The Glittering Prize

I hesitate to say so because I don’t want to continue a hostile debate, but one of the consequences of not writing clearly enough is that it gives readers side tracks to run down. I accept this is my failure to explain myself. God knows I should get it right after 48 years.

First, I am not dictating anything. Can’t. Have no such intention…When I write words like: what we need to do, it’s me saying this is my personal opinion. It’s on my blog so that should be taken as read. I think some action or other might be a better approach and it’s something we can think about. I do not claim to be right. I do not claim authority over others who must pursue their objectives as they see fit.

I did not and do not say there is no bias at the BBC. But I am pointing out that many No voters don’t see bias, at least not in the blatant, one-eyed way many Yessers do. And I’m trying to understand the doubters’ perspective. It seems anyone questioning the deeply-held belief, that the BBC skews its coverage in one direction, is now treated like a heretic. Yet the inability to see another man’s point of view is a blindness that endangers our plans. The fury behind this is revealing and rather makes my point. Angry yelps of outrage at online headlines or throwaway words in live broadcasting – or maybe reacting to a weak interview – don’t impress swithering No voters that we are sensible and rational people ready to run a country.

The piece above here says we should not stop pointing out deficiencies and contradictions and things that look eerily like imbalance. It is this very ability that is the hallmark of Stuart Campbell who has made possibly the most influential contribution to the campaign of one individual outside the realms of payroll politics.

What I am doubting is the worth of a relentless barrage of BBC bias material to sway swing voters. As Angela Haggerty says, it also implies No folk aren’t clever enough to work it out for themselves…not a winning message, instead an insulting one. In fact, I credit them in the previous blog with the intelligence to assess both arguments and make up their mind based on the evidence. And it was on the hard evidence that we failed. So a nuts and bolts economic plan (coming to a studio near you soon – perhaps) should be accompanied by voices that make them welcome. Voters like to be lured, not grabbed by the throat.

I understand that many, probably most, No voters won’t switch, including the army of confirmed British nationalists who know who they are and what they want – and whom I respect for their conviction. I suspect many comments are aimed at this bloc of die-hards who are lost to us and will remain so. However, I’m talking about those who are sometimes looking for a reason to support independence and yet allow themselves to see only the negatives. A group of shrill voices claiming injustice and distracted by resentment – for that is how it can seem – gives them reason not to move over. At least it’s one reason.

And it doesn’t mean dull. The energy is needed and so is the colour but, at the risk of trivialising the cause, a marketing man would demand a change of tone and some new ideas before a product relaunch.

There is something in Doug Daniel’s question: Are we fighting against the BBC or are we fighting for independence? There is a glittering prize to be won and, make no mistake, when John Curtice opines that Scotland could assume the UK’s EU membership, its gleam is upon us. I want to be dazzled by the great prize, not blinded by resentment.

The first referendum was an emotional affair of the heart. (It wasn’t for No voters). That was indyref1 when we needed to give people the confidence in our country and belief in themselves. That was achieved. Now we need to demonstrate competence and rationality to cope with the technocratic issues of EU engagement, trade relations, currency and economic development. That I think is the key to winning next time. We’ve had the nationalist referendum. Now it’s time for the utilitarian referendum.

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33 thoughts on “The Glittering Prize

  1. Agreed. We need to be a country with a bigger agenda.

  2. The BBC is simply doing its job as the mouthpiece of the state, THAT is one of the jobs of the BBC, not just to entertain us. As a supporter of Independence though I see this as bias not in a blatant, one-eyed way but as a supposedly sensible and rational person.

    I haven’t always been a supporter of Independence but after having to admit to myself that the “truth” wasn’t always as it was portrayed in the media. I looked elsewhere for other views and found blogs such as this one and others. I changed my mind.

    I changed my mind because I believe I became better informed.

    • Of course the state broadcaster will cleave to the interests of the state.

      But when the BBC goes into smear-propaganda mode – the recent disaster-reportage of the Scottish NHS performance stats, for example – it betrays all those supposed British values like fairness, common sense and honesty.

    • Blessed are the truth seekers.

  3. Well, I never read a blog as a statement of intent. I get annoyed at hard ‘Yes’rs never seeing it from the No side. As a ‘No’ to independence myself (before a sniff of #indyref) it took something that wound me up to actually get me ‘analyzing’.

