On the media front, I watched recordings of Scotland Tonight and Newsnight Scotland on the IFS report and found both fair and balanced and, the big prize I look for as a reward for watching, I learned something.

Discounting the set up packages played out before the discussions which rarely add much to the subject, I thought both channels did their job. I watched Scottish first and enjoyed the debate with Simon Johnson and Lesley Riddoch. Johnson is with the dreaded Daily Telegraph, a paper that really has lost its soul from its halcyon days when it was a beacon of good journalism, now twisting news and comment into a single cord which it wraps daily round Scotland’s neck. He was truculent and triumphalist as only a Unionist toady can be when there’s a chance to scoff at Scotland. On the other hand he gave as clear and coherent an exposition of unionism’s response to the report as you could expect, neatly combining the top-line facts with undisguised glee and leaving nobody in any doubt that the last place they would look for objective analysis is his paper.

He summed up the conventional view, that if you are stuck in the Westminster mode of thinking, this report puts the tin lid on independence. It plays perfectly to the idea, assumed before it was released, that Scotland is too poor. I noted the lack of any attempt to place responsibility for that – if it were to be true – in any of the output. The old question returns: If this is the most successful union in history, why are we still poor after 300 years? If the UK’s national debt is crippling Scotland, whose fault would that be? The message seems to be: We’ve made you so poor, you can’t afford to escape…Britain, the payday lender of the United Nations. In fact, Wonga would be a great name for the UK, as it’s composed almost entirely of moneylending, crippling itself with debt and keeping people under the thumb. Henceforth, the UK is known here as Wonga.

So we got a smirking Unionist view which was countered by the legendary Riddoch, surely Scotland’s own Joan of Arc*. She can be, as they say, feisty, can Lesley, so when she is totally calm and controlled she is magnificent…a thing of beauty. What she represents to me is a different way of thinking, a whole different intellectual approach to being a country and a community. She has developed a depth of understanding of how society can be made to work which reaches beyond the sterile Left and Right and which leaves a hack like Mr Johnson stranded in the shallows, gasping. I loved her reference to the way Norway added to its economy by making it easier for women to work and now their contribution exceeds that of oil. Fantastic.

This kind of thinking exceeds even Stewart Hosie who was locked in mortal combat with Iain Gray. Hosie did a fine job considering what he was up against as the simplicity of a headline like Scotland’s black hole makes it an uphill task. But what I love about Lesley is her scorn for the old thinking, that things can never change and nothing can get better, that there is only one way and it’s the Union.

The best single interview was Gary Robertson with Paul Johnson, director of the IFS because fair questions were put succinctly and enough time was given for the answers which were illuminating. I never felt it was being rushed or that the presenter was gagging to get in to interrupt. It is the simplest form of broadcast journalism – ask an informed interviewee sensible questions and let him answer. Rocket science it ain’t. It provided a depth of understanding and allowed some light into the findings that didn’t make it sound nearly as apocalyptic as the Unionist adherents painted it. In fact, Robertson, whom I have maligned previously, didn’t get in the way at all last night and judged his interviews and to-camera remarks really well, even managing what looked to me like a genuine smile or two, always a sign of confidence.

I remain though of the view that independence is about belief and that if we see ourselves as just pawns of the London-centric system, they will treat us that way. This report offers an immediate prospect of a sustainable Scotland, a period of years, if they’re right, before the squeeze begins to be felt and that time can be used to good effect preparing our country by sorting out our own priorities, our tax system and our own immigration policy. Other questions won’t go away…will the UK be in the EU…will fracking reduce energy costs…will there be a housing bubble in the South east and will we all pay higher interest to combat it…will the banks need to be bailed out again. And as for 50 years hence…fifty years ago we didn’t know there was North Sea oil and gas…50 years ago we didn’t think of renewables…and 50 years ago we didn’t know there would be a new Scotland with its own parliament making laws we can be proud of and we had no idea that the British Prime Minister would come to Edinburgh and sign a document confirming a referendum on our independence. We didn’t know our destiny really would be in our own hands. In 50 years time our children might look back and thank us for seizing the moment and transforming our country for them.

*Don’t send me messages saying: I’ve got the matches!

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0 thoughts on “Mediabollox

  1. If anybody reading this is still uncertain as to what’s at stake, then a quick read of this article and, in particular, the comments below it will dipel all doubts.

