Diplomatic Derek

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted – this will send some into apoplexy. To all Nationalists I say, Come down off the ceiling. I’m not giving the BBC five stars for accuracy and I specifically don’t endorse all content. The clues are there in the text when I say I hear material that makes my hair stand on end and I state that continuing scrutiny is appropriate for an organisation we can’t avoid.

I appreciate all contributions and I respect strongly-held views that I know are shared way beyond any caricature of cybernats. Thanks for putting them down in print, although casting me as an apologist for the Beeb is a little off the mark since I have burned all bridges with them because of public attacks made on management and occasionally presenters. Indeed I left their employment in order to make my voice heard on independence which included detailed and coruscating analysis of their efforts – much to their discomfort. I have not been forgiven.

However, the point wasn’t so much to raise the chestnut of bias so much as to think how we might do Indyref Part Two differently. There are areas we need to finesse and some we might want to jettison. I doubt that the same approach will succeed a second time having failed first time round.

I was trying to open up an avenue to some of those we need to win over for a successful Yes, a constituency that includes a swathe of comfortable Scots. They were No voters not out love for the Union or opposition to the idea of a new Scotland but out of a sceptical examination of the independence case. I think this comes in two parts. The first stage is the technical argument – debt, credit-worthiness, currency, EU membership, international recognition, oil rights etc. The second level is sentiment (to use David Hume’s word). Do they feel good about joining the other side? At this point they have a problem. Don’t reach for the fireworks, but I reckon comfortable Mr and Mrs Scott don’t much fancy the look of the Yes movement. Kilts and painted faces are fine at Murrayfield. A sea of saltires is just too nationalist for them. I’m sure they know that all movements to succeed need a strong community base and foot soldiers do the work. They also know it’s possible they will decide to shift their vote. But they need to feel at ease doing so in a way they can tell friends and not be laughed at. That’s why the media linked Yes to the Scottish Resistance taking on Tunnocks Tea Cakes. It’s why they made up the threats to Murphy on his pathetic soap-box tour and exaggerated the activities of cybernats to associate them with Sturgeon. It’s because it repels ‘decent people’. And it does. Voters will always opt for what sounds reasonable over the hysterical. At times we sound hysterical. And continually calling out the BBC comes into this category. No matter how much evidence you present, they only hear BBC Bad. The Beeb remains one of the great institutions playing a key part in people’s lives. It doesn’t matter that it makes you spit and hyperventilate – many potential Yessers don’t buy the case and eye suspiciously those who constantly mount arguments against it. I accept that they will also question BBC output themselves and I don’t doubt they agree with some criticism. But mounting sustained campaigns as if everything they broadcast is misleading opens you up to the charge of extremism. They know the BBC covers positive SNP stories too as well as the decline of Labour. An anti-BBC campaign sounds if it doesn’t recognise the reality.

I’m saying this is really about tone. I now re-read everything I write through the eyes of a No voter who might switch. What puts me off? What can I agree with? The truth about politics in my experience is that polarity exists only at the edges. Between the two wings of any argument there is always so much more common ground than the noisy ends would have you believe. Indyref One was noisy because it was spontaneous and energised. We didn’t know the mistakes we were making. This time we have no such excuse. Without pretending to be something we are not, we need to rethink our positions and consider if there is a way to make the case more appealing. That may well mean less strident.

Some will think this sounds trivial, but it is what comes up in conversation. And it’s difficult to overstate the degree to which Sturgeon herself has changed the perception of Yes. Her appeal reaches wider than Salmond and speaks to a new normal. Lefty she may be but pragmatic decisions on, for example tax rates, transform her in the yes of comfy No folk into ‘a sensible woman in charge for a change.’

This is delicate territory as the political and cultural divide stretches wider between us and England. The fundamental strength of No – that we are basically the same as England – is curdling before our eyes. Otherwise staunch British supporters adopt a querulous tone…Jackie Kemp, the Daily Record, JK Rowling. In fact I saw a tweet from Rowling which entered my territory in this blog. She claimed there was still a blood and soil aspect to nationalism. I wrote a few blogs ago how this kind of language is a signal – it tells you she is reaching for extremism because her rational arguments are being dispelled. Like others, she now clings to the vestiges of zealotry to justify maintaining her position. If she sees enough evidence of what to her is a rational, sane and respectable case (self-defined), then I believe she can be moved.

That’s how we have to think. We ask ourselves what might work and what looks like it won’t. A bludgeon heavy with blame and resentment won’t do it.

Which takes me to my last point. One of the failings last time was a refusal to own up that the first years of independence would be tough – and largely unknown. Any new country will wrestle with questions until it finds its feet and will be buffeted by headwinds. It was unrealistic not to admit it and people instinctively knew that. (It would have made indyref2 much easier). We should do so this time and level with the No folk. If they are going to come over they need to feel in themselves they weren’t ‘wrong’ last time. They just disagreed. We have to say simply that we didn’t get it right and left the holes for them to pick at. Nobody wants to be humiliated. Instead, ask yourself if you’d rather be assured there were errors on both sides before you stepped over…so we have to find magnanimity.

Think of it as others just taking longer to get there than we did. The days of hitting them over the head are over. Yes, the case has to be made and done with energy and passion but we already have all the people that approach was going to attract. Our case is currently being made for us by a Tory government in London and a disappointingly ill-educated populace revealing a dark heart to England.

We’ll require diplomacy and nuance from now on. (I suggest to you…subtly)

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131 thoughts on “Diplomatic Derek

  1. Steve Asaneilean


  2. How you or anyone else can claim the B B C is not biased is beyond beliefe it I am beginning to think maybe you are a agent provocateur

    • If you really think that Blair – you should do the right thing and get away from this site fast.

    • Seems everyone is an agent provocateur apart from you?

    • Alasdair Macdonald

      No, Mr Paterson, Mr Bateman is not, but I suspect you might well be.

      I disagreed with Mr Bateman’s post, with respect to news and current affairs in the BBC in general and in BBC Scotland, in particular.

      The BBC is a large and multi faceted organisation and there are huge parts of it which do a great service for the common good. I am thinking here of some of the programmes on Radio Scotland, such as those which give an outing for people such as Billy Kay or Richard Holloway, “Out of Doors”, BBC Alba and its counterpart in Wales and many of the other local stations, Rado 3, a huge chunk of the outputs of BBCs 2 and 4, and its support for the OU. It would be a real loss if such were sacrificed by the Tories to keep the big private broadcasters happy as the pay off for their support.

      However, as many of the commenters on the initial article mentioned there is a lot of evidence of partiality in news and current affairs. It was, indeed, acting as a propagandist for unionism. The fact that some individuals and journalists within the BBC were able to be balanced and impartial and continue to be suggests that others have not been as professional as they ought to have been and, indeed, made a deliberate decision to be partial. There are issues about whom they invite on to programmes to make comment. Over the past five years have Patrick Harriet and Allison Johnstone had as much coverage as David Coburn? Are members of the Labour Party happy that John McTernan is invited so often to express a view, purporting to be Labour’s position?

      I think Mr Bateman, whom I have never doubted (especially when I recall with relish the occasion he savaged the bombastic ass, Mr Ian MacMillan, who was once the spokesperson for CBI Scotland!) has gone some way to introduce nuance into his argument.

      On balance, I am in favour of the poster campaign, but, I acknowledge the validity of some of Mr Bateman’s counterarguments.

      Long may he continue to espouse the case for independence!

    • Except he didn’t. I respectfully suggest *reading* the piece before commenting.

    • I am beginning to think so too,just as I think softly softly turn the other cheek Blair Jenkins was

      • I’ve long had suspicions about Blair Jenkins, but that’s all they are. If you can’t see that Derek is the real deal, you’re not paying attention.

  3. Generally agree re tone.

    But discussion about how to approach the BBC feels like archaeology. Just a personal take. It has no traction. I mean mammoths were lovely I suppose. But wouldn’t have one in my garden.

  4. Reluctantly (because I’m an angry old bugger), but wholeheartedly, agree.

  5. Agree 100% Derek, box clever.

  6. The BBC is a distraction

  7. Elizabeth McKinlay

    As ever, the voice of reason and I agree. I will try not to hit the ceiling and encourage others not to because I understand exactly your reasoned argument.

  8. Derek, you are one of only 2 sources of pro-indy material I read regularly, along with WoS (I do read others but much less frequently now). In my opinion, your writing style is unmatched and you have given, what I think, are the best quotes during indyref1 and beyond (“How can a person love their country but think it isn’t worthy of running its own affairs? If you deny your country the right to be recognized as a nation with its own government like all the others, you diminish your country, no matter how much you love it.” being my favourite).

