The problem child

We need to talk about our problem child. The media in Scotland is suffering from a strange form of mass psychosis. It’s like the witch hysteria of the 17th century, only it involves screaming about the SNP. The same publications which denounce Jeremy Corbyn for being so left wing that even Lenin would consider him to be a dangerous extremist are in paroxysms of huffiness that the SNP isn’t left wing enough. Oooh, get them, say the papers about SNP MPs, they don’t all wear sackcloth and whip themselves in sympathy with the struggles of Palestine while donating all their money to refugee charities. This being one of the few instances in which most of the papers use the word refugee, more typically they use phrases like illegal immigrants with HIV coming over here to steal your places in bus queues so they can go and rape a pensioner’s pug.

We are, if you’ve not already noticed, in one of the Scottish media’s regular fits of SNPbadness. This time it centres on the business activities of the MP for Edinburgh West. Imagine an Edinburgh MP having more than one property eh. Alistair Darling would never have done anything like that. Only he did. And he got the taxpayer to pay for them. The media wasn’t so interested in that, I seem to recall. But I digress.

I’ve been reading the screeds of reports about the Michelle Thomson affair and am still struggling to comprehend exactly what it is that she’s supposed to have done wrong. I’m not trying to defend whatever it is that she’s done, if for no other reason than like most of the country I’m still in the dark about what it is that she’s supposed to have done. She’s not actually the subject of any police investigations herself. It appears that what the entire sorry saga boils down to is that she buys properties cheaply and then sells them on for a profit. This may be morally reprehensible if you’re a fully paid up member of a socialist party dedicated to bringing about the downfall of global capitalism, but it isn’t a crime. It’s a BBC 1 daytime TV show.

In any case Michelle Thomson is not a member of a socialist party dedicated to bringing about the downfall of global capitalism. She’s a former high heid yin in Business for Scotland, there’s a wee clue in the name there to the fact that she’s not exactly an advocate of anarchism. Now she’s an MP for a social democratic party whose claims to left wingery rest upon the fact that for a number of years it has been somewhat further to the left than the Transgeordie Labour party. But then being further to the left than a party which proudly produces anti-immigration mugs is not exactly the same as signing up to the entirety of Das Kapital and vowing to set up a Soviet in Saughton.

Certain figures in the media feel aggrieved that punters and the public, and folk like me, criticise them. You’re against a free press, they cry. That would be a free press which is a fully owned subsidiary of global corporations, controlled by companies based in tax havens. In fact media critics are the champions of a free press. We’re the ones who demand a media which is representative of the breadth of views in this country. It’s not unreasonable to expect that in a country where approximately half the population supports independence that approximately half of our media outlets should support the same view too. But that’s not what we’ve got. It’s not unreasonable that in a country where only 16% of the population support the views and aims of the Conservative party that the views of the Conservative party should be reflected and supported by only a similarly small percentage of our media outlets. But that’s not what we’ve got.

Our media hates the independence movement in general and the SNP in particular. I’m not trying to argue that the SNP should be beyond criticism, far from it. I’m arguing that the unremitting negativity of our media towards the SNP is counterproductive. It makes people switch off. That’s dangerous in a democracy. You cannot have a properly functioning democracy when the media does not broadcast and publish the range of views found in the population it claims to serve. Instead what you get is a public which grows increasingly resentful of what it perceives as manipulation, and a growing anger towards the purveyors of news that’s not our news. Meanwhile the media screeches that it’s under attack by people opposed to press freedom. But the simple truth is this, when public trust in the media breaks down, that’s the fault of the media not the public. The breakdown in trust is reflected in plummeting sales figures for national newspapers, and the growing clamour to reform the state of broadcasting.

Yet even the most modest proposals to redress the balance receive a hysterical response. When Newsnet Scotland was first launched it was alternately ignored or vilified by the mainstream media. The entirely reasonable and sensible proposals that Scotland should have its own national broadcaster – just like every other self-governing country or territory in Europe – is denounced as SNPTV. The notion that there should be a national TV channel broadcasting in Scots, a language spoken by 1.5 million people, doesn’t even get airtime in a media and political class which is inhabited by linguistic illiterates who refuse to accept the fact that Scots is even a language.

