Put it on a billboard

There’s been a whole lot of shouting of late over a wee project that a few grassroots indy supporters have embarked upon entirely on their own initiative. A group of independence supporters who are convinced that the BBC doesn’t give the case for independence a fair hearing, despite the fact that via the licence fee it’s funded by indy supporters as much as anyone else, have been fundraising in order to put up some billboards with a message decrying BBC bias.

Bias from a Unionist newspaper is one thing. You don’t have to buy the newspaper. You can use an ad-blocker so that you don’t have to see the advertising that pays for the online edition. Or you can simply refrain from clicking on any link to its articles. Newspapers are private concerns, and it’s easy for private individuals to avoid contributing money or support to a private concern that they disagree with. It’s similar with privately owned television channels. If you think Sky News, STV news, RT, Al Jazeera, or any other broadcast news outlet is biased, you can refrain from watching it. You’re not supporting it. You’re not being forced to pay for it.

That’s not the case with the BBC. If you have a TV, if you access TV programmes online via iPlayer or a similar service, you have a legal obligation to pay a substantial annual fee to the BBC. You have to pay for the BBC even if you choose only to watch the news on Al Jazeera or some other channel. You have to pay for the BBC even if you never view a single BBC programme. That’s why perceived bias on the BBC angers people far more than the perceived bias of a newspaper or a privately owned TV channel. It’s one thing to broadcast programming that you regard as propaganda that’s biased against your views, it’s quite another to broadcast programming that you regard as biased against your views and then force you to pay for it. And even worse, to criminalise you for not paying up.

Some people attempt to delegitimise criticism of perceived BBC bias by reducing it to a conspiracy theory. That’s a simple minded and reductionist view on how bias works. Bias in an organisation like the BBC doesn’t arise because of decisions made behind closed doors by a small but powerful group of people who impose a secret line on their underlings. Institutional bias is a point of view that becomes entrenched because it’s regarded by those who hold it as being unbiased. It’s similar in some ways to institutional or systemic racism. No individual is going to admit that they’re racist. Equally no one in the BBC is going to admit to bias against the Scottish independence movement.

The bias that Scottish independence supporters complain about from the BBC is a metropolitan-centric viewpoint. It’s not a conspiracy. This was very apparent during the latter stages of the first independence referendum campaign when the BBC’s “big hitters” came up to Londonsplain the referendum. Opinions espoused by Westminster politicians were given more credence than the views of independence supporters. Independence supporters were subject to more critical examination than their Unionist equivalents. The independence campaign was pressed to explain the most trivial details of Scotland post-independence, up to and including being accused of a lack of certainty on the price of a first class stamp. The contrast with the EU referendum was striking.

But this latest dispute between independence supporters isn’t really about whether the BBC is biased. It’s about how the independence movement acts in a media environment where it’s not guaranteed to get a fair hearing from traditional outlets. And that’s where we need to be disciplined as a movement. We need to refrain from insulting one another for having a different view on tactics. Some people think putting up billboards about BBC bias is a good idea, others think it’s counter productive. It’s good to have different strategies. It’s good to have different approaches. What’s not so good is when those different strategies and approaches descend into petty name calling.

Let’s be honest here, and let’s get a bit of perspective. We’re talking about a few billboards here, not about storming Pacific Quay with lit torches and pitchforks. A few billboards by themselves are unlikely to change anyone’s mind. People who see these billboards are unlikely to say to themselves “Why yes, yes indeed the BBC has been lying to me” unless they’ve already formed the idea in their minds that the BBC can’t be trusted. But equally they’re unlikely to alienate anyone who is genuinely undecided on the question of independence. If your response on seeing a pro-indy billboard decrying BBC bias is an angry “Mad zooming paranoid cybernats, I want nothing to do with them” then the chances are that you were highly unlikely to sympathise with the cause of independence in the first place.

However the point of the billboards isn’t to point out examples of BBC bias, their purpose is to direct people to a website which acts as a portal to pro-independence views and opinion from a variety of sources. You can disagree about how effective the billboards are in doing that, you can argue that their anti-BBC message obscures their function as a signpost to sources of pro-indy information aggregated on the http://www.informscotland.com website. But it misrepresents this initiative to think it’s all about a small number of anti-BBC billboards.

Personally, I would prefer that we put our crowdfunding efforts into producing an alternative media. I would rather that we were crowdfunding projects like Phantom Power’s films, that people were funding the production of the online content that the informscotland website links to. Because it’s a tough slog trying to support yourself as a content provider and people need to eat and keep a roof over their heads. But I’m not going to criticise a group of grassroots indy supporters who’ve got up off their arses and have decided to do something, even if it’s something that I don’t personally think is going to be effective. Because I could be wrong.

What is most definitely counterproductive and unhelpful is for different groups of independence supporters to use intemperate language when they disagree about tactics. We need to acknowledge that if we really want this indy movement to be a broad-based grassroots movement, then different groups are going to have different priorities and different strategies and different tactics. That’s what a broad-based movement is all about. And that in turn requires that the different strands of the movement need to accept that others are going to do things differently.

It helps no one but the Unionist establishment when one group of indy supporters says that another group are paranoid conspiracy theorists, and get called intellectual snobs in return. If you don’t agree with someone else’s strategy, you don’t need to support it, but refrain from insulting them, and develop and promote your own alternatives. If your alternatives are more effective, then they will be more widely adopted. We’re only going to win this campaign with a multi-pronged approach. We’ll lose if we divert our energies into factionalism and in-fighting.

The best way to disagree about tactics is to come up with an alternative tactic of your own, not to name call. Let’s put that on a billboard.

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100 comments on “Put it on a billboard

  1. garyjc says:

    Indeed Paul, the thing that really grinds me down when we are in the realms of either left wing politics or Scottish Indy is that it never takes too long for the whole ‘Judean People’s Front’ thing to raise it’s ugly head – ‘splitters.’ When are folk, ostensibly all supposedly on the same side going to realize that slagging each other of is meat and drink to slavering yoons. Now if I was a conspiracy theorist I might even suggest some black ops to stir things up, because it always seems to work; but nah, I don’t think it needs that amount of subterfuge because some folks just like the sound of their own pontifications too much. Can’t we just agree to disagree on the minutiae until the main prize has been won, then, and only then – all power to yer elbow

    • Alasdair Macdonald says:

      In every general election since 1979, the opening gambit of the campaign by the Conservatives has been to accuse the BBC of bias, with Norman Tebbit, in particular implying threateningly about the future of the BBC, the licence fee, privatisation, etc. This always got plenty of coverage and not a great deal of condemnation. Indeed, it would be further publicised by the BBC,with discussion about it on Newsnight and Question Time.

      Professor John Robertson has fairly objective data to indicate consistently that anti independence stories far outnumbered pro independence ones.

    • grizebard says:

      Well said, both Paul and Gary.

      Alas there are even some for whom independence seems not a desirable end in itself but merely a convenient means by which to further their own narrow political purposes, and are eager to push their certainties without a care about the damage they do to the cause of independence, not least among the as-yet-undecided.

      There is only one big prize, and we all need to keep focussed on it. Support for independence is wide, but needs to get wider still.

      I’m as convinced as anyone about BBC bias but agnostic about the billboards, especially not having seen any of them yet. I would prefer they carry a positive message such as “BBC: represent _everyone_ fairly” rather than a blankly negative one. But if they get the noncommitted curious enough to follow through onto pro-indy websites, that is surely a good thing. If it also begins to unsettle the powers-that-be in BBC Scotland that public confidence in them is on the slide (which it is), that would be a good thing too.

  2. Weegiewarbler says:

    Love this!
    It’s one aspect of the campaign that does concern me. We should ALL be pulling together – using different ropes if need be – but in a cohesive effort. We NEED to win this time. NEED …. or else I’ll lose the will to live completely.

  3. Indeed.

    The billboards have become the talking point.