    I come at No people with straight facts, never badgering, but simply asking them to counter. Feeling is something that will change on its own for them, if change at all, and thats what happened to me.

    For the BBC – well, its like I have said. So blood deep, so monotonously lowfi, so drudgingly relentless .. its just impossible to steer someone off its course.

    Its only when they hit a factual iceberg that the questions begin, and once planted, never end. It grows into ‘Yes’.

    If you examine my twitter account, its actually a record of mostly factual ‘broken’ things about the UK, tagged with #brokentogether. Its will coalesce around something fuller in time (I’m a tech with an app in mind), but thats my game. Slow conversion.

  4. Once again agreed Derek.

    I am a reasonably intelligent man (I think!) and have long since seen the BBC as what their charter states they should be – preservers of the integrity of the British State. That is not bias, it’s just fact. Approaching it in that way allows me to judge the credibility (or lack of) of their output for myself – as I do with any other source of news and information.

    There is no truly neutral source of news. But if I wanted to spend my life in an echo chamber I’d live in the dome of St Pauls.

    If we are to win the argument – that Scotland could and should govern itself – we need to do far better than “the BBC is pro-UK” – doh – you don’t say!

    We need to convince on the economy and fiscal policy. We need to convince on education and health, both of which are getting a wee bit frayed round the edges. We need to convince of equality and social justice (something the average toddler knows is not going to happen under the next potential 20 years of Tory hegemony).

    Soft targets like the BBC are just that – soft. It’s the hard arguments we need to win and win convincingly or that glittering prize will be forever tantalisingly out of reach at the end of the rainbow.

  5. As has been said elsewhere on countless occasions, the pro Independence campaign does need to update it’s data, does need to strengthen it’s argument on a number of points and does need to get it’s message across more strongly on the ground.
    However unless a way is found to get the media to display a more balanced approach then we are beating our heads against a brick wall. It isn’t only the BBC who are in question but they are the prime news outlet in our country and if you decide that it is best to ignore their contribution then you better have a very good alternative because otherwise progress is going to be slow to the point of turgidity.

  6. Shouting publicly and hysterically at the BBC is probably counter productive in relation to trying to win the next independence referendum but doing it privately in your own home to blow a few valves and let the pressure out might be a good thing for self preservation. When you are done remember that we are drip selling stuff to new customers and need them to keep returning to the political ideas store for more. Being rude and insulting sends them over the road to “Better Together Again Ltd” where they know the quality isn’t good but where they still hope they can feel welcome and comfortable wearing the same ideas that they kind of know are long past their expiry dates. Sell them a little trinket of positivity and maybe, in a years time, they’ll be wearing the full kit and be converting lots of others because they understand them so much better than we will ever do.

  7. The comment quoted by Angela haggerty , NO voters are not stupid they can work it out for themselves , now thats an interesting point where exactly would they get the information to make an informed choice ? .
    Sorry but it sure as hell won’t be the BBC or our media who the BBC usually quote , and who more or less are 100 % against the SNP so we go round this never ending circle one feeding off the other ,

    I listened to a clip of a BBC Scotland show , i cant remember which one ,anyway the presenter and various neutral contributors were discussing the new runway at Heathrow , And the SNP support of it , The programme quickly descended into a general criticism and distrust distrust of all things SNP ,with contributors more or less implying that a dirty deal has been done to ensure SNP support .
    The programme at several points deviating from the chosen topic into a general who next can bring up something , anything to beat them with ,with voices getting higher and more shrill as it went on ,it was like a frenzy of me next , me next , distasteful to put it mildly , if i can find the clip i will post it here , your audience can make up their own minds .

  8. The BBC is on the other side.The clue is in the name.I’m not sure if the bill board campaign will be effective.I suspect it will depend on the bills put on the boards.I think subtlety is the best approach.I see Trump has launched himself into a typically unsubtle tirade against media bias in the USA.The circumstances are very different to here,but it will be interesting to see if it’s effective for him.There is a reason why politicians seldom complain about media bias.Because Trump is standing on an anti political mainstream platform,maybe it will be useful for him to turn his guns on the main stream media.

