Arnold Kemp

Arnold Kemp, who died on 9 September,  aged 63, was the most inspirational Scottish journalist of the Seventies and Eighties.

He was extrovert and convivial in persona and he had a legion of good friends. In a way, he wished Scotland to reflect his personality: to be confident and outward-looking. He was a committed devolutionist and he worked tirelessly for a Scottish Parliament. He was a Scottish patriot in the most benign sense of that dangerous word; but he detested parochialism and small-mindedness, qualities that he too often found lurking in the Scottish psyche.

The son of the Scottish playwright, Robert Kemp, Arnold brought theatrical flair to his gregarious social life and his committed, expansive journalism.

When he left Edinburgh University he joined The Scotsman as a sub-editor. He then worked for three years on The Guardian in London. He returned to The Scotsman as deputy editor through most of the Seventies, working with Eric B Mackay (Scotsman editor, 1972-86) to create the golden era in that paper’s modern history.

In 1981 he moved to the editor’s chair of The Herald in Glasgow, then an ailing paper. He quickly revived it. He was an ebullient editor with an open, inclusive style, but he could never disguise his underpinning, driven professionalism; he could be ruthless when required.

He encouraged good and adventurous writing and he wrote very well himself, especially in leaders and commentaries.

The early Nineties were a much more difficult time. Arnold was a member of the buy-out team, led by Liam Kane, which took The Herald from the ownership of Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho. He seemed uneasy in this role and he found the aggressive cost-cutting that became pervasive in Scotland from 1991 onwards irksome.

He left The Herald in 1994. Two years later he embarked on happy coda to his career, working as foreign news editor for The Observer in London.

He and his wife Sandra had two daughters, one of whom, Jackie, is a columnist on The Herald. For the past 20 years his partner was Anne Simpson, herself a distinguished senior writer on The Herald. She was with him when he died on holiday in Ireland.

Arnold Kemp was an exceptional journalist. But, more importantly, he was an exceptional human being.

Harry Reid

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