Question Time is the BBC's flagship political debate programme, having been on our screens since 1979.
This evening, in a rare foray to Scotland, it is broadcasting a special independence edition to an audience comprised almost exclusively of 16 and 17 year olds.
Today the BBC announced its panel for this show:
Ruth Davidson (BetterTogether - Tory)
Nigel Farage (BetterTogether - Ukip)
George Galloway (BetterTogether - Respect)
Lesley Riddoch (Journalist and Broadcaster)
Angus Robertson (Yes Scotland - SNP)
Anas Sarwar (BetterTogether - Labour)
You will have noticed that BetterTogether panelists outnumber the Yes Scotland panelist by 4:1. This is typical of the British State broadcaster which almost always has No campaigners "ganging up" on Yes advocates.
The BBC, amazingly, get around this by claiming that "as we are not in an official referendum period, there is no requirement to be balanced"! This is simply not good enough. The State broadcaster should not need to be legally obliged to be balanced in order to provide balance. It should be an automatic part of its programme research.
However, whilst not legally required to be balanced in terms of the referendum, the BBC seems to have failed to have noticed that there is a by-election now less than a week away. As the by-election in Donside is not happening in England, the BBC has refused to mention it in any UK-wide news programme.
The by-election is being contested by the SNP, Labour, The Coalition, Green (whose candidate, Rhonda Reekie, is my preferred candidate), Ukip, Democratic Alliance, Christian and Fascist candidates. Of these, only the SNP, Labour, Coalition, Green and Ukip have any elected representation in the United Kingdom.
Only the SNP, Labour, Coalition and Green parties have elected representation in Scotland.
The Greens, naturally, are absolutely furious at what seems to be a nakedly partisan attempt by the BBC to influence the by-election at their expense. The impartial Electoral Reform Society has also made an official complaint about the bias.
The last time Donside was contested, the Green Party won more than three times as many votes as Ukip. Respect didn't contest the election, although its front, Solidarity, did - gaining the votes of seventeen of the good folk of Aberdeen.
The very high point of Ukip's electoral support in Scotland was almost gaining 1% of the vote. The highest point of Respect's support in Scotland was gaining 3,3% of the regional vote in Glasgow in 2011, seeing George Galloway failing to be elected and refusing to even turn up to the SECC for the count.
The BBC have to explain exactly what the decision-making process was which saw two anti-independence campaigners whose parties have precisely zero elected representation in Scotland (in the case of Respect, there is zero presence at all in the country) chosen to sit on the panel tonight in favour of someone from either the Green Party or the Scottish Socialist Party, both of which have elected representation in Scotland, and both of which have had representatives sent to Holyrood.
It is simply not good enough to promise that at some unspecified time the SGP will be invited onto a show one of the next times it comes north of the border. Particularly given that Nigel Farage has now been on Question Time on fourteen separate occasions.
There are three reasons why this selection was made. Firstly, there is an bias towards English politics (and therefore the BBC shies away from selecting Scottish-based panelists); secondly that the BBC is biased towards the anti-Independence campaign and select a panel to reflect that; and thirdly that the BBC has abandoned Question Time as a serious programme and instead is chasing ratings by controversy.
This by-election will decide whether Scotland has a majority government or not. The referendum will decide whether Scotland is sovereign or not. The BBC should not mess around with it.
The BBC should not chase ratings by force-feeding Scots a racist and a rape-apologist, neither of whom belong to political parties which have any political presence in Scotland whatsoever.
We deserve better than this. We deserve to have the breadth of the debate in Scotland being heard on our screens.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
On the 15th of April, the Tory-led BetterTogether campaign produced a blog post of such manifestly paranoid hysteria that it led to the campaign becoming a laughing stock.
Utilising the tactics of smear that the Dependentist campaign has become renowned for, it read suspiciously like a list of things that the No side wished would happen to them - so they could complain about it - rather than things which actually occurred.
In what was a paroxysmic crie de coeur which seemed as though it had been written by a twelve year old child with a petted lip, "the Nationalists" (sic) were variously accused of:
- Co-ordinating a "dirty tricks campaign"
- Making allegations against Ian Taylor.
- Boycotting BetterTogether supporters
- Sending hate mail to BetterTogether supporters
- Attacking BetterTogether supporters
- Attacking the Scotsman newspaper building
- Intimidating businesses
- Disrupting BetterTogether events
- Attempting to sabotage BetterTogether HQ "almost daily.
