The Media Battle

BBC_ScotAn issue that causes many on the pro-Independence side great pain is the ongoing role of the media.

Are we just paranoid? Do the BBC, ITV, newspapers et al, think that they are presenting a balanced view of the issues affecting Scotland?

Sadly, there’s too much evidence to the contrary view i.e. that the BBC is indeed focussed on presenting the view of the ‘state’, where any Scotland v the UK scenario is involved; or that of the Labour Party in Scotland, when the target is our Holyrood Parliament and the activities of the SNP are under scrutiny.

And where is the evidence for this?

Much of the best analytical work has been done by the University of the West of Scotland’s Dr John Robertson who ran a year long study of how the BBC in Scotland reported the referendum debate. His results were pretty scathing of the BBC who, unsurprisingly, didn’t report them.

Much of the reporting of his study was in the alternative media i.e. via twitter and various blog posts. A useful summary of his findings can be found here:

biasThe BBC sought to denigrate the academic study and even went as far as ‘threatening’ Dr Robertson when Ian Small, BBC’s Head of Public Policy, attacked the conclusions and chose to copy in the University principal Craig Mahoney. Fortunately, the University fully backed their team and refused to be cowed.

Meantime, as we face the run up to the Holyrood elections, Dr Robertson continues to monitor the media and his reports are being aired on the excellent site. Here’s an example:


Equally vociferous in his criticism, and the producer of an excellent book on the subject was GA Ponsonby. His “London Calling” e-publication was crowd-funded initially and then available for download at a minimal £1.99 before being made free to download. This was a brilliant expose of all things anti-independence in the media… each turn of the page bringing yet more examples of how cleverly news items and discussions by ‘experts’ can be twisted to present the views of the state and seek to maintain the status quo.

Download for yourself here:










Fortunately, Ponsonby continues to pressure the media, and the BBC in particular, from his Ponsonby Post blog. Catch it here:



It’s finally worth mentioning that Herald columnists Iain Macwhirter’s excellent book “Disunited Kingdom” provides what many might consider the best “I Was There” insight into the referendum campaign in Scotland. The sub-title “How Westminster won a referendum but lost Scotland” says it all.

The issues at the BBC in particular are deep rooted with an extensive network of connections to the Labour Party in Scotland. This was neatly pulled apart in the excellent blog by LenaTheHyena!

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive: BBC Scotland and the Labour Party

And I haven’t even considered the newspapers above! With the exception of the National, there’s no newspaper in Scotland that could be considered anything other than hostile to the SNP and what it’s trying to achieve for Scotland. At one time, the Herald might have been considered reasonably even-handed and its Sunday Herald stablemate even supportive but that’s less and less the case now.

Wings Over Scotland provided an excellent catch up on the newspaper media blog which left nobody in any doubt as to their anti-SNP leanings:




So, what can we conclude?

Simple, seek out alternative media if you really want to understand what’s going on because what you’re reading and watching day in day out can be very bad for your understanding of what’s really going on.




Am I alone in thinking…?

scotWhen people ask “Why would you want an independent Scotland?” they usually complete the sentence with something along the lines of “… I mean, you’ll be impoverished within five minutes.” Or “… Oil won’t save you. Look at the price now.”

They don’t come at it from the more obvious side of the argument. On my side of the argument, I’m not looking for independence because I  think the Scottish people will all suddenly be massively better off.

In fact, I expect that we may be a bit worse off and possibly for a few years. Partly, that will be because we’ll have a lot of short term costs as we replace what Westminster managed with what we need Holyrood to manage.

And, no doubt, we’ll also suffer a wee bit of backlash from the “I’m not keeping my business in an independent Scotland!” brigade. There may even be an element of those south of the border taking the huff and swearing they’ll buy their goods elsewhere.

But, we’re a clever nation awash with excellent resources and we’ll overcome the short term setbacks.

And, anyway, as I said above it’s not about being better off. It’s about releasing ourselves from the scandals and the fraud and the wasting of money and the wars and HS2 and Trident and targeting the poor and bailing out the rich.

Ne’er a day goes by that we don’t see a fresh scandal or, and this is much much worse, evidence of past scandals that have been swept under the carpet to avoid any of the dirt hitting the ‘establishment’; heaven forbid that we might lose our faith in their omnipotence, their brilliant ability to lead us and do the ‘right thing’.

One of the beauties of a small country such as Scotland is that our government in Holyrood is on the doorstep of the vast majority of the voting public. From day one, Holyrood was subject to extreme scrutiny and very quickly put in place measures to ensure that  it wouldn’t fall prey to the corruption that power brings. Expenses publicly-viewable online. None of that nonsense about second homes. Our MSPs live and work here in Scotland.

That openness is a double edged sword given the high degree of media bias that the SNP suffer in Scotland. With open government comes plenty of opportunity to carp from the sidelines.

Independence should usher in the opportunity to improve media relations and may also provide the BBC in Scotland with the resources to operate as an independent and responsible broadcaster focussed on Scotland. What an asset they could become for marketing us worldwide.

No, it’s not that I want independence so that I’ll be better off. I want independence because it will lead to a fairer society. I’ll live with that.

As the 2015 election approaches – introducing Jim Murphy

Jim_IrnBruTop 10 things you might not know about Jim Murphy –

1/ The famous street heckler on an Irn Bru crate actually made two claims for Irn Bru on his expenses; an astonishing total of £1.30.

2/ In 1979, Jim and his family emigrated to Cape Town. But in 1985, aged 18, Jim returned to Scotland to attend university. Coincidentally, this meant that he avoided being called up for national service with the South African Defence Force.

3/ He attended Strathclyde University where he studied Politics and European Law. He ‘attended’ university for nine years but, sadly, he never graduated.

4/ Jim is a political council member of the right wing think tank The Henry Jackson Society. Among their ‘principles’ the society say it “supports the maintenance of a strong military” and “gives two cheers for capitalism”.

5/ Jim has a habit of benefitting from the pains of others. He won the East Renfrewshire seat in an election caused by the incumbent, Tory Allan Stewart, suffering a nervous breakdown and being hospitalised. His rapid ascent to PPS for the Secretary of State for Scotland came about because Frank Roy was forced to resign following a row over a visit by Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Scotland.

6/ Having apologised on behalf of politicians for the expenses scandal, it was subsequently revealed that Jim had claimed expenses in excess of £1m between 2001 and 2012 and that he had rented out his own London flat while claiming rent on another property. He also, for a period, designated his East Renfrewshire home as his second home and reclaimed the mortgage payments of £780 a month.

7/ In 2011, Wikileaks revealed that a US official in the US Embassy in London was reporting that throughout 2009 Jim Murphy was leading a coalition of ‘Unionists’ working to ensure there would never be an independence referendum in Scotland.

8/ When asked by ‘Labour Uncut’ to say which non-Labour MP he most admired, Jim chose Ian Duncan Smith citing IDS’s  ‘awakening about poverty’ following a visit to Glasgow as a reason.

9/ While President of the National Union of Students, Jim was censored by parliament in a motion sponsored by Ken Livingstone. The MPs condemned his “intolerant and dictatorial behaviour” as he sought to suggest the NUS was in favour of university fees. The motion was signed by other Labour luminaries including Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner.

10/ Surely the above 9 are enough? Oh, OK.

Jim’s coat’s on a shoogly peg right now. Ed doesn’t really like him, Labour in Scotland don’t really like him and the voters of East Renfrewshire don’t really like him. Sadly, if he does get thrown out in this General Election, it’s likely he’ll return to Holyrood as a ‘list’ MSP next year. Or maybe not.