I couldn’t sleep and read the papers at 4 am. I saw Brian Wilson’s column and opted out of responding because I couldn’t get the point. Criticising BBC presenters is…sinister? What does it mean…does he think we’ll come round the croft on September 19 with baseball bats? (Don’t tweet this but I know the plan is to round up the Unionists as they approach the polling station, transport them to Leith and force them to scrub the decks of the Royal Yacht).
However I’m advised it might be good for traffic on the site to blog back and as it happens, it coincides with a major development here I hope to announce next week involving me and the media.
I have to say though that, if it’s of any interest to the editor of the Scotsman who wonders if his £200 to Brian is worth it, I haven’t had a single email, call or tweet about his star columnist’s effort this morning. A bit disheartening, no? Almost anything about independence is retweeted and shared across platforms and forums, yet I see nothing, a big zero, about Brian’s column in our “national newspaper”.
I’ll tweet this blog and give them some oxygen. http://www.scotsman.com/news/brian-wilson-sinister-signals-transmitted-by-snp-1-3350058
Let’s start with the basic premise…that in his Andrew Marr interview, Salmond displayed fury – and toe-curling unpleasantness -and in some unspecified way threatened something that should worry people who care for their country’s integrity. What I saw, and it’s on YouTube, was Salmond picking up on an inappropriate remark by a BBC presenter and, as is his right, challenging him. Or, as Brian puts it: UNLEASHED THE FORCES OF MENACE!!! What….with his Dan Dare Death Ray?
But, hold on. There is no Salmond complaint, no Scottish government complaint, no SNP complaint. They are NOT complaining as they are entitled to do. Far from showing fury and scorning dissent, they are letting Marr off the hook for what every BBC journalist knows was an unprofessional slip. Asked time after time on the referendum question time, John Swinney refused to say the BBC was biased. Is Brian arguing that politicians should be compliant in the face of truculent presenters? Does he for example, approve of Ian Davidson insulting the professionalism of Isabel Fraser on Newsnight? Most people would find that much more offensive in tone than Salmond’s smiling intervention with Marr.
Marr of course had already bought, as has Brian, the Barosso line about difficulties in membership without ever asking what treaty would be applied and when did the EU enact a law about expelling members? Glaring, basic, journalistic errors that are glazed over by the ego of a handsomely remunerated public figure paid to interrogate but proving incapable when the moment arose. I wouldn’t have thought a graduate of journalism would approve of partial interviews.
Nor do I approve of Kenny McIntyre’s name being called in defence of opinionated interviewing. If that’s what the late BBC correspondent was doing I must have missed it. Forceful, challenging and demanding, yes, but impartial to a fault. Did he ever betray a personal bias? I have no idea, for example, what he voted or if he voted. I recall walking down a corridor in Queen Margaret Drive behind Donald Dewar who had just been speaking to Kenny. Dewar said to his aide… “he is absolutely straight and impartial”. It is inconceivable Kenny would imply to a senior politician on air that he thought he was wrong. Off air, yes! But that would cross the very line Marr did and McIntyre knew where that line was.
Surely the difference with Andrew Neil is that he declares his politics. He is a right-wing, anti devolution, anti single currency and anti the public sector (which pays his handsome wages). We know his views and so take them into account. He also interviews fairly in that each side gets the same treatment. (Memo to Naughtie)
Here is another insight into the Brian Wilson modus operandi. Instead of Scotland’s place in Europe being the issue – “As is Salmond’s way, the man was a welcome substitute for the ball.” How utterly journalistically vacuous is that? Corny, clichéd and a corruption of what every observer including the entire Scottish press recognized as a concerted personal campaign led by Labour against Salmond which was recorded by Professor John Robertson. But when you’ve only one eye, you only one see one side.
Oops, this is where I come in. Cue music…I’m one of Salmond’s Stormtroopers. No really. Yes, read that again. A blogger, not a member of the SNP, who disagrees with Salmond on NATO and on currency, who expresses widely-held doubts about the impartiality of public sector presenters is (in Brian’s Wookie World) a Stormtrooper,
an elite soldier of the Empire, an ever present reminder of the absolute power of the Emperor, a faceless enforcer of the New order often using brutal tactics, distinguished from all other by his signature white armour…
What ARE they putting in the peat in Stornoway?
In deconstructing this basilica of bile, beware the phrase – To be clear. In the mouth of a politician it means – Warning: big lie coming this way. Thus I am apparently saying Marr and – of course, the ubiquitous Naughtie – are not worthy journalists who earned the right to be on the airwaves. Only I’m not. In fact only a few posts ago I praised them as expert exponents of the art. I admit to not watching Sunday morning television but I fervently wish Andrew Marr to stay on air as one of the BBC’s most talented interviewers. He f****d up the Barroso interview and did the same with Salmond. I’ve made terrible errors on air and agonized over them later. It happens. And I expected to get criticism and a red face and duly got both.