    However, your articles on BBC bias seem confusing – you think there is a bias but that it’s not deliberate, or perhaps even an issue? As some commentators on yesterday’s article pointed out, there is a clear bias in BBC reporting, mostly in the Scottish section. Some subtle (maybe not deliberate), some blatant (can’t be anything other than deliberate). If many newspapers can be so skewed in their reporting (mail, Express, Sun, Telegraph, etc) I’m not sure why the BBC can’t be.

    The first indyref campaign wasn’t unsuccessful. In fact, it almost doubled support and at one piint was thought to be in the majority, until the BBC, along with the rest of the MSM, printed the Vow/federalism nonsense, probably swinging it back uncertain voters towards No again.

    I agree that saltire waving, Flower-of-Scotland singing “patriots” may put off those unsure of indepedence (my own views are similar in that this type of nationalism is unattractive to me now and I don’t proclaim Scots are superior to anyone), although it’s ironic you chose Murrayfield as an example, somewhere I’m sure is mostly populated by the Proud-Scots-But type.

    The billboard that has raised so much ire is IMHO subtle (although I’d have not included “is” to make it more subtle). It’s nowhere near fanatical like the Scotland in Union posters. The Yes campaign did amazing things in 2014 by reaching many with internet access but there now remains a large group, overwhelmingly anti-independence, who use the internet least (65+). Billboards and, dare I say it, leaflets are the main and possibly only method of reaching this sector.

    And bear in mind, billboards were heavily used by the Better Together campaign, many borderline hysterical and “economical with the truth”, and they did win the 2014 campaign.

    The BBC is the elephant in the room that it seems we’re not allowed to talk about – yes, we can point out the Sun, Daily Record, Guardian, Scotsman, Telegraph, Press & Journal, Express, Mirror, Mail, etc are all anti-independence and even the most ardent unionist would likely agree (and continue to buy those papers for that reason alone) but point out the frequent subtle, and occasional blatant, BBC ias, those same people will deny it, while continuing to be manipulated by the bias.

    • Even just a question would be good I think. Something like:

      “Do you think the BBC is unbiased? Watch carefully and think about it.”.

      But it’s THEIR campaign, it’s up to them to decide, not me, not anyone else in the wide YES2 campaign. It’s yer actual grassroots man, and it’s out in the wild! We don’t all have to sing from the same sycophantic hymnbook. The wider, the better.

    • Excellent comment.

    • Jacques Coleman

      Well argued!

    • “The billboard that has raised so much ire is IMHO subtle (although I’d have not included “is” to make it more subtle). It’s nowhere near fanatical like the Scotland in Union posters.”

      I bet unionists would say the exact opposite, because opposite sides of an argument always think the other looks extreme while their own side looks normal.

      Meanwhile, those in the middle – the soft-Yesses and the soft-Nos – most likely look on in despair and wish a plague on both our houses.

  9. I too don’t really follow any other blogs as frequently as Wings, and of course I always read a Derek post. I also sense (subtly) that the BBC issue regarding billboards have really annoyed some of our more ‘prominent’ Indy voices.

    Why as Giesabreak ask, is it okay to point out the rags’ skewed reporting and bias and not the BBC’s and ‘advertise’ that ‘fact’ across our country?

    Why are prominent Yessers suddenly taking the position of talking ‘for’ potential cross over No to Yes and framing this billboard venture as a ‘negative’ for those potential voters?

    This isn’t ‘flag waving’, this isn’t going to be an ‘extreme’ move from our side. This is just simply signalling what is already known, not just by Yes voters but also No voters. When I spoke to my mother (decidedly No from the start to the end) during Indyref1, she was highly critical of the BBC and claimed they were bias and were ‘for’ the SNP!

    So why is this type of rationale being used to justify criticising the billboard campaign?

    Derek the Independence movement in Scotland ‘is’ a grassroots movement. If the grassroots have organised and successfully execute a campaign that questions the capacity of the state broadcaster to report accurately what is taking place within Scotland, why is that problematic for Indy2?

    It shows initiative and just how determined we are to make our voice heard and also to remind ‘the powers that be’ that we the people are at the centre of this movement. We’re the ones voting for the SNP. It seems that the main stream media leave this obvious fact out as they set the narrative and tone of how we are to be ‘viewed’ by ourselves and how ‘others’ are to view us.

    We are not to view ourselves as having accomplished a near impossible feat of removing the entire, bar one, Labour party from Scotland? We have not to be told that every single amendment from the SNP at Westminster regarding the Smith commission was vetoed last year? We have not to have programming that reflects our own altered political landscape explored from differing perspectives from the many new voices that have emerged in our country since Indyref1? We have not to celebrate these changes and be proud of ourselves for challenging the outmoded, archaic and backward looking narrative that rUK seem hellbent on maintaining at the cost of being dragged out of the EU? We have not to be respected Derek.

    We have to remain as the broadcaster sees fit to ‘explain’ us, framed as a narrow ‘separatist’ upstart, talked ‘about’ as an aberration within the ‘family of nations’? With our ‘most devolved parliament in the universe’ which should be succour enough for the ‘whinging’ subsidised Scots?

    Therefore it is ‘right’ to go to the heart of this, the BBC as you have rightly pointed out is ‘trusted’ by swathes of people, which in turn keeps this ‘false’ narrative in place. Is it any wonder that bringing that to the attention of a much wider audience could be viewed as ‘threatening’ by those who are ‘invested’ in that narrative which ultimately results in the continuing ‘status quo’?

    That explains why unionists would be up in arms against this initiative, what it does not explain is why Indy supporters are baulking at the ‘thought’?

    • Derek, I would deter to your greater experience and insight in the workings of the BBC. However this reply strikes a chord.

      I donor believe that there are staff or editorial meetings where management decide ‘ how can we defeat the cause of Scottish independence today!’

      However , I believe what they do goes beyond a subconscious ‘institutional bias’ as you, and others, suggest.

      Reporters and editorial staff in the BBC are, I assume, intelligent, self-aware individuals. They have had more than one opportunity to reflect on the criticism they have received through complaints and the independent, alternative media. That they have chosen not to, speaks volumes to me.

      They also have too much of a monopoly to ignore, hell mend them. For that reason, I support the billboards, regardless of the criticism, until those same critics have a better alternative message and means of communication.

    • Well said K1.

      In answer to your question at the end, I think they baulk at it because they are embarrassed. They are embarrassed at what their ‘normal’, ‘intelligent’,’moderate’ middle class friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family will think of them for being on the same side as those of us who aggressively express views contrary to their common consensus. Humans are social beings. We want the approval of our friends etc. I suspect some of these respectable Yes supporters are rationalising their need for approval under the guise of the perfectly reasonable concern about alienating potential converts.

      Undoubtedly, we will need the votes of many current No voters to win the next referendum. But truth and integrity are also important to many of us. We may be thought of as fanatics and extremists, but if we can justify our position with good evidence (and we can) then we should present it even if it upsets received wisdom. The only way change often takes place is when people are challenged to think the unthinkable e.g women should have the same rights as men; ‘black’ people the same as ‘white’ people; homosexuals the same as heterosexuals.

      In years to come lots of people in a hopefully independent Scotland will look back at this time and think it amazing that people once believed they could trust the BBC. And that will be down to all of us who challenged the intellectually lazy consensus of the ignorant and the respectable.

      • Spot on.

      • Yep Ian…wanted to leave it ‘hanging there’…it’s so obvious isn’t it?

        ‘I suspect some of these respectable Yes supporters are rationalising their need for approval under the guise of the perfectly reasonable concern about alienating potential converts.’

        Which is a position which lacks both honesty and integrity. Nailed it Ian.

    • Well said.

    • Jacques Coleman

      Another well argued post.

    • Seriously, are you really Nicola Sturgeon? 😉

  10. Heidstaethefire

    Correct in every detail, Derek.

  11. Not much we can do about the BBC,bias is bias whether it is institutional or down to individuals.
    As far as convincing No voters to support independence,I think they are going to have to have a very hard look at which option offers the greatest economic stability going forward.
    A UK state,not at the heart of a global trading system but probably isolated for as long as it takes to negotiate individual trade deals with the rest of the world….not going to happen quickly.
    An independent Scottish state which,if all accounts are true,would be immediately transitioned into full EU membership.
    The tactic from HM press will be to portray the EU as a failing institution whose days are numbered and that we would be better off sticking with Ye Olde Blighty.
    However,the Torygraph has been forecasting the demise of the Euro for decades now and in fact,the Euro as a currency has proved more resilient than their precious Sterling so their protestations will be met with a deal of scepticism.
    Whichever way the soft No voters jump,there is going to be huge uncertainty this time.so perhaps other things will come into play.
    Thanks Derek.

