Sunday, 25 May 2014

Not in the News - Late May edition

Welcome to the sixth of our bi-monthly series looking back at the stories which the main stream media in Scotland didn't offer much attention to, and comparing them to those that hit the front pages. Our last edition covering the first two weeks of May can be found here.

U Know I'm Petrified! (of facts!)
What is the most important thing for the police to be investigating online? Terrorist cells, virus programmers, fraudsters, no, it's people who tweet factual and sarcastic messages that highlight UKIP policies!
A Green Party blogger re-tweeted an ironic list of '10 great reasons to vote UKIP'. Apparently, making people aware that UKIP intend to cut maternity leave, raise income tax for the poorest, scrap holiday entitlement, privatise the NHS, retract human rights acts, and cut the education budget whilst buying 3 aircraft carriers (all of these claims were sourced) is now worthy of a visit from your local bobby. We would also highlight UKIP's plans to scrap the Scottish Parliament but we're too afraid to do so!

The next coalition government...?
U Know I'm Petrified! (of consistency!)
If you watch BBC coverage then 1) you have our sympathies and 2) you will be familiar with the name Sanya-Jeet Thandi. Ms Thandi was a prominent member of the UKIP youth wing who left the party prior to the European elections. She stated on her blog that the party was running an "anti-immigrant campaign" and trying to "exploit the ignorance in British society". This was the lead political story on the BBC on Wednesday, the 14th of May.

But if you watch BBC coverage, then you will be less familiar with the name Gary Wilson, a Labour Party member who was the no campaign co-ordinator within the Edinburgh East Labour Party. Mr Wilson stepped down from this position and joined pro-independence group Labour for Independence.
"I had to step down from my role as I gradually realised that we are not in fact 'better together'. I have listened to all of the arguments whether economic, social or emotional and I am now convinced that independence is the right thing for Scotland." Gary Wilson, Labour for Independence
Why was one of these people highlighted by the BBC and the other ignored? We couldn't possibility say!
How news crosses a border
The Daily Telegraph showed once again their understanding of finance with their headline in Scotland reading 'die young to fund SNP pension plan'.

The story comes from the fact that people in Scotland can afford larger pensions at an earlier age for the same price we are currently paying due to our lower average life expectancy. A larger pension (or one which starts earlier) would help to alleviate the poverty which is a major contributor to our earlier deaths, but the Telegraph don't want to talk about that.
Reforming how state pensions are organised would also provide benefits and improve sustainability, but the Telegraph don't want to talk about that either.
And the principle of having alternative arrangements for state pensions in Scotland doesn't just come from the SNP, but are backed by experts such as Rachel Homes, author of the article 'Scotland better placed to defuse its share of UK pensions time-bomb', but the Telegraph don't want to talk about that too.

If you believe the pension needs of Scotland should be considered, then don't let the Telegraph know - they may think you're a dangerous separatist!
Of course, if we had pensions like those of our neighbours, and if we didn't have unnecessary and widespread poverty and destitution, which is exacerbated by the Westminster system that the Telegraph defends, then we would see much smaller variations in life expectancy. But we're not likely to see the Telegraph produce headlines about that. At least, not in their pretendy, regional Scottish editions (hint: here, here and here).
Rince and repeat
We don't need to say much beyond our blogs from the 22nd of April 2013 and the 16th of February:

As pointed out by Reverend Stuart Campbell, "It [the 'no' campaign] seems to be set on an infinite loop". As for the Scotsman...we at Sign for Scotland know they can make worse covers than these.
Oil Well that ends Well
"UK's oil, coal and gas 'gone in five years'" was the headline on the BBC on the 16th of May. It follows from countless other stories from 'no' supporting media outlets which have for decades been telling us that North Sea oil is about to run out (you can see links to 29 of them on the Wings over Scotland blog entitled 'The oil debate for busy people').

