Saturday 30 August 2014

Our Time

One of the remarkable aspects of the Scottish independence referendum has been the flowering of a rich and varied alternative to the mainstream media. It uses blogs, Twitter, Facebook - pretty much anything to get its message across. It is often passionate, inventive, well written, well researched and frequently very funny.

This week the No campaign broadcast a short film of a woman making her mind up as she sipped from what looked very much like an empty mug in her kitchen. It is fair to say that the film bombed and was instantly the subject of hundreds of memes, spoofs and send-ups, collectively using the tag Patronising BT Lady (BT standing for Better Together).

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The unionist camp dismisses this new alternative source of news and opinions as the work of cybernats. The word is used contemptuously to convey an image of obsessive, nasty people who sit in their lonely garrets spewing out their bile on social media. Unpaid and probably unwashed alternatives to the sort of thing produced by the good old mainstream newspapers and broadcasters who are, of course, overwhelmingly against Scottish independence.

Here is a columnist in Murdoch's The Sun commenting on the Salmond/Darling debate:

Embedded image permalink"I'm not sure where they rented the audience for the latest debate between Alastair Darling and Alex Salmond. But by Golly, weren't they ghastly.

I have always believed we should keep the union.

But watching that awful crowd cackle, jeer and applaud Fish Features as if they were at the football made me think again.

Do I really want to share our green and pleasant land with a bunch of jeering monkeys so excited by Salmond's lies they start beating their chests and foraging amongst each other for fleas?

No I do not. I am tempted to say we should leave them to congratulate each other in their dreadfulness."

Last night the main evening news on the BBC ran a piece about Jim Murphy, the Labour MP who has been campaigning against independence. Jim has decided to suspend his campaign after someone threw an egg at him and he was subjected to heckling. He was the victim of "nationalist mobs" and is now consulting with the police.

Mentioned in passing was news that another man had been questioned by the police after death threats were made against Alex Salmond.

The egg was clearly much worse than death threats in the eyes of the BBC news bosses.

Here is a beautifully written account of one of Jim Murphy's soapbox sessions by Ray MacRobbie on his blog Still Raining, Still Dreaming.

The BBC's news bulletins are very carefully controlled and have been consistently slanted against the Yes campaign, but the BBC is a very big place and there have been examples of much more balanced programmes. This blog recently mentioned a debate chaired by Jim Naughtie at the Edinburgh Festival, for example.

It was also rather subversive of someone at the BBC to broadcast this week's edition of Who do you think you are? in the middle of the independence campaign.

This featured the Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll of Mrs Brown's Boys fame. O'Carroll emerged as a very likeable, eloquent and highly intelligent man who wanted to find out who had gunned down his grandfather at  home in Dublin in 1920. The answer turned out to be an elite unit of the British army deployed in the Irish capital to try to suppress the movement for Irish independence with a campaign of murder and dirty tricks.

But back to the present day.

The defection of Tory MP Douglas Carswell to Ukip; claims that he is just the first of a number of other Tory and Labour politicians planning to run into the arms of Nigel Farage; the imminent return of Boris Johnson to Westminster; the uncertainty created by Cameron's promise of a referendum on EU membership; Labour's decision to continue George Osborne's austerity programme - austerity for everyone except the rich, that is: if you live in Scotland and can vote in the referendum on 18 September, why on earth would you want to sign up to this?

Voting for independence is looking increasingly like the least risky option.

Sadly for Wales, we have no choice at the moment. Whether we like it or not, we are passengers on the good ship Better Together which seems determined to set sail in stormy and unchartered seas with several gaping holes in the hull. Third mate Carwyn Jones is handing out the concrete life jackets, and telling us that he will veto any attempt by Scotland to use the pound.

Carwyn doesn't have the power to declare a bank holiday leave alone any say in what the Bank of England does. Somebody had better tell him.

That is why it is important that as many people as possible turn out in Cardiff on 13 September to show Carwyn, Owen Smith and all the rest that a lot of people in Wales support independence for Scotland and are becoming increasingly worried about being shackled to a right-wing, xenophobic state which panders to the prejudices of Clacton man (and woman).

Details of the event can be found here, and there is an impressive line up of speakers. There will also be buses leaving from different parts of Wales, including Aberystwyth via Carmarthen. Again details can be found on the same website.

We started with a quote from The Sun. Let's end with something rather more inspiring.


Anonymous said...

I watched the debate last week and I was very surprised how partisan the audience were. The audience were supposed to be specially selected but the yes camp were much more vocal than better together.

I don't condone violence but the egg incident against Mr Murphy was more than a flying egg it was an assault and there is no excuse for it.

As regards the BBC I have found that anything I have heard has been balanced. some presenters have even mentioned balance before introducing guests.

Don't kid yourself by thinking that Wales is sitting on the edge of its seat waiting for its chance at independence. It would be a total bloody disaster. You moan about a conservative govt in London but for serval years we had a labour govt.

If Wales was independent we would have permanent Labour Plaid administration. Arghhh !

You only have to look at the current assembly to know that I am right.

Cneifiwr said...

Well perhaps the audience's reaction was natural when you consider how poor Darling's performance was.

Jim Murphy is not the first politician to be egged and won't be the last. Death threats are another matter - Jim Sillars has also received them, but there was no mention of that on the news. In the case of Alex Salmond the BBC reported only that a man had been questioned over threatening comments - neglecting to say they were death threats.

The egg on Murphy's shirt was what mattered.

As for Wales, we live in extraordinary times and events are moving rapidly. Who would have predicted 20 years ago that the UK might not make it beyond 2015?

Anonymous said...

Not entirely sure why everyone is getting so excited by this poll in Scotland, the result is so easy to forecast.