Nothing changes. The media stays stuck in its SNPbad comfort zone, and irrespective of the justification of the story, another little bit of public faith in the Scottish media dies. We’ve heard it all before, too often, too stridently, and few are listening any more. What we need to see is a similar zeal in pursuit of the other political parties, a similar eagerness to promote the views of the independence movement as there is to promote the Union. Until that happens Scottish faith in the media will continue to evaporate away. But there’s as much chance of the Scottish media being representative of Scottish opinion as there is of the newspapers attacking the Tories using public funds to promote Unionism with the same vigour that they attack Michelle Thomson. Eventually people get sick of the problem child, and they disown it.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ‘KL’ and Angus MacInnes Someone identifying themselves only as KL made a bank transfer to my account so they could buy copies of my new books. Unfortunately the only information linked to the payment are the initials KL and I have no means of linking the payment to a mailing address. Could KL please email me and identify themselves so I can get their books sent out. I’ve also received a payment from Angus MacInnes, but he’s not given me his postal address. Could you please get in touch with your mailing address Angus.

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28 comments on “The problem child

  1. gavin says:

    If we had a proper media, it might have inquired into the property dealings of people like Lord Baron Foulkes-Orf, who managed to get tax payers to pay for him sleeping in a flat he actually owned, and who made a £400,000 profit on an Ayrshire property he had bought for £200,000—did HE compensate the original owners?. He was also able to buy and sell, for cash, other properties.
    No doubt our rent-a-smear press hacks followed the dictum of real journalists working for the Washington Post and “followed the money”.—-Or not.
    But its all part of a pattern—get the SNP.
    Our daily media propaganda quota is —Scottish Police. NHS. Education.
    How do our police stack up against, say, the Met.
    The Met shoots innocent people. Some officers have sold information to the media, or to criminal gangs. It has sat on investigations into paedophilia. It has “fitted up” students ( with Cameron giving verbal support ). It has spied on, and kept dossiers on politicians. Etc, etc.
    NHS—Junior Doctors voting for strike action in England—huge debts in Health trusts—-Thousands of early deaths in English health trusts. The Minister concerned has now been promoted within Labour. Imagine if Andy Burnham had been an SNP Minister?
    Education in England is no longer run by local councils( though they still have to pay), but by thousands of individual control freaks with a “plan”.
    If we had a BBC which was honest and above board, it would give a considered contrast between Scottish and English issues—both good and bad—-but it is in the business of anti SNP propaganda. At our expense, politically and financially.

  2. […] Source: The problem child […]

  3. Johnny says:

    Noticing a tendency amongst some media to act as if they are the sane voices in a mad world. This may be comforting to them and allow them to justify their reporting or opinion pieces to themselves as ‘correct’. However, as your post indicates Paul, the fact is that people do not think they are correct at all and it’s way beyond a ‘debate’, people feel lied to.

    It’d be better for the media types to admit that they do not present ‘the truth’ but ‘a truth’ and one which is often shaped by their own allegiances and the people they go to as sources (very often of a unionist persuasion and almost always of an alleged ‘expert opinion’, i.e. not the person on the street, who is not worth consulting and has, in fact, ‘gone MAD!!’ anyway). They would say they do this, but really they don’t. After all, they expect viewers to believe in their authority and gravitas and so do their best to convey the idea that they present the ‘truth’ and are ‘100% correct’. When people question if they are wholly correct, they react very defensively and/or mock them as ‘mad’ and then wonder why people are annoyed with them/do not trust them/do not want to read their outpourings any more.

    Now, tell me, who is it that’s in denial/mad?

  4. macart763M says:

    The meeja are throwing a hissy fit because no one trusts them anymore. Their commentators and journos are coming over all indignant, the publishers are at a loss figuratively and literally and there is much wailing and gnashing of gums at the readerships who are simply turning their backs on the meeja’s ever more hysterical assaults.

    Who knew?

    They brought this entirely upon themselves and deserve the loss of every single issue and every single viewer who chooses to use a remote or chucks their telly oot the windae.

    The meeja chose their own path. Political and corporate compromise, mass manipulation, news creation rather than news reporting. They created and destroyed careers and lives. Leveson, swiftly followed by the referendum exposed them for who and what they were.