We've been lied to repeatedly by politicians and London centric media outlets for decades whilst Westminster has wasted our natural resources. What is worst is that many people are left unaware of the real situation. Every journalist in Scotland should be ashamed whenever blatently wrong statements such as "we don’t have the resources – like oil and gas – we’d need to keep Scotland afloat" are made.
Of course, this latest scare this goes against numerous reports of record investment in the North Sea oil industry as well as the UK Government's own internal expections of future revenue. This story has been lampooned repeatedly and shows that the only thing drying up are the excuses coming from the Westminster Defence League.
How valued are journalists?
At the tail end of April, the National Union of Journalists wrote a little to the BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, requesting that the broadcaster resign from anti-independence group the Confederation of British Industry. They stated that the temporary suspension of membership during the official referendum campaigning period wasn't enough. The BBC Scotland members of the NUJ voted to back the following motion:
"This Chapel is concerned by the damage being done to the work of its members, and to the reputation of BBC journalism, by the Corporation's membership of the CBI.

We note that the CBI is seeking to de-register with the electoral commission as a non-party campaigner for the Union. But the damage of assocation remains.

Please, Director General, back your Scottish journalists, allow us to do our jobs, re-assert our impartiality, and immediately resign from the CBI." National Union of Journalists letter to Tony Hall
And the respose from the BBC? To not even suspend membership as previously promised:
"As the CBI is no longer registered with the Electoral Commission as part of the Scottish Referendum Act, the BBC believes that it is no longer necessary to suspend its membership." BBC Statement, Thursday, 15th of May
With disrespectful actions such as this, it is no surprise that internal surveys are showing an increasing disillusionment within the British State Broadcaster's Scottish division.
"When asked if "Communication at the BBC is open and honest" only 10 per cent at BBC Scotland NCA agreed." Newsnet Scotland, reporting on the findings of the BBC's latest internal survey, Sunday 18th of May
Unfortunately, it isn't just the BBC who are ignoring the NUJ:
In the communications, one senior union official expresses his frustration at the refusal of the Scottish newspapers to cover the story saying: "the papers have - once again - ignored us. And largely ignored the story..." Newsnet Scotland, 20th of May 2014
Still, it was hilarious to find that the CBI's 'junior' member of staff who signed the application to officially make the organisation part of the 'no' campaign turned out to be CBI Senior Campaign Advisor Jon Harrison and Senior Political Adviser Richard Maughan. But that is of little comfort to the NUJ, who have to do their best in very difficult circumstances.
When poll results are misleading
Back in the summer of 2013, Panelbase, a polling agency, produced an opinion poll which showed Yes in the lead. The methodology for this poll, where the referendum question was the third question asked, was criticised by experts including Professor John Curtice.

On the 18th of May, ICM, a polling agency, produced an opinion poll where the referendum question was the third to be asked. Professor Curtice 'hasn't said a word about the same problem'. The only difference we can see...this opinion poll showed extra support for 'no'.
"But in this new poll showing a bigger 12% No lead, the referendum question was asked third - which ought to set alarm bells ringing immediately, because we know that responses to later questions can be substantially influenced by the wording of earlier ones." Scot goes Pop, 19th of May 2014
Of course other polling agencies have been doing the same.

The poll could even got the proportion of male and female voters, as well as other factual details available from census information, wrong! There isn't much point in conducting opinion polls if the numbers they produce are wrong. Unless you are using these polls as a campaigning tool.

The story is...Sign for Scotland?
Sign for Scotland received it's first mention on the BBC (although this certainly isn't their first mention on our website...see here, here, here, here, here above and below for just a few examples!). The headline 'Scottish independence: Deaf voters critical of referendum campaigners' with the first line reading 'Scottish independence referendum campaigners have neglected the needs of deaf voters, it has been claimed'. This article was also mentioned on the Limping Chicken and through the BBC's See Hear Facebook page.

Kirsty, at Yes Scotland HQ last year
The story is about the number of Sign Language DVDs of the White Paper has been issued (29). They spoke to John Denerley of Deaf Connections who said "it's ridiculous, shocking, and frankly embarrassing only 29 copies have been ordered." This comment matched the theme of the piece with the article almost entirely focused on the Scottish Government and Yes Scotland, with no direct criticism of the 'no' campaign. The mention of Sign for Scotland came as part of the response from 'Yes Scotland' (neither ourselves nor Scottish Deaf Independence were approached by the BBC).

