Party Time!

Now in the old days an invite to a media Christmas drinks do meant an afternoon and evening training for the World Cup of Boozing – usually ending up in a curry house cuddling the assistant general secretary of the STUC…or some other notable depending on the source of the invite. Sometimes it meant fights when simmering bad blood between reporters burst out under alcoholic pressure. Happy days…

The point was to put aside differences between vested interests and the key journalists covering their patch – industry, party politics, education etc, acknowledging the role each other played in the great tapestry of public life (as a smart alec columnist might say).

So it was interesting that, so far as I can tell, the First Minister’s journalists’ drinks event this year was exclusively for the conventional, and all but exclusively Unionist, media. Interesting because it’s the role adopted by the non-respectable media that has the Unionist types in such a funk. The constant and immediate debunking of the usual slew of un-researched, churlish Nat-bashing that has passed for journalism over the last decade, has destabilised the old media. They hate us. New media is a constant threat to what they still think of as their credibility, leading them to circle the wagons. The Record for example used to compete with the Mail. Doesn’t happen any more – they’re like Labour and the Tories disguising their affinity as SNP attack dogs with contrived differences. And can you imagine Scotland without Wings, sans Bella and minus Common Space?

Who have been the beneficiaries of this challenging journalism and spikey comment? Overwhelmingly the SNP, I’d say. In fact when I tweet I regularly get a response from SNP elected members, so I, and others, aren’t whistling in the dark. Yet the government seems to prefer David Torrance to Robin McAlpine…even, so help me, Buzzfeed to Bella. This is a weird corporatist approach that flatters her detractors and confirms that the leadership mindset is deeply establishment.

The excuse will be that this is the parliamentary press corps but that just means all those accredited to work at Holyrood which in itself betrays a lack of imagination. In reality it is the political media of Scotland she is entertaining which, if she bothered to look, does now contain more than the usual hacks. A bit disappointing, no? You support the SNP, you subscribe to new media and value it and then learn the First Minister doesn’t. In playing the doomed game of trying to win over the critics, she rather embarrasses herself when their next day front page is a compilation of half -truth and innuendo about the national finances and the Forth Road Bridge.

So…I’m put out at being left off the list, am I? Not really. I haven’t done this type of event for many years and ‘had a prior engagement’ – watching my daughter in the Glasgow Schools Orchestra. But I think it’s worth recording how the old Scotland still operates with the partisan Nat-bashers ushered into the presence of the leader they humiliate daily. The idea of a one-party state rendered even more flimsy…

If you’re wondering who paid for it – well, you did, of course. But let’s join in the seasonal spirit and concede that at least she got a pressie from them of a selfie stick, presumably addressed to The Most Dangerous Woman in Britain.

Talking of danger, I was tweeting this week how it was a genuinely worrying idea to think of Labour winning the Scottish election and running the country. (I know it’s as likely as Jackie Baillie causing a stress fracture of the Forth Bridge). It’s only because we know it won’t happen that we haven’t considered it. But just try out the image of Kezia waving on the steps of Bute House…Jackie in a Matron’s outfit…Iain Gray on finance and James Kelly as education minister (sit doon at the back…)

Whatever your misgivings about our performance on health or the police, ask yourself if there are any circumstances in which you’d feel relaxed about an administration run by Kezia. Imagine Blair McDougall in charge of government information…

You have to admit it is an ace hand for the SNP to approach the end of a second term in office with an opposition as effective as Dad’s Army. This week Corbyn’s man in Scotland, Neil Findlay, appeared to deny that PFI debts – of £37b – were down to Labour and that deals under the Scottish Futures Trust were the same thing.

Blair McDougall misrepresented the OECD report on education by cherry-picking every criticism but omitting every accolade. This type of knuckle-dragging politics has been the hallmark of Labour for years and epitomised their indyref campaign yet they’ve learned nothing. McDougall’s only approach was to whip in the Union support and frighten waverers. It was never to appeal to the Nationalist-minded to win them over. That would require strategy and nuance – with something clever and optimistic. He is a one-trick pony able to make a dog whistle appeal to the already committed yet unaware of how to reach out beyond a shrinking base to recover the voters Labour need. Why, after he came close to losing the referendum, is he still in place? And do Labour really think Anas Sarwar, heir to one of the two warring families of Glasgow Labour, will bring anything but the same glib motormouth politics that scunnered voters last time out?

