I had known of Kenneth Roy for many years. He was a well-known Scottish journalist and the founder of the Institute of Contemporary Scotland and of the Young Scotland programme. He was also the brother and brother-in-law of two of my dearest friends, but my regular contact with Kenneth was in his capacity as editor of Scottish Review.
Scottish Review was, and is, a vital part of Scottish public life. It is perhaps all too typically Scottish to define the relevance of an institution by stating what it is not, but at one level stating what Scottish Review is not is a key starting point. It is not a commercial publication and it is not a partisan publication. It reads therefore quite differently from the wider Scottish press, fruitlessly chasing a diminishing readership, and from the plethora of ‘campaigning’ publications, all too certain of the ‘truths’ they propagate. It happily publishes harsh critiques of material which it has published. It encompasses within its stable of writers radical academics such as Gerry Hassan and Conservative writers such as R.D. Kernohan, former editor of Life and Work. If ever we lived in a period which requires such open and disinterested but rigorous journalism it is today.
On the other hand it is worth stating what Scottish Review is. Perhaps it is the pedantic former English teacher in me, but first and foremost it is well-written, and Kenneth Roy himself was a journalist, a meticulous one, but also a skilled, accurate and creative writer. When compared to the ungrammatical (and turgid) prose of contemporary journalism, Kenneth Roy’s prose was clear, intelligent and thoughtful but could also be enormously passionate. Read his superb piece on the deaths of Niamh Lafferty and Georgia Rowe (http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoyGOTBJuly002a.html ). His writing could also be witty and incisive as in his wonderful piece on the relationship of Scottish novelist (and film writer) Alan Sharp and English novelist, Beryl Bainbridge (http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoy126.html).
Scottish Review is, by the Scottish political cognoscenti, also a grossly under-rated journal. I remain surprised and delighted to find in conversations with friends and casual acquaintances alike, how many read Scottish Review and value its wit and wisdom.
At Kenneth’s memorial service due tribute was paid by colleagues from a range of his activities to his capacity to listen, encourage and develop others. That was also true of him in his editorial role. This very amateur writer, experienced primarily in writing in educational journals about educational issues, was warmly welcomed by Kenneth into the Scottish Review fold and encouraged to write on a range of issues. I know I was not unique in receiving Kenneth’s warm support and, I believe, that that welcoming approach brought out the best in my writing as it did for many other contributors.
Scotland is a richer and better place by having hosted the journalist Kenneth Roy. The continuation of Scottish Review as a powerful, independent voice will be the best tribute which can be paid to him.
The above article appeared in The Spirit of Inveramsay, (Ed. Neil Mclennan)