As we noted in our Facebook response, the BBC report failed to mention the BSL version of the Scottish Government's White Paper (which you can view here: and had received over 500 views by the time of the article being published) the size of our group which now has over 1,000 likes and more than 1,600 followers on Twitter ( or our friends at Scottish Deaf Independence (

The BBC found this information through a freedom of information request. As far as we know, no such request was made on UK government produced anti-independence documents.

We have produced over 20 videos and Scottish Deaf Independence have made even more. Perhaps if the British State Broadcaster did research beyond 'no' campaign press releases they would know that!

P.S. We'd like to say thank you to Newsnet Scotland for posting an article about this story.

Good morning Scotlandshire!
Back in March, Newsnet Scotland started a public fundraiser for the producing an academic study to review an aspect of BBC output. The ambitious goal of £6,500 was reached and exceeded with 259 donors giving an average of nearly £30 each reaching a final total of £7,065.
Newsnet Scotland decided to monitor Good Morning Scotland and the results were startling:

The research team (headed by Professor John Robertson) made several key findings:
  • Broadcasts were balanced, in crude numerical terms, but, in every other respect, unfair to the Yes campaign and favouring the Better Together (no) campaign.
  • Broadcasts began too often with bad news for Yes and, too often, featured heavy repetition of such messages over several hours in a manner conducive to unconscious absorption of warnings.
  • Statements, from the Yes perspective, were often reactive while those favouring BT were commonly initiating.
  • Interviewers intended, too often, to adopt aggressive techniques with Yes supporters while only doing so on two occasions with BT supporters.
  • There was a selection and use of expert witness of dubious credibility and of evidence from partisan sources, the broadcasts were clearly unfair to the Yes campaign.

Certain quotes from the report were disturbing to read:
"A further piece of evidence emerging from these broadcast transcripts which seems clearly to favour BT was the tendency of interviewers and interviewees to interrupt, almost interrupt and to cut in quickly to break flow of statements in support of the Yes campaign. The totals give a ratio of almost exactly 3:1 in favour of BT." Academic Study, May 2014

"The repeated treatment of Sturgeon with multiple interruptions and irritable tones is notable and worthy of reflection. No accusation of deliberate discriminatory practise is suggested but this form of aggressive interviewing directed at a confident and articulate woman and not matched with male equivalents such as Lord Robertson or the former Pentagon adviser is unsettling." Professor John Robertson, May 2014
This report is very similar to one produced in January which found longstanding bias in BBC and STV news programmes. Will the British State Broadcaster react to this analysis? We can think of 193 million reasons why they might not.
And finally...
We loved the story 'Too gutless to even lie' from Rev Stuart Campbell at Wings over Scotland. It covers how a newspaper can manipulate a story in such a way that gives an impression which is the opposite of reality. If you only have time to look at one link in this edition of 'not in the news', then make it this one.
Join us again in June for our next look at what's 'not in the news'!

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

It's time to change Locke's Socks

When mighty Theseus returned from slaying the fearsome Minotaur, the citizens of Athens celebrated.  His ship was preserved for future generations so that they could touch a piece of their history.  But the ship needed maintenance, and planks were replaced when they rotted.  A problem quickly emerged, if every plank was replaced, would the ship still be Theseus' ship, or a new vessel?  Another issue was if every plank that had been replaced were formed to make a new boat would this new creation actually be Theseus' ship?  Original, new, both or neither, the people of Athens weren't sure what the truth was.

In Scotland, our older political parties are versions of Theseus' ship.  The Scottish National Party, whilst staying true to its principle of self determination for Scotland, is very different from that which campaigned in the 1960s.  The Liberal Democrats, once dedicated to federalism, now opposes the people of Scotland having the chance to select that option through the referendum and the Scottish Conservatives once set policies in Scotland, but now blindly follows orders sent from London.

The most extreme example however is Labour.

