No trust! No redemption!

Keith Brown expresses concern that “viewers will lose trust in the BBC if this deception continues“. This seems strangely naive on at least two levels.

It is folly to suppose that, in Scotland at least, public trust in the BBC has not already been seriously eroded. Just as trust in other British media and political journalists in general has suffered because of a common stance which I cannot now describe as anything other than anti-Scottish.

If the BBC were doing no more than defending the constitutional status quo then it would be difficult to criticise or condemn the corporation. But it has moved beyond mere portrayal of the Union as the established situation and/or presentation of what the BBC’s management may consider the advantages and benefits of the Union to Scotland.

The BBC no longer merely promotes the Union, as its charter commands. The BBC has now adopted – or allowed to develop – an editorial stance which actively opposes a lawful democratic campaign for constitutional reform which is supported or condoned by the majority of Scotland’s people. And the BBC pursues this editorial policy by means which are, at best, questionable and, at worst, a breach of its charter and an affront to the codes and conventions of professional journalism.

In the context of Scotland’s constitutional debate (I leave it to others to identify further contexts), BBC news and current affairs broadcasting in/to/at Scotland has come to emulate the worst of British newspapers’ excesses in denigrating and maligning Scotland’s democratic institutions, public services and economic capacities using disinformation, deceit, distortion and downright dishonesty.

Indeed, the BBC is seen to colluded with the openly British Nationalist press in various ways. The corporation’s news and current affairs operations have developed a symbiotic – or mutually parasitic – relationship with the establishment press evident in those all too common situations where BBC news does not report, but reports that it is being reported, so placing itself at some remove from the brazen anti-Scottish propaganda being peddled by British newspapers. Those newspapers, in turn, seek to borrow authority and credibility from the BBC; having already squandered whatever they may once have possessed.

The question long since ceased to be whether the the public in Scotland trusts the BBC. The question now is, why would we trust the BBC?

It is folly, too, to suppose that the BBC might abandon the editorial stance referred to. Keith Brown implies that he believes this possible when he says “if this deception continues”. As if there were any doubt that it would. There is no retreat from the BBC’s support for British Nationalist ideology which does not simultaneously undermine the British establishment and strengthen the independence cause. As other factors, such as Brexit, have this effect the BBC will be under pressure to increase its efforts to promote an ever more extreme British Nationalist denial of Scotland’s democratic rights. And to broadcast ever more more virulent anti-Scottish propaganda.

In short; BBC coverage of Scotland’s politics will get very much worse before it never gets better. It will increasingly be seen as a ‘foreign’ broadcaster carpet-bombing Scotland with tales of our inadequacy and unworthiness. Sowing doubt and uncertainty and fear in the minds of Scotland’s people. Sapping confidence and instilling self-contempt. Suffocating the will to act and persuading people of their powerlessness.

As the broadcasting arm of the British establishment, the BBC’s task is to have the people of Scotland believe that we are less than we might be and never can be more because what we are is all we are capable of being and all we deserve to be.

We can trust the BBC to pursue that task with efficiency and enthusiasm.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

Soft targets

This more assertive attitude from the SNP is certainly welcome. But it continues to be directed at the wrong target. It is not the Tories, in particular, who make a mockery of Scotland’s democracy. It is the Union. By focusing on the Tories, the SNP risks giving the impression that things might somehow be better if British Labour was in power at Westminster. The reality is that, while things might be different in certain respects, the Union would remain.

It is not what one or other of the British parties does with the power afforded them by the Union that is problematic for democracy, but the fact that the Union affords them that power. It is the Union that mocks Scotland’s democracy.

Of course, there are reasons enough to detest the Tories. But even in a world where Tory policies weren’t abhorrent, democracy must abhor the fact that those policies can be imposed on Scotland regardless of the will of Scotland’s people. Back in the real world where Tory policies are abhorrent, it is the fact that Tory governments can be imposed on Scotland that makes a mockery of our democracy. The Union is always the problem.

Even during those relatively rare periods when Scotland actually gets the the Westminster government that its people vote for, our democracy is mocked by the fact that this is no more than a coincidence. Scotland’s votes count only when, and on condition that, England agrees. The Union allows Scotland to make democratic choices. But the Union only allows those choices to be effective when they are the same as the choices made by England. The Union does that. Not the Tories.

The focus on Brexit also seems wrong. In the first place, it represents only a particular instance of Scotland’s democratic will being treated with contempt. The insistence that Scotland will not be allowed to exercise its right of self determination is every bit as offensive to democratic sensibilities.