Nicola might ponder just how more dismal Labour would be without the undying support of the media she flatters. The Tories may have a point – with nothing more to offer than not being the SNP, Labour invite voters to make a binary choice between the two, a risky move. And, if voters accept Labour’s basic premise that the SNP is too dangerous because separation would be disastrous, enough of them just might see the Tories as safest Unionist option. Either that or they give up voting altogether. I see no escape for Labour, saved from execution like the Tories in 1999, by the voting system. And of course, kept on life support by Nicola’s party pals.

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57 thoughts on “Party Time!

  1. Do The National not have a parliamentary press pass? That might explain their serial lack of politics stories of late. There is a big white space on the website where politics stories should be.

    I do take your point. Even if the Rev Stu will always be too persona non grata and not Scottish resident surely some Bella and CommonSpace people should get an invite. The SNP are far, far too cautious. The weakening of Land Reform after the minister was seen being schmoozed at a big estate was tawdry. It was only the ordinary members at Conference growing a spine which MIGHT rescue it.

    One partial solution of course is to elect a proper critical friend and more radical opposition to Holyrood. We used to elect Socialists and more Greens, if we did it once or twice we can do it again. This simple plain fact refutes the likes of James Kelly. The reality is no pollsters are asking about RISE or TSU or half the time the Greens so their support is essentially unknown and RISE have not yet started to campaign. When they do so the media will ignore them and unless and until they get elected people that will continue. Kelly’s argument is essentially one long argument from incredulity based on no data.

    • The fact you would even consider a Hillsborough baiting homophobic troll like ‘Rev Stu’ as a respectable journalist is beyond me. The man is an expert at Super Mario video games and nothing else.

      And the fact that Derek Bateman pallies up to the cretin on Twitter is why some folk don’t take the likes of him seriously. Cavort with such dangerous nutjobs like Wings Over Scotland, and you have no right to be taken seriously.

      • Rev Stu is doing a grand job. I don’t agree with him on everything, on Gaelic for instance, but he forensically picks apart every Unionist lie ha comes across.

      • Rev Stu seems to have you and your BritNatz mates in a tizzy every time you print lies about Scotland. He soon shows you up for the fools you are.

      • Nut job? That’s a bit rich. The Rev deserves every plaudit he gets. His articles are full of links to information that you can see for yourself not the made up BS you get in the Daily Record. Long live the Rev!! Its not just the fact he tears the unionist crap apart, other people can post on it too. I even seen a post from a Tory in favour of independence albeit an Indy Scotland with a Tory government. The old print media is failing its readership and its conduct is for most part the reason why and that includes general behaviour against others than the SNP or Indy supporters.

      • Are you accusing Stuart Campbell of being homophobic? Think carefully,before you reply, the Scotsman had its fingers burned.

        • He made the very fair point that the deaths at Hillsborough were caused by Liverpool supporters crushing other Liverpool supporters to death.

          it is the stinking lies told by the actual killers to escape justice that the rev S highlighted.

          Neither the police, The Sun or Mrs Thatch killed anybody that day. Liverpool supporters did it to themselves and their 26 year campaign to hide the truth stinks.

      • Except that he does actually work away very carefully to produce detailed and credible challenges to mainstream media stories while most of us just seem to think that simply stating that they are talking shite will be sufficient. Why is his residence in Bath such an issue? Progress towards independence needs all the help we can get from beyond our border.

        • I looked in last night and no one had taken this guy to task. I couldn’t agree more with the above comments. Stu works tirelessly exposing the lies, smears and inventions from the unionist morons, often deconstructing the crap with irrefutable evidence which anyone can check. Matt, your comments are offensive and untrue, unless you can prove otherwise.

      • Matt, the only person coming across as a troll is you. Grow up…

      • Dearie me!