Commitments to ending hereditary peers, the cost of education paid for by the state, and even Home Rule for Scotland have all been dropped.  We noted in a previous blog, Back to The Future, just how startling the changes are, but we aren't the only people to have noticed:
Many in Britain waited 18 years for a Labour government to come to power. However, by that time (1997) the party had reinvented itself as a Thatcher-hugging, right wing, media-friendly concern: a watered down version of the former Conservative regime with a middle class lawyer at the helm, looking like a friendly bank manager, sounding like a corporate executive and acting like a certain former grocer’s daughter. Some might say that was Thatcher’s finest achievement: the creation of the user-friendly Tony Blair to carry on her policies. - Global Research
Claiming that you vote a certain way because that is what your parents or grandparents did just isn't true.  The symbols might be same, but what they mean has changed.  You can't claim to be supporting the memories of those of the past by voting against the principles they valued.

The City thinks Westminster has changed for the you?
The point of this blog is don't blindly support parties just because they claim a once meaningful logo as their own, judge them by what they offer today.  Locke's Socks need to be changed and the Ship of Theseus has set sail.  It's time to vote by principle and not name.

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Vision for Scotland

This month's guest writer for Sign for Scotland is Jean Urquhart MSP. We're delighted and very grateful to have such a well respected figure from the Scottish Parliament write a post of us.

When I was growing up in West Lothian, I remember writing “North Britain” on my school jotters. Scotland to me seemed parochial; the land of Brigadoon and the White Heather Club, and not a positive, progressive, place to be. It was a place I left twice- once for America, and once for London- before returning to live and work in Ullapool.

What changes I have seen in Scotland since then. We’re now far more comfortable in our own skin; we recognise our shortcomings at the same time as trumpeting our successes. We have a parliament that can make some- but not all- of the decisions about what type of country we want to be. We have become far more internationalist in our outlook and now have the opportunity to slough off the last remnants of age-old grievances by once more becoming an independent country.

If you think that Westminster feels distant in the central belt, it feels like another planet in Ullapool. The balance of power across Britain as a whole is so skewed towards the centre that people feel distant from decisions made about their own communities. As the Jimmy Reid Foundation stated in their report ‘The Silent Crisis’, “we elect fewer people to make our decisions than anyone else and fewer people turn out to vote in those elections than anyone else”. Out of 2,071 Scots- roughly the population of Aviemore-only one will stand for election in their community; in Norway, it’s 1 in every 81. In Sweden, 4.4 people contest each seat; in Scotland, it’s 2.1. Out of 4,270 Scots- the population of Lockerbie- only one is an elected community representative; in Austria, it’s 1 in 200. These figures are often misconstrued as an argument for more bureaucracy, more machine politicians and a bigger trough to feed from; they’re not. What it is an argument for is revitalising the links between ordinary Scots and their democratic structures, addressing the democratic deficit at the lowest level and involving a more diverse cross-section of society in their local community.

Independence would shake the snowglobe of British politics and give us a once only opportunity to reshape who makes those decisions and where they make them. The work of island local authorities in engaging with both Westminster and Holyrood to secure further devolution to the isles is particularly instructive and offers a glimpse of what is achievable with independence. The First Minister’s recent speech in the North of England- where he posited the idea of an independent Scotland working in tandem with the North to act as a counterweight to London’s overwhelming pull - shows that the impact of independence could create a healthier balance across the economy of the British Isles as a whole.

The most heartening aspect of the independence debate has been the rise of the Jimmy Reid Foundation and their Common Weal project. They have led the way in showing that another Scotland is possible; a Scotland that values its workers, revitalises local decision-making and local governance and recognises that there needs to be a better balance between work and leisure. Their policy proposals are all based on examples from other countries, demonstrating even further the extent to which the British model of an unequal, low-productivity, geographically skewed economy is the exception rather than the norm. They have given some thought as to how a 30-hour working week and a basic citizens’ income could be affordable, workable and desirable, working with renowned economists such as the late Ailsa McKay to also examine how we can adapt the workplace and childcare provision to close the gender gap in the Scottish economy. Given Scotland’s social democratic consensus at a party political level, and the work of the Foundation in speaking to both Labour and the SNP about their ideas, there is no reason that at least part of the Common Weal can be implemented following independence. 