And why would anybody imagine that things might have played out differently had there been a British Labour government in London? Brexit is a product of the British political system. The British Labour and Unionist Party is a component of that system in exactly the same way that the British Conservative and Unionist Party is. The forces which are driving Brexit would have acted on a British Labour government just as they have acted on a Tory one. The detail might have differed – the names, the faces, the rationalisations. The ultimate result would have been the same.

If it wasn’t one British government, it’d be another British government. It is wasn’t Brexit, it’d be something else. If it wasn’t now, it’d be later.

The common thread in all of this is the Union. The Tories and Brexit may be easier targets for the SNP. But unless and until people clearly understand that these are merely proxies for the Union then they may be left thinking that Scotland’s democracy could be rescued by making cosmetic changes to the British government and/or by the calamitous Brexit project being abandoned.

It is surely time for the SNP to unambiguously identify the Union as the the true blight on Scotland. The only way to ensure that our democracy isn’t turned into a mockery is to #DissolveTheUnion as a matter of the utmost urgency.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

The BBC won’t change

Good to see the SNP taking a more robust position on the British media. It won’t make any difference, of course. The BBC is part of the British establishment. It is the voice of the ruling elite. It would be folly to imagine that voice might serve anything other than the interests of the ruling elite.

Even if there is an Ofcom investigation, and even if the BBC is found to have breached any law, regulation or code of conduct, it will not change. Even if it is ruled that the BBC has been wilfully dishonest, it will not change. It will not change because it cannot change. It cannot change because it is part of the British establishment. The BBC can change only if and to the extent that the British establishment changes.

Right now, the entire British state is in full defensive mode. Other, perhaps, than in time of war, the British establishment has never been more resistant to change. At such times, the tendency is to look backwards. To cling to the past. To hold to a standard based on a mythical golden age. Any more realistic standard is just too much of a challenge. The British establishment is not going to change. So the British media are not going to change.

In truth, the fundamental nature of the British state has not changed in more than three centuries. There has been no revolution such as is required to destroy and replace the ruling elite. All that has changed are the methods by which that ruling elite maintains its structures of power, privilege and patronage. And even that boils down to the one thing – manipulation. The British establishment has grown more efficient at manipulating people. It has improved the apparatus by which public perceptions are managed. The British propaganda machine is second to none. And better than most because it has had such a long period of uninterrupted development serving the same purpose. Serving the same ruling elite.

This machinery of manipulation is now so deeply entrenched and woven into British society as to have become all but invisible and undetectable. The disinformation, distortion and dishonesty of the British media tend not to be seen as such by those who identify as British because it is so much part of the culture in which they have been embedded all their lives and generation after generation.

Even those who operate this machinery of manipulation are not necessarily fully aware that what they are doing is propaganda. It is entirely possible that the people responsible for BBC Question Time genuinely believe they are doing an excellent job. They believe they are presenting the truth because they have never questioned the truth they are presenting. They have never learned to question it. Their capacity for questioning has been excised. The manipulators are effective because they themselves are products of the machinery of manipulation.

The BBC will not change. The British media will not change. Only we can change. People can recover the capacity to question. They can become aware of the machinery of manipulation and its methods. And, being aware, they can be resistant to its effects. They may even break the machinery.

So, it’s good that Keith Brown is publicly denouncing the BBC. Not because it will bring about change in the corporation, but because it may prompt a few more people to question the version of the truth that is being fed to them.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Know your enemy!

This is superb stuff from Keith Brown. My only criticism is that he reserves his condemnation for the Tories when British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) has been just as silent and complacent in the face of the British government’s “malign neglect” of Scotland’s voice.

Are British Labour MPs from Scottish constituencies incensed by the Scottish Government being excluded from the Brexit negotiations? I see no sign of it! Are British Labour MSPs loudly protesting the British political elite’s calculated contempt for Scotland’s people and democratic institutions? Not that I’ve heard! Is Richard Leonard taking to his feet at FMQ’s to angrily denounce the British state’s “malign neglect” of Scotland and demand to know what the First Minister intends to do in response? Not a bit of it!

It is a mistake to identify the democratic deficit exclusively with the Tories. The root of Scotland’s problem lies, not with a political party, but with an ideology which is common to all the British parties – British Nationalism.

The present Tory administration in London may be an affront to rationality and basic human decency, but it is the Union which is the massive insult to democracy. The Union which both those Tories AND British Labour are determined to preserve at any cost to Scotland.

By all means, be outraged by the callous inhumanity, catastrophic incompetence and dumb hubris of the Tories. But know that it is the Union which empowers them to impose their malignant ideology on Scotland. And know that, so long as British Labour in Scotland gives its first loyalty to the Union and the British state, they have no more to offer Scotland than the Tories.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Gathering our strength


The Gathering worked like a precision machine building itself out of a confusing array of disparate bits gathered from across the geographic and social length and breadth of Scotland.