  2. Good article Derek. You could also have mentioned BBC not considering the blogs in its ‘press’ roundups.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that the SNP hasn’t really got much of a clue vis a vis social media. I doubt if the top brass realises just how much social media contributed to the Indy and GE 15 results. They probably think it was all down to their canvassing. Look at the SNP’s statements about cybernats, accepting the media view that they were the worst offenders in trolling when the reality is that the BritNatz are much worse.

    It does seem ridiculous that she invites the useless hacks from the Scots gutter press (and I mean ALL of them including BBC) who are nothing but stenographers for SLAB handouts, but ignores the much more worthy real journalists on the Blogs (upper case intended) who at least do some research before they publish and are not in anyones’ pockets.

    • Quinie frae Angus

      Much as I like and admire Nicola, I cannot but agree with both Derek’s article, and Jacques’ comment. The omission of WoS, Bella, Derek B and Common Space in particular is an unfortunate and unnecessary snub on those who have championed the Indy cause for some years now – not to mention their thousands of readers – and voters!

      I can only imagine that she was worried in case the “proper” journos would have snubbed the event if the likes of Wings had been invited? If so, that says more about them and their petty snobbery than it does about Wings.

      I think Nicola should have invited the key Scottish bloggers. That would have sent out a powerful message – when she is at her strongest.

  3. If the event was described as for the media then our social media should have been invited.
    On the other hand if it was a party for people who will stab you in the back or have a ‘dirty protest’ in the form print, then I believe the right people will arrive for a knees-up.
    If the latter, then I think the SNP government have been ill advised and these low life should be shown no deference whatsoever.
    Of course, only my opinion.

  4. But if she had invited the non-Unionist Press to the event, everyone she spoke to and everything she said would have been noted, pored over for SNP Baad angles.

    Anyone on the Unionist side not spoken to would have been “snubbed”. Even a polite nod to any blogger would have made them a prime target for BUM hack venom.

    Best not. She couldn’t win.

    Be glad you weren’t there. Sounds to me like a gathering of the soon to be unemployed if circulation and audience figures are anything to go by.

    • Hi Bjsalba, you’re quite right of course when you say Nicola can’t win but that only concerns the unionist media.
      They should be treated with the contempt they have worked incredibly hard for, it’s only fair.

      At the heart of this is a more serious problem for the SNP. They are showing themselves to be lacking self belief by being afraid to have contact with our social media for fear of the unionists saying something mean about them.
      I don’t mind them dealing with the MSM, comes with the territory but brown-nosing is another different level altogether.
      Pandering to the lickspittle press makes me wonder that they don’t realise how strong their position is and if they don’t know how strong they are themselves then they can’t hope to assess any battle outcomes with the opposition.
      I’m concerned that they may not be strong enough mentally to put indyref2 in the manifesto that will be along presently.
      I sincerely hope I’m wrong

  5. “(I know it’s as likely as Jackie Baillie causing a stress fracture of the Forth Bridge)”.

    Dear God Derek. I hope you meant to include a ‘not’ between ‘Bailie’ and ‘causing’. Engineering has its limits, you know.

  6. Perhaps next year this nonsensical waste of Nicola’s time and our money would be better employed with an invite to the hacks to join Nicola for a cup of tea at a food bank with what would otherwise have been spent being donated. It is a mystery to me why the mainstream media are treated with anything other than contempt by anybody associated with SNP. Every opportunity should be taken in interviews etc to call out the MSM for the craven lying unionist propagandists that they all are.

  7. Good article, i think that the government should start excluding the MSM from its press releases and stop all access to ministers and government. They print lies and misinformation anyway, let them actually sit in the cold dark vacuum of silence and only reward those with journalistic integrity. They will soon get the message.

  8. Based on Nicola S’s comments from time to time she thinks the MSM hacks are worthy people doing a good job. It should never be forgotten that these top politicians live in a vacuum surrounded by flunkies who don’t/won’t disagree, and where their every word is sacrosanct.