A revitalised democracy and a rebalancing of the economy are obviously two of the domestic benefits of independence; however, an independent Scotland also has so much to offer the world itself. Despite the robust nature of the debate, we mustn’t lose sight of how orderly and peaceful our path to a referendum has been. Our experiences, both good and bad, could be of great use to others post-independence. Coupled with the removal of the abhorrently expensive and inhumane Trident nuclear weapons system from Scotland’s shores- one of my major reasons for supporting independence-Scotland would be uniquely placed to establish a Peace Centre that could draw on these experiences and offer support and guidance to others across the world. Combined with membership of the EU and historic ties to countries like Ireland, Poland and Canada, an independent Scotland would look outward as it reassumes its long-vacant seat at the table. Our education system continues to attract international students in their droves, and our renewables and food and drink sectors are known the world over. 

On September 18th, the door to a better Scotland will be unlocked for the first time in centuries. All we need is the confidence to cross that threshold and to be the change that we wish to see by voting Yes. 

Jean Urquhart is an independent list MSP for the Highlands and Islands region. She is the Deputy Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Crofting, and is involved to varying extents with the CPGs on Architecture & the Built Environment, Epilepsy, Human Trafficking, Palestine, Poland and Rural Policy. You can visit her website here where she writes about her ideas for an independent Scotland and the work that she does for the people of Highlands and Islands region.
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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Not in the News - Early May

Welcome to the fifth of our now bi-monthly series looking back at the stories which the main stream media in Scotland didn't offer much attention to, and comparing them to those that hit the front pages.

The 'no' campaign's well fertilized grass roots
The organisation 'vote no borders' was highlighted by the BBC as "A new grassroots pro-Union group. A report in the excellent Craig Murray blog describes in detail just how far the British State Broadcaster is willing to stoop to shore up a 'no' vote.
"The registered office of Vote No Borders, a private limited company, is at 24 Chiswell Street, London, EC2Y 4YX . Which is perhaps surprising for a “Scottish grassroots campaign”.  The directors are Malcolm Offord and Fiona Gilmore.

Now pay close attention: Fiona Gilmore is chief executive of Acanchi a PR Consultany which specializes in “Country Branding”.  Its clients include Israel, Dubai, Bahrain and “England”.  Yes, it actually specifies “England” on the company website.  Acanchi also works for DFID – in short, it gets UK taxpayers’ money, plus Israeli and Gulf Arab money.  Are you familiar with the word fungibility?

Malcolm Offord, it turns out, has donated over 120,000 pounds to the Conservative Party plus made personal donations to Michael Gove.  He is the author of the report “Bankrupt Britain” on the Conservative Home website.  In his paper Offord suggests that further cuts in UK public spending should continue to be made  even after the present debt crisis has been passed and urges government to:
“Reform the bloated benefits system of this country to reduce the burden on the state and, just as importantly, boost the growth rate of the country”
And the wee retired care home nurse Elizabeth Bashir?  Well, she’s not quite as “grassroots” as shown by the BBC either..." Craig Murray, 2nd of May 2014

Investigative work by Douglas Daniel of Wings over Scotland also highlighted the very un-grassroot origins of the entity itself.
"Vote No Borders registered as a permitted participant [by the Electoral Commission] on the 19th March 2014 – 43 days before the launch of their website. If that seems odd, No Borders only registered with Companies House on the 18th March 2014. It became a permitted participant the day after forming.

...within 44 days of forming, this “grassroots” campaign has already managed to amass funding totalling a whopping £150,000, despite having absolutely no public profile. Wow, even we’re a little jealous." Wings over Scotland, 'While we're investigating'
The BBC talked about the gathering momentum behind 'Vote No Borders' just one day after it's public launch (with a feature recorded on the day of its launch). It's almost as the BBC and the 'no' campaign were trying to give people a false impression.

Daily, but sadly not uniquely, Fail
"SALMOND HIT BY PUTIN ROW" boomed the Daily Mail on Friday the 2nd of May. "Support for the Union soars" was written at the very top of the front page. But, as with many articles the Daily Mail writes about regarding Scotland, it is gibberish.
The opinion poll by YouGov had been analysised by James Kelly on the excellent 'Scot Goes Pop' blog. The fieldwork for the poll was conducted between the 25th and the 28th of April, with the newspaper coverage of Alex Salmond's interview to GQ Magazine starting on the 28th itself, meaning that it is unlikely to have had any affect on the poll itself.
Secondly, and most embarrassingly for the Daily Mail, was that the figures produced are the lowest score for 'no' since the start of the campaign. Indeed, YouGov used to show a lead of 30% for 'no' which is now down to 14%.

So the 'Putin row' had no affect on the opinion poll (which was about Yes Scotland and not Alex Salmond) and the poll itself showed a decline in support for the union. Another fail from another Main Stream Media outlet. We are just surprised that their paper was printed with ink and not drawn in crayon.
Cleaning up Westminster
"Westminster MPs 'coercing assistants' into having sex, claims Labour MP" was the headline from Newsnet Scotland on Sunday, the 4th of May. The story was in regards to statements made by John Mann MP to a BBC radio 4 reporter:
Only Labour's John Mann would speak, and in a sensational statement he told the Cox that it was "impossible to say and to quantify the scale of the problem" but insisted, "without question, it is a significant problem ... it has ruined people's lives".

"This is people being coerced into sexual relationships by people using their power position," he added.  "There are people in here whose names would be rightfully held in shame and disgrace from their behaviour ... the shame is they have not been named and the public doesn't know them for what they are really like."

The Labour MP claimed other people in the party knew who the MPs were.  "This is not 'hand on the knee' stuff we are talking about" Mann told the programme, "I'm talking about something much bigger, much more insidious, much more life destroying than that."

Asked if it was about people being pressurised into having sex with their MP, Mann replied: "Yes it is". Newsnet Scotland, 4th of May 2014
Some of the details being revealed were disturbing:
One former researcher described how she was "jumped" by an unnamed party colleague who she managed to "fight off".  She said of Westminster: "This is a man's world, and to be at the top table or even near it, I've always felt I needed to roll with the punches."

The BBC reporter described having been told of young female researchers being fondled and groped by MPs.  The problem, according to Mr Cox, was not restricted to one party but existed in Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties.

Another victim told how he had been physically assaulted by three MPs and had experienced suggestive comments from around five others.

"This is very much a cross party consensus.  No one party has a monopoly on this.  I've experienced it from all three Westminster parties" he told the BBC reporter. Newsnet Scotland, 4th of May 2014
These are the types of issues that we never want to see in the Scottish Parliament. Stories such as this, this, this, this and this (all of which were found on the first page of a google search) aren't acceptable. It isn't right that we have "a parliamentary system that is set up to help MPs who have issues with staff members, but not the other way around".
To stop this wrongdoing, we need two things: an alert media which will not protect certain politicians and parties, and a police force that will act without fear or favour. I do fear that if we change nothing, nothing will change.
One rule for us, one rule for them
When is your Tory or Lib Dem MP going to receive their state pension?

"They [Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs] have announced that changes to the State Pension Age would be brought in much sooner than they promised - with less than two years’ notice in some cases. This leaves tens of thousands of women approaching retirement age without a pension they had planned for – sometimes for as long as 6 years.

Many men are also facing much longer waits for a state pension than they had budgeted for. Mind you – Lib Dem and Tory MPs aren’t daft. They’ve made sure MPs close to retirement got a ten-year exemption to changes to their own pensions." Pride's Purge, 3rd of May 2014
Westminster's moto
If I could turn back time...
The BBC, in it's usual impartial way (see: January, February, March, April and April Part 2 editions of 'Not in the News'), ran with the headline "Lord Trimble: Scottish independence vote 'threat to NI peace'" on Friday, the 2nd of May. The very next day, Lord Trimble spoke on the BBC's 'Good Morning Scotland' radio programme and stated his actual views.
"I want to correct what you [BBC] said...[BBC website] reported me as saying that [independence] would threaten the peace process. I did not say that, that is not my view.

Actually, a Yes vote in Scotland would reinforce the argument against violence, because it's a demonstration of how you can achieve major change through the political democratic process." David Trimble, 3rd of May 2014
This in and of itself would probably have been enough to be entered into this blog, however the story took two unusual twists. Firstly, the BBC did not change their website story until the 5th of May (two days after being told by the individual themselves on their own programme that they were wrong).
The second twist was how the story was changed. Quite often news agencies will post alterations to their existing online output. This is done to fix spelling errors, allow a right of reply or to make a story more readable. However the BBC used this system to change a major aspect of their story (it's title and main argument) instead of issuing a public correction. They then chose to suggest that the change took place on the 2nd of May (thus make future analysis and review more difficult).