    Put simply, people have absolutely no reason to trust the media. Those metro types looking for answers on twitter, FB and the interwebby? A waste of time.

    Simply look in the mirror.

  5. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  6. David Agnew says:

    The only contact I now have with the UK & Scottish msm is now done through the likes of WGD, Wings, Peat Worrier, Derek Bateman and Scot goes pop. I have simply stopped listening the MSM. All they do is talk sh*t all day every day when it comes to Scotland and the SNP.

    The can sneer and carp all they want…but to me and lot of people in Scotland, they are simply on stuck in the sidelines and content to be there.

    If I want UK & World news I can go online and find any number of non UK sites to read.

    • douglasclark says:

      Kind of, me too.

      At least my trusted sources are the ones you mention. Though I still log in to mainstream media because ‘someone is wrong on the internet’.

      It is wearying though.

  7. morvenm2014 says:

    Thanks very much for my copies of the Collected Yaps, which thudded onto my door mat yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised, as I wasn’t expecting them so soon. Am now laughing my way through Vol 1, including a few gems I missed the first time round. Makes a change from boggling at a computer screen.

    Am wondering if “KL” has only read your column in the National, since he/she hasn’t been in touch. Might be an idea to mention them there. The only newspaper still worth buying.

  8. OT but must say Thanks Paul for the YAPS!! They plonked through my door yesterday and like morvenm2014 I spent yesterday evening with my feet up giggling away merrily at vol 1. More power to your elbow sunshine! X

  9. Jan Cowan says:

    Luckily I was taught by my parents to be wary of anything in newsprint, so in actual fact I’ve only ever bought two newspapers – the Orcadian and the National. Once upon a time I naively believed the BBC’s news. Thanks to the “net” I’ve discovered that the BBC was never to be trusted. Never ever! Their twisting of facts and shading the truth is nothing new. So now, naturally, I don’t have anything to do with TV news either. Thankfully I have my trusty laptop which allows me to decide for myself which “truth” I am willing to accept!

    Thanks for another superb piece of writing, Paul.

  10. Brilliant Paul, but then we have come to expect no less.
    I know I keep hammering this point, but in our constituency we have been knocking on doors for the past month, and the M.S.M scaremongering isn’t having any effect. In the hundreds of contacts we have made in the past week, not S.N.P voters, but people we have been unable to previously speak too, not one person has brought up the subject of Michelle Thomson.
    Since we know that the media will always parrot the establishment line, then it’s just something we have to live with, but without the support of the likes of yourselves, and others too numerous to mention, probably our quest for independence would be unattainable.

  11. tris says:

    I remember a few years ago now, when I was but a boy, an old D C Thomson man pointing out how little real influence the newspapers have. It was at a time when the ‘Courier’, ‘Evening Telegraph’ and probably the ‘People’s Journal’ had semi blanket coverage in Dundee.

    These Thomson publications were Tory to their boots. Their editorials were scathing of the local and national Labour Parties. They went out of their way to report Labour bad in every way and were relatively protective of the Tories.

    And the Dundee public, went out and bought their poisonous rags then resolutely voted Labour at all levels, almost without exception.

    Changed days, of course, with the papers having much smaller circulations and the Dundee citizenry voting SNP at council, Westminster, European and Scottish parliament level.

  12. hektorsmum says:

    Like many here I gave up on the MSM a long time ago. My Dad, was a follower of the horses and used to buy for some reason the Daily Mail. I know!!!! Well that august ( I joke) organ taught me something very early on in life, not to trust a newspaper. When the Tories were in power everything was hunky dory, never a word of criticism, then Labour got in, that would be Harold Wilson, boy did the general tone of the editorial change. From that day forth, that and the fact that the old boy was a sceptic and he taught me well. I have never believed a word uttered by them. I trawl the internet, Wings, Munguin, you etc. Husband takes the national so I get to read it on my Kindle.
    Now my other member of the Family wants me to convey that anyone or thing attempting to mount him will lose a leg. Pugs may look warm and cuddly but if their name is Butch Cassidy, aka Hektor he ain’t. He says you are on your last warning, Ginger will be contacted. He says a man with your talent should be able to alliterate with some other thing than Pensioner’s Pug, considering he belongs to a pensioner.