    The website is, as far as I can see, a pretty good repository of links to good sources of political commentary. This blog, Wings, Derek Bateman all linked and tagged to make particular subjects easy to find.

    I’m disappointed to see Iain Macwhirter decry it as “dodgy”. I may not always agree with everything he says, but I’m usually a fan of how he says it. He is a calm voice of readson. It’s a strange old day when in a conversation with Mr Macwhirter I feel like the calm, reasonable one.

    I feel I’ve been forced to make a decision on the relevance of this site, and of course, the billboards. I like them. It’s reminiscent of the response to the raising of the alcohol unit price and how it would never sort the problem we have in Scotland with alcohol. No it won’t sort the problem on its own but as a small part of the overall YES movement it may just help a wee bit.

    And when the detractors suggest that the money could have been better spent promoting the National or Common Space, who would like to tell Stuart Campbell that he should stop pointing out inaccuracies in the mainstream media and instead print happy-clappy articles about the National or Bella Caledonia.

    Feel free to form an orderly queue.



  4. Alexander Wallace says:

    Bang on the money Paul.

  5. Dan Huil says:

    The bbc, as part of the britnat establishment, is undoubtedly biased against Scotland’s independence. I support the billboard campaign. Remember Nick Robinson:


  6. Alex Waugh says:

    What I’d love to see is a slew of hoardings which quote the unionist lies and promises that Scotland was bombarded with before the No vote and, alongside, display what actually happened. Something like, “The only way to secure Tax Centre jobs is to vote No”…. “Centre One to be closed down”, with full attribution and dates.
    I’d use only their own words and only headlines from unionist papers. No opinions, nothing but verifiable truths. Not my truth, not the SG’s truth, not the SNP’s truth – their own unionist truth, their own unionist words. Every one of them attributable, checkable and in the public domain. Maybe a simple question at the bottom, “Do you still feel Better Together?”
    If I win the lottery tomorrow, I’ll fund it myself.

    • Sheryl Hepworth says:

      Love that idea Alex Waugh!! One to crowdfund maybe??

    • Yeah, good idea Alex. The only caveat I would make is do you think it is to early, and would work more effectively once Article 50 is triggered, and the full shambles of the U.K exit from the E.U is being felt?

      • Kenny says:

        That’s basically what Wings’ Wee Black Book was all about. Before another referendum is called, we should be working to get those books out to EVERYONE in Scotland. Even if only SNP members were to do the distribution, that would only be 20-30 per head to reach every voter in the country. Sure, plenty of people won’t care because they’re diehard unionists, but if it makes just 1 in 10 former No voters think twice about any promises they hear in a future campaign then it’s a huge step forward and an enormous boon for the Yes movement.

        (As a secondary point, the Yes campaign next time NEEDS to have a rapid response rebuttal team at work on everything the No campaign say. We can’t rely on Stu Campbell all on his lonesome. Apart from anything else, his “vileness” is one of the biggest planks of the No side’s attacks on Yes credibility. Simply pointing out lies, half-truths and dodgy statistics would keep a team of two or three pretty busy but would help average campaigners immeasurably. Imagine being able to print off a list of rebuttals to the day’s No talking points before you went out canvassing. How much more useful would that be than trying to source it all yourself and never being sure how definitive your numbers were?)

    • john57 says:

      Excellent post Alex, ” verifiable truths” then Unionist actual action. Perhaps reference to the ” Vow having been delivered in full ” then the reality of what was ” delivered ” . As I have said before on this site ” We must end this most Rancid Union “.

    • This is an excellent idea, as us Kenny’s rapid response team idea.

      Paul, Your last sentence in the following paragraph sums up for me not only why we all need to be more accepting of each other, but also the kind of society we want to live in, one where we’re big enough, secure enough, to admit mistakes. We could start BG making a world where Yes voters accept each other’s strengths, and No voters are given the info and respect to be able to question how they’ll vote in 2018:

      “But I’m not going to criticise a group of grassroots indy supporters who’ve got up off their arses and have decided to do something, even if it’s something that I don’t personally think is going to be effective. Because I could be wrong.”

  7. Dan Huil says:

    bbc misreporting Scotland billboards will be appreciated not just by most Yes supporters but by others who see the bbc as a wasteful organization spending millions on jolly jaunts for the likes of John Inverdale and Gary Lineker.

  8. Thepnr says:

    The billboards spat was bound to happen. Who do these odinary people think they are in attempting to expose BBC bias. Their bias is obvious, only to me and others like me. The BBC bias has yet to be seen by the vast majority.

    Billboards directing people to a website that shows the most obvious bias from the BBC is a great idea. That’s why the media are choking on it, noticed today that the article in Common Space was written by a BBC “community reporter”.

    That fact that the author has an opinion then on ordinary Scots having an issue with BBC bias isn’t that surprising.

    • Kate says:

      As far as I can see it looks like KS isn’t and never was BBC community reporter. Her only connection with the BBC is that she did an unpaid 6 week training course at the BBC four years ago. She wasn’t aware the profile page that says she is a BBC community reporter was online, and she thinks it could have been created during that course as part of the training. She writes articles in the National and elsewhere that are very critical of the BBC. It would be fair to her if we put that information up anywhere that it’s been said that she works for the BBC. If pro indy sites are open about any mistakes and wrong assumptions then they’ll look like more trustworthy sources.

      I don’t agree with much of what she said.

      The hard No voters in my life already know the BBC lies to them daily about all kinds of things, but if you have faith in the union you aren’t likely to put the energy into making yourself uncomfortable by searching out what lies you are being told about Scotland. I’ll likely be doing the same thing on other issues I’m not wanting to think too hard about.

      I think that Brexit, MSM and politician’s lies over Brexit, and then the MSM discussion of lies over Brexit has all fed into
      a) an increase in No-to-Yes, soft Yes, and Don’t knows,
      and b) more people being open to discussing dishonesty and bias in the media and it’s impact on democracy, and a growing awareness that no conspiracy is necessary for there to be overwhelming media bias, whenever people working in media, politics, business, universities etc just unthinkingly do what it takes to look after their own interests.

      The thing that I feel a tad frustrated over is that just at the point when more people are becoming aware of BBC bias and are starting to listen to Yes because they are angry over being relentlessly lied to by the media at indyref1 over the EU, some in the Yes movement say we musn’t talk about media bias or we will look like conspiraloons, and No voters will feel they are being told they are stupid, gullible sheeple. (Which of us hasn’t ever been taken in by media lies?) Like others here, I worry we can’t win without getting that information out on which sources lie to us and which don’t. Billboards with short quotes and facts like on the “You Yes Yet?” images,and on fact check scotland twitter, with website addresses too, would be good. I’d give money for that.

  9. Kenny says:

    The only real problem with these billboards is that the website isn’t all that great. A wee bit of spit and polish there, with articles dissecting some of the worst examples of BBC problems, would make it a much more effective platform.

    Having said that, I much preferred the Wings subway ad approach. Simply pointing out the lack of indy-supporting media and saying “wouldn’t you like to hear both sides?” is, for me, much more subtle and much more effective. If we want people to ask questions of the BBC, I think a much more useful billboard might say “Scotland’s license fee payers spend twice as much on English football as on ALL Scottish sport. How else is the BBC giving Scotland a raw deal?” That’s a simple fact, but it highlights the whole problem of England/London-centric media and will cause ordinary punters who don’t care much for the minutiae of politics to think “wait a minute…that’s not fair!” From there, it’s a lot easier to plant seeds of doubt about how BBC News reports on the northern province.

    • Maria F says:

      “Having said that, I much preferred the Wings subway ad approach. Simply pointing out the lack of indy-supporting media and saying “wouldn’t you like to hear both sides?” is, for me, much more subtle and much more effective”

      Kenny, my guess is that the aim of those billboards is not to help convert the already converted. While Wings, Bella, Common Space, Newsnet or indeed this wonderful blog by the Wee Ginger Dug are very popular, unfortunately there are still an awful lot of people living in Scotland that is not aware at all of any precious jewels or wouldn’t consider visiting them. You have to offer those voters (or at least to enough of them) a reason to do so.