I wrote the above after the first National Yes Registry Gathering back in May. I think you can tell from my comments that I was greatly impressed and enthused by an event which brought together hundreds of Yes activists in Stirling’s Albert Hall to discuss matters such as organising and funding the movement; currency and national debt; voting systems; the economy; a written constitution and, of course, campaigning in a new independence referendum.

I am now looking forward to the second such event – Gathering 2 – which takes place on Saturday 24 November. The venue, once again, is the Albert Hall, Stirling and registration is from 09:00. Tickets for the full-day event cost £14 and can be obtained from Eventbrite.

I cannot stress enough how important these events are to the Yes movement and the cause of independence. Our strength lies, not in great wealth or charismatic leadership, but in grassroots numbers and our ability to find leadership where and when it is required. To maximise this strength, we must develop powerful networks which allow us to tap into the skills of individuals and the resources of groups and use the collective power of the Yes movement to greatest effect. The movement must organise in order to campaign. The Gatherings are a highly effective way to network and organise.

But Gathering 2 is special for another reason. As you will be aware, the SNP has been seeking to consult as widely as possible on the Sustainable Growth Commission Report. To this end, the party held a series of National Assemblies for the purpose of consultation among members of the SNP. But the party was always determined to widen this consultation and Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP has joined with National Yes Registry with the aim of establishing a framework for engaging as fully as possible with the Yes movement. As Gathering 2 organiser Janey MacDonald says,

This is the very first grassroots-run consultation to be officially sanctioned by any Scottish party of government. It’s a historic moment for Yes, and underlines how essential it is that as many of our movement take part in the Gathering as possible, to maximise the legitimacy of this unique opportunity and directly influence power. Come and add your voice.

This is no exaggeration. Gathering 2 promises to be a transformational exercise for both the Yes movement and for the SNP. It is emblematic of the distinctive political culture that we are developing in Scotland. This is how we want, and intend, to do politics. This is democracy in action. The Yes movement has, for some time now, been reaching out to the SNP as its de facto political arm. This cooperation between the party and National Yes Registry represents the SNP’s positive and constructive response.It is no exaggeration at all to say that this changes everything. And you can be part of this change. You can be there as history is made. You can help shape that history.

Which still leaves us with a campaign to prepare for the moment when Nicola Sturgeon initiates the final phase of the project to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. At Gathering 2 you will not only have the opportunity to help set parameters for the official grassroots’ consultation on the Sustainable Growth Commission Report, you will also see the launch of the newly-completed IndyApp 2.0 and be able to participate in a range of seminars and discussions. Most notably, perhaps, on the ‘hot topic’ of reframing.

Keith Brown himself will be attending Gathering 2 along with Sustainable Growth Commission Report authors Jim Mather & Roger Mullin, who will give a short presentation and be available to answer questions and take points from the various working groups.

In addition, there will be a seminar on reframing led by recognised experts Bill Mills and Dr. June Maxwell – with ample opportunity to discuss and learn about this fascinating subject.

But the most important people at Gathering 2 will be the grassroots Yes activists who are prepared to give of their time and talents to make all of this work. I urge you to attend and participate if you possibly can. You will be contributing to a uniquely important exercise in policy consultation. You will be helping to create the campaign which will lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. And you will also enjoy a most inspiring and rewarding experience.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

The duck that roared!

keith_brownKeith Brown joins the long list of pro-independence politicians plying the Yes movement with pious soundbites urging us to “reach out to our communities and former No voters, and make the strong and positive case for independence”. I’m surely not the only one who hears such bromides and immediately thinks, “Been there! Done that! Got the No vote and its dire consequences to prove it!”. I can’t be alone in craving something more from the SNP than a litany of banalities about ‘the power of being positive’ that sound like they’ve been lifted from the monthly motivational talk given by the sales manager of an office supplies wholesaler.

OK! I get that the new Depute Leader is, first and foremost, a politician. There are public expectations about how ‘real’ and ‘serious’ politicians behave and sound. Ducks don’t strut! Ducks don’t roar! Keith Brown and his colleagues have to act the part. But don’t you just wish more of them would step out of character once in a while? Don’t you long to see the duck strut? Aren’t you desperate to hear the duck roar?