  13. Luigi says:

    Since the “Scottish” media seem hell-bent on repeating the same mistakes ad infinitum, with fear and smear attaining ever diminishing returns, and cunning plans more often than not backfiring spectacularly, there is only one possible explanation: The pressure has affected them. No longer capable of thinking straight. Insanity beckons. Absolute bonkers, the lot of them. It’s like moths circling a candle. They just can’t help themselves, it’s their nature.

  14. Oneironaut says:

    This is definitely a problem that BADLY needs to be seen to.
    I think many in the pro-independence camp think that as long as blogs like this one and Wings over Scotland, and sites like Newsnet and streaming channels are active, then they’ve got the media angle sorted.

    There are actually many people who (out of computer-illiteracy, laziness or mainstream media manipulation or simply through not knowing where to look) never read news or blogs.

    And they won’t read “The National” because “That’s just evil SNP cybernat propaganda because it’s got “National” in the name!” (*rolls eyes*)

    An actual mainstream TV channel is not a luxury here, it’s a necessity.

    And NOT one dedicated to independence either, as it’ll simply be ignored.
    The mainstream media may be ranting and hysterical now, but much of that is likely due to political pressure being exerted on them to kick the brainwashing into overdrive.

    They once started out slow, and built up, making programmes focused purely towards entertaining people and getting them watching. Only once they had the viewer figures to make it worthwhile, did they start turning on the “unionist ideas” drip-feed, keeping it low at first and gradually turning it up as people got used to it.

    Most people won’t notice tiny changes creeping into an established scene if it happens gradually over a long period of time. They will notice if it suddenly comes out of nowhere and gets right up in your face.
    As disturbing a topic as media brainwashing can be, any independence minded TV channel would have to play a similar game. Gradually undoing and reversing the programming that’s taken many years to set.

    I admit I don’t know anything about how much it costs to set up a TV station or how the whole administration behind that would work. Technical matters are my field, the rest, I leave to others who know them better.

    Do we actually NEED Westminster’s permission to do that? If not, I’d say go for it anyway.
    A small crowdfund to buy equipment and premises. The BBC started off small and heavily dependent on public opinion too once, as much as they seem to have forgotten that.

    The important things to remember though is that it will be starting off from a position of suspicion. From the moment it appears, the mainstream media will regard it as an interloper on their turf, a haven of free speech in a landscape they’ve worked constantly to remove it from, they WILL do anything they can to discredit it right from the start.
    Also, politicians need to be kept away from it at all costs. The moment it becomes associated with any sort of political control, then it loses credibility as an actual TV channel and becomes merely another political tool.

    I know there’s probably folks out there debating this matter already. Just wanted to add my own thoughts.

    • Johnny says:

      The difficulty is that no-one, other than Yessers, seems remotely motivated to see a new TV ‘balanced’ TV channel. It makes it difficult to envisage how it could be achieved. Obviously Jack Foster, James Devoy and Carolyn Scott have looked at this and they said it’d be very expensive. From what little I can glean on the interweb about it (far from exhaustive, I do confess, and those who have been looking at doing it will be FAR more clued up) it seems that you are looking at mid-six figures a year just to get a satellite channel. It costs more and is presumably a lot harder for lots of other reasons to get a terrestrial or free-to-air channel which means that a lot of people might not see it anyway.

      The only way it seems to me like it could be done is if there was a MASSIVE crowd-fund for it to get off the ground initially (the single biggest one yet seen in terms of indy and such). That would probably only be even nearly possible if every one of the blogger stalwarts of the campaign, such as Wings, WGD, Bella, etc etc etc all got involved and pushed it hard. Even then it would be difficult as they might not all be interested in doing so or may have different ideas on how to do things (allow them some freedom within their own programmes?). On the flip side, if they were to do it, it would be very exciting and there could be a lot of talented, clever and principled people involved (and I think it’d be fantastic telly, personally, never mind the wider aims). I’m a nobody, sadly, so I cannot go round trying to persuade them all of its merits haha, as there is no reason for them to listen to me. But I do see it as something that would be worthwhile, and amazing if we had programmes featuring the likes of Mr Paul Kavanagh, Mr Stuart Campbell, the aforementioned Foster, Devoy and Scott, Angela Haggerty and her team et al. We’d just need one HELL of a push for it to happen (and for them to want to do it). If it was a success, maybe it could be funded with advertisements or small subscriptions thereafter? Perhaps the Scottish diaspora abroad would be interested.