      The billboards are very much a tool ‘in your face’ and that is what makes them useful with the ‘passive voters’ that would not consider looking elsewhere beyond the BBC or Guardian website or even those ones that cannot afford or cannot be bothered with newspapers.

      You have to actively look for Wings, Bella, Newsnet, Commonspace or Paul’s Blog at least the first time, but the only thing you need to do for the billboards is look at them. Remember what they say: ‘a good image is worth a thousand words’. ‘Misreporting Scotland’ is funny, catchy and very easy to remember. Your mind will be sent back to that phrase every single time you see the title of the program on the BBC and hear the music. I think it was a genius idea.

      Everybody is different and that is why the indy movement must use as many tools as they possibly can think of and are able to afford. I believe it is a great mistake to assume that one simple medium is going to reach everybody. It will not.

      I use public transport everyday. I notice that there is always a healthy bunch of free ‘Metro’ that the passengers can help themselves to. Wouldn’t it be great to have also some sort of ‘Indy newsletter’ with amusing colorful caricatures representing the broken promises, or something like that, just to offer a balance to the unionist views of the Metro? Journeys are boring and most passengers would not have enough time to read the entire metro but would be able to read a two page newsletter and would appreciate a laugh at the caricatures.

      I think those billboards could be quite useful if they wake up the curiosity of that sector of the voters who have already noticed something fishy about how the things are being reported in the BBC or indeed those that are already fed up with the lack of relevant news about Scotland in the BBC. You are pointing to those passive voters that their concern has been noted, that there is news beyond the BBC and they are there for them to find it.

      Remember, we only need another 6% to cross over the line!

      • Golfnut says:

        Bang on the money with your take on this, ‘ misreporting Scotland ‘ could potentially be the crowbar needed to prise people out of their comfort zones, not only just for the broadcast media but could have a serious knock on effect on the msm. Branding something as crackpot, conspiracy or Looney is standard practice by governments and by the media when they wish to shut down discussion.

        The BBC claims to impartiality hinge entirely on their methodology in reporting bad news stories for Scotland. They invariably link to newspapers and press releases, reports on the SNHS, Police, Education are common and invariably first trailed by the msm. The Forth Bridge was a classic example. Placing doubt in the mind of the reader or viewer as to the veracity of the claims by our media is the first step in helping people find the truth for themselves.

        It’s a good opening gambit, but needs to be developed.
        Billboards highlighting some of the misreporting are a must in developing this, perhaps ‘ Scottish National Health Service out performs RUK You won’t hear that from the BBC ‘,
        ‘ Do you want to watch Scottish Football You can’t on the BBC, WHY ‘.

        Once people start to doubt the information broadcast by BBC, they will start to doubt where they get it, the newspapers.

  10. Morag says:

    It’s worse than that. If I don’t pay the BBC levy, that prevents me from watching STV, Aljazeera and all the rest as well.

    (I still think these posters are a bad idea, mind you.)

    • Dan Huil says:

      ” If I don’t pay the BBC levy, that prevents me from watching STV, Aljazeera and all the rest as well.”

      Not really, Morag. You can refuse to pay the bbc tax and still watch television. It’s only Westminster’s laws your refusing to recognize.

    • Thepnr says:

      Morag why are the billboards a bad idea in your opinion? Genuinely interested and not being a bam.

    • davidbsb says:

      And should not the genuine refuseniks have £140 odd quid a year to donate to all those worthy pro freedom sites? I understand that about 100k people are actively boycotting. The Rev takes about £100k in donations. What worthwhile activism is being funded by the rest of the £14 million pound fund?

      • Bill MacLeod says:

        I don’t pay the licence fee, so I donate to Indy sites, however I’m keeping my powder dry for the real campaign. I intend to donate at least twice the amount in ’14 and if necessary I will bankrupt myself to gain independence.

  11. bedelsten says:

    £8500 (£8695 at time of writing) doesn’t get a lot of billboard so the impact, in terms of number of billboards anyway, will be limited, so the moaners should stop moaning.

    But we really do need to raise awareness that the msm can be, and often is, duplicitous in its output, that the headlines, the content, the order of presentation, the editing of images, etc., are not accidental occurrences but are the results of decision made by writers, interviewers and editors to have an effect, to create an atmosphere, to manipulate opinion. If you understand that you will not read an article, listen to the radio or watch TV without also suspiciously analysing the output. As a previous head of Intel once said, only the paranoid survive.

    The BBC does not claim to have no bias; it claims to be impartial. However, impartiality is actually impossible to achieve. As soon as the camera lens points at one thing it excludes others. As soon as the microphone is available for one it is denied to another, as soon as the question is posed the action cannot be undone. Editing an interview to fit the allocated time involves decisions about content. This conundrum is termed ‘the view from nowhere’ and the search engine of your choice will find an excellent article about this on BellaCaledonia. It is unlikely that the BBC will acknowledge it cannot fulfil its obligation for impartiality. Instead, the BBC will claim to provide balanced content but the fulcrum sits somewhere south of the Watford Gap and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.

    On the morning after the 2015 general election when, just to remind you, fifty-six SNP MPs were elected to the big hoose by the Thames and there was only one each of the other three parties, I turned to radio 4 for an update, perhaps expecting to hear from the SNP and their amazing election success, only to hear from the one labour MP left standing. Odd, I thought, and retuned to BBC radio Scotland only to hear, again, from the one labour MP left standing. So I cancelled the TV licence, climbed on the roof and removed the TV aerial. Netflix and, accidently, Amazon Prime, provide plenty of entertainment. Spread the word.

  12. jamescaine709 says:

    As per usual, very well put Paul.

  13. Johnny says:

    I think this is spot on. Anyone who claims they know exactly what tactics will win over everyone or put everyone off is lying. If we knew these things, we would be independent already.

  14. Cloggins says:

    Billboards in Scotland do not change the situation greatly, as there is no shift in opinion to be expected as you so aptly pointed out. From the BBC standpoint, any noise from the north is overlooked and considered irrelevant. Nothing will change anyway, and when the Scots start making noises they do that discreetly among themselves.

    It would of course be different if such billboards appeared in the south. In Westminster, Hammersmith, Richmond, Oxford Circus or Trafalgar square. That would be reaching out to an audience which does not have a clue about the gripes in the region because nobody ever told them anything about it. Not the papers, and certainly not the BBC. A dozen of well placed billboards would make auntie break out in a terrible itch.

  15. Sandy says:

    Marching on Pacific Quay with lit torches and pitchforks? Now there’s an idea 😉

    I support these billboards. We need to get people questioning the ‘facts’ that the BBC (and rest of the media) are presenting to them. We need to reach people that will never read a blog, let alone a pro-independence one, or watch a Phantom Power film online. The billboards do that. Critics of them, or their content, need to make constructive, alternative suggestions that are more than ‘we’ll just hope alternative media can overcome the BBC’s reach’.

  16. inverisla says:

    Great post. I’ve no particular problem with the billboards, Indyref2 is is full swing. Our friends at Scotland in Union have their billboards also.

  17. Daisy Walker says:

    Hello WGD,

    As always, enjoyed your article. I have supported the Billboards, they can be a very effective communication tool. Will it work in this case? I don’t know, but in the same way that public marches are important, the boards will ‘stake a claim’ and make a space for other messages and info to follow.

    The recent hounding of Gary Linnicker (sorry don’t follow footies, so spelling not right) shows just how important it is to stand up to the buggers, even in a smallish way. I don’t think anything is wasted.

    Best wishes to all, keep the faith, its coming yet.