  12. Seems a matter of damned if you do and damned if you don’t as the media and the BBC are just going to make up the ammunition they aren’t supplied with just like last time anyway; if it doesn’t happen it will be staged or invented just like Murphys mugging.
    That Rowling and her ilk are going to be converted to Independence by some kind of “softly softly catchee monkey ” approach or that the British state broadcaster will somehow play fair is delusional;. Its the BBC and the media that lost us the first vote. Pretending that they didn’t is just sticking your head in the sand so when Peter Curran says on the same issue:

    “.. they [BBC] have provided a vital platform and information base for YES politicians and spokesperson and voters..”

    I just shake my head in disbelief.
    The bill poster looks innocuous to me and gives a little frisson of hope because it points to people being motivated to do something off their own backs. Some truths need to be pointed out in a straightforward fashion and it does that, so whats the problem? Criticism from the Yes intelligentsia on the grounds that we need to to placate and appease the media opponents of Independence: that we ” …don’t frighten the horses ” seems an entirely misplaced strategy when the BBC’s horses are charging straight at us,

    • ‘Criticism from the Yes intelligentsia on the grounds that we need to to placate and appease the media opponents of Independence: that we ” …don’t frighten the horses ”

      Yeah cause then they might write something nice about Nicola when she’s in Brussels…pffft..

    • “Its the B.B.C and the media that lost us the first vote”. Says it all Ken, and come Indyref2 they, once again, will be our greatest enemy.

  13. So that’s it then. Don’t embarass the “comfortable Mr and Mrs Scott”. Jings, they might find themselves sitting beside a string vested Nat from Govan if they opt for Scotland’s self determination and Independence. Assure them that will never happen.

    The NO bourgeois class must be placated and re- assured that decency and respectability as known only by them is paramount in an Independent Scotland.

    The YES bourgeois class are already committed to Scotland’s Independence. They know what Independence means. The BBC helped convince them in a roundabout way.

  14. “One of the failings last time was a refusal to own up that the first years of independence would be tough – and largely unknown.”

    Substitute “might” for “would” and that’s fair enough. But I’d still modify fhat. The chances are a lot of people won’t even notice the difference, and if whatever Government we have does its job right, then we shouldn’t.

    Marmite might be cheaper again.

  15. Continuing with what seems to be their statutory requirement to include at least one anti-Scottish comment each week last night’s HIGNFY did not surprise me.

    However, the preceding program ‘Would I Lie To You’ had a most appropriate panel member – our old pal Nick Robinson the well known liar who starred in Indyref!.

    • So Auld Nick is back……but presumably not yet dancing with the BBC. Those who watch and follow probably won’t have long to wait. Disgraceful behaviour from that man. Difficult to forgive.

  16. Derek, you write:

    “Voters will always opt for what sounds reasonable over the hysterical. At times we sound hysterical. And continually calling out the BBC comes into this category. No matter how much evidence you present, they only hear BBC Bad.”

    There are large swathes of voters out there, mainly elderly, mainly NO inclined because the ONLY voice they listen to is the BBC. How do you alert those people to the BBC’s lopsided view of the constitutional debate in Scotland if all they ever listen to IS the BBC? The billboard advertising is to get our message out of cyberspace where those voters simply never go and, as such, never get to hear our view of the BBC and why we believe it cannot be trusted to give a true and hinest appraisal of the constitutional debate. How BAAAAAD does the BBC tell us Brexit will be for Scotland? It doesn’t–it simply tells us how BAAAAAD the SNP government is, blaming the SNP for the London Tory austerity cuts.

    How exactly will these people get to hear a different version of the ‘turth’ if they have complete trust in the BBC? Misplaced trust, I have to say. These people will never know the alternative view of reality if they continue to trust the reality served up to them by the BBC. And that is why we need to reach out to them in different and innovative ways. And it is not to demonise the BBC – merely to plant a little seed of doubt.

    BBC Misreporting Scotland. Really? How so? A little nudge in the other direction is all that might be needed.

    We need to win back the No voters who were going to vote YES but (as a result of full-on BBC bias and Jackie Bird’s infamous, “Let’s call it Devo-Max” comment in the last days of IndyRef1) were persuaded back to NO. Let’s get them back to the YES position amd a good few more besides.

    But otherwise, you are spot on with this article

    • Aye that, proud cybernat. There’s a reaso someone takes the time to pick off the ‘BBC misreporting Scotland’ stickers I put up.

  17. “One of the failings last time was a refusal to own up that the first years of independence would be tough – and largely unknown.”

    I have to get back to this because it’s a very dangerous comment, even if casually written. I talked to a lot of NO voters in Indy Ref 1, and kept my eyes and ears open. What they did not like was that YES ignored risks and uncertainties, and that’s very different from saying “Yeah, it’s going to be rubbish, we’ll all be shipped off to Altnaharra (lovely place), to work in the uranium salt mines (no such thing) being paid one and thruppence a week (we’re decimal, that’s 6p a week) to feed our 25 kids …

    Kerevan is already being quoted as the official SNP spokesperson saying Scotland would be a basket case (no it won’t), a dustbowl (with our rain?), there’s no need to over-egg it, just say – which is the truth – that we DON’T KNOW.

    It could be an economic miracle as people and businesses and tourists surge here even before the official Indy date, bringing their businesses and their business HQs,embassies, consulates, trade delegations, savings and spending them, buying houses, spending millions, giving us a 50% increase in GDP per year for 5 years solid year after year – we just don’t know.

    To make a statement of certainty about an absolute uncertainty, is foolish in the extreme.

  18. Absolutely 100% spot on, Derek. You have no idea how good it is to see a leading light in the movement say all this. And how depressing it is that, yet again, people reply with “uhhhh, how can you say the Bee Bee Cee isn’t BIAS?”

    As i said on your blog yesterday, are we a pro-indy movement or an anti-BBC movement? That folk can read this excellent article and go straight back to banging on about the BBC makes me even more sure that there are people whose main motivation now is sticking it to the BBC rather than getting independence.

    Dunno about everyone else, but I’m far more concerned with fixing the independence case flaws from 2014. Although I suppose those who think we made no mistakes have to put their energy into something.

    • “I’m far more concerned with fixing the independence case flaws from 2014….”

      Like having the BBC and near all the Mainstream media opposing Independence, much as they still are?? How do you “fix” that ?
      The rational thing to do is to point to alternative media sources and thus these posters make sense. As to how effective they will be who knows, but navel gazing on “flaws” and evading the massive issue of the media elephant in the Independence room wont cut it.

      • “I’m far more concerned with fixing the independence case flaws from 2014….”

        That sounds good on paper but when many of the “flaws” are being invented by the BBC it’s not an easy fix.

        • Indeed. Take Brexit: Their campaign wasn’t flawed: it was practically nonexistent and basically consisted of a logo/lie on a bus saying “Vote out and NHS jam tomorrow.” but… the pro Brexit media had 82% of the national daily newspaper readership (mostly focusing on fear of foreigners…) and that’s how they won. Much as in the Independence referendum where the No campaign had overwhelming mainstream media support topped off with the relentless BBC.

          You wont convert No voters unless you do something about the propaganda campaign that makes them that way which, like the Brexit campaign, is designed to fill people full of doubts and fear.

          • The Leave campaign won because a lot of people are racist and they wanted rid of Polish folk. That becomes obvious to anyone who canvasses on the issue. So in actual fact, their case was watertight, because Leave voters are going to get exactly what they wanted – less “furriners”.

        • So you don’t think there was anything wrong with what we proposed to folk, and it was actually just the BBC making stuff up that put winnable voters off?

          • What was proposed was fairly solid. The hammering about the currency was due to the media realising that people didn’t particularly understand currency nor how it worked and they then played on deep fears. We lost despite a good case because of the media, whilst the Brexit campaign won despite having presented a poor case also because of the media.
            That’s the common denominator in both cases: mainstream media support. Enough to be a decider.
            BBC bias is discussed here (with some quotes from Derek above…) :


            An explanation of the Propaganda model (Herman /Chomsky), which explains how “…systemic biases function in mass media..” i.e how we are manipulated by the media without any “conspiracy theorising” can be found here:

          • I don’t need to be schooled on Chomsky’s theories on media bias, thanks – I’ve read Manufacturing Consent. But Chomsky’s theories are completely in line with Derek’s views of how bias arises in the BBC, and completely at odds with the conspiracy theory types that lambast Derek and anyone else who dares to offer a nuanced argument for why the media treats Scottish independence the way it does.