      One last difficulty, to return to the start, is that if mostly Yessers funded it, it could be very difficult to reconcile some to accept that the programmes might have to be more balanced (though some exceptions could be allowed, a half hour rant from Rev Stu anyone?). Many might want it to reflect Yes arguments only, though I do see your point. It’d be worth trying to achieve balance, otherwise it would not win converts.

      Sigh. It would be awesome, though. Especially because the media we have are not changing their spots any time soon.

      • Jan Cowan says:

        Sounds great to me, Johnny. As at least 45% of our population are Yessers, what if they simply transfer their BBC Licence money to the new balanced TV channel? And I’m sure those of us who gave up watching TV long ago would be more than happy to contribute.

  15. Liz S says:

    Watched STV 6 ‘o’ clock News tonight. Ian Murray spoke about M Thomson and SNP.

    Was I imagining it or did he say something about SNP MEMBERS (plural ) of parliament in the context of this MT fiasco thus inferring to the less informed and gullible that other SNP MP’s also are guilty of this !!!!!

    Nah he wouldn’t make such a slip of the tongue……Surely !!!

    If anyone else watched it please let me know I am wrong !!!!!!

    • Johnny says:

      Yes, Ian Murray droned on and on about the SNP having “questions to answer” when, in truth, if the issue even goes anywhere at all (far from clear yet) then it will be about how the individuals involved are seen to have acted.

      However, the whole pout of all this as far as Labour and pals are concerned is to try and create the impression in people’s minds that it’s somehow a wider party political thing. Which, if there even is any case to answer in the end, it must certainly is not. But they wouldn’t be as hysterical about it if they didn’t see some opportunity for political gain out of it.

  16. Paul says:

    Spot on, as usual.

    Came home from work today to find some Yaps had been delivered, happy birthday to me even though it’s not until Saturday!

    The first physical books I’ve got since owning a Kindle 🙂

  17. Liz S says:

    Re my previous comment , Murray wasn’t referring to Ivan McKee SNP Candidate !

  18. […] ongoing Michelle Thomson saga provides grim foreboding for the SNP in the months to come. I’m not […]

  19. philipallan says:

    The only comment I have AGAINST throwing eggs at people (or even Tories!) is that there are a lot of families would be grateful to get a free egg, rather than see their wean go to school without a breakfast!

  20. Liz S says:

    Something about all of this really smells and I am not just talking about Ms Thomson’s alleged involvement/ guilt .

    An impartial intervention needs to be taken about conflicting reports in media re Mr & Mrs Wright’s version/versions of a) How much did the Wright’s buy house for b) what did the Wrights sell it for and what profit was made by them on the sale c) when did the Wright’s sell it to MFS d) when was it resold by MFS. e) what profit was made by MFS.Need clarity ie. facts not fiction.

    WOS website has endeavored to answer some of these questions showing conflicting information on this ! I expect his findings in WOS to also be determined by police investigation and given same publicity as Mr & Mrs Wright were given communicating their woeful tale.

    Also other political parties should be mindful that what goes around comes around and scandals linked to politicians are now , it would appear ,very much open season and RELENTLESS in respect to continual condemnation and scrutiny…..Ms Dugdale and Ms Davison have set a precedent for any subsequent scandals linked to their own MSP’s/MP’s and therefore should be exposed to the same scrutiny and condemnation that has been directed at both Ms Thomson and our FM should any such scandal erupt .

    People in glass houses …….!

  21. Liz S says:

    Re my comments above should be M & F property not MFS….see how easy it is to get facts wrong ! Glad Mr & Mrs W have fabby memories their recall for facts is astounding !!!!

  22. benmadigan says:

    the media’s not a problem child in the UK. It’s the well-trained house servant of Mr UK Britain, retired Empire builder – His former wife Eire Ireland lives independently after years of abuse, Her sister Alba Scotia is desperately trying to run her own household

    NI, the real problem, wild child in the dysfunctional family of nations can’t even pass her driving test
    Her long-standing dysfunction is now claimed to be due to sibling abuse

    more episodes in the saga will follow, time permitting!!!!

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