  18. Steve Bowers says:

    Nicely put Paul, keep up the good work

  19. bjsalba says:

    I sent them money, and if they ask for more I will send it. What I would like to see is them doing billboards like the one I saw against Brexit. It was somewhere in the central belt and it said “out of the EU out of a job”. I do wonder what would have happened in Newcastle if t
    Nissan had put that poster up in the factory and around town.

  20. iainmore2016 says:

    It isn’t just the BBC anti Indy bias that gets me going it is the trash Scotland collectively every chance it gets propaganda that annoys me even more. I think back to a London Kaye phone in prior to Indy Ref 1 where she had one ahem caller phoning in to lambast Scots as being even too “filthy” to be Indy. The BBC goes beyond just mere bias it descends into the pit of bigotry if not the sewer of out and out racism against Scotland collectively and not just Indy supporters.

    I don’t view STV or Sky as any better than the BBC when it comes to not just Indy but attitudes towards Scotland. I find them all equally unwatchable as none of them are honest or informative.

    I am all for naming all of them in the BritNat MSM as equally guilty of the charge of Misreporting or Disreporting or just plain dissing in one way or another Scotland.

    Of course the Yoons that are paying the TV TAX don’t like to be told that they have been duped into paying for a daily dose of lies put out by the BBC. The others we can switch off and aren’t expected to pay for the privilege of shutting them off. I just hope that those who prop up the other Yoon Media propaganda outlets will twig that they are paying for space that has a declining audience or an audience that is increasingly senile and will stop propping them up with their cash.

    I am all in favour of the billboard campaign. Alex Waugh also said a lot that I also wanted to say so I wont repeat it.

  21. Rab says:

    I agree with this. If the folk behind the billboards are who I think they are, then they’ve already been doing a good job of exposing BBC bias. It angers me that we have to pay for what seems to me to be propaganda.

  22. David Agnew says:

    A bill board campaign won’t work against an established media outlet like the BBC. Lets face it. Against the traditional UK media we can expect no favorable coverage. The lack of a decent Scottish media means we’re pretty much stuffed. We need to think outside the box on this one and try to figure out how to use the new media as our means to counter it.

    Rather than waste time with bill boards proclaiming the obvious, have the billboards advertise wings or wee ginger dug, Derek Bateman radio, Newshaft. Let them counter it for you, they know how. Be it webpages like this or pod casts, small TV shows on a youtube channel. Hell even if we have to approach al jazeera to get an hours worth of Scottish news. Lets do that instead of demanding a seat at the UK medias table.

    That takes money and commitment. Our money their commitment. Newshaft died from a lack of funds. Phantom films could easily run a show to counter the UKs bullshit. But it takes money.
    There are entirely legal ways to stop paying the license. I did that and I don’t watch a thing on terrestrial TV or iplayer. Use that money to sub something like news shaft. You want to have bill boards have them advertise media not waste breath pointing out how biased the BBC

    Don’t tell people its biased, show them its biased. And Internet TV is the way forward I think.

    Just imagine a Scottish version of the daily show – that would be worth sticking up on a billboard, and worth paying for.

    • Thepnr says:

      The billboards point to Inform Scotland. That’s the point in showing the people that the BBC is biased.

  23. Scott H says:

    “If we want people to ask questions of the BBC, I think a much more useful billboard might say “Scotland’s license fee payers spend twice as much on English football as on ALL Scottish sport. How else is the BBC giving Scotland a raw deal?”

    That’s a tremendous idea, Kenny. I also like the suggestion of a billboard with the famous, among us anyway, “Read The News You’re Not Getting” . I see no reason why these cannot be crowdfunded.

    I contributed to the billboard appeal, however I would like to see a wee tweak with the slogan – “BBC *SCOTLAND* is Mis-Reporting Scotland”. Although there are obviously issues with BBC in London, it is mainly Reporting Scotland, Good Morning Scotland and Morning Call AKA Call Kaye that are failing to accurately represent Scotland.

  24. andygm1 says:

    I supported the billboard campaign with cash but I think the money would be better spent elsewhere.

    Surely not being critical of each other fuels the Yoon charge of cybernat central?

    Anyway, your nudge about blogger finances has reminded me to drop you another contribution.

  25. arthur thomson says:

    I contributed to the biilboards idea and I am not in the least repentant. There is not even a single doubt in my mind that they will make a tiny contribution to the cause. I have also contributed to a range of other projects and will continue to do so when I can. If anyone is able to pursue the ideas put forward by Alex Waugh and Kenny I will support them too.

    As to people in the indy movement knocking lumps out of each other because they disagree on tactics – that is healthy, showing diversity and passion – which we need in abundance. It seems that some people think there is ‘a way’ to achieve our goal. Fortunately, that is not the case because if it were then it would be very easy to block that way and stop our movement in its tracks.

    As to what the yoons think about it – I don’t give a toss about what they think about anything, they don’t merit consideration in my book as long as they support a state that has a foreign policy of traumatising, maiming and killing children in the middle east.

    As to conspiracies, I have no doubt that there is a HUGE conspiracy in place. I have absolutely no doubt that it embraces all arms of the state, the media and corporations. But so bloody what? They may be able to crush me if they are of a mind to but they will NEVER determine what I think.

    At the end of the day, the issue of Scotland’s independence will come down to whether enough Scots, in the widest interpretation of that identifier, have the courage to embrace it in the face of considerable hostility and endless efforts to deceive. A billboard decrying the British Bullshit Corporation may be the very thing that helps to gird the loins of a handful of people who need a wee bit encouragement to finally commit themselves to supporting a better life for themselves and their children. I hope so but I won’t be losing sleep over the thought that a few pounds I contributed might have come to naught. I’ve wasted a damn sight more than that in my time.

  26. Lollysmum says:

    As with any message that needs to go out to the public, you need to use a variety of methods to reach the different audiences that make up the electorate. Social media can’t reach those who aren’t online. Amazingly enough even funding the online media adequately still isn’t going to reach as many people as we’d like to connect with. Word of mouth is important but can’t reach everyone. The printed word being pushed through letter boxes is reliant on thousands of souls pounding the streets to distribute their leaflets. No single method is ideal & reaches everyone.

    I congratulate Inform Scotland-their efforts to raise the profile of their campaign (only launched last week) has already worked-it’s being talked about & people are visiting the website. Their first crowdfund passed its target in just 6 days so its aims very clearly chimed with hundreds of people who saw fit to put their money into it.

    I supported it, just as I support Wings, Wee Ginger Dug, Independence Live & other crowdfunders and will continue to do so.

    We should be thanking them for setting up this campaign-not decrying them. The detractors should be asking themselves “what have I done towards the Indy effort today, this week or this month” If the answer is nothing then perhaps you have no right to decry the efforts of those who had the guts to stand up & be counted.

    I for one will now be offering to help the campaign in any way that I can.

    • morvenm2014 says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The article on CommonSpace is very unfair. In what way do these billboards insult voters, call them stupid or promote conspiracy theories? All they’re doing is saying the BBC is misreporting Scotland and pointing to another source of information. What’s wrong with that? Moreover, Prof John Robertson and G A Ponsonby have amassed a pile of evidence to support their views, and I’m very grateful to them for all the work they’ve done. I think this campaign is well worth supporting.

    • Thepnr says:

      Me too Lollysmum. If that’s what it takes.

  27. Steve says:

    Last referendum we were derided, insulted, spat on, kicked, punched etc etc. We were told to soak it up, don’t react, stay calm. Made no difference. Seemed every time I put on the tv or was unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of a headline in a britnat rag it was all about how nasty the yes thugs are. We tried to fight back with facts and figures, we tried to point out the bias and lies and misinformation.
    I think it’s time to play it they’re way, it’s time to call them out for what they are, it’s time to publicly shame them, if that’s done via billboards, online media or Indy prints then it’s all good. As you said. Multi pronged. We know what’s coming, this time let’s standup to it.