I didn't find it particularly strange that the anti-Scotland campaign, in line with every announcement that they make, refused to provide a single shred of evidence for any of these "dirty tricks". However, I did find it interesting that they automatically assumed that the vandals who sprayed "traitors" on the Scotsman building were supporters of independence... (my own take on this is that it is likely to have been the same motivation as the BetterTogether-supporting English Defence League people who sprayed the word "Islam" on a war memorial in order to spark a backlash against Muslims in the wake of the incident in Woolwich)
Notwithstanding the above, I considered it rather unusual that I would not have heard of any of these "almost daily" vandal attacks on BetterTogether's "headquarters" in Blythswood Square, Glasgow. Surely these despicable attacks would have been bread and butter for a media which falls over itself to report the mildest criticism of Unionist campaigners as Cybernat "hate and bigotry", and often goes to the extent of "reporting" such abuse even when there is no evidence of it ever occurring.
My bullshit radar pinging like a broken elastic band, I decided to find out more. I sent the following Freedom of Information request to Police Scotland
Has there been any complaint received by the Police from the "Better Together" campaign regarding sabotage, attacks or vandalism at its address in 5 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, G2 4AD since June 1st, 2012?
and this afternoon received my reply.
I was saddened to discover that the allegation of sabotage was a complete fabrication by BetterTogether.
Police Scotland informed me that not only had there been no complaint of any criminal damage made relating to either BetterTogether itself or the building in which it is based, but neither had there even been any informal observations made to the Police about attempted vandalism or sabotage, or even suspicious behaviour.
Alex Salmond was not hanging around the BetterTogether offices with a half brick in his hand waiting for David Cameron to pop down to the Variety Bar for a lunchtime pint so that he could smash the toilet window.
BetterTogether have been caught out in an outright falsehood, the only conceivable purpose of which could be to smear the pro-Scotland campaign and its supporters and members.
This is a co-ordinated dirty-tricks campaign by the Unionists. They should stop it.
Thursday, 6 June 2013
The anti-Scotland campaign has always been tinged with a sort of depraved violence.
Indeed, the last time Labour and their Tory partners agreed on anything substantial, the direct result was the genocidal murder of up to one million Iraqis in an illegal war which sparked a deadly sectarian conflict.
It's no great secret that the reactionary anti-independence elements in Scottish politics have always known that the only way they could prevent independence was to prevent a referendum on independence. That's why Labour, Ukip, the Tories, the BNP and the Liberals all stood on the same manifesto commitment of "no referendum, not now, not ever" in the 2011 General election.
The hysteria of the anti-independence campaign has only increased since Scotland elected a pro-independence Parliament two years ago. Ian Davidson, the Unionist MP for Pollok, was so peturbed by the result that he threatened to physically attack the only female pro-independence MP on the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster. Davidson refused to apologise, merely clarifying that he did not mean the threat in a sexual manner.
Various Unionist apparatchiks, notably the despicable Ian Smart, have used the spectre of violence, including racist violence, to terrorise people into voting against independence.
Indeed, the vast majority of BetterTogether's money came from an organisation with links to the Yugoslav war criminal "Arkan".
Indeed, shortly after the elections to the 2nd Parliament, when Labour started a backward slide from which it has never recovered (Labour has lost seats at every Scottish Parliament election since the inaugural one), its partners, the Orange Order, who campaign for Labour in local elections threatened that in the event of a pro-independence Parliament, it would become a terrorist organisation. Speaking about the anti-Catholic organisation's reaction to independence, its General Secretary, Jack Ramsay said
The Orange Lodge would become a paramilitary force, if you like. It obviously implies a recourse to arms ... we'd have a group of people who would be pro union
The Orange Order's threats were never condemned by the Labour Party, which has since struck a secret agreement with the organisation to facilitate sectarian marches, with the result that Glasgow now has more Orange parades each year than any other city in the world.
The low-level threats and insinuations have bubbled under the anti-independence campaign for some time.
At the launch of the anti-independence campaign's London launch last night (and why would an organisation of "Scottish" political parties fighting a referendum with an exclusively Scottish-based franchise need a London launch?), the unelected Parliamentarian for Life, Thomas Strathclyde, referred to pro-independence supporters as "poison".
It also emerged that Better Together were to announce the formation of a military wing at this week's Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party conference in Stirling, which is exceptionally worrying.
Military wings of political movements should be a thing of the past.
This is not Turkey, where the army sees itself as above the elected government, and removes such governments at will.
This is not the north of Ireland in the 1980s, a statelet beset by sectarian violence - no matter how much Unionists would dearly love that to be the case.