    Hacks in her presence will be smarmy, asslicking and creepy and tell her they are only doing their job to denounce the Government of the day. And to reach the top in their ‘profession’ they have to be sycophants, particularly when faced and flattered by powerful people.

    • I am also reminded of Alec Salmond’s comment after the referendum, that he was surprised by the BBC’s bias and I was taken aback that such an experienced politician had clearly not expected the Unionist prejudice which informed their coverage.

      Being roughly the same age as him and having lived through the same events that he did, but as a mere spectator of British politics and not as a participant, I was astonished that I had, during that time, acquired a deep scepticism regarding BBC’s lack of impartiality, so their reportage during the referendum was not such a revelation. Admittedly, during the referendum, this bias was on display in a more concentrated, daily basis, but BBC bias has been obvious for some time though, I confess, it has become worse since the Iraq war..

      Funnily enough, before the advent of social media, it was from careful reading of newspapers then, that the occasional, much deeper analysis of the nature of the various conflicts, such as the first Soviet/Afghanistan campaign, the Balkan campaign could emerge. Since then, the steady trend towards a more compliant media generally has become more evident.

      Alec Salmond’s surprise at BBC bias therefore was a bit startling in itself and I began to wonder if perhaps he didn’t actually follow the media output as closely as we mere observers. Being a participant in the hurly-burly of politics, it occurred that his experience of the media and its reportage is not the same as ours. He might have to rely on that output being channelled and filtered through the perceptions of advisers. (As light relief, remember the zeitgeist tape prepared for a minister in an episode of “In the Thick of It “?)

      • Not only Alex Salmond but our very own Derek Bateman! 😉 It was a year after leaving BBC and blogging before he would admit what was staring the rest of us in the face, ie BBC is not impartial. It is severely biased against the SNP.

        • Alex wasn’t surprised in the least. He only said that after the campaign for effect, when it was blindly obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence.

        • Not Just the SNP. Look at the monstering of Corbyn. It’s simplest to regard the BBC as the Ukania “State Broadcaster” that seeks to exclude, limit, discredit and disparage all views, opinions commentary and world-views that do not fit the Establishment’s. It really is the Chomsky/Herman Propaganda Model in action.

      • I would not take everything Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have said about the MSM in Scotland and the UK at face value. They will know more than anyone how biased they are for the union.

  9. It’s more likely that the First Minister lives by the old adage; keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.

  10. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

  11. DB will know better than I but I’m guessing the Govt. are inviting those who are subject of a recgnised and regulated Press or Broadcasting body – who are, theoretically, I can be no more generous than that, supposed to comply with an industry standard of good conduct, (stop sniggering at the back) – as opposed to unregulated commentators, bloggers and websites. NS is constantly engaged in a battle against ‘LBJ inspired’ -pig fucker stories, one of the biggest being she, as AS was before her, ringleader in chief of the Cybernats, the Ernst Stavro Blofeld of the new media. The Prima Bullerina deploying her keyboard Jihadis against the poor J. K. Rowlings and Susan Calmans of this world.

    In ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ terms it would be a very ‘brave’ decision to invite the radicals, the unregulated and the openly partisan inside the tent, especially when one is surrounded entirely by enemies looking to layer an ‘ah ha’ moment onto their thick coats of innuendo. Equally, if I’m on the outside then it isn’t it better to say there? How quickly can an edge be blunted when it is smarmed by canapés and Ministerial largesse? It is too easy to end up becoming the thing you despised; take that great Marxist, Alastair Darling, as your cautionary tale.

  12. I can foresee a situation where many labour voters simply don’t turn out. Unhappy at the idea of rewarding Scottish labour for being so utterly without merit. Appalled at the choices of tory and lib dem. Not even ready to consider the dreaded SNP. Unwilling to take a chance on the rest.
    What choice do they have but not to vote?

    The tories may well pick up some hardcore unionist pouters, but I suspect not enough to pass for a resurgence. I think the Tories could be the 2nd party in Scotland. But only because its vote did not collapse as badly as Scottish Labour’s will.