  9. There’s another reason why hard evidence and rational thinking are important – just look at the mess the Leave campaign have left behind. They certainly won the referendum but I’m not convinced they are going to get what they want. How could they ever get what they want when they never properly thought about what that might be or judged what was achievable? I’d be gutted if Scottish independence went the same way.

  10. I am with you on this Derek – 100% but I also support the bill boards. The BBC have to be outed!

    I am in deep despair over what I see across the pond. Trump is a dangerous and deeply flawed individual, but Clinton is up to her oxters in corruption and implicated in the death of so many people – including the US ambassador to Libya.

    Who does the BBC support? Clinton of course and with overt support from some BBC journalists including the scary Kitty (the tiger) from Washington, who has some very sharp claws.

    Please help lead us Derek but I cannot support anyone who is an apologist for the BBC and their commitment to support corrupt governments like USA and UK who are in cahoots with corporate commercial greedy b*stards.

  11. I think it is time for people to move on from this minor tiff and instead possibly use it as a pretext to make some more concrete bonds between diverse groups.
    If there are going to be Billboards , it may be a good idea to have more inspiring graphics and a more positive message they should also have links to several alternate pro independence news sources and organisations rather than just one. Someone should fund “posterboy” to get on it !

  12. Derek, you are correct when you state that the next referendum will be about competence and rationality. That’s why the no campaigners are already attacking the organisations associated with the Scottish Government, and, by association, the SNP. It explains the attack on Scotrail/Abellio, as well as the ongoing attacks on the Scottish NHS, Police Scotland, and the legal system (Offensive Beaviour (Scotland) Act).

    If they can demonstrate incompetence by the Scottish Parliament, they can sow doubts that we could not run a competent independent Scotland.

    Therefore we need to highlight how Scottish organisations are doing well, and maybe have co-ordinated positive campaigns in the same way the no side have co-ordinated negative campaigns. For example. We should be highlighting the infrastructure improvements being carried out on the railways, and pointing out that this is affecting punctuality in the short term, for long term gain. We also need to constantly remind people of the constraints of the block grant and how an independent Scotland would have different budgetary priorities.

    And we need to do it politely!

    • Actually, the No campaign trying to be negative about the Scottish Government’s competence could be a bit of a gift. Anything they say can be easily trumped by just pointing to how much worse things are done in rUK and the complete buffoons running it. Nicola Sturgeon or Teresa May? John Swinney or Boris Johnson? No contest.

  13. Seen elsewhere. ‘I preferred it when the Indy debate was about what country we wanted to live in, not about what kind of debate we have about it.’
    Frustration, intolerance and tribalism within the wider Indy movement are at a high level right now. There is a real need (my need) to see us, collectively put the energy to good use to prepare for a future campaign. It seems clear to me that the unionists want to sow division and will seek to exploit differences between greens and Snp in parliament while using the press to show what a bunch of nutters are attached to the independence movement. Last time it was spontaneous, energetic and, ultimately, flawed. At the moment it just looks flawed from where I sit and it’s sapping my energy.

  14. The idea that the billboard campaign was about shaming No voters surely misses the point? Many No voters are perfectly aware that the BBC is there to preserve and promote the status quo and are happy that it does so. The campaign, as I understood it, was to suggest there are other sources of information out there. Maybe the BBC will up their game if put under the spotlight? The GMS report on Kelly’s ridiculous ‘poll’ was better than the Slab press regurgitation of The Record and CommonSpace.

    Critical voices should realise that there is no official campaign just now and unless they get their act together fractious smaller groups will fill the vacuum. Does anyone really believe the Yes campaign was the best it could have been? We have already seen the damage the so called friendly press did during the Holyrood election to engineer the minority government. Now those same voices are shutting down dissent on social media as well.

    Common Space and Bella Caledonia have a voice in MSM with the National and Sunday Herald. Many of their writers are overtly Green, RiSE (or anti-SNP) and party politics seems to be their agenda. The SNP have no sympathetic voices in MSM and maybe as the government, they should not, but who then gives a voice to everyone who voted for them? More importantly where is voice for people who are not particularly party political but in favour of Independence?