Young People (1/3)
50% go to university and so will vote NO
50% don't and will vote YES

Middle Aged (1/3)
25% went to university so vote NO
75% didn't make university so vote YES

Old Age (1/3)
5% went to university so vote NO
95% didn't but they remember the War so vote NO

In other words, 58% will vote NO and 42% will vote YES.

In ten years time, if another vote were to be held the NO result would be even more substantial.

Interestingly enough, in Wales where education throughout the population is poor and getting poorer year on year, I suspect a NO vote would be carried today but a YES vote in ten years time.

Now we can see why no-one in Wales is keen to have a well educated populated anytime soon.

towy71 said...

If I had a vote I would vote no because I'd hate to leave the rest in the lurch and basically to a ukip/tory government ;-)

Anonymous said...

Darling didn't perform well I agree. He was nervous and is not a natural orator.

Salmond came across as a total bully. He tried at all points to dominate Darling not by the force of argument but by bluster and interruption.

As regards voting intentions at the moment I have a feeling that if the referendum was re run concerning the WAG there isn't a chance in hell that it would survive !

You only have to look at how they have behaved towards Carmarthenshire over the unlawful payments fiasco to see how useless they are.

Sian Caiach said...

I've spent my summer holidays in Scotland working for the Yes Campaign, mainly in Dundee where I used to live. Things are very different here than in Wales,we have had the farcical failure of successive Labour led governments, Scotland has had a succession of competent, devolved governments, both Labour and SNP led. I have no doubt that Dundee will vote yes. I start canvassing in Perth tomorrow before returning Tues to take my kids to school at the start of term.
This is not all about Scotland, it is all about the UK, described to me last night as a psychopathic and rogue state by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. Mr Murray was forced to resign after complaining about human rights violations including torture and murder of political opponents by the local national government. He was also outraged at the Uk's complicity in arranging "rendition" of terrorist suspects flown in, many dying and secretly buried in Uzbekistan. "I saw from the inside", he said, "the corruption of the UK" and went on to claim that the foreign office knew there were no WMD in Iraq. As a former senior civil servant he also confirmed that the referendum was approved only because the UK government was sure it would be a no vote.
The yes campaign believe that the UK holds them back not only morally but economically and socially. This was at a meeting discussing what happens after the vote and either way the Scots expect trouble from the UK government. Other speakers included the actor Libby McArthur,Robin McAlpine speaking for the Commom Weal,Chris Law
for Business for Scotland and Jim Sillars, the veteran campaigner for Scottish socialism. Sillars spoke of the dominance of the UK population, the exploitation and the human cost of staying in it.Scotland, he said, wasthe only developed countryin history who discovered oil and got poorer.
This is not just a national debate about Scotland's future, it is a conversation about a better society, a more productive economy and a hopeful, egalitarian future.
As no voters tend to be older, more prosperous, better educated, professional, or Rangers fans, Yes support is strongest in the working class poorer areas, the same places that gave the SNP their landslide majority in 2011.Also the places which have low ownership of landlines which means they are not featuring proportionately in the polls.
Our polling shows Dundee will vote yes with a good majority. I have no personal experience of other areas. here the "no campaign' has all but given up and become truly a no campaign.
The referendum will be won by the side that gets its vote out during those vital 15 hours on September 18th.
What is happening here is amazing. From the streams of people coming in to register to vote for the first time, the yes hubs struggling to supply badges, leaflets, t shirts and flags and the almost all party support at ground level [haven't yet found a tory who says they'll vote yes but every other persuasion is persuadable . The RIC, the excellent Labour for independence, Greens, SNP, dissident liberals and the non political as well as countless Yes interest groups make a very impressive and diverse organisation. A yes vote is very possible and the next 20 days will produce the most important political event for all of us in the present UK, with no hope of the status quo in Scotland, whatever the result.
I can confirm, that at least in Tayside and Perthsihre, my casual observation confirms what others have said, the fields with huge expensive sign boards, may be voting No but the houses look like they are voting yes.

Cneifiwr said...

Thanks Sian. Here is a clip of Craig Murray talking about his experiences:

Anonymous said...

Ms Caiach & the others who have been in Scotland i.e Sian Thomas Cty Cllr Penygroes - should concrete on their own area & not interfere look after the people who voted you into County hall

Bored of Labour said...

Totally agree the Scottish campaign has inspired many in Wales to want better for out country, but what concrete plans has Plaid Cymru got beyond a rally outside the Senedd next month to channel this enthusiasm and desire for change here in Wales, because i fear it all this enthusiasm fizzing out in a few months time as the General Election campaign swamps the Welsh media.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@12.00 Ha! By all accounts the Scots were very pleased to see them.

No doubt you'll be hoisting the union jack to welcome Calum's friends from England when they are bused in for the general election campaign next year.

Anon@14.21 The event on 13 September is not a Plaid rally, but will feature speakers from (yes) Plaid, but also Labour, the Greens and the SNP.

But I agree that we need to find ways of channelling the enthusiasm and energy which the Scottish referendum has released.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@12.00 I have checked, and Cllr Sian Thomas has not been up to Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I do wish the Scots well and I hope the do get their 'yes' result. But honeslty, I'm not sure it will be the best result for Wales. What do you think? I believe a close 'no' would be better for us with some form of ffederalism developing in the UK as a result. The Scots will have another chance. But if we are swallowed into a rump of an UK at this point......with an England who will determined not to let this happen again, I'm truly concerned. But somehow, I will still be sad for the Scots if they do vote 'no'. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Sian Thomas was in Scotland in the summer, campaigning for YES Vote other Plaid Councillors have been up as well .
So check your facts CNeifwr

Cneifiwr said...

Anon 19 September. I did. Now check your spelling!