  28. Robert Graham says:

    This is what happens when all avenues of promoting your point of view are closed off or totally unavailable due to the monopoly that exists , this monopoly on the facts that presently exists to promote only the union and is only available if and when it has been filtered by the defenders of the union (ie) all talk of independence removed , and in the case of BBC Scotland all references of success or competence by the SNP Government sanitized .
    I fully support this initiative and until i contribute my ££$$ to it i am in no position to criticize it and will not do so , and sorry but the article in common space in my opinion is a waste of space .

  29. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    I agree with your sentiments Paul. I like the Billboards for two reasons.

    Firstly, it’s an honest opinion by those who organised it. One that I agree with, but that’s beside the point.

    Secondly, it’s time to stop pussyfooting around. Call it like it is. We tried being ultra fair and positive last time around and we lost. Time to get torn in! Not abusive, especially to ordinary NO voters, but say what we think about the British establishment..

  30. scottieDog says:

    I like the idea of the billboards.
    It’s great to get an alternative media bit how do we make people look at it for the first time..?

    I think a central repository advertised on billboards is a good idea and the bbc bias agenda needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

  31. Daisy Walker says:

    If we start with Billboards, maybe one day we can get a really pithy message all along the side of a bus… no, sorry, bad idea, been tried before with absolutely no success, ever.

  32. Dan Huil says:

    See/hear how the MSM is now reporting [!] the latest [!] Scottish NHS Crisis [!] and realize how much we need to fight the britnat bbc et al.

  33. Macart says:

    Well said Paul, in all respects.

    Agree, disagree, but don’t have a go at each other. We do that? We’re doing the establishments job for them and if you thought it was important to achieve independence last time, then our current situation makes it just that much more urgent. Its not only our economy, or our constitutional sovereignty that is under threat, bad and bad enough, but the nature of our democracy and our human rights.

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I really don’t fancy watching PM May the day after an indy vote declare open season on our rights as a first order of business.

  34. mealer says:

    Good stuff Paul.I’m not convinced that the billboards are a good use of funds,but surely they’re worth a punt.Its biggest value is in the fact that it’s getting folk doing stuff.

  35. seanair says:

    Dan Huil
    I didn’t see what was on the BBC because I don’t watch it (too old to pay the fee) but I think I know what it was like. Watched STV in which Shona and Nicola got a chance to put a word in although the opposition were totally missing the point about where the money comes from. Best contribution came at the end when Bernard Ponsonby had his word then reminded viewers that ageing populations and a shortage of money were not just in Scotland, but in the world.

  36. Graeme says:

    I support the billboards and made a small donation because their effectiveness can be measured at least to some degree by website hits, however like Kenny said earlier I’m not too impressed with the website itself but it’s early days

    at the moment we seem to be under constant bombardment from the unionist media at least with this we’re fighting back and that’s important


  37. jrmacclure says:

    What the independence movement needs (imo) is a lot of varying strategies. If a few billboards will make at least some people even consider that the BBC is biased, that is to the good. No, it won’t win the referendum. No one in their right mind would think that it would. What it might do is work with other tactics to open minds. And one thing the movement must NOT do is depend on its dominance of Twitter and Facebook.

  38. Wullie says:

    Rooftops. Now there’s a thing, anyone got their own private rooftop.

  39. Bill Dale says:

    I contributed to the billboard campaign, as I have done to several others, including WGD and Wings. I was amazed that anyone purporting to be in the indy camp could find fault with grassroots campaigners campaigning.

    I was fortunate enough to see a showing of the new film, London Calling, the film of G A Ponsonby’s book about BBC bias in the referendum. BTW Paul has a starring role in the film. The book and film conclusively prove, yes prove, that not only is there bias, but it is deliberate, and in some cases requires deliberate misinformation such as reversing the sequence of video shots to show the indy side in a bad light. This could not happen by accident and is not an isolated case, so yes, anything that gets even a small number of people to question the BBC’s “impartiality” is worthwhile.

    My personal favourite, especially when conversing with an erstwhile No voter complaining about something wrong in Scotland, is to ask them “Is that true, or did you hear it on the BBC?”. Most people laugh and then say something along the lines of “You’re right, you really can’t trust them can you?”

    • Jan Cowan says:

      I use that tactic too, Bill. Works a treat…..especially if you’re wearing the badge! But I fell out with BBC almost 3 years ago and I can honestly say I do not miss the frequent bouts of anger brought on by their bias. I wouldn’t dream of listening to K. Adams but the programme on Radio Scotland each Wed at 1.30pm has been a MUST. So they’re not completely useless!
      All the same I do like the idea of the billboards and especially with the many additional thoughts described above.
      Thanks again, Paul, for your excellent blog.

  40. Will Easton says:

    We could set up our own Main stream Scottish Inde Channel funded by say, even half of everyone who voted Yes in the last referendum, Maybe £2 per month standing order until we win it ? I don’t know the true cost involved and I know it might be a wee bit far fetched, but a substantial amount of donors at a small price could work. Personally I would give a bit more a month towards our own channel. To see it happen would be amazing.

  41. Kat hamilton says:

    Totally agree with Alex Waugh..well done sir..place the assertions/falsehoods that were promised during Indy ref 1 and have along side the reality/facts plainly shown and ask, are you yes yet..or still better together? In other words, give them the choice to chew over the falsehoods, distortions without the we told you so….sewing the seeds of doubts and giving them food for thought will help dilute the unionists message…Edinburgh needs lots of these, still way too many Scotsman readers and status quo no voters..

  42. Rab Kay says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the yes campaign has been to slow in starting. The no side has the edge with umpteen sites praising the union. Scotland in union is one example, the only way to post on it is to join. We are going to get our bottoms felt again. Unfortunately the yes campaign can’t match the cash theses folks have.

    • Thepnr says:

      Cash can’t beat passion.

    • Dan Huil says:

      Jeesh! Might as well give up, then.

      “The no side has the edge…” Again, Jeesh! The No side has britnat establishment media – no change there then. Even after britnat project fear we got 45%. The britnat media’s influence is waning. We’ll win it our way, the people’s way, next time.

  43. jdman says:

    It takes all kinds,
    and not all have a strong grip on reality
    I have just been SAVAGELY attacked by an indy supporter on twitter, and to be honest Im not entirely sure why,
    I expressed (probably clumsily) a sympathy with her for predictive text turning a sensible post into gobbledygook
    next thing im under a furious assault for supporting Histoywoman
    i tried to get her to look at my timeline and see I REALLY am on her side, which she then bizarrely clicked like on ,only for her to contine her attack on the very next tweet even more viciously, I advised her I was muting her (for her own good, she WAS making a fool of herself)
    to give her time to simmer down, but the attacks continued and sadly I was forced to block her,

    This is what happens when we turn on one another when a silly throwaway comment can escalate into full blown warfare, careful what you say out there guys there are some VERY short fuses and a lot of people just spoiling for a fight.

    • Macart says:

      Heh. Wee while back I had a habit of starting the odd sentence with ‘anyhoo’ and a couple of bods on wings were convinced this was proof positive I was some mad unionist blogger who had a similar trait.

      A word, a phrase. It’s all it takes for some folk.

      Lots of people wound up to high doh and frustrated as hell. They’ve been on the receiving end of the worst kind of media assault for years on end and their nerves are raw from the pounding. We need to get our game face on soon and remember that we are a ‘broad church’.

      My boy showed me a quote from the end credits of a game we were playing the other day which he thought was quite good.

      ‘If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together’.

  44. Puzzled Puss says:

    Many thanks, WGD, for all yor inspiring articles.

    I do think we need to be using all available media to counter the Unionist propaganda. Alternative media are fine, and websites such as WGD and Wings are already doing a great job of keeping our spirits up. The problem remains that a large part of the No-voting population is in the older age group, who are less likely to use social media. Stone age methods such as billboards, leaflets and newsletters may be the only ways we can get our message across to them. (Being an old fogey myself, I think I can maybe get away with calling them ‘stone age methods’.)