            You actually mention why we didn’t win, but don’t realise it. Our case was “fairly solid”. Unfortunately, the switherers who ended up sticking with the status quo needed more than “fairly solid”. We need to realise that, accept it, and sort it out for next time. That’s far better than blaming everything on the BBC, like a bad football manager blaming the referee because he gave a few free kicks he shouldn’t have.

      • No, the rational thing to do is ask people why they voted No in 2014 last time and make sure we do things differently. Media bias exists, but people are using it as a crutch to avoid admitting we didn’t get things right last time, or that maybe – MAYBE – those who ended up voting No last time weren’t duped by the media, but simply didn’t think we had answered their questions.

        Now I was out today doing just that, with just two other people, because people seemingly can’t be bothered doing the hard stuff. No no, far easier to sit at home moaning about how the media won’t give us a chance, like a football manager complaining about the ref when his team just didn’t play well enough.

        • I think you also need to make sure of all the reasons why people voted Yes last time…..because it’d be bloody stupid to lose any of them (through patronising them or neglecting to listen to what they want) in the chase to win over comfortable Naws. Almost Scottish Labour-like, in fact.

    • “makes me even more sure that there are people whose main motivation now is sticking it to the BBC rather than getting independence.”

      Uh, really?

      “An exclusive poll conducted by BMG Research for the Electoral Reform Society has found that 34% of the public say that the BBC is the most important source of information about the EU referendum, with a further fifth of respondents indicating that newspapers are the most important source for helping them make their voting decision.”

      34% – 1 in 3. So you want to just leave the BBC to peddle its bias against Indy, in the same way it did before – as it did against the EU which has helepd the UK to run to the cliff ready to jump off? As it does on so many non-Indy issues?

      I wouldn’t challenge your comittment to Indy by saying something incredibly daft like “Doug Daniel is more interested in protecting the BBC than he is in Indy”, so why do you insult Indy campaigners in the way you do?

      Peter Piper

      • Aye, for me UKIP would have remainothing more than a bonkers fringe party without the BBC acting as their cheerleader. Hi

      • I’m not challenging people’s commitment to indy – I am saying they are getting distracted by something that ultimately does nothing to move us forward. This “it was the BBC wot won it” attitude allows the Yes movement to shirk responsibility for the result in 2014. It has become a crutch. It’s crystal clear from many of the comments on here that some people genuinely think the only reason we lost in 2014 was because the BBC didn’t give us a fair go, when the reality is many people simply weren’t convinced by what we were offering.

        This desire to find a shortcut helps no one. Getting rid of the BBC (or at least convincing people not to believe it) does not fix the problems with what we offered people last time. The questions that people felt were unanswered do not suddenly get answered just because they’re not watching the BBC. Conversely, learning from our mistakes to make the independence case we offer next time watertight will mean not even the BBC will be able to stop us.

        People need to stop obsessing over the BBC and focus on what’s important. After all, if the BBC’s bias is so powerful, how has the SNP managed to win three elections on the trot, as well as 2015’s absolute landslide, against that same backdrop of complete hostility from the media?

        • “After all, if the BBC’s bias is so powerful, how has the SNP managed to win three elections on the trot, as well as 2015’s absolute landslide, against that same backdrop of complete hostility from the media?”

          The answer to that is quite simple IMO. Some Scots who aare undecided or don’t want independence can vote for the left of centre policies of the SNP knowing that in these days of referenda they will still have the final say.

          • So you acknowledge it is possible to overcome the hurdle of overwhelming media bias and achieve electoral success regardless? Excellent, we’re getting somewhere then.

    • Aye we heard you the first time repeating it dosnt make it any more sensible , The BBC are doing ok and we should all just soldier on ? , I suggest you have a wee look at how they operate , that might just alter your perception of that organisation , its really surprising after all this time you still haven’t got a grip of what the BBC do on a daily basis how they push the Union at every opportunity .

      • And I suggest you try reading the words people put down before commenting. Nowhere have I claimed the BBC are “doing OK”, or any words to that effect. The BBC does an appalling job of covering Scottish politics (and politics elsewhere). The point Derek makes, and which I agree with, is that it isn’t because of some dastardly anti-indy conspiracy, with orders being handed down from senior management and reporters etc dutifully following them (all of which was somehow hidden from Derek and any other pro-indy BBC journalists). It’s down to bad management, poor journalism, and lack of resources, as well as a tendency to favour the status quo which is inherent in an organisation like the BBC.

        Now, my main point is this: if the BBC did not exist, would the No-voters I know have voted Yes instead? Were their reasons for voting No things which were made up by the evil BBC, rather than simply questions we did not answer sufficiently? The answer to both questions is “no”. Therefore, should we be spending time and resources obsessing over the BBC, or should we be trying to fix the flaws in the 2014 proposal? If the answer is “BBC”, then we have indeed become an anti-BBC movement, rather than a pro-indy movement, in which case, we might as well give up, because the BBC is going nowhere.

        • “Now, my main point is this: if the BBC did not exist, would the No-voters I know have voted Yes instead? Were their reasons for voting No things which were made up by the evil BBC, rather than simply questions we did not answer sufficiently? The answer to both questions is “no”. ”

          Doug, you don’t get to ask the questions and provide the answers yourself. Personally I think that had the BBC been pro independence then it would have been more or less guaranteed. I really believe that they have that much clout.

          • I’m sorry, next time I’ll invite the No voters I’m talking about to answer the questions themselves by logging on and posting comments saying “no”, since I’m not allowed to speak for them.

  19. “I was trying to open up an avenue to some of those we need to win over for a successful Yes, a constituency that includes a swathe of comfortable Scots.”
    Isn’t the elephant in the room the 450,000 approx “comfortable” English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters resident in Scotland? Although many may be pro Indy, I think the majority are not & may never be persuadable.

  20. Great article, Derek, which hits the nail firmly on the head. Those who accuse you of being an apologist for the BBC miss the point. There is a serious issue that older voters in particular accept the word of the BBC as gospel and we need to think about how to counter that during indyref2. It is my view that a few billboards saying “The BBC is shite” will be counter productive and will simply reinforce the perceptions of the Yes movement they already hold.

  21. Archie Hamilton

    For me there was not so much a refusal to acknowledge that the early years of independence may possibly be hard going but more a decision not to allow the MSM to play that as a card and distort the position to suit their own ends.
    If the BBC would give balanced coverage then I’d agree that we should confront the issue. However what is likely to occur as things stand is that BBC will fall back on their “policy” of merely reflecting the daily coverage in the print media. So if the press do as expected unless the Pro side somehow manage to get one or more of the UK big sellers to come out on the side of independence then any openness on our part will merely be akin to shooting ourselves in the foot.

    • “The Beeb remains one of the great institutions playing a key part in people’s lives. ”

      And that is why it is imperative that we must insist that they are held accountable for spreading misinformation on this scale. Surely no one who has been close to this situation for the past three or four years can dispute that they have been working to an agenda?

      I think I said it on the original blog on this and subject and I will say it again. With the BBC’s support for the YES vote I firmly believe that we would be an independent nation right now. IMO they played a key part in indyref 1.

      • “The Beeb remains one of the great institutions playing a key part in people’s lives. ”
        The BBC is part of people’s lives and part of their identity. We are never going to win people over by attacking them, or by attacking their identity.
        We can win them over by agreeing with them that the BBC is great, most of the time. That puts us on the same side as those soft no voters and makes it much easier for them to agree with us on the big question..
        Personally, whether I end up living in Scotland, Siberia or South Dakota, I will still want to watch Doctor Who, Sherlock and the BBC nature documentaries.
        Misreporting Scotland I wouldn’t miss, but I’m not going to shout at people about it. And that is the key: we won’t win anything by shouting at people or attacking the things they love.

  22. There’s nothing we can do about the BBC or the unionist papers. They’re not in our control. But what we can do is continue to share any anti-Brexit articles particularly those from heavyweight papers eg FT / Times etc. Many many people still rely on the BBC for their news. There is among the general population, still, trust for the institution. They’re not interested in the news they’re not getting. They’re not on Twitter. But, the next campaign will still be energetic, engaging but in the individual way. Nicola doesn’t need to do the selfie tour. She has all of us onside already. Next time from the YES side, Serious, Sober, Well calculated and costed arguments – just the handful. Ignore all the cost of stamps type. The choice will be clear and concise – a brexit little England type Britain with continued tory governments we didn’t elect or stand on our own feet with the EU a willing and able partner. And short. A short campaign 6 weeks at most. Hard and fast. Yes.

  23. It seems to me the oxygen of the Billboards stushie was the sneering reaction of
    some of the Yes critics who piled on as if it were a Scottish Resistance stunt instead of an honest grassroots attempt to combat Yoon propaganda.

    Sanctimonious attempts to police the Indy movement will ultimately do far more damage than a few (for some) embarrassing posters

    • The Scottish Resistance’s escapades are known only to those who bother to read Jamie Ross’s articles on BuzzFeed – ie a very small number of people.

      The billboards, on the other hand, will be seen by thousands of people. People who will look at them and think “gee, what kind of paranoid conspiracy theorists put this up? I’m glad I’m not one of them.” It plays right into the hands of the union’s greatest weapon – trying to make independence look like the obsession of a few weirdos, rather than a serious proposition. It baffles me that so many folk can’t see that.

      Put it this way: if us “sanctimonious” Yessers don’t want to be associated with such behaviour, then what on earth will soft-Nos make of it? Even “honest” ideas can be terrible.

  24. As someone who has read G A Ponsonby’s book, ‘London Calling’ I became convinced that the editorial side of the BBC Newsroom did operate in favour of the Union. That is not to say that all the journalists are involved in a conspiracy, but it is to say that their expectation is fulfil their contracts as a branch office and not be ambitious for Scotland.

    How else can you take the shape of the average Reporting Scotland broadcast with its murr-ders and fitba agenda? You even admit Derek that the John Birts of this world influenced Tony Blair against a Scottish Six and thus the Scottish team were put back in their box. This is about lack of ambition.

  25. It would be nice to know how many of the people who comment on here are also on the streets, day after day, chapping doors and speaking to voters… My perception from doing this is clear: most of the controversies flying around on Twitter and on the blogs are entirely irrelevant, and that includes JK Rowling and Billboards.

    No voters will move to Yes once they perceive that remaining in the Union is worse than the alternative, and not before. A billboard here and there will make no difference one way or the other.

    The SNP vote remains remarkably solid. Nicola Sturgeon continues to have high ratings. The Westminster Government is doing our job for us with every flat-footed blunder it makes. No voters watch it (on the BBC) and are beginning to despair – even leave voters.

    There’s the hard core with an idea of Britain, which is immovable. There are those (mostly elderly) who think we have to stick together in bad times as well as good. There is the committed Yes voter. And there are those who will wait and see….It is those that I note, and say to them I’ll be back when indyref2 is called.

    • Well Kininvie I’m one the door chappers, at the moment delivering the national survey, but hopeful out talking to people in the new year about how they will vote in the 2017 Council elections.
      Where I disagree is that I think all aspects leading up to Indyref2 are important, whether it be on the internet, or indeed the billboard campaign. As I am fed up saying, the M.S.M are our greatest obstacle to gaining our independence, and any lawful effort to combat their propaganda is to be commended.
      And please, from someone who is in their eighth decade, no more about the “elderly”. No doubt statistically you are correct, and some are so set in their beliefs we will never change their mind, but there are others who will, and it’s these we will be targeting come the next campaign.

  26. Excellent article and loads of interesting comments. Whatever we do we must do it together or we fail.

  27. I voted Yes and I will, if given the chance, again. However, I do object to being told off by people who never end of telling me what their Indy credentials are. how many miles they walked, how many leaflets they delivered, how long they have been in favour of independence and so on. All very interesting but so what?

    I have one vote like you and I have an opinion just like you. We did not win and you martyred foot soldiers are part of the problem. Why should we listen to you – your strategy was a losing one? Personally, not one canvasser to my door told me anything that would have persuaded me one way or another. Most of the time they were well meaning folk with not a lot of hard facts. The same with leaflets – a glance and then straight in the bin. The Twitterati are the worst – superior snark about upsetting snowflake No voters. What about increasingly frustrated Yes voters who know you lot did all wrong?

    Many of you are doing what the Labour Party in Scotland did for years, you assume those who voted Yes last time will do so again, why? Labour lost because they assumed people would vote for them forever and they went after the Tory vote the way many of you want to go after the soft No voters as if they are the only ones that matter.

    People voted Yes and No for different reasons. Stop making assumptions about the Yes vote because you will alienate them if you do.

  28. An excellent article, Derek.

    Some of us need to take a look at ourselves. Yes, I believe most f the main stream media and BBC are institutionally biased, and I’d imagine that thought might go quite deep in to the highest chambers of the SNP. We are never going to win a second referendum through name calling, amateur GIFs/Memes or belittling previous/soft/undecided No voters.

    We need about 5% to win. We can absolutely win the next referendum, but this is when we keep the heid and all do our best to win over undecided voters by listening and understanding their concerns about the jump.

    The flags, ceilidhs, parties, and celebrations are all bright and a huge part of our culture which I am proud of, but we can save all that until we actually win!

    We are so close to winning this. We will increase the Yes vote in EU nationals, rUK citizens and the ilk of Malcolm Chisholm, Eric Joyce, Henry McLeish, Simon Pia – all staunch no, now open to independence if not supportive of it.

    If we all work together, like a team, we will most definitely win this.

  29. I’m an old fart. I was born in 1950, and WWII seemed as far away from me as a four year old (more than a lifetime ago) as it does now (more than a lifetime ago). I grew up with a sense of shared social endeavour – the welfare state, the National Health, the belief that the state was a benevolent source of support for ordinary people. I lived my life in sepia, then black and white. Slippers by the fire, grandad having a pint in the pub before the Sunday joint, homemade Christmas decorations.

    Now, very oddly, Scottish independence seems the only way we can maintain a link with these values. The South may be lost to the forces of intolerance, and we grieve for the people who live there, but it may be beyond our power to save them – unless by supplying a beacon of hope, and an example they may wish to emulate in years to come. But for now, we need to save ourselves. And it seems that independence offers not radicalism, but the maintenance of traditional values. It’s not revolution, but a new definition of conservatism – the conservation of the principles that our parents and grandparents fought for. Let’s not argue for the massive risk of a sinking ship. Instead let us offer a gentle step into the lifeboat.

    We’re not arguing, as in Indyref1, for a leap in the dark, to a risky but potentially rewarding future.

    We’re saying – don’t take a desperate gamble. Vote to let Scotland stay in the EU, stay in a secure trading relationship with rUK ( who are proclaiming to everyone who will listen that they will tear down barriers and form trading relationships with anyone who will give them the time of day). Vote for the status quo. Vote for Scotland staying the same, while rUK careers off on an uncontrolled swerve into the unknown.

    This time we’re not arguing for change and for risk.

    We’re arguing for traditional values, still supported in a traditional country. But that may just be the key to survival in an uncertain world. Scottish common sense may be at the cutting edge of global adaptation.

  30. Steve Asaneilean

    The idea that the BBC is supposed to be neutral is errant nonsense.

    It was set up as a UK State broadcaster. Its role has always been to promote the UK to the rest of the world.

    It has always been about preserving the integrity of the UK, as its recent charter revision reiterated.

    If this is bias it is not something which is concealed.

    I have never seen the BBC as anything other than that and that’s how I have always approached their coverage of news and politics.

    I am old enough to remember their largely uncritical response to things like violence in NI, the Falklands crisis, the miners’ dispute.

    In each case the BBC put forward the view of the British State – as they were set up to do.

    But you have a choice. You can chose to ignore it but I think there is a danger in that.

    Increasingly people are retreating into “echo chambers” – “I only read or listen to so-and-so because they reflect what I think”.

    Personally I want to hear what the other side thinks – only then can I hope to develop effective counter-arguments when I feel such are necessary.

  31. Governments use them, the No campaign used them, why are we chewing our fingers over using billboard messaging? concern over the content, yes, lets not scare Mr and Mrs Scott, but a picture can paint a thousand words.

    Over at Wings discussion is on asking for Cairnstorm to allow his cartoons for billboard messaging. His cartoons are not offensive, but boy, do they convey uncomfortable truths to us all.

  32. The disappointing aspect and where I think the Independence movement has failed in recent months is not taking advantage of the massive, mainly London based, commentary on Brexit.

    There have been next to no articles on Wings, Bella or Newsnet yet everyday I have read articles on the Brexit shambles everywhere, from UK mainstream press, to economy blogs, to professors of law, think tanks, European Institutions and the European Press.

    Yet this single issue is the ‘material change’ that allows us a second bite at the cherry and what have we done with the treasure trove of material that would clearly improve the case for an Independent Scotland -nothing.

    The polls during the precious time have barely risen in our favour. Immediately after the vote BBC Scotland went into unionist mode and started reports on the oil price and the economic failure of an Independent Scotland.

    Our response was silence.

    A more recent example that sums up the failure of our ‘new media’

    Three days ago Scotland made the national BBC news at 6pm. George Ala-whats-his name sat there and told us that the Scottish NHS is in crisis from a report from Audit Scotland, swiftly backed up by a live report from Sara Smith outside Holyrood telling us the NHS failed 7 out of 8 targets and now this could ‘damage the reputation of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon’ or should I say, she hopefully suggested. This story has been repeated through all newspapers.

    Yet what did the report actually say in the detail so deftly ignored by the BBC, The Guardian and every other outlet. It said that while we did fail those targets, we were still getting pass marks of 9 out of 10, ie 90% was the pass mark across all waiting times and targets measured. The report also said that those Health Boards struggling to meet targets were failing to do so by degrees of 0.01%. Yes that’s right, a tenth of one percent. Thats miniscule.

    What that report actually said was that Scotland’s NHS is superb. Despite pressures of austerity it still managed pass marks that any other area of our society would give a limb for.

    Would you give the BBC a 90 % pass mark ? Or Theresa May ? Or Ruth Davidson ? Or Glasgow City Council ?

    Does George Osbourne get a 90% pass mark for his handling of deficit reduction ?

    The NHS is a soft target. It doesn’t get to respond. Instead, NHS staff get to go home feeling part of a failing system. No wonder they have recruitment issues.

    And what was our response ?


    Did the SNP press release the detail of what our NHS staff actually achieve ? – No.

    Have there been any articles in our ‘new media’ talking about this ? – No.

    Has there been a Scottish Twitterstorm ? – No

    It’s bad enough being 100% reactive to press stories, which is why we failed the first indyref – Project Fear setting the news agenda, but to now not even be able to react to the press when it happens is an utter failure.

    Seriously, if this carries on, there is no point campaigning.

  33. Prof (rtd) John Robertson has published evidence on the BBC failure to be impartial, and continues on his blog ThoughtControlScotland. GA Ponsonby published a book citing evidence. And if you disagree with their interpretations the evidence is spelled out for you to demolish – if you can.

    If the BBC insists it is impartial, then where’s its evidence? Where are its targets? Where is its pass rate?

    I’ve stopped tuning it so I must have missed it.

  34. I disagree with Derek over the BBC but agree with him on 99% of everything else he posts. So I don’t think it changes the way I feel about Derek or his blog.

    He is just like me but has a soft spot for some people in the BBC. We should celebrate what binds the yes movement together against the British machine. Not decide Derek is an agent provocateur or brainwashed.

    Clearly he is a nationalist and pro indi. However I think he is wrong on the BBC. I suspect it comes down to a definition of what bias actually means. I think bias doesn’t have to be written down or instructed. It can be institutionalised. The employees are part of the institution so are part of the bias.

    Derek thinks the bias is unintentional and thoughtless or clumsy. But I think it’s an unwritten uncomanded anti Snp slant that all employees become part of. The BBC is biased end of. But Derek is one of us who just won’t accept what is evidenced. That’s partly because bias is often down to the perceivers opinion.

  35. The BBC is definitely biased, however, most of those who work in the BBC are now aware of their own bias. Their background, the homogeneity of the views of those they work with and the fact that their views align with mainstream – mean that they believe that they are uniquely equipped to define what ‘balance’ is. In their world-view, someone who wants independence holds an ‘extreme’ view. It is not balance to give someone who you consider an extremist the same amount of air time as someone who holds the default view; i.e. the unionist view. An unionist is not an extremist, a unionist is someone like themselves., i.e. a sensible person with sensible views. To give extremists the same amount of time as a sensible person would obviously be poor way of providing balance from an organisation funded by public money. To have a BBC that is not biased would require a complete overhaul of the organisation and all the people in it.

  36. cant agree . I dont see too much wrong with a simple billboard pointing people to a website where they can see information backing up what we all know to be true ie. that BBC News is politically biased ! Ive been on the informScotland website and its not great but it isnt bad and it certainly isnt “extremist” as far as i saw. The point is , it’s not really anybody’s business to try and tell people how to fight for independence ; except to act with a certain amount of decency and restraint at all times.
    Tactically speaking , the informscotland people have a perfect right to say to Mr.Bateman and anyone else, stuff your diplomacy and mind your own bloody business

    • If people see others doing something they feel will do more harm than good to the movement in the long run, then they absolutely have a right to voice their disagreement. Those people of course also have a right to completely ignore those concerns and plough on regardless, but you would hope they would at least stop to consider why others are so vocally against their actions, and whether they might have a point.

  37. Presentation, tone, diplomacy, empathy, depth and breadth of knowledge to answer any and all questions on a possible independent Scotland’s future under, again, any and all circumstances from now to infinity and beyond. Oh, understanding and patience would be right up there too, (You could also add political understanding, tactical nuance into the latter mix and near telepathic discipline t’boot). Yet when required, heart, passion, courage, determination and a healthy dose of zip ah de dooh dah in the darkest of times.

    But other than that, what else?

    A lot is being asked of a broad church of people who have newly rediscovered their political engagement. People who haven’t exercised that particular muscle group in decades. Maybe some of the more politically aware overlook this fact from time to time?

    Maybe some of that ‘understanding and patience’, some of that ‘presentation, tone and diplomacy’ could be directed at the folks on our side of the debate too. They’ve put up with so much over the past few years especially. They’ve been shit on from a great height by central government, demonised and othered by the media in the most cynical and appalling manner. They’ve walked a lot of miles in well worn shoes and done pretty much everything asked of them through the worst of it.

    Being a true grassroots movement with no formal structure and dozens of affiliated groups was a massive and unexpected advantage in indyref 1. That breadth of opinion and approach was a big contributory factor that allowed YES to strip 20 points out of a thirty point lead. However, that lack of formal structure and leadership also has a down side outside of a campaign period, yes? The frustration and anger is palpable in thread after thread on site after site.Maybe a morale boost and a bit of diplomacy wouldn’t go amiss among ourselves too.

  38. BBC Scotland is now broadcasting to us from the 1950s. Eventually we will need to join the CETI programme to receive it.

  39. Oh dear.
    The BBC are clearly biased against Scottish independence.
    The billboards are a great, fun idea that’s costing taxpayers nothing.
    Derek is wrong on all counts.
    Get real, Derek.

  40. Personally, I welcome the bill boards – and have donated. Why? Because they will raise questions and profile to reassure people that there is another view. I future I would like the bill boards to be more nuanced, perhaps even humorous – a good suggestion over on Wings was to get wee Hamish up there in lights courtesy of Chris Cairns.

    Anyway lets move on – we need diverse approaches to tackling the establishment! But for the LOH, please will the SNP start publishing more of their own figures to repudiate the GB OK’ propaganda? How the SNP allow the media including the BBC Scotland to monster the SNHS with a narrative so twisted you would have thought we were talking about something they wanted us to hate!

  41. I cannot see that the billboards are doing the cause any good whatsoever. It’s giving our enemies a stick to beat us with, and they’re not failing to take the opportunity. It’s certainly not going to inspire No voters to go for Yes.

    • Oh really….ok guys..bend over and get beaten wae the Yoon stick..1) Its telling BBC viewers how it is and happens on a daily level….2) I believe it will cause many people to think on previous BBC SCOTLAND reports that they had ‘misgivings; about.

  42. Pride in nationhood (Scotland, England, Britain) seems silly, embarrassing and outdated. The independence movement is just dragging the pointless tribalism of the football stadium into the streets.

    I don’t believe that No voters identify with “the Union” or with Scotland on any meaningful level. It’s just the place that we were dumped by the lottery of nature. How strange to be “proud” of that. How inexplicable that anyone would vote for a “tough” couple of decades in the name of something that means nothing to us. Not sure you can put a positive spin on something so irrational but, if you must, greater respect in campaigning would certainly be a good thing.

  43. For any long time campaigners using the Duncan Hothersall defence that their constituency successes justify the tactics used, I’ll remind you a referendum is not the same as an election and not all party members voted on the expected constitutional divide.

    I voted Yes because I could see the case for No was not scrutinised in anything like the same detail. I could see for myself that discussion was being shut down within the Yes camp. Any attempt to call out the BBC and The Record, Herald, Scotsman etc., even then, was looked on as dissent. I asked why the Yes camp did not argue more forcefully about the perceived bias at the time and a weary canvasser shrugged their shoulders.We are not being allowed to discuss in any meaningful way what went wrong in the Yes campaign because ‘it went from 29% to 45%’ so it was ok.

    Ironically Alex Salmond warned the Brexit campaign of the Project Fear tactics and they embraced it in a way the Yes camp were to afraid to. Now the pendulum has swung the other way, we will have to trust any dubious prof or think tank that defines itself as an expert because the mistrust was so high for Brexit. Now any complaint is immediately shut down by saying we are just like Donald Trump. Well Trump might actually win just like Farage did. Of course we could lose another referendum ‘nicely’ because that is what matters after all.