Apparently, many of you are. While the reaction of the British establishment to the SNP House of Commons walk-out led by Ian Blackford has been predictably sneering and hateful, the public seems to have loved it. The prissy, tut-tutting disapproval of this bit of political theatre emanating from the British political elite was all but totally drowned out by the cheering and applause from the cheap seats. SNP membership surged yet again and social media blazed with an enthusiasm that not even the wet blankets of the British media were able to damp down.

Perhaps encouraged by the public’s reaction to the walk-out, Blackford strode back onto the boards at Westminster to give a storming speech in the almost debate-like play unofficially titled “Sewell? So what?”.  Fearful of a severe upstaging, David Mundell side-stepped the starring role in favour of his understudy. He was right to do so. Blackford’s performance sizzled with righteous anger and crackled with genuine passion. As a follow-up to his part in ‘SNP Walkout’, it was perfect.

Twice now, Ian Blackford has shown that an SNP politician can strut and roar without any cost to their credibility. People are ready for this. People want this.

Of course, the ‘positive case’ for independence must continue to be made. But this must be more than a dull recitation of dry facts and dusty figures. It cannot be only a tedious repetition of the arguments made in the first referendum campaign. Something more is needed. We need a positive case which is at least as much about democratic principle as it is about economic prosperity. But the tempered steel of this positive case also needs to be given a sharp edge.

One of the Yes movement’s most compelling slogans is ‘Hope Over Fear’. This is commonly taken to mean, among other things, that we should campaign exclusively on a message of hope and eschew the politics of fear. But functioning democracy requires the informed consent of the electorate. Which necessarily means that, when faced with a political choice, they should be aware of the possible negative implications as well as the potential positive consequences associated with either or every option.

How different the outcome of the 2014 referendum might have been if, as well as offering a bright vision of independent Scotland, the Yes campaign had done more to make people aware of the dire consequences for the country of remaining part of the UK. It’s not as if we didn’t know. The effect of a No vote was foreseeable and foreseen. The subsequent behaviour of the British political elite was predictable and predicted. But little, if any, of this was conveyed to voters by a Yes campaign which came to regard any hint of negativity as heretical.

Nelson Mandela famously urged that our choices should reflect our hopes and not our fears. He did not suggest that we should be oblivious to threats which might prevent realisation of our hopes. The light of hope is measured by the darkness of the fear it overcomes. SNP politicians have been very good at describing the light. They have been far less willing to talk about the dark that threatens to enfold us should we fail to seize that light.

Reframing the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status as resistance to the threat of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism doesn’t mean we abandon the ‘positive case’ for independence. It simply means that we add an extra element to that campaign. We’ve made people aware of what Scotland can do as an independent nation. It is right and necessary that we should also make them aware of what will be done to Scotland should we remain part of the UK. The case for independence is augmented and made complete by the case against the Union.

Both cases will benefit from being put to the people with such facts as may be available; such rational arguments as may be formulated; and such objective appraisal of the options as may be possible. But all of this is likely to leave people cold unless it is lit with the fire of justified anger and honest passion.

I’m not asking for Braveheart. Just a bit more Blackford.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Three of the best

depute_leader_candidatesOnce again, SNP members have been faced with the difficult task of choosing among candidates of the highest calibre. Whoever wins, the contest has proved yet again that the SNP has a wealth of talent at its disposal. It has also demonstrated the strength of the party’s internal democracy. The manner in which these contests are conducted is a credit to the party and to the distinctive political culture which the British state is determined to eradicate.

My approach to differentiating the three candidates involved focusing, not only on the personal qualities and abilities of the individuals, but also on the fit between those attributes and the role of Depute Leader as I understand it. I was also mindful of the role(s) currently being filled by the candidates and how this might be affected by being elected.

My conclusion was that Julie Hepburn is the candidate best suited to the role of Depute Leader.

To some extent, this choice was influenced by the fact that I am persuaded that both Chris McEleny and Keith Brown have much to offer in other ways. And that being Depute Leader might actually limit them unduly. I see Keith as a projects man. His talents are best deployed if he has a sort of ‘roving commission’ to step into situation where strong leadership and effective management skills are required.

Chris, I’d like to see leading moves to secure (or restore?) strong representation for local government within the party as part of the wider reorganisation that is ongoing – even if only slowly.

Most importantly, however, I am firmly convinced that Julie is best qualified and most capable in relation to what I consider the three most important aspects of the Depute Leader role at this critical time for the SNP and the independence project. Without going into detail, these relate to –

  • Connecting (networking) the branches and groups within the party.
  • Connecting the membership with the party leadership.
  • Connecting the party with the wider independence movement.

Whoever wins, these must be their priorities. I’m sure each of the candidates would bring something to the role of Depute Leader. I am certain that Julie would bring something extra.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit