I’m a Stormtrooper!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Duck!!

Since there is a fashion for remembering the two World Wars, I have started borrowing their phrases and idioms as I read the moving words of the troops. I find myself saying: Conditions here awful…mortars incoming…pipers cheered us up and suchlike. (It’s a harmless way of paying tribute and we’re going to get used to it as the WW1 radio project on the BBC runs for FOUR YEARS, replicating the duration of hostilities.) So today my phrase is: A good 24 hours at the front…

After the illuminating Treasury statement taking responsibility for all debt in all circumstances, my first newspaper of the day declared: Brian Wilson backs David Mundell.

Bullseye, Corporal! Dead centre! This is Brian’s Scotsman column taking the risky path for Labour of talking about the bedroom tax and attempting to make it the SNP’s fault. He says they could be paying out £50m to help those made homeless by the tax after their housing benefit is cut. By not doing so, they are condemning people to misery to back up their campaign against the Union.

Now I don’t pretend a political party isn’t cynical about how it goes about its business. I even remember a party that lied to parliament and the United Nations to justify an illegal war in which tens of thousands died. But when I check the government’s reaction to the bedroom tax, I find they first promised no SNP council would evict and then set aside £20m in discretionary housing payment which Swinney claimed was the legal limit available. So not the £50m which might be needed then.

(When it was discussed in committee two Labour MSPs refused to back it, presumably following Brian’s dictum about putting party interest before people.  Anti Bedroom tax campaigner Jim Buntin said: “Labour are supposed to be the party of the common people, standing up for the working class and fighting for social justice.  Today’s news has left a very bitter taste in the mouth.”)

However you may recall there were a good few weeks in which Labour, north and south, couldn’t decide how to respond to the iniquitous tax – introduced in 2008 in the UK when…was it Labour?…were in power. It became so farcical that when the tireless campaigner for social justice and nuclear missiles Jackie Baillie told the BBC Labour would scrap it, the party in London denied it. But, eventually Jackie was proved right in a unique epiphany in her career. http://derekbateman2.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/can-it-be-true/

Then we found that when Labour called a vote in the Commons – calling for the tax to be scrapped, that is s.c.r.a.p.p.e.d. – 47 of their own MPs didn’t bother to turn up and the motion was lost by only 26. In other words they could have won an important moral victory. Ten Scottish Labour MPs were among the absentees, including the most vocal against the tax, Anas Sarwar.

Labour’s record in this affair is far from unblemished as some of their local authorities have issued eviction notices and social housing and homelessness are local government issues which appears to be why SNP members on the Petitions Committee voted against Mike Dailly’s plan asking Parliament to legislate against evictions.

But supposing the government could find that £50m. There is, first of all, the question Labour never stops asking when anything new is announced: Where is the money coming from? To that they have no answer I’ve seen. But what is the implication of  the Scottish government taking money from one source to plug this gap? In a way it’s subsidizing the London government’s iniquitous tax, smoothing its route as it carves a swathe through those reliant on housing benefit. Is that Scotland’s job? How Fluffy Mundell would laugh if he found his pernicious tax was being subsidized by the Nats.

Isn’t the real point of Brian’s piece that no government in an independent Scotland would get away with such a piece of cruel social engineering?  It would never be enacted by any government elected here. He eloquently makes the point that all Scotland can do now under devolution is ameliorate the effects of London policy by spreading its resources ever thinner. That’s what we want to escape…

And my suspicion is that the wider public view the bedroom tax as a Tory plan, much like the Poll Tax, which will have bad outcomes no matter how you try to stem the effects. So anyone tying his name to it, as in Brian Wilson supports David Mundell on the Bedroom Tax is the last thing Better Together need. That’s an association much of Scottish Labour is heartily sick of and is now showing signs of straining the No campaign. And it’s a tough ask to get the Scots to think the SNP is responsible for a tax introduced by Labour and ruthlessly enforced by the Tories.