  2. Doh! Dispel. Memo to self: get a proper keyboard for the Ipad.

  3. Still to see the broadcasts: sick fedup with the ‘highly regarded’ IFS (Jackie Bird). So clearly part of BT when you see the timing, day before Salm & Swin. Agree about Lesley (think Kaye, Beattie and Macauley), BBC – what a falling off was there.

  4. There is a good report about this on the business for Scotland website, it’s well worth a read as it rips the IFs report to shreds and shows it up for what it really is.

  5. Yes Derek, Lesley Riddoch was magnificent last night on STV.

  6. I saw both broadcasts and agree that Paul Johnson was head and shoulders above the other contributors.

    First prize for arrogant sniggering goes equally to the Torygraph hack and Stewart “mid-sentence smarmy chuckle” Hosie.

    Lesley Riddoch was Lesley Riddoch. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing.

    On the whole it was fairly reported across the stations.

    Look forward to tonight’s discussions about Mr Swinney’s cloud cuckoo, sugar candy mountain ‘report’…

    • Really, Swinney (savour of Grangemouth) in cloud cuckooland economics? Hmm let me see… Labour Party 2005-2010 (RIP) Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling projecting 2.8% economic growth, you know end to boom and bust and all that, just before the economic car crash of 2008! They were so firmly in cloud cuckooland they couldn’t predict the economic outlook of the UK correctly just weeks beforehand and even then when action was required Darling decided to wait months before took any. Yup, Swinney has balanced the books in Scotland since 2007, that’s not fantasy that is fact! Tell me the facts about Labour’s time in charge of the economy again, and while the good money was supposedly flowing in why did they need to strangle councils with PFI contracts?

      • “Swinney has balanced the books in Scotland since 2007”

        Never understood this boast.

        Holyrood gets a fixed budget and isn’t allowed to borrow.

        What is there to balance?

      • I think you’re being a bit unfair to the Lib/Lab Scottish administration, they must have done much better than Swinney as they actually returned £1.5 billion unspent to the Treasury.

    • Maybe Riddoch’s point of view is hitting home with you then .

  7. Can anybody tell me if the statistics used by IFS include tax e.g. VAT paid by Scots in Scotland to stores with head offices in England and apparently included as English revenue and not only stores but whisky exports I believe.

  8. I think Wonga would be an excellent official state name for rUK after Scotland achieves independence. I’m sure a seat at the United Nations could be found between Viet Nam and Yemen. …and they’ll need a new flag!

  9. Grahamski ,nice to see your being open minded about the about what John Swinney will say, I look forward to your analytically breakdown tomorrow!

  10. Have just listened to last evening’s Scotland Tonight and have to agree that Lesley Riddoch was fantastic. Something I learned for sure is that the IFS is well respected! Lost count of the number of times this was said. It was actually quite comical.

  11. Wongaland has a nice ring to it!

  12. I agree with every word about Lesley Riddoch , a great asset.
    Glad you’re being a bit kinder about Gary Robertson. You were a bit harsh the other day! He’s fine.

  13. “IFS is well respected”
    Normally when a phrase like this has to be constantly repeated it means the opposite. Any think tank that uses OBR forecasts as the basis for its projections for 50years into the future has NO credibility whatsoever; And to use an OBR “worst case” scenario, well …. And 50years into the future, FFS?! OBR cannot even forecast what day it will be 7days ahead.
    I disagree with you Derek Bateman on one thing, why wasn’t the IFS honcho taken to task over the use of the OBR and its uselessness? A huge omission. Do these highly paid journalists really believe that the IFS is “well respected”? And if they do where have they left their brains?

  14. Re Simon Johnson: ‘neatly combining the top-line facts with undisguised glee and leaving nobody in any doubt that the last place they would look for objective analysis is his paper’.

    Never mind a lack of mere objective analysis: Johnson has a record of pure invention of facts to serve the purpose of his journalism. In March 2011 he reported in the Telegraph that scientists had found that wind farms caused whales to beach themselves, and quoted one scientist, Dr Ian Boyd of St Andrews University, at length. It was all a complete fabrication.
    Dr Boyd’s complaint about Johnson’s dishonest journalism, beginning “This article is an abomination……” is apt.

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