A wee appeal here to you my fellow Scots for just a few minutes of your time. Reasonable, fair minded, balanced human beings. Not affected by any historic bias, not carrying baggage of a religious or cultural nature, just ordinary folk going about your lives, striving to get by, and trying to do your best for yourself and your family without doing anyone else any harm if you can help it.
I have two questions I would like to ask you. Here they are. Do you believe that the media in your country is impartial and balanced? Do you believe that the media in your country is not biased against any group whose aim it is to take the government of your country away from London control and into Scotland’s hands?
I’ll lay out my position up front. I passionately believe that Scotland has the necessary people, skills, drive, resources, potential and ability to be a successful independent country whose citizens will benefit greatly by being in charge of their own destiny. I write a regular blog supporting that viewpoint. I am biased towards that viewpoint. I do not hide that.
One of the main reasons I started writing a blog was because, during the run up to the 2014 Scottish referendum on sovereignty, I felt, in my opinion, that what I could see was a grossly unfair and unbalanced debate, where the mainstream media of both the UK and Scotland itself, apart from in the last weeks of the campaign when one Sunday newspaper came out in support of an independent Scotland, clearly were strongly in favour of Scotland remaining as part of the UK, and did their utmost to ensure that they influenced public opinion enough to support that outcome.
Again, in my opinion, that media behaviour still continues today. Apart from the launch of “ The National” newspaper and the continuing growth of online alternative media supporting self-government the mainstream media in both the UK and Scotland itself takes every opportunity, doing what it can, to discredit any notion of self-determination for Scotland, and promoting the view that Scotland must remain in a Union which sees it governed from London.
Now, you’ll have heard people like me, nasty folk that we are, described by the media as “separatists’ or ‘nationalists’ (an attempt to try to make some loose tenuous and entirely wrong connection between what we believe in, inclusion, social justice and self-government, with the negative horrible right wing, fascist elements of nationalism seen elsewhere in the world). That is a deliberate ploy, again in my opinion, by the media, to discredit and to sway, or even manipulate, your opinion. You also may have heard us described as continually having a “grievance” or that we are paranoid because we think that the UK media is anything other than fair or balanced, because after all we are British, and that’s what Britain stands for, right.
The reason I write on this day in particular is because I want to draw your attention to one example of what I consider bias, an example I would like you to consider.
Yesterday Scottish Television’s online news service tweeted a story with the heading “Minister takes four pounds sixty-eight taxi to physical activity speech.”
This was a story about Scottish Government Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt, who just happens to be 66 and asthmatic, legitimately, and all above board, using taxpayers funds whilst carrying out the duties of her government position to travel just short of a mile to carry out a speech in May this year promoting the benefits of active learning through physical activity for people with learning difficulties. The STV report, critical of Maureen Watts actions, ends with a quote from the Scottish Conservative Shadow Health Secretary saying “This is another classic example of SNP hypocrisy.”
Ladies and gentlemen the report in question is about spending tax payers money to the tune of four pounds sixty-eight pence, around about the price of a 770 gram pack of Frozen Crispy Chicken Dippers from a well-known supermarket.
Let’s look a bit closer. A couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister of the UK, embroiled in protracted negotiations with EU Commissioners over Britain’s divorce from Europe, decided to hire the use of a palatial venue and fly half of her Cabinet team plus their entourages , and her media team, to the Italian city of Florence. This was to make a pre-written announcement in front of a room full of the British media, with no representatives of the EU states whom her speech was aimed at actually in the room, or even in Florence at the time. All paid for by UK taxpayers. This speech could have been made from her office in Downing Street or her living room. Did you hear much about that? No, but you’ve heard about a Scottish politician from a party who supports self-government lawfully using tax funds equivalent to the price of a 20 pack of Gillette disposable razors from that well-known supermarket.
That same Prime Minister, who is often quoted, when asked why the NHS in England is underfunded, as saying that she doesn’t have a “magical money tree” upon finding out that the disastrous snap General Election that she had called had resulted in her electoral majority being in tatters, suddenly found, in order to form a working government, over a billion pounds of taxpayers money, a regional payment from the blue, to sweet talk the extremist DUP of Northern Ireland into providing their voting support at Westminster. Did you catch much about that? No. The Scottish/ British media would prefer to tell you about a 66 year old Scottish politician with asthma choosing to spend the monetary equivalent of a box of 22packs of Walkers Crisps (Classic variety) on a taxi rather than walk around a mile.
How about the global visits of London’s man in Scotland, the Secretary of State for Scotland ( a role which since devolution really isn’t necessary, yet more wasted tax payers money). In recent months ostensibly promoting trade, David Mundell has had tax payer funded trips to Myanmar, formerly Burma, to make a speech telling Myanmar workers that the Scottish people do not want a second referendum, and South America, to tell a bewildered and confused audience of Paraguayan locals that when he originally said that Scotland would be lavished in new powers returning from Europe, as a result of the UK leaving the EU, what he really meant was that London would look after these returned powers for us. Both of these trips were fully tax payer funded. Both of these trips resulted in the UK media reporting or writing articles promoting unionism and decrying self-government for Scotland. Did you hear much about that use of tax payers money? No, but you’ve heard about an SNP politician ,within the law, spending the equivalent of the price of a 500 ml bottle of Extra Virgin Oil in that supermarket I mentioned earlier.
Then we have the House of Lords, that fine establishment of the rich, the hereditary rich, the famous and former Labour, Tory and Liberal politicians. Currently enjoying one of its highest memberships ever, this chamber full of worthies, none of whom were democratically elected by voters/ tax payers lounge comfortably on the red benches picking up a healthy sum of three hundred pounds of tax payers money each day that they attend. Even if they just sign in, nod off for a bit and then head off for lunch at their favourite club they pocket three hundred pounds every day of your money. Do you read much about that in the Daily Mail or Express or hear much on the BBC? No, but you’ll hear about a politician who strongly believes that Scotland has the ability to govern itself spending the price of a box of Whiskas Dry Cat Food, or even an LED classic 60 watt bayonet cap lightbulb legitimately whilst carrying out her ministerial duties.
Just something for you to think about.
Many years ago I used to firmly believe that the British (and Scottish) broadcasting news and current affairs media were up there, probably as good as any in terms of fairness and impartiality. I most definitely do not think that now.