    I would like to see billboards etc. addressing other topics as well such as the failure of ‘The Vow’ and the Scotland Act, and the general disparity between what we vote for and what we get.

  45. Ruth Dugdale says:

    Spot on again, Paul. It’s just too easy to indulge in navel-gazing and good old self-criticism. Who enjoys and benefits most from internal bickering among independence advocates? There’s the answer.

  46. orri says:

    There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that the BBC have an agenda even now. I doubt they will ever get an official obligation to uphold or promote the union. That seemed to be either a stupid running of at the mouth from a tory MP, a form of trolling, or an attempt to have people rally to the cause and defend the BBC against political influence and and attack on what it likes to promote as it’s impartiality. The problem is that as far as I can see most indy supporters simply shrugged their shoulders and said “that’s different, how?”. Such a blatant requirement would either result in no change thus implying it’s always been biased or would require them to up the ante to such a point that it becomes farcical and self defeating.

    The only potential problem is if the message on the billboards come across as paranoid to such an extent that instead of undermining trust in the BBC they undermine the message they’re trying to get across.

  47. Great article, Paul. I’m all for anything that will plant even the smallest seed of doubt in the mind of the uniformed/misinformed. If anyone thinks the BBC in Scotland gives Indy a fair crack of the whip then they are delusional.

    IndyRef1 – Before and After:

  48. Doug Daniel says:

    Well I’m going to wade in here and disagree with, well, everyone by the looks of it.

    We need internal criticism. We need to be able to criticise bad ideas. We cannot become an insular band of happy-clappers. If someone thinks something is a bad idea, they need to be able to criticise it without being labelled some sort of crypto-unionist arsehole who’s just trying to poo-poo over the efforts of other indy supporters. Good ideas will stand up to such scrutiny. Bad ones won’t. Or at least they won’t if everyone who thinks they’re a bad idea speaks out against them. The notion that every idea has merit is simply absurd, and if we’re not allowed to criticise each other, then what happens when the Scottish Resistance finally loses all grip on reality and decides to make a public declaration of war against England on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow? (I’m only half-joking there.)

    Everything we do MUST be about converting the non-unionist No-voters, and that means putting ourselves in their shoes at times to think about what will and won’t persuade them. (If you read “non-unionist No-voters” and think “there’s no such thing!”, you are part of the problem.)

    I worry that far too many things that are being done at the moment are more about self-satisfaction than converting people to independence. We’re spending too much time talking to ourselves. Are the billboards genuinely about converting No voters, or are they about satisfying people’s need to stick it to the BBC? If you think it’s the former, then ask yourself if this fundraiser would have raised so much money in such a short space of time if the billboards simply promoted some pro-indy sites, rather than having a pop at the BBC. (If your answer is “yes”, then you’re kidding yourself on.) A lot of people don’t even realise there’s a website on the advert, so badly does it do its job of advertising it. The website itself is a horrible mess. It would have been far better to simply have the “get the news you’re not getting” type posters that the IndyPosterBoy website produces, with links to the most popular sites. (In fact, a campaign to put some of THOSE on billboards around the country would absolutely have my full backing.)

    But the problem is wider than this. I think some people need to ask themselves if it’s a referendum they want, or independence. The two are not the same thing, because we are far from guaranteed to win another referendum. The clamour from some quarters to have another referendum as soon as possible just highlights how some people are simply incapable of seeing things from the eyes of No-voters (mind you, some people still don’t accept that we lost in 2014, but that’s another matter altogether…). Too many independence supporters are convinced that everyone must see things the same way we do. “The vow has been broken! The unionists lied! That means No-voters will see things our way now! Let’s have another referendum as soon as possible!”

    What if The Vow didn’t actually convince many people at all? What if people already know that unionist politicians lie, but voted No anyway? What if people already know the BBC speaks a load of shite, but watch it anyway? What if people who voted No and Remain decide that, of the two unions, they’d still rather choose the UK? And what if some Yes voters are now going to vote No? (Anyone who’s been helping with the National Survey stuff these last few weeks will understand where I’m coming from there.)

    This movement belongs to all of us. Yes, that means no one person is in control of it, but it also means we all have a responsibility to each other not to go off half-cocked doing stupid shit that reflects badly on everyone else. More importantly, we need the movement to grow, and that means thinking about what did and didn’t work on people last time. That requires self-reflection, and that means internal criticism. If people cannot handle criticism from fellow travellers, then perhaps they’ve started treating the Yes movement as a support group, rather than a political movement.

    • Doug, I agree with a lot of what you say. But I also feel profoundly pessimistic right now, because I don’t think we can or will win another referendum with the media we have now. There has to be an acceptance that a huge amount of the sentiment you describe above is due to having a media that pumps out anti-independence messages constantly. Some are obvious, some are subliminal or just repeated so often they become fact (there’ll definitely be federalism if we vote no was one such continually said by the media with zero evidence but which was believed). But if you’re not part of “the indy movement” or in the SNP, or reading pro-indy sites (and lets face it, the vast majority are not) you’re not getting any of the arguments for independence at all, only a continual message that it’s bad, it’s scary, the ‘reasonable people’ on the BBC and in the Times are all against it. Anyone with an authority voice is against it.

      I understand why the SNP, as a political party and the government of Scotland, have a need not to antagonise the media any further, and perhaps to try and quietly, gradually, win some of them over. And I understand why the independence movement needs to be on board with that to a certain extent.

      But what we also need – desperately, and fast – is some kind of strategy which counters that media bias. Because frankly, I’m sick to death of arguing with friends and family. I’ve got to the point now where, if someone tells me we can’t be independent because of the oil price, or that Scotland depends on money from England because of it’s massive financial black hole, I walk away. I spent 2 years trying to make the case, reasonably and politely, but one person can’t beat a media which creates a narrative so thoroughly that you essentially look daft for challenging it. And I’m at a point of such frustration and anger with it that walking away is better.

      I think several of my no voting (and soft yes) friends are beginning to question the media now, especially post-Brexit, and that takes a variety of forms, often including defending them more because they don’t want to believe their beloved BBC isn’t impartial. There is a very big question about how best to engage those people and how to challenge it, and I agree those particular billboards are a bad idea – one like the Wings one that simply says, “get the other side” with a list of pro indy sites would be better. “The BBC” for most people is about drama, Dr Who, Strictly etc. Bashing “the BBC” is counter-productive.

      But having people on the Yes side call others zoomers for pointing out there is media bias and trying to do something is equally counter-productive. What the SNP and Yes movement absolutely can’t do is start trying to pretend there isn’t media bias, or that it’s acceptable. This time around is wholly different from last time because there is a real and massive threat to Scotland, to devolution, to our economy. We cannot have a UK-centric, pro-Brexit, anti-independence, pro-Tory media only giving their side of the story this time around. If we’re going to accept that, we may as well just accept we’re staying as part of the UK and whatever future that entails.

      I have no idea what the right answer or response is – I’m hoping someone senior in the SNP or Yes campaign does have one. But right now, I just feel there are a fair few people on the Yes side who’re out of touch with how the media effects people for whom its the only source of news and information, and how that then effects the debates they go on to have with each other. More than ever right now, we need an informed debate about the next steps for Scotland, and we need a media that’s up to that task of genuinely helping inform that debate. We don’t have that.

      • Clive Scott says:

        “I understand why the SNP, as apolitical party and the government of Scotland, have a need not to antagonise the media any further” – really? I don’t.

        Every SNP interviewee should preface answers to absurd BBC loony yoon questioning along these lines – “Well, I appreciate your job is important to you and you feel obliged to play the part of a useful idiot to please your unionist paymasters but the fact of the matter is…..”

        The BBC should be treated with open contempt at every opportunity. Unionist interviewers should be personally made a fool of at every opportunity. Chummy first names should never be used. Every SNP member should cancel their BBC licence.

        Anti BBC billboards are to be encouraged as part of anti unionist messaging generally.