  13. Bull’s eye by Holebender

  14. Spot on, Derek!

    It was heart-warming to hear Alex Bell’s ‘Rattle’ getting a mention on Good Morning Scotland today, though I doubt that he was invited to the party. Has an issue of ‘Rattle’ appeared yet, by the way? Indiegogo is indicating that it achieved just over 10% of its crowd-funding target.

  15. Me thinks your are being harsh on one trick ponies Derek – unlike McDougall, they at least have a trick to offer.

    As for this press smoozing nonsense why bother having it at all? If I knew people who lie as much as these people do they wouldn’t get anywhere near my drive way let alone the coffee table.

    The behaviour of our MSM is shameful and downright undemocratic at times – why give them any sense of legitimacy that they simply don’t deserve?

  16. They (Nicola and SNP) are playing the long game, keeping the dead tree press and BBC on side. The alternative is open warfare. One may argue that this is the case anyway, but it could be worse if they do reject the Cleggs and the Torrances.

    • I have no problem with the SNP playing the long game over independence. But they need to get a grip of themselves over land reform and some other issues. They had an open goal over land reform, and they have fucked it up spectacularly. I am actually fairly angry on this issue with the SNP leadership, and the way they have handled it.

      • You are welcome to explain how you reform land ownership in Scotland while complying with the HRA.

        And you can also explain why reducing the number of SNP votes at a Scottish Election would be bad for the unionists.

        SNP twice and sod the Greens.

  17. You’re not the kind of guy I’d ever expect to be peeved by being left off that kind of list. I see you as being more akin to the Marxist (Groucho tendency) in not wanting to be a member of any club that would allow people like you in. Up to there you had me, and even on to who pays.

    But what id the point of conjuring up nightmarish images of a Slab Government.

    It’s not going to happen, and so it makes you sound all the more like ‘Project Fear’ in reverse.

    ANd now you’ve put me right aff ma tea! 🙁

  18. At least Jeremy Corbyn had the courage of his convictions and refused point blank to entertain the Daily Mail unlike Nicola.
    It never ceases to amaze me the lack of spine within the SNP top table.
    This was also highlighted by the official Yes Organisation during the referendum.
    Try stroking a rabid hyena and see what happens.
    Better to ignore it completely and give it a wide berth.

  19. “The excuse will be that this is the parliamentary press corps but that just means all those accredited to work at Holyrood which in itself betrays a lack of imagination”.

    Suspect its not an excuse so much as simply a fact? As for who’s invited you must know Civil servants by now and how they operate? Few are motivated enough to think beyond whats written down in existing processes and guidance. If it states in the instructions ‘invite those with press privilege’ that’s exactly what they will do. Bright ideas on who to invite would not be required. That’s not to say they do a bad job or negativity criticism them, merely my substantial experience that the written guidance is always sacrosanct

  20. Derek, you should send her a we Christmas card, thanking her for omitting you from the guest list, after all, she spared you from having to be inoculated, i.e. before mixing with them, the Britnat media.

  21. Reading this out of the corner of my eye, “and running the country. (I know it’s as likely as Jackie Baillie causing a stress fracture of the Forth Bridge),” I turned it into, “as likely as Jackie Baillie getting a stress fracture running across the Forth Bridge.”

    Which is the less probable event?

  22. This thread quickly departed the station, puffing old style prejudices about left-right-SNP.. If I understand his point correctly we should address the Establishment ‘Yes Minister’ advice which the FM no doubt received about whom to invite. I’ve always been worried about the influence of the Grand Gossartia – a shorthand term for the Establishment – to whom the SNP seems to be in thrall

  23. Do we know exactly why Nicola had a press event with the unionist media? No. So I’m not going to pass judgment on a situation I know nothing about, and I’m not going to read anything into it apart from agreeing with those who think it’s wise to “keep your enemies closer”.

    I’m disappointed and not a little taken aback that Wings still gets such a bad rap – he’s one of my two or three essential go-to-sources for forensic analysis of the stories du jour and he exposes the corporate media for the charlatans they are. He’s done an incredible amount for the Indy movement. He’s big and bad enough to hold his own so I doubt the constant sniping at him even ruffles his feathers. The opposition did their damndest to trash him because he’s such a threat to them and it seems some are too willing to believe the lies they’ve spun.