All these articles tying Labour to the Tories -Wilson and Mundell, the Union Twins in Brussels David Martin and Struan Stevenson, Darling substituting for Cameron, BetterTogether itself – feed into the worries of the constituency which will win this referendum for Yes or No – the Labour Don’t Knows. And there’s one thing they DO know – they don’t like the Tories. (For interesting detail on housing benefit and who is responsible for what I point you to DougtheDug on the right)

Direct hit! Adding to frissons of pleasure this morning is the tripping up of the often sanctimonious Professor Jim Gallagher, a man who has now fully emerged into the sunlight after a lifetime as the eminence grise of devolution. He has sidled seamlessly from London government to Scottish, from Holyrood to Westminster, from university to think tank and from private business to the media always acting as what I call an agent of the British state. My favourite title held by him was the sinister Director General for Devolution. It was his job to join the wires under the bonnet to make sure home rule didn’t get too powerful and when Calman started he was at his side as adviser. When Holyrood processed Calman he was adviser to the committee then when the Scottish Affairs Committee inquired into “Separation” who was whispering into Ian Davidson’s ear, but Professor Gallagher. Forget the Secretaries of State, Gallagher has had more direct power over Scotland’s constitution over a longer period than any of them, flitting as he has between the inner cabals in London and Edinburgh. He is now officially and publicly adviser to BetterTogether which is at least an honest coming-out – a bit like myself. So it was a grand piece of research that turned up the bold prof’s previous statements on our EU membership http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/pro-union-campaign-officials-eu-blog-creates-confusion.23170949

giving the game away. Last April he wrote: “It seems pretty likely that Scotland would be an EU member state, probably after an accelerated set of accession negotiations. Precisely what the conditions of membership would be is not quite so clear, though immediate requirements to join the Euro or Schengen agreement can surely be avoided.”

Boom!! Major devastation…That is the professor being the pragmatic thinking academic working through the likelihood of “Scots being snubbed by Europe…Scotland goes to end of EU queue…we’ll be outside…forced to join euro…”

He articulates exactly what every sane observer says when not whipped into line by Blair McDougall and what every Unionist MEP knows but must keep hidden from the voters – that Brussels will be compelled by a democratic Yes vote to organize for Scotland’s speedy accession. Thank you, Jim Gallagher, forever to be quoted as the only sensible commentator on Europe the No side.

(He did try to wriggle out when cornered by saying recent international interventions had changed things but even he knows that’s embarrassing for him. He wrote last April anyway and Barroso was on the BBC with his Scotland Out message the previous December.)

For you, Professor, the war is over! (Sorry, that’s bad taste.)

So as the Unionists falter, what is happening in dreamy, relaxed Britain, the mother’s breast of democracy in which we must all shelter? Well here’s a wee sample of news from the UK so beloved of Brian and Jim.

:Home Office officials are being rewarded with shopping vouchers for helping to ensure failed asylum seekers lose their attempt to stay in the country..

:David Cameron has called for an inquiry into claims the British helped plan the attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in which hundreds were massacred…

:Osborne says if the EU does not do as Britian says, the UK will quit…

:Warning that funds for poorer students could be cut by £200m…

Keep the home fire’s burning!

 

Amended defence orders…I do think the government is in trouble over tuition fees. It runs against EU orthodoxy and Scotland is already pushing the envelope by demanding the UK opt outs which Brussels loathes. There is a case in theory about exceptionalism in this instance but there will be a limit to what Brussels concedes.  The most that can be hoped for would be a phasing-out to limit the financial pressure. But it’s one of those areas where there will be no clarification until after a Yes. An issue to return to….

I recommend this to guide you http://www.arcofprosperity.org/how-to-keep-scottish-universities-free-after-independence/

Welcome to Wongaland

By the way, I enjoyed Brian Wilson in the Scotsman today. He really does provide an alternative viewpoint missing from elsewhere. I find it helps me to understand what Unionists see when they look at Scotland and why they work so hard against their own country becoming self-standing like everybody else. But when Brian tries to tie the Debt Monster tag round the SNP’s neck, even I sense we’re moving into propaganda territory. Rather than delve into the detail where the Unionists want to keep the debate, I’ll take the chicken way out and invite you to click here for the real cause of debt in Britain. http://www.nationaldebtclock.co.uk

Happy counting…