  15. My impression of No voters is that a great many of them don’t think too hard.

    So I think a few billboards challenging their complacency about their main source of news may well have the positive effect of eroding some of the calcification of their brain cells and allowing for some nourishment and oxygenation.

  16. If no one points out the flaws in BBC reporting, how will no voters who depend on the BBC for their “news” ever get to know there are flaws? If no one says the BBC are wrong, how will no voters ever know to question what they’re hearing? No one is saying no voters are stupid, but if you don’t hear the other side of the argument, if you’re not told where to find alternative points of view, how can you come to a reasoned decision.

  17. A decline in journalistic standards at the BBC is also part of the problem, because people seem to be reluctant to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Did they make that mistake because of bias or incompetence? I have no problems with people making mistakes, because we’re only human at the end of the day, and if the BBC held up their hands and admitted an honest mistake, that would go a long way to mending fences with people.

    But they don’t: they deny, they obstruct, they obfuscate, and sometimes they try and nobble academics…

    And that only adds to the idea of a ‘conspiracy.’

    I am not and never have been a journalist, but when average Joe’s like me can spot flaws in presenting, reporting, and basic fact checking, something is not right at the BBC.

  18. Yes, it is a glittering prize and very much within touching distance. We also have to be critical of ourselves, nor afraid to criticize strategy in our ranks, now more than ever. Pick our fights with the opposition carefully and ensure we can win them.

    So far, so doh!

    Remembering however, just what a broad church the independence movement is, what we must not do IMO is disenfranchise, alienate or diminish already hard won support through thoughtless or intemperate public argument. Enthusiasm which took decades to rekindle can be snuffed out in rapid fashion for lack of some diplomacy. Folk willing to give time to devote to projects may just decide not to be available for the shoe leather bit anymore just when they are needed most. I don’t doubt for an instant they’d still vote for independence, but I am saying they’d probably be turned off practical engagement after a public roasting from those they believed were fellow travellers.

    We have no central hub to run ideas past, no coordinatior general or marketing guru and we’re certainly not drones (much as the opposition like to paint the movement otherwise). We do however communicate across forums such as this. Some have shared personal contact details and so forth. We can be fairly aware of the various ‘for independence’ groups and what they’re about if we want to be.

    Maybe the more politically experienced could offer to lend these groups a hand, act as a sounding board for ideas? Take the opportunity to talk things through before folk start getting loud publicly after the fact.

    Don’t know about anyone else, but the state of the UK constitutionally, economically and most importantly societally scares the bejebus out of me right now. We’re no longer heading toward a dark path anymore, we’re tramping down the middle of the bloody thing. We need focus and organisation and last, but not least, we need to remember why we are all here.

  19. How can Indy supporters get their message broadcast into living rooms across Scotland when it is DENIED ACCESS by the BBC?

    Let’s imagine a few years hence. It’s a day before IndyRef#2. We switch on our telly to watch the mroning news broadcast and there’s Clunker Broon, stomping up and down the floorboards of some miner’s welfare club in South Lanark. On and on he goes, pounding his fist, bellowing into every living room in the country “Independence won’t pay yer penshun!”

    All day long it is repeated in an endless BBC loop–morning, noon and night. Just like in 2014. And, just like 2014, there is NO RIGHT OF REPSONSE allowed by the YES side on the BBC to counter the Broon broadside. Next day NO win again.

    And I am supposed to just ignore the BBC’s actions and keep paying them to thwart my democracy?

    Hell will freeze over first.

    • Agreed it never fails to amaze me how many people believe we have full and equal access to the Unionist media, and again on the BBC are people so utterly blind and deaf as to what they do on a daily basis that they are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, did they miss the demonstrations outside Pacific Heights or did they think people were just having a day out, I give up honestly after all this time having to explain about the BBC is beyond belief.

      • Professor John Robertson (now rtd) produced an academic report on BBC (Scotland) bias and was vilified, demonised and excoriated by a senior person at the BBC (Scotland). AFAIK the BBC (Scotland) has never produced an academic report showing how it meets it’s Charter obligation for impartiality. It simply asserts that it does.

        I have been reading Robertson on Newsnet and now on his own blog thoughtcontrolscotland for quite some time and as you would expect his analysis is forensic and fully supported with evidence and references. It is a catalogue of bias.

        One simple example: just look at the usual suspects they trot out as “independent” commentators.