    Finally, those who have the cheek to assume some Yes voter are using Independence as their social life, should look in the mirror. For some of the most hypocritical are on social media non stop, posting pictures and talking endlessly about a life which seems to take it entire meaning from party politics.

    • Some might say it’s rather cowardly to make such specific criticisms without having the guts to address them to the person in question. Especially since you clearly follow this person on Twitter.

      • Really? If I was on Twitter maybe I would. Some might say it is a sweeping generalisation to assume you know the motivation of groups of people and suggest they are less serious than you about Independence. Is it a contest? Do you have to have certificates of worthiness to have an opinion?

        Maybe people like you are the reason others don’t feel they can speak up or suggest new ways doing things. Maybe your way of doing things isn’t the best way. Maybe that is why Yes lost.

        • Hmmm, knowing so much about someone’s social media shenanigans when you don’t even follow them is kinda creepy, to be honest. Sounds a bit stalkerish.

          People like me have been hauding our wheesht for months, precisely because we know exactly what happens when someone challenges the louder, more exuberant elements of the movement – accusations of being closet unionists, agent provocateurs, all that kind of nonsense. The idea that the folk who are speaking out now are the ones who have been trying to silence other folk is for the birds.

          We are suggesting new ways of doing things. We’re suggesting we actually listen to No voters rather than just telling them they were duped by the BBC, and thinking that shouting the same things but louder will change their minds. Putting up billboards is not a new way of thinking – it’s just the same “it was the BBC wot won it” rhetoric turned up to 11. It’s time to stop shouting at No voters and start listening to them instead.

  44. Derek – you should get some ads for this site, its pulling in more than the Express and Herald combined at the moment!

    On a lighter note, I can only see a better #indyref2, because soft-no and soft-yes people can be tackled in the eye of Brexit and EU presence.

    All I can say is roll on #indyref2. My business will be up shortly after a Yes vote.

  45. If everyone who thinks that the BEEB are biased stopped funding them and stopped watching TV, then a better message would be sent and it need not upset all the folk who disagree as it’s a personal choice. It does piss me off a bit when people who tell me they think they are biased still pay to fund it. I find action better than words at times. Two years of no telly has been the most enlightening thing that I have ever done.

  46. How naive we were to think the British state would allow Scotland to secede. All the strategies in the world can be useless when votes get rigged. Rigging succeeds because the general public scoff at the idea. and see it as the response of losers. Margo MacDonald warned against MI5. I believe they were heavily involved. Couple of weeks before 18th Sept I bumped into a high ranking army man who is based in Algeria he told me how worried he was that Scotland would never get another chance if she voted No ,”Aye right! I thought and he couldn’t really explain why he was back here for a few weeks. It was faux concern to put me off my suspicion as to the real reason he was up here.
    There were no exit polls allowed which would have shown up discrepancies and they were not having that!.I was struck by how relaxed reporters like Sarah Smith were on the BBC panel it was as if they knew the result.Ruth Davidson did! There was 15% votes missing from Yes city Glasgow , hall cleared four times cos of fire alarm in Yes city Dundee and 800,00 postal votes which went down south to be counted at a firm owned by former Tory Minister Peter Lily , so I really am sceptical about softly softly approach to win over No voters when all this sort of thing can go on. The.SNP must have suspicions about the referendum and not saying anything, here’s hoping they act on them if there is an indy 2.

  47. Jock…I still pay the licence for the simple reason I need to ‘know my enemy’…and make no mistake.. I DO consider BBC SCOTLAND to be the enemy in the sense they will muster every means at their disposal to prevent an INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND.

  48. There are about a third of voters who are solid yes, about a third who are solid no and about a third who are persuadable either way. There is no point worrying about upsetting solid no people like JKR because there are no circumstances in which they will support yes. They will always find some excuse for their support for no. By fretting about it there is a danger of putting activists off of campaigning at all for the support of the persuadable third since anything they do could potentially upset some solid no voter.

    I don’t think the hoardings are the best use of resources but nor do they do any harm. I would rather put Cairns’ cartoons on hoardings and use the good humour that charactetised the first Yes campaign at its best but I didn’t think of setting up a crowdfunder to do that.

    One of the strengths of Yes is that it was not centrally directed, allowed people to act on their own initiative and was diverse. Let’s not throw that away.

  49. I have declared ‘No More Mr and Mrs Nice Guy’, several times recently.
    I understand why some would argue that we should whisper sweet nothings into the ears of the Comfortable Off Scots who voted No, and fill them with warm fuzzies by confessing that they were right to vote No because the previous campaign was flawed and bobbed along on a Sea of Saltires and hopelessly unrealistic optimism.
    However, Brexit changes everything.
    There are now absolutes to feed into the equation. Scotland is being taken out of the EU against the ‘democratic will of the people of Scotland’.
    Why would we have a Currency Union now?
    Oh how I’d love to see NS reprising Osborne’s Sermon on the Mound: only this time:-
    ‘Let me be clear. Scotland will not be sharing the pound with England and Wales. We shall have our own currency.’

    The timing of Indyref 2 is crucial. Once the Comfortably Off ex No voters
    learn of the full horrors and financial implications of Brexit as the negotiations are played out live and in full colour, it may be argued that many may need no convincing to change allegiances.
    Vote No and the EU is closed to you for ever, vote Yes, for Scottish Self Determination and an optimistic future as an equal partner in the biggest Free Trade market in the world beckons.Moire nuanced certainly, but plain and simple. These are the choices.
    I have stopped watching BBC entirely now.
    Derek, you argue that you left the BBC because you needed the freedom to comment independently, and that as their employee you were not allowed to. Yet you don’t believe that there is institutionalised bias?
    Meanwhile, I shall continue to call it as I see it.

    • I’m sorry Derek but I, like many others here disagree profoundly with you.

      Were it simply a case of them hammering the SNP govt continually then that’s arguably acceptable as it could be argued they’re holding the govt to account.

      However its not, and we all KNOW that its not. The BBC simply do not report news which is harmful to the Unionist parties, nor do they report news which is favourable to the SNP unless it is completely unavoidable. In addition they continually present Labour party members/ex-employees as “independent”.

      You’ve clearly not spent enough time away from your erstwhile employers – perhaps as more time passes the rosy tint might fade from your vision….

  50. I disagree. We must continue to sow the seeds of doubt about the BBC. They haven’t changed their behaviour, and until they do, we need to persist, not surrender.

  51. A good piece. Clarified much of your previous entry. It is very true that some folks are taking just a little longer to be persuaded and need to feel good about their new view and also about their previous position – for we did get some things wrong last time. My Indy feelings have always been heartfelt, however many need these to be head felt.

  52. As always I appreciate what you write Derek, even when I would argue against most of what you say – which isn’t often. I’ve come very late to this whole debacle after being out of action for a few months so am only now catching up. I have to say the tone of a lot of the condemnation I’ve read from some sources and which is in line with your thinking – not by you obviously, but some who should know better – is at the least disheartening and at worst deplorable.

    I find myself agreeing with whoever above said “Sanctimonious attempts to police the indie movement will ultimately do far more damage than a few (for some) embarrassing posters.” I especially agree with that sentiment since the reply from the other side was “Put it this way if we sanctimonious yessers don’t want to be associated with such behaviour then what on earth will soft noes make of it.” That reply focused solely on the billboards and noes, not on implications to divergent yessers or ramifications to yes movement. Not meaning to take issue with any particular person here, but that type of response is what I’ve generally read and which shows in it no notion of how their own behaviour and attitude might justly be criticised by yessers far less viewed by soft noes. They could damage the yes movement they think they know best how to run.

    For example what I wonder, and which is far more subtle, is what soft noes will make of such attitudes as those and others read elsewhere of some yessers who treat other yessers of a differing opinion with such dismissiveness, in fact almost with contempt; what long term damage will that do? Do we really think we can expect unionists to come to our side of the fence if we pillory our own dissenters in such a manner? Why there should be ‘dissenters’ in such a supposedly ‘grass roots’ movement is another matter since no one group has a right to police what the others do. We are supposed to be a welcoming, friendly and accepting bunch, a broad church, who gently try to persuade and reason with people and who accept without ill feeling differing views and try to accomodate all. That’s not what I’ve read recently and the tone of what I’m hearing is awful.

