Frost Over the World

Dreaming of an independent Scotland

Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, discusses the practical and economic advantages of Scottish independence.

We begin this week’s show with a nation that is not yet a nation-state. We are not talking about Palestine or Tibet, but about Scotland.

Its population of a little over five million is less than 10 per cent of the rest of the UK, but the lucrative North Sea oil and gas fields are all located off the Scottish coast. And many Scots now want to leave the UK, but is it enough to win a referendum?

The movement for Scottish independence has been led by the Scottish National Party’s leader, Alex Salmond. Once an outsider, he is now Scotland’s first minister. There will be a referendum in 2014 and he is already campaigning.

He makes his case to Sir David Frost, who asks him if he would still be pushing for Scottish independence if somebody convinced him that Scotland would be economically worse off as a result.

“I think the case for independence is a fundamental one. It is about Scotland as a nation and nations have a right to self-determination. [They] usually are better to govern themselves as opposed to let somebody else do it for them.”

Barack Obama recently hailed the latest employment figures for the US as “seemingly positive”. But although the US does look like it is heading in the right direction – out of the financial crisis – is it really and how sustainable is this supposed recovery? With the eurozone looking ever more bleak, how will it impact US economic growth?

To connect the dots, Sir David Frost is joined by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, the author of more than 20 books and 200 academic papers, who explains:

“Even pessimists like myself don’t think that slumps go on forever. There are some natural healing forces, there is some reason to think things may be on an uptrend, but it’s very slow.”

Can a woman become Afghanistan’s president?

Young pop stars are more frequently depicted as fame seekers in pursuit of hedonistic success than as socially conscious feminists. One woman who dares to be different is singer-songwriter Kate Nash, who has a Brit Award for Best Female Artist and two best-selling albums to her name.

She talks to Sir David Frost about the After School Music Club she has set up to encourage young women to enter the music industry and what inspired her to be a feminist.

“The first thing I remember really was walking into rooms and there being 12 men in a room and me being the only girl …. That opened my mind to the fact that there are far less women in the music industry.”

It may be a little early to turn to Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential race but one candidate is already capturing the imaginations of many Afghans. Determined to rise above the death threats and prejudice, Fawzia Koofi hopes to become Afghanistan’s first female president.

She currently sits as a deputy speaker in the Afghan parliament and has long been an advocate of human rights in the country, focusing particularly on the rights of women and children.

But can any woman garner sufficient support in such a male-dominated society? And what would happen should the Taliban return to power?

Sir David Frost talks to her about the Taliban and asks if ordinary Afghans have seen an improvement in their living standards since the Taliban left power.

She explains: “There are women in the peace council. There are nine women out of 71 members of the peace council, which seem to be kept marginalised from the main decision-making process. They seem to be like a symbol there. We really want a true representation of women because they are the main victims of any changes in Afghanistan.”

The Greek financial tragedy continued this week as a war of words broke out between Germany’s finance minister and the Greek president.

Meanwhile, a decision by Eurozone ministers on the next Greek bailout has been delayed until Monday and there are increasing voices in Athens suggesting default is not only more likely but more desirable than the austerity demanded by the eurozone. So what next?

Joining the show to discuss the mood in Greece is Vasilis Leontitsis, a research fellow at the Hellenic Observatory of the London School of Economics, who says the strains of the economy are beginning to show in the lives of the Greek people.

“They [the Greek people] don’t necessarily talk about the crisis as something alien. It is something that is happening to them.”