  24. Nicola is not the messiah.

    Newspapers & TV outlets should have been treated with the contempt they deserve by being ignored. All this does is confirm their legitimacy in their own minds (and others too now).

    But as I found out to my own chagrin when I wrote to Nicola (when she was Health Minister) after my dementia-raddled mum’s diamond engagement went ‘missing’ in a locked hospital ward (of one patient; her) and three weeks later a letter appeared (having been signed by my mum) absolving said hospital of responsibility that she is not interested in real (small to some) issues. My local MP Gordon Brown was even less interested.The legal profession was extremely interested but only if their palms were crossed with enough silver.

    Legitimising a feral, hostile press in the hope of it becoming more impartial (or whatever the reason) doesn’t impress. It doesn’t surprise either unfortunately. But, I’m sure she knows what she is doing. She’ll be ok.

    • “I’m sure she knows what she is doing”. I’m not so sure about that. Reading Jim Sillars latest book it’s clear there were many missed opportunities and considerable naivety in the SNP campaign. Will we be ok next time?

  25. Alasdair Macdonald

    I suspect that such an event will probably be organised mainly by the civil service. The civil service, like the senior ranks of the media, the legal services, financial services, etc, still has significant over representation of those privately educated, graduates of Oxbridge and the ‘ancient’ Scottish Universities. They represent a class with a sense of entitlement. They recruit into the class to ensure that any attacks are silenced by the recruit now being ‘one of us’. It can be quite difficult for elected politicians – MPs, MSPs and Councillors – to overrule decisions made on such matters. On the one hand, they are perceived by much of the public as fripperies, but for the civil servants involved, they are an important symbol of power and of recognition of who is deemed powerful. Were a politician to object, then it is easy to imagine the kind of adverse stories which would emerge along the theme of “Why is politician X creating a fuss about such a small bit of congeniality, when there are major things like health, policing etc. to concern them.” Mr Bateman is a former BBC journalist and can probably describe the process better.

  26. The indy movement has to win over the cautious No voters so I am willing to give NS the benefit of the doubt.

    When John Swinney opened my local SNP hub before the GE, he mentioned that the Yes campaign would never have got 45% if it hadn’t have been for social media, so they are aware of it’s contribution.

    The one thing which worries me a bit is that I have noticed a slight change in attitude from the unioinist press.

    Alex S on HIGNFY, I was expected him to be savaged but he was gently ribbed and given a lot more respect than I was anticipating.

    Martin Kettle was praising the SNPs at WM, saying how effective and hard working they were.

    The speaker saying they were excellent parliamentarians, so I hope they are not being seduced by the establishment, the latter having 100s of years of experience in manipulation

  27. What is the point in pandering to a dying form of media, who’s influence is declining.

  28. Of course the Brit Nat polemicists/ propagandists should get their invite to the Christmas bash, but it should be balanced.
    So if any news organisation wish to send the likes of, in no particular order–
    Alan Cochrane
    Jenny Hjul
    Euan McColm
    Glenn Campbell
    Alex Massie
    Severin Carrell
    David Clegg
    David Torrance, etc, etc—the list is apparently endless—–
    Then they should be balanced ( or paired), by another, from the same newspaper/TV/radio outlet who is on the PRO side of the independence fence.

    Only fair, I would have thought.

  29. Oh, I’d say that the FM is no fool where the meeja are concerned. I think Holebender and Ronnie above called it right when posting ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.

  30. Scottish independence is inevitable, we will not be put back in our boxes. Freedom is the destiny of all Scots. No matter what it takes we will win. Vote Snp,Snp 2016.

  31. The unionist media is beyond redemption. Nicola is a better person than me for inviting such wretched “journalists”. But it is Christmas… good will to all people, including Britnat media scum.

  32. There’s no doubt that the SNP needs to work much more effectively on the Scottish MSM, certainly on the major issues. Perhaps the Xmas things is Nicola keeping her friends close (though maybe not close enough) but her enemies closer. Always liked the Godfather….

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