    After all if we are ever successful in becoming independent, then we will have to welcome tories or ukip supporters as part of our country – perhaps not a very warm welcome, perhaps not a large part, and we can try to change their ways – but they are Scottish too as much as us and we must welcome them in our country. We don’t want to become like England against foreigners or brexit ‘traitors’. For heaven’s sake, if we can’t tolerate differing views in the yes side about a silly billboard without showing derision for others then what hope will the soft noes feel at being in our supposedly ‘inclusive’ country? People can criticise if they want – whether former ssp-ers dislike of Sheridan, hope over fear-ers of common weal ‘intelligentsia’, common weal-ers of traditional righter wing snp-ers, or all of us against scottish resistance – but the tone used should not degenerate as it seems to have recently into curt intolerance and scathing derision, for that is most assuredly not an attractive quality to listen to and must be far worse for those on the receiving end. Worse even than possibly creating lasting resentment with other yessers, it will be offputting to soft noes, for the subtle psychological message it is sending them is this is how they will be treated since they differ far more from us than we do from each other.

    As other folk above have said so much attention is now shown to get the noes onside but by criticising other yessers in such a way could alienate or dishearten them too badly. How can you possibly assume yes activists will still be yes activists if they’re being dismissed and pilloried by their own side?

    As far as the billboards themselves go I have no feeling either way, they seem pretty innocuous to me and might do some good with folk who don’t have internet but won’t make much more of a stick for unionists to beat us with anyway – they can find sticks where none exist and always will. I remember the ‘wheest for indie’ complaints, and no doubt will be accused of that now, if not worse, but the fact is division amongst ourselves can create lasting damage and all division is seized on and used against us. Why give them that to hit us with, and why risk creating divisions between ourselves which might not heal because of tone of debate.

    • “That reply focused solely on the billboards and noes, not on implications to divergent yessers or ramifications to yes movement.”

      Indeed it did, because there’s somewhere in the region of 15% of the voters up for grabs, and we need to be focusing on how we win a majority of them over.

      The criticism that folk like me are getting is that we’re not thinking about fellow Yessers, that we’re going to put off all these wonderful activists who apparently can’t handle a bit of criticism from fellow travellers. Well personally, I’d like to give folk a bit more credit than to assume they’re such gentle snowflakes that they can’t handle people disagreeing with them from time to time.

      It’s emotional blackmail, and it stinks, quite frankly. The message seems to be that we cannot criticise bad ideas in case we put folk’s noses out of joint. The reason we’re all in this is because we want Scotland to be independent, not to be molly-coddled by cheerleaders. We’re not going to get very far if folk get told that internal criticism is banned, just in case others chuck their toys out of the pram.

      As for putting off soft Nos, if anything, they’ll be glad to see that not everyone in the Yes movement thinks they’re idiots who were fooled by the BBC.

  53. There is an interesting blog by Prof John Robertson today, which mentions the BBC and how uppset they can be when people call them out.


  54. As a craver of independence, a ‘yes’ voter, I read what I can of blogs and ‘Yes’ sites, facebook pages etc. in an effort to gain knowledge so that I can debate (or dispute) ‘no’ arguments and I read to determine what more can be done to get the message across to ‘soft no’ voters that Scotland having self-determination is what any country would/should and could want. One of the things that strikes me is the message from some of the more prominent sites continually making the point that ‘yes’ is NOT SNP – that ‘Yes’ is a collection of people from different parties, different age groups, different parts of the nation, etc. all coming together for the same reason – to help achieve self-determination for Scotland. Some of them actually seem as though they are trying to distance themselves so much from the idea that independence is not SNP, to the point that they are really starting to ANNOY me!

    Which is my point – the ‘yes’ vote is made up of all kinds of people, all groups of people thinking similar things – and we have to use everything they bring to the table! Whether it ANNOYS us or not! This isn’t about what one group or blog wants, it’s about everyone’s group or blog. About everyone’s ideas! ABSOLUTELY we want to win IndyRef2 but there is NO right and wrong way to do it and no one director of the show. Therefore, we have to accept that one blog/group’s way may not be what we see as the way to go about this. But we have to suck that up. Not everyone will see it our way. It is what it is…

    A particular group on a prominent site felt that SNPx2 was not the way to win an election. Even now there is still controversy over whether that was what led to the loss of a majority for the SNP in the May election. But they pushed that SNP/Green idea until the cows came home, in spite of how others saw it. And – that was their right. Just as it is the right of Inform Scotland to decide on billboards. The crowdfunder was more than subscribed, so I’m thinking many people agree with that idea. I personally feel if it’s cleverly done, it’s as good an idea as any other idea I have seen lately. (But you know what? Those alternative ideas have actually been few…)

    I get what some are saying – that we shouldn’t ’embarrass’ no voters. I agree. But I don’t think subtle billboards embarrass anyone any more than going door to door, trying to convince people that they aren’t viewing this whole question of indpendence, properly. But t’is just a difference of opinion in what works and what doesn’t…

    But what I DON’T think is a good look, is this continual slating about how a particular group is ‘doing it wrong’. Or how one ‘yes’ group (or three) thinks they have the right to determine whether ‘Inform Scotland’ is right or wrong. Yes, everyone has the right to an opinion but carrying it on and making a big deal of it as has happened on Facebook and Twitter lately only shows no cohesion in what ‘yes’ are saying, no cohesion in what ‘yes’ stand for, thus making the whole independence argument look unstable, run by people who cannot work together. Is THAT the image ‘yes’ wants to portray? Is that image going to bring ‘no’ voters around? I don’t think so… At least Inform Scotland have come up with an idea, have gotten the money to do it, and are taking that idea forward. All I see everywhere else is just… talking…

    PS: As someone who has worked extensively with elderly folks, let me put this ‘out there’… Elderly folks don’t go out much – they can’t be bothered, their arthritis makes it difficult, they’d rather not have to listen to grandchildren’s raucous play etc. Older people in care Homes don’t go out much – what do all these people have in common? They sit and watch TV – MOSTLY BBC! Now – these are the very people you want to convince to vote ‘yes’? Well guess what you have to do to get that unionist, ‘we’re all in this together’ propaganda out of their heads…

    • “Older people in care Homes don’t go out much”

      I think I’ve spotted a major flaw in the billboard plan…

      • You need to chill out about this Mr Daniel – the Yes movement is not a one party state so each to their own (as long as it is not hate-related, and good luck to them. And good night to you

        • Perfectly chilled, I just think this notion that we mustn’t criticise each others’ ideas is absolute nonsense. If I saw someone bawling at people in the street with a placard saying “VOTE YES OR YOUR A TRAYTUR”, I wouldn’t think “ah well, each to their own”. I’d tell him to wise up. The same applies online.

          • Doug,

            It is clearly nonsense that we can’t criticize each others’ ideas. This thread has been a clear example of us doing exactly that.

            Perhaps it would be helpful to attempt to put the counter argument. Which is that Theresa May seems to me to never have to defend herself against an aggressive interview . This may be because she occupies some sort of moral summit of which I am unaware, or it may simply be that certain interviewers don’t ask her the awkward questions. The third option is that they agree with her lock, stock and barrel.

  55. I agree with most comments, re support for inform Scotland billboards, I have tried on many occasions to engage people with discussion on independence, they completely refuse to discuss or accept any suggestion that there is a better way for Scotland to prosper, many and I mean many are of the opinion that politics like religion is a taboo subject which only leads to arguments,
    it is nigh impossible to even broach the subject , but we have to engage and convince these people, the unfortunate thing is they are quite happy to listen daily and unquestionably to the BBC and MSM lie , misreport and denigrate Scotland and the Scots.

    The billboard idea done correctly may or may not stimulate these people to listen or attempt to inform themselves of the situation we find ourselves, but I doubt it would make them even less intransigent
    I like the idea that Chris Cairns cartoons could convey a humorous subtle impactful message

  56. Alastair Naughton

    I wholeheartedly agree with Derek that we need to box clever now. From now on, we need to think about how we could convert possible soft Nos to Yesses. However I must say that the evidence of systemic bias in the BBC runs SO deep, it simply MUST be challenged. Let’s face it, the BBC cannot be relied upon as a reliable source of information for anything – the Middle East, the banking crisis, the Scottish constitutional question, Russia, anything. The sooner we start casting some doubt in people’s minds about the reliability of the BBC as a source of information per se the better.

    Also, is not one of the BBC’s primary functions to be report news stories in an unbiased manner? Given that it so manifestly fails, or more like willfully neglects to do this, is something that must be brought to the attention of the public. We all after all pay our licence fee!

    • Sort of. Alastair. I have been thinking a lot about the loss. Correct me if I am wrong but a 6 to 7 percent movement by no voters to yes voters would be enough.

      It seems to me that there is a solid, arguably a leaden lump of folk that will love the Queen, Theresa May and the Queens Eleven come what may.

      I think if that were explained to the rest of the ‘No’ voters you might, may, see snow melting off a dyke. For they are the least attractive of Scots, They are subservient fools.

      And no-one likes to be associated with a fool.

      So, there are the residual idiots and others. I think the sieving out of the idiots would leave us with a substantial majority.

      What say you?

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