        But I am now inoculated against their contagion – I don’t have tv and don’t listen to their news programs.

  20. Derek, Indy1 was indeed an emotional affair of the heart for the Yes side but also completely logical.
    After all, what is illogical about independence?

    It was the No side that relied on the negative emotions of fear and uncertainty with a goodly amount of hypocrisy.
    They relied heavily on dismal financial projections without actually stating at what level of national debt a country should lose its sovereignty or in Scotland’s case regain it.

    I don’t like this narrative that the Yes side panders to their emotions while the No side are the practical ones because it’s simply not true.

    I know you didn’t write that Derek but it seemed to be inferred.
    My apologies if I’m mistaken.

    Regarding the BBC billboards, I agree with the idea, I contributed to it and already they have exceeded expectations even before a single one has been erected.

  21. I am not sure we can do anymore for no voters! If they can’t see the Omni shambles that is the UK post Brexit referendum. Then I am afraid they are a lost cause. It is not my job to make people intelligent and rational. It is not my job to interpret the BBC agenda to the average no voter. These people need to wake up and unless they do nothing will change.

    It requires 500 thousand light bulb moments. A blind man with no ears would still be more informed than many no voters. We must have the referendum post Brexit, and if they still vote no hell mend this nation of hopeless cases.

    I am fed up pandering to people who want spoon fed and soak mainstream news up like free coffee. If I take the time to read and be informed as an ordinary person then so can they.

  22. The big criticism of independence supporters were that they are clones, all saying and doing the same. So I am not supportive of those trying to shut down this campaign of valid criticism. Let them do what they feel they must do.

    I don’t think that it will even be noticed by those no voters who voted so out of a complacent self regard and are only now realising their mistake. This sizeable portion of no voters will not be persuaded by logic or national sentiment but only by appealing to their self interest and to hell with the facts or common good. They will not vote for any left of centre party or anything proposed by “that woman” . So they want a solution which will secure their comfortable lifestyle and which requires continued membership of some sort for Scotland in Europe. They will only vote for independence if there is no other way.

  23. Read Melanie Reid’s article in The Herald. Her headline is :” How Nicola can persuade me”. It’s a selfish essay on why she voted no and what Nicola needs to do to change her mind.

    It sums up the average no voter to me. They don’t see Scotland the nation as important. They see their jobs, bank accounts and Britishness as everything. In other words they want nothing to change their cosy perfect imperfect lives. So why would they vote yes, they don’t want change!

    Why in God’s name bother with these selfish ill informed buffoons. A vote for a country’s future is not a vote for me or for you or for Nicola or for Salmond. It’s to decide if Scotland is a nation not a fecking bank transaction.

    These people are simply a lost cause to me.

  24. Agreed Big Jock, the belief that these people have of being in possession of some kind of financial expertise is farcical.

    The argument being if the prognosis for the economy is bad Scotland shouldn’t be independent.
    No doubt if the economic forecast is good for Scotland they will be first in line to demand independence.
    Aye, right.

    • If the economic prognosis is bad, then Scotland isn’t viable.
      If the economic prognosis is good, then what’s the problem with the way things are?

      With yoons, there is just no reasoning.

      Let’s face it, they’re happily British.

  25. Derick fae Yell

    Could I pick you up on the statement that : “The first referendum was an emotional affair of the heart. (It wasn’t for No voters).”

    My experience is exactly the opposite. It was the romantic British Nationalist who were unable to see beyond their emotional attachment to ‘Britain’. I had several No voters say ‘you’re trying to take my identity away’. And that emotionalism made it literally impossible for them to ‘hear’ the evidenced case for Yes.

    Hugo Rifkind pretty much says that in the recent Spectator article. Break the emotional case for Britain, or rather let the Brexiters break it for us, and the door to reason is at last ajar. People will step through it of their own accord, when they are ready.

    And – how are those who get all their ‘news’ from the TV and the papers to hear the other perspective?

  26. I think of ‘bias’ like the analogy of an upright pendulum…the smallest inclination, either way, will eventually send it in that direction…and the longer you leave it, the harder it is to balance it again! No more British perspective thanks!

  27. I simply look forward to seeing how the Beeb report the billboards.

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