This is Scotland, in 2013.
There is no place in this referendum for pejorative language like "poison". There is no place in this referendum for money linked to crimes against humanity. There is no place in this referendum for "military wings".
BetterTogether should apologise for Tom Strathclyde, return Vitol's bloodstained money, and disband their military wing.
This referendum already risks causing division. We cannot allow BetterTogether's hatred and hysteria to cause lasting and deep divisions in our country.
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
The increasingly hysterical George Foulkes, a Labour parliamentarian most noted for his drunken battering of a police officer, has complained to OFCOM about a former Labour member, Iain Macwhirter, presenting a history show on Scottish Television on the grounds that he does not show sufficient loyalty to the
dear leader Union.
It's often said that one should beware an old man in a hurry. Perhaps this could be updated to pitying an old man whose cossetted position in society is about to be ripped from his finger, his snout suddenly jerked out of the trough.
Foulkes is one of the astonishingly large numbers of senior people in the "party for the working people" who have been the beneficiary of privilege and elitism quite beyond the reach of 99% of the population. It has been noted that the majority of the "people's party" MPs and MSPs were afforded an education segregated from working-class children at fee-paying schools.
Born in the west of England, Foulkes was subsequently privately-educated in an exclusive Hertfordshire school, which charges £14.000 per year to educate its pupils separately from mere commoners.
Obviously this experience in a haughty environment, isolated from the working class, has given Foulkes the sense of entitlement and arrogance for which he has become renowned.
Since the early age of 28, and without ever having had a job outside lobbying, Foulkes graduated from a fee-paying private education to a state-funded University education into paid Unionist politics.
Foulkes has benefited extensively from the largesse of the public purse. In his 26 years as MP, he would have trousered £1,7m in salary alone at today's salary. Add this to £280k in his tenure as an MSP, and the £330k he is entitled to after being appointed to the House of Lords (made a Senator for life as a personal gift from Tony Blair for supporting the British genocide in Iraq).
Add this to a £1000 per day "consultancy" role with a group of international lawyers, "expenses" of £579 per day at the Lords, and his demand to be paid expenses to live in a London property which he inherited.
Foulkes is a great fan of trips to the Caribbean, and as such has ensured that he has been on parliamentary committees which would garner him freebies. Indeed, one of the first items on his agenda when appointed to Holyrood was to ensure that he sat on committees which would see him entitled to free trips to the Caribbean.
The late, much-lamented lawyer Paul McBride also mentioned Foulkes' propensity to be tired and emotional, when he said that Foulkes hadn't seen him at Labour fundraisers because he was "unaware of what was going on around him". Foulkes is regarded as something of a joke figure in Scottish politics, but what an expensive joke he is.
His sense of entitlement is shown in his reaction when anything goes against him.
When his friend, the corrupt Commons Speaker Michael Martin was under pressure to resign, Foulkes claimed that everyone who opposed Martin was motivated purely by sectarianism.
On the exposure of the expenses corruption scandal, Foulkes claimed that the scandal had been manufactured by the media, whose intention was to undermine democracy.
Foulkes' violent attack on a police officer - which would have seen him expelled from any normal European political party - came after attending yet another troughing freebie.
So Foulkes, as we know, turns nasty and violent when opposed. He is a man used to privilege - to money and power falling into his lap without the need to fight messy elections in close seats.
Like all bullies, though, Foulkes is a coward at heart. Mr Macwhirter gave Foulkes one warning and one alone: "question my journalistic integrity again and we'll meet in court". Foulkes has gone quiet on the subject - much as he did when former Labour leader Henry McLeish asked him to apologise for labelling the Scottish Government a racist conspiracy.
Perhaps the reason he was so angry at Mr Macwhirter presenting a show which, for the first time, gave a truthful account of Scotland's position in the UK on prime-time television, was that the only time in his life he had the guts to stand in an election in which he wasn't guaranteed victory, he lost. To Iain Macwhirter.
Foulkes, a talentless buffoon, a fanatical loyalist, and a violent bully, has trousered, at a conservative estimate, £3m from the public purse over the course of a political career in which he didn't reach Cabinet level.
If I was in his position, I'd probably be hysterical in my attempts to keep the status quo too.
Maybe it could be a new slogan for the anti-independence campaign: "Keep George In The Style To Which He Has Become Accustomed: Vote NO".
Maybe it could be a new slogan for the anti-independence campaign: "Keep George In The Style To Which He Has Become Accustomed: Vote NO".