My point about Marr and Naughtie is that they are floating somewhere above the BBC rules by dint of their celebrity status. Marr re-crafted his book about Scotland to cash in on the referendum and duly told us we were anti English if we favoured independence. This is the standard sneer of the I-made-it-in-London crowd who simply cannot grasp that their country isn’t the hopeless pit they left behind.
In today’s Times Naughtie is interviewed as, you know, London celebrity-back-in-Scotland and he does seem to make more news than he actually reports. He confirms in remarks to Magnus Linklater everything I’ve been saying by giving us his sage interpretation that there is emotion in the debate but hard-headedness will win out. I could be wrong but I think that’s Nationalism equals emotion, Union equals common sense. If the BBC did its job properly, Jim’s boss would have a private word in his ear and suggest he stop parading his opinions across the media at every turn since he’s paid to be impartial and that sure ain’t what’s coming over.
Imagine what Brian Wilson would say if Brian Taylor told the Times that of course there was still an attraction to the Union but the demand for a New Scotland was overwhelming. Then of course journalists would have to be reminded of their duty to the country…
Incidentally, Salmond was right about Barroso sucking up to Cameron and other leaders because he wants the NATO job. It’s all over the media. http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/07/is-jose-manuel-barroso-after-the-top-job-at-nato/ Try Google, Brian.
The principle flaw however is the confluence of two artifices. One, that Salmond, and myself, are trying to close down debate. Now who does that remind you of in the referendum campaign? Salmond has travelled Britain – and Europe – to argue his case and was, remember, on the very Andrew Marr show that seemed to trash his EU case just two weeks before. Not exactly hiding is it? There is too over 600 pages of White Paper and the standing offer to debate live with the Prime Minister.
I’m out here. Right now. I gave up the comfort zone. The easy thing was to sit behind a mike and pick up the money. But here I am, giving it everything for the Scotland I want…online and in public meetings. And if I hear my country patronized or belittled or public broadcasters failing in their duty, in my opinion, I’ll say so.
I can only assume it’s all getting a little uncomfortable for those with tentacles throughout the mainstream media to find the casual acceptance of their importance disappearing.
Here’s a media professional’s question. Why is Brian Wilson writing about a week-old event with a thin link to a nationalist blogger in an hysterically over-written paean of pish? What else is happening this week that Brian is well placed to write about? Oh yes, the Scottish Labour conference. Of course, Johann’s big event, the lurch to the Left, the wonderful Devo Nano initiative, Ed’s speech. Yet not a mention from Labour’s incisive commentator. Any idea why not? Does Brian approve of Johann’s further devolution plans and increased tax scheme? It would be nice to know.
The other part of the con is placing the idea that he is the unbiased observer. You may think that someone whose job was head of the rebuttal unit for New Labour might have learned a little humility over the years on the question of media impartiality. Donald Dewar told me Brian’s key skill was as a wordsmith who could take an opponent’s words and turn them into something totally different. A propagandist? I asked. Dewar smiled.
Didn’t Brian go to court in 1979 because the pro devolution parties had more faces on television than his side? I didn’t notice him going to court this time when three parties were lined up against one in BBC studios.
Wasn’t Brian in the same New Labour government that lied to parliament, the United Nations and the British people in order to justify an illegal war which killed untold thousands? His Labour journalist colleague Alistair Campbell was rewriting intelligence reports and creating paste-together films of atrocities to crank up public rage. They didn’t just criticise BBC reporters, they demonised a single journalist and forced the resignation of the Director General and precipitated the worst crisis in the corporation’s history. In an attempt to hide the truth. Now that’s what I call sinister.
And so is the relationship with Ian Taylor of Vitol, head of what I regard as the most sinister company in business today given its associations and record. There was a time when radical outspoken Brian Wilson would have taken up the challenge of revealing the full story of Vitol’s background. Now he just takes the money. Half a million for Better Together, wasn’t it? But there I go, being all nasty again.
Here’s a link to what Brian and his Labour pals in the British establishment mean to me, a sometime Labour voter. This is what he and his corporate friends and the British state have done to Scotland and why diverting attention with cheap personality pap is failing in this campaign. I don’t care about Wilson’s journalistic integrity, nor overpaid Marr’s, nor Naughtie’s. Anybody contriving to create and perpetuate this slur on our country deserves every insult coming their way. It takes five minutes, the same as it takes to read the Wilson column. Then tell me what sinister is. Watch and weep.