"I wonder if we can also go back and stop Jeremy Clarkson learning any nursery rhymes?" BBC Executives [probably]
Unfortunately for the BBC these things can be tracked via websites such as 'NewsDiffs', and as long as we have sites including Wings over Scotland, Newsnet Scotland and Bella Caledonia (amongst others) they'll always be caught out. Perhaps BBC executives just don't care anymore.
Anothing thing about pensions that you don't need to know (according to the Main Stream Media)
Wings over Scotland came up with another fantastic article regarding media bias regarding pensions. It has been well known for quite some time that state pensions will be unaffected by Independence, yet the 'no' campaign has continued to use murmur and smear in its poster campaigns to suggest otherwise, but on Tuesday, the 6th of May, there was even more conclusive proof:
"That sounds pretty darned definitive, right? A named UK government pensions minister speaking on the record in Parliament making clear that pensions were NOT at risk. So we looked forward to the big news being all over the media this morning." Reverend Stuart Campbell, Wings over Scotland
We weren't surprised that this story was restricted to a mention in the inside pages of the Herald and the Press & Journal. The BBC website, STV website, Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Daily Record, Scottish Sun, The Times, The Telegraph, Scottish Daily Express and the Scottish Daily Mail all thought that the intervention by Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP wasn't worth your attention.

A lot of the Scottish Media is acting on a 'need-to-know' basis - if it helps the Yes campaign, then you don't need to know!

While you wait
Waiting time figures for Accident & Emergency patients were released this month. 93.5% of people were seen within 4 hours of arrival, which was below the Scottish Government's target of 95% (an earlier target was 98%). The BBC declared 'Three times as many A&E patients waiting over four hours'. But is that the full story...
Well no. The BBC, in their impartial wisdom, came up with their 'three times as many patients waiting' quote by comparing the latest sets of figures (December 2013) not with the previous year (which were 90.3% - showing a significant improvement) but with December 2009. Why a seemingly random date as December 2009? Because they were the best recorded figures that had ever been achieved in Scotland.
But the BBC has a history of selective figures in this regard. Last year Newsnet Scotland exposed the BBC's claim that the figures for A&E waiting times were the 'worst since monitoring began'. There have been plenty of years where the number of patients seen within four hours was lower than 90.3% - including in 2005:

We're pretty sure a 90.3% success rate is better than 88%
We're sure that Johann Lamont will be astonished!

We like Unicorns!
The Alderman Wotisname Memorial Playing Fields had another great blog, this time looking at the BBC's dismissive attitude towards Scotland. The story began with Professor Gavin McCrone suggesting that an independent Scotland would be better off having it's own currency which is linked to the pound Sterling rather than through a formal currency union. The BBC put its own interpretation on this:
"The title of the piece is “How many unicorns do you earn?”, and below that is a large fantasy fiction style picture of the mythical beast. After asking “How many unicorns would it take to do your weekly shopping?”, the piece begins: “This sounds like the start of a bad joke”." Trevor Chaplin, 7th of May 2014
Instead of offering serious consideration to what was one of the four options listed in the Scottish Government's White Paper on Independence, the BBC made a jokey headline mocking any potential new currency.
Member of 'Unicorns for Independence'
The first name used was the Unicorn, which was a gold coin that was used in Scotland in 1484 to 1525 and named after the heraldic symbol on one side. Second was Groat, which was a coin worth around 4 pence which used throughout the UK (it was never an Scottish currency). This was followed by the 'Penny' (see 'Groat' above) and Merk (which ironically is the name I'd like for a Scottish currency).

The purpose of this piece by the BBC was to associate Scottish money with things that are worthless or fantasy. It is dismissive in tone and substance and does the flagging BBC no favours.
"People pretend they think a Scots currency would be called the Groat to belittle and ridicule the idea, and make the notion of a Scottish economy seem antiquated and obsolete. It's just a cheap shot by people who want to suggest an independent Scotland would be backwards, and a Scottish currency crude and naive.

