Responses to Political conundrum: If a speech is removed from a website does it really exist?

  1. One could very easily suggest a conspiracy here, if one were so inclined.

  2. AJM says:

    It is not uncommon for Governments to change and archive the information on web sites when a new Government comes to office. However, they usually still make it available on Government archive web sites as opposed to the wayback machine 🙂

  3. AJM says:

    …. also the Press Release links to the speech on the Government website http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2008/03/31135626#a1

  4. clogmuso says:

    It’s still there but has been moved to

    which makes sense because it is no longer ‘This-week’. No conspiracy.

  5. clogmuso says:

    Last reply should have included the URL but it has been stripped out.

  6. Adam says:

    … or you can access the speech on the Scottish Government website:


  7. Pingback: Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » I Met a Speech That Wasn’t There

  8. Pingback: Spies, The Devil’s Staircase and Lemony Mackerel Pâté – Scottish Roundup

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