      • Front says:

        I totally agree Fergie!

    • Internal criticism is fine. Get involved and offer help. If not this way then how ? But to offer only public attacks after the fact is not constructive, I believe your phrase is “stupid shit”. If the criticism looked at the flaws and offered suggestions on how better to do it next time it may be better received. Even better yet expend your energy doing billboards your way. No one owns the movement to Independence so expect a lot of variation in how people approach it, not everyone will share your or my evaluation of what is most useful.

      • Iain Cowe says:

        “It would have been far better to simply have the “get the news you’re not getting” type posters that the IndyPosterBoy website produces, with links to the most popular sites. (In fact, a campaign to put some of THOSE on billboards around the country would absolutely have my full backing.)”

        I think Doug did actually offer a suggestion for change/improvement.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I think you’re missing the point I’m making Doug. It’s not about never criticising one another, it’s about HOW we criticise one another. Calling a tactic you think is counterproductive “stupid shit” is a perfect example of how to lose friends and alienate people. Criticism is not a synonym for attack or insult.

      The fact is that it doesn’t matter what we say or do, the Unionists will always hold the entire independence movement responsible for the actions of all of us while at the same time denying vehemently that they have any responsibility for their own outer fringe.

      • Neil A says:

        Very much agree. You see what happens when it gets personal – you can end up with your Alex Bell types.

      • KevR says:

        Well said Paul. There has been precious little tolerance recently. Lots of ideas are duff, certain political decisions appalling. I’m 100% pro-Indy and I really don’t care who delivers it. I’d far rather it was sooner, however I can wait.
        I’ve funded lots of Pro-Indy groups, ideas etc, some I wouldn’t touch again others I’m open too.

        Plurality is useful, the FM generates a lot of negative comment on my FB pals pages for example, she ain’t all that in their eyes – I’m indifferent. But I bracket my thoughts on this, because I don’t want to aid the facturing of YES energy, alas it’s too late for that.

        It is fractured. Thats life, those who have the will, will work on. If folk want funding, money from other people, a useful marketing technique might be blethering with them, following them or basically assuming they are equally if not more intelligent than them and yet they simply demand their genius is supported. Those folk can get lost.

        Meanwhile, I reckon the Billboards idea isn’t that effective. It’s hectoring, and apt to provoke resistance.

        Kirsty Strickland is as right to her opinion as anyone else, however Stuart was absolutely right to highlight that she had worked at the BBC for Six weeks. That’s significant, so relatively early in her career. The binary reductive rhetoric of some about it being “wings mob” usual suspects etc is dishonest, the further agesist sexist allegations are insulting again reductive and in my view bigoted.

        The idea was a poor, the criticism valid, pointing out the previous career/project was right
        And proper and not sexist. If you are going to critique someone, then it’s going to provoke response. This is not the Oxford debating society, it’s Twitter and it’s apt to prompt immediate response. If you can’t bear it, go join a debating club with rules.

        I think it is impossible to maintain a broad alliance where everyone is tolerant, in fact I think it’s absurd. If people ascribe to others all kinds of unconscious motivation, then whilst it might be a convenient projection, it’s intellectually dishonest.

        A solution might be more one to one meetings, full and frank conversations but a resistance against angrily dumping on others. The unconscious is a little understood idea, but if something is making you angry it’s probably about you.

        Anyway, I continue to support all progressive Indy operations and folk, as I read, listen see and interpret them. And those that aren’t or are dumping, I don’t.

        Keep on keeping on.


  49. MJT says:

    Thepnr: Not sure if it’s a trusim that cash can’t beat passion, but I’m with you in sentiment…and you remind me of all those low budget movies I love, that are made on shoestring budgets that are superior to standard hollywood fayre…and the battles won by underdogs who were smarter, had better strategies and sure had no shortage of heart and passion.

    We need to maximize our recources. Make the most out of every quid we have, make the most out of our human resources, use our minds as best we can, work together, network, put egos to the side, fix our sights on the prize, bring people in, not freeze folks out. Provide excellent information and if we’re going to advertise, in this case, it’s billboards, design the best kick ass billboards we have the resources, time and talent to design.

    I don’t know how best to frame the strategic idea – is it go after the Unionist Media; attack the BBC; debunk the innacuracies and falsehoods of the mainstream media that harm our cause, but we all know what we’re getting at, we all know and have a relatively similar idea of the weight and might of the MSM and in this case the BBC. Is it poor strategy to try and inform those who might not be aware of the dubious machinations of such Corporate entities? I don’t think it can ever be bad strategy to provide accurate information in any instance. If it’s well presented, well written…bingo bango.

    Billboards are grabbers, adverts, no more no less, like trailors for movies they are not complete information…a well designed and edited trailor can get folks to go see a crummy movie. Design is so important. The Mis-Reporting Scotland Billboard is the only one i’ve seen. I’m not sure it would make me want to visit the website. But, if i saw another one with a different design…i might. I do know this much, the money’s been raised, there will be billboards, maybe the folks involved in the project could use some help from some super skilled design ad-type folks…I dunno.

  50. Robert Harrison says:

    See no one’s posted about the lib dem lord who let it slip on the rt show going underground that the bbc charter states the government has the right to decide what the bbc reports. I think the whole charter printed in likes of the national might expose the bbc for there bais as it written in black and white would convince those with doubts while enforce those of us who knew the bbc is bais

  51. Walter Hamilton says:

    I was over in Broughty Ferry recently and a window cleaner there has a vehicle that is covered with adverts for Bella Caledonia, Flag in the wind, Wings over Scotland, and the main message, Scotland should be an independent country, that’s the way to do it. I have a similar message 2mX2m on the back of my motorhome.

  52. Sooz says:

    Fully in favour of the billboards AND I threw in a few quid to help it along. This is the beauty of the Yes campaign – that we can all do something and we don’t need “permission” from the entire Yes movement to do it. If everyone started doing their own wee campaigns all over the country, it would confound Westminster, the media and the unionists, who wouldn’t be able to cope with such a wide, politically diverse and unstoppable river of creativity and fun.

    I say plan things. Crowdfund things. Do something local or do something national. Whatever it is, just do it, no matter how big or small. But most of all, don’t criticise other Yessers for what they’re doing. Don’t give away ammunition to the opposition like that. By working as an organically growing presence across Scotland, we will be a benign Hydra – cut off one bit and another bit grows elsewhere. Scotland will be a living, breathing embodiment of all that is positive about an independent future.

    • davidbsb says:

      Hear hear !

      Everyone has a printer just about. A handful of copies of one of Paul’s wonderful epistles printed off and stuck through your neighbours mail boxes. A few pence a copy. A good read. A step in the right direction.

      A bunch of stickers with the web addresses. What if some found there way onto newspapers? Stuck onto the copies your local supermarket puts out for its diners for instance? Spread the message. Every little helps.

      • Doug Daniel says:

        Please, for the love of god, do not start sticking random stuff through people’s letterboxes. This will have completely the opposite effect from the one you desire.

      • Doug Daniel says:

        In fact, this idea really, really, *really* annoys me.

        During the referendum, one of my mum’s ex-colleagues – a tribal unionist – had four copies of the Wee Blue Book shoved through his letterbox. FOUR. One was a waste, but he got FOUR. That means four different people were shoving a scarce resource through random letterboxes when they could have been put to good use elsewhere. A perfect example of why people going off doing their own thing without consulting others is a bad idea.

        • But the alternative to “folk going off and doing their own stuff” is to have a co-ordinated, centralised campaign and demand everyone sits on their arse doing nothing until that centralised campaign tells them what to do. If everyone had done that last time there wouldn’t have been a Yes campaign at all (and God knows I spent many a tedious afternoon shoving truly awful official Yes leaflets that said nothing through endless doors, wondering why I was bothering too). The Wee Blue Book was excellent and also the result of “folk going off and doing their own stuff”.