The Unicorn was introduced to the story not by McCrone, but by BBC reporter Jamie Ross. The imagery is clear enough: the idea of having our own currency is a fantasy, and – as the opening remark tells us – “a bad joke”. This is all very familiar to those who have read Frantz Fanon; Jamie Ross is telling us that once left to our own devices by our Westminster saviours, Scotland “would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation and bestiality” (p169, Fanon, 1967, "The Wretched of the Earth"). Is he doing it on purpose? Possibly, but more likely he just knew what sort of thing would go down well: a jokey, fatuous, and patronising piece. The sort of thing no BBC reporter would ever turn in on Sterling." Trevor Chaplin, 7th of May 2014
The Borrowers
"Ireland's borrowing costs fall below those of UK" was the headline for the Financial Times on the 9th of May. As Reverend Stuart Campbell on Wings over Scotland noted:
"Ireland, of course, was in a far deeper financial hole than resource-rich, wealthy Scotland could ever conceivably find itself in. Yet after just six short years it’s already seen as a safer credit risk than the UK." Rev Stuart Campbell, Wings over Scotland
There's nothing to fear but project fear itself.

Young Tories (and why there are so few)
The Scottish wing of the Conversative Party had to cancel their annual youth conference. The reason, only 12 people had bought tickets.

But why is support for the Conservative Party so low amongst young people in Scotland? Perhaps it could be something to do with UK Government policy towards the disabled. Scots Politics wrote an article concerning Disabled Students Allowance in England and Wales being changed:
"There are cuts to laptops, software, accommodation adjustments, non-medical help and the general allowance that can be used for all sorts of necessities for disabled students to access education. These cuts mean students will no longer be entitled to any of the above except in as yet unspecified exceptional circumstances and complex cases." Rihanna Humphrey, Scots Politics 
"How many students currently studying will be unable to afford to stay? How many will have to make difficult choices about which aspect of their assistance is the least essential? How many will find that they cannot continue studying as a result of these changes? These changes take education away from disabled people. They take education from working class disabled people. They take education away from people just like me because we learn a little differently." Rihanna Humphrey, Scots Politics
It doesn't have to be this way. We wrote last year why those who believe in conservative principles should support independence, and every time the puppet masters in London introduce policies like these, it makes it more difficult for 'no' voters to justify keeping power at Westminster.
All ring-roads lead to London
A new 22-mile, £30 billion orbital tunnel is being planned for London. The ring-road will have subterranean duel carriageways and there will be two new crossings beneath the river Thames. This is yet another infrasture project which we will be contributing towards that will have no benefit to Scotland.
Planning has already begun on the next London infrastructure subsidy
Finally, we would like to point people towards a fantastic article on Newsnet Scotland 'post referendum reconciliation will not be possible unless we address the poison now'. It provides a great summary of the referendum coverage offered by the BBC, STV and the main stream media in general.
Join us again for our next 'not in the paper' review at the end of May!

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Every Little Helps!
Sunday the 4th of May was a fantastic day for Yes supporters with the announcement that the Sunday Herald would be backing independence for Scotland. Their well reasoned and impassioned editorial reflected the views of a great number of people and we're certain that any paper backing a 'no' vote will struggle to match its quality and perception. We'd especially like to thank the owners of the Sunday Herald for allowing their editors to make up their own minds on the referendum.
"The Herald & Times Group, publisher of the Sunday Herald, The Herald and the Evening Times, is giving the titles' editors freedom to take their own editorial position on the constitution. The company is non-political and neutral." Sunday Herald, 4th of May 2014

The stylish front page, designed by Alastair Gray, was admired from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway, but unfortunately not by customers of Tesco in Oban, who were instead greeted with this:

We received messages saying that deliveries to various stores in Oban were disrupted, not just Tesco, although that doesn't explain the sign above. 'Sold out due to excess demand' or 'sorry, no deliveries today' would have made more sense. And despite Tesco being members of the anti-independence organisation the CBI we do believe this is simply a distribution problem, which you can overcome by visiting the Sunday Herald back copies page.

But the overwhelming message from that day is that the Sunday Herald is backing a Yes vote, and every little helps!