          So maybe next time we need to be better co-ordinated and have a better bank of resources targetted to specific areas perhaps – the arguments needed to win Morningside are not the same ones needed in Glasgow North. If activists have a system that offers more in-depth resources and some way to log what they’ve done with them, great. It just needs someone in a centralised position to set it up. Now would be a great time for setting something like that up.

        • davidbsb says:

          Our local effort IS coordinated. However what literature is there being centrally produced? Is it as frankly crap as the Yes stuff was last time out? If we are all waiting around for someone to hold our hand we will miss the boat. I see some really good things which would be ideal on a flyer. I would love to be part of a countrywide network which can quickly distribute topical handbills. Our local group cannot distribute more than maybe 500 a week, but 5000 A5’s can be produced in less than 3 days for £120 or so. Where’s the rapid response distribution being set up? All I seem to see are armchair revolutionaries.

          IR2 could be called at any time. As of April fools day next year we could be going at any time in the following 2 – 3 years.

          And as to tribal unionists, I take the greatest of twisted pleasure in ensuring they get every badge, balloon, pen, leaflet and wind-up possible. Yes its wasted, but I so loathe that flag its my only revenge. Perhaps there are 4 people where you live who feel the same way.

  53. Johnny says:

    I think David Halliday said it well when he pointed out that, for many people back in the day, the SNP themselves were beyond the Pale and had mad ideas. They didn’t give in and now look.

    So some people don’t like the idea of criticising the BBC via billboards believing it makes people look like ‘zoomers’. But the viewpoint of those behind the billboards could become mainstream and acceptable, as the SNP’s ideas have, in time (if they haven’t already, in fact).

    I’m particularly amused by young Greens who have gone on the offensive about ‘tinfoil hats’ etc. Get a look in the mirror, because you’re not in such a different circumstance from the situation you perceive Inform Scotland to be in. Unfair as I think it is (having voted Green in a couple of instances), in some circles, YOUR party is still viewed as a bunch of ‘zoomers’ whose ideas are ‘mad’. So, I’d have thought you might have some sympathy with Inform Scotland, rather than acting as if everyone in the world accepts all your ideas!

  54. Gary Elliot says:

    I think that there’s lots of valid points being made here and if there’s a silver lining about this is that maybe it provides the type of reality check that the wider Yes movement needs in terms of opening up a proper debate about charting a path forward. I’ve got I have to say that I’m guilty in terms of being critical of the Inform Scotland Billboards and agree with what a lot of what Doug Daniel has said above. However what Fergie has said re a centralised campaign is valid as well – as is the comments re the quality of material produced by the official Yes campaign last time. When I thought about the current Billboard campaign one of my thoughts was “well, maybe if the guys behind it had more professional input from experienced Political Campaigners or Marketing Professionals maybe they could have came up with a better campaign”. Then I remembered the crap billboards that the official Yes campaign had last time around……

    So, IMO there has to be *some* form of criticism/feedback because otherwise passionate, enthusiastic people will come up with crap ideas. Did anybody else notice that the “Edstone” was in the news again this week? This was the Labour Party – a major political party with a century long history – coming up with a campaigning idea that was so jaw droppingly stupid that people were aghast that it ever made the light of day. Whatever internal processes Labour had, at no point was there anybody who had either the nouce or the bottle to put their hand up and say, “Wait a minute, this is a stupendously stupid idea, we can’t do that”

    IMO there *has* to be space for people to be able to be critical, but folk also need to realise that if they want to be able to produce good, effective stuff, then constructive external critisicm can be a positive influence. Any collection of people can be susceptible to groupthink and we need to be able to find ways to avoid the pitfalls this brings.

  55. I’m not a poster designer, expert in mass communications, just an ordinary JoeBlogs. For what it’s worth I think getting someone like Chris Cairns to help design posters or even just using some of his cartoons. Without ramming it down your throat they are witty, carry a subliminal message and would be very effective. Then what do I know?

  56. Bill Purves says:

    Put a ljst of all the taxes collected from Scotland by Westminster on one side of the poster and all or the percentage of taxes collected by Holyrude.

    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      This (% in graph form) including what has actually been grudgingly devolved to Scotland and what is for the greater part still retained at Westminster, is essential. At any/every public/TV debate this will be a powerful visual tool to illustrate just who has been telling porkies.

      Compare and contrast with ‘promises’ made last time round to dissuade the electorate from Independence proper.. such as … ahem..’everything bar Defence and Foreign Affairs’ will be delvolved to Scotland. ‘Aye Right’

      There is even an amazing 9% of the electorate out there that apparently think that a Vow was delivered.

      Perhaps more worrying at present however is news (on Twitter) today from Kezia that she has “just arrived in New York to campaign for Hillary and against Trump’s poison for the next 3 days.”

  57. Macart says:

    Posted elsewhere, but fits on topic here too I think:

    Presentation, tone, diplomacy, empathy, depth and breadth of knowledge to answer any and all questions on a possible independent Scotland’s future under, again, any and all circumstances from now to infinity and beyond. Oh, understanding and patience would be right up there too, (You could also add political understanding, tactical nuance into the latter mix and near telepathic discipline t’boot). Yet when required, heart, passion, courage, determination and a healthy dose of zip ah de dooh dah in the darkest of times.

    But other than that, what else is expected of us?

    A lot is being asked of a broad church of people who have newly rediscovered their political engagement. People who haven’t exercised that particular muscle group in decades. Maybe some of the more politically aware overlook this fact from time to time?

    Maybe some of that ‘understanding and patience’, some of that ‘presentation, tone and diplomacy’ could be directed at the folks on our side of the debate too. They’ve put up with so much over the past few years especially. They’ve been shit on from a great height by central government, demonised and othered by the media in the most cynical and appalling manner. They’ve walked a lot of miles in well worn shoes and done pretty much everything asked of them through the worst of it.

    Being a true grassroots movement with no formal structure and dozens of affiliated groups was a massive and unexpected advantage in indyref 1. That breadth of opinion and approach was a big contributory factor that allowed YES to strip 20 points out of a thirty point lead. However, that lack of formal structure and leadership also has a down side outside of a campaign period especially, yes? The frustration and anger is palpable in thread after thread on site after site. Maybe a morale boost and a bit of diplomacy wouldn’t go amiss among ourselves too.

  58. douglasclark says:


    On the basis that jaw jaw is better than war war, I suggested to Derek Bateman that the two of you should talk on his web cast thingy.

    Mibee’s aye, mibee’s naw.

    It would be interesting…..

  59. Clydebuilt says:

    Agree entirely with yor article Paul.

    Just read The article in the Sunday Herald by the Editor of Commonspace. She doesn’t like the Bill Boards.

    1. Having been exposed to many news programmes during her youth didn’t stop Angela from becoming a left leaning Independence supporting woman. ……….The levels of propaganda emanating from the BBC years ago were very low compared to what Scotland is being exposed to currently. Left leaning,…… many senior journalists at BBC Scotland have strong links to the Labour Party.

    2. “I was brought up believing it was healthy to consume a wide range of media, to engage with it, and most importantly, to always question it” …… Good for you, some people don’t know the names of the leaders of the political parties, etc.

    3. “It’s deeply insulting to suggest to people that they’ve made a bad decision because they weren’t able to work an answer out for themselves.” …….That’s not what’s being suggested, they are being informed that a supplier of information is not trustworthy. This will help them to make better decisions.

    4. ” they don’t want to be told the BBC made their decisions for them.”…….. Really, in my experience people are grateful when they are informed they have been hoodwinked , and have anger for the source of the lies.

    5. “Consider this: despite the imbalance of the media landscape, the pro-independence vote rose substantially to reach 45 per cent” ……. Without the imbalance of the media landscape there’s a strong chance that Scotland would now be negotiating her independence.

    Tell you what Angela, you get on with your contribution to the campaign and we’ll get on with ours. That’s the Wee Ginger Dog’s response, it’s mine as well.

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