Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Not in the News - Early July Edition

Welcome to the eighth 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 late June can be found here.
Electoral Commission and the CBI - better together?
That reliable source of comedy, the Confederation of British Industry, was making more headlines (online - the controlled media aren't very interested in mocking them). It was revealed that before they attempted to register as an official partner of the no campaign (alongside such groups as the far right Britannica) they had shared private conversations with the Electoral Commission.

This was at odds with statements made by CBI Director General John Cridland, who claimed he had no knowledge that his organisation would be making an application.
"In his submission to the Electoral Commission, Cridland insisted the CBI had received no legal advice prior to the application form being signed.  However days earlier in a BBC interview the CBI Director General claimed his organisation had indeed received advice." Newsnet Scotland, 27th of June
Will there be a Scottish Parliament on the 19th of September?
In an unusual outbreak of frankness, Liberal Democrat and no campaigner Willie Rennie MSP, confirmed that Westminster can close the Scottish Parliament down at any time unless we vote for independence. He confirmed that it is a temporary institution and went on to say:
"They [the Westminster Parliament] can legislate on anything to do with the Scottish Parliament at any time." Willie Rennie MSP, June 2014
Of course, if a second question had been added to the ballot paper offering more powers and guaranteeing the Scottish Parliament's existence, then this wouldn't be an issue. But that option was opposed by...Willie Rennie. Great to see how much he values our parliament.

Dun telling the truth
The BBC and the Daily Record both posted dramatic images and headlines: "Costs of setting up separate Scottish state could top £2bn" cried the Daily Record.

The story's are allegedly based on a report by Professor Dunleavy. Unfortunately for the BBC and the Daily Record, Newsnet Scotland and Wings over Scotland have been checking their bleak interpretations.
"Professor Patrick Dunleavy has said the £1.5bn figure, touted by newspapers and the BBC is, "not a figure I accept"." Newsnet Scotland, 28th of June
Professor Dunleavy explained that he believed the likely set-up costs (the cost of returning jobs to Scotland and setting up IT systems) would be £200m. He added that over a 10 year period the maximum charge would be an additional £400m. To put these in perspective, the cost of the UK pulling its military forces from Afghanistan is going to be £300m.

So the BBC has been caught exaggerating by 700% (or, if they simply don't understand the difference between start-up and transition costs, by 250%). The Daily Record was even worse. Wings over Scotland highlighted 4 separate lies in its 5 sentence report. They need to try harder to make every sentence a lie.
Can't count, won't count
It was great fun attending the BBC Bias protest on Sunday, the 29th of June. There were so many people and so much excitement. Over 2,000 people were present to show their discontent at the anti-independence bias which the BBC in Scotland produces.
The BBC, which stated that everything they have produced has been "fair and accurate" (we presume that they are including each of the 35+ stories here in their 'fair and accurate' assessment), claimed there were only 350 protesters. Check out sources from these blogs, domestic news and international news sites and below and judge which report is more accurate.

The reason we were protesting the BBC is the same reason they claimed that only 350 people were present...those at the top of the organisation are biased.

Can't count, will estimate
The BBC bias protest was not the only event taking place on the last weekend in June. Armed Forces Day was held in Sterling on Saturday, the 28th. The BBC used the MOD's (ridiculous) attendance figure of 35,000 when reporting the event, however you can see here (and here) that this is very detached from reality.

We know that the BBC is biased and would be keen to underplay the attendance of the protests against itself, but why give a false and inflated impression of Armed Forces Day?
"The Armed Forces Day events are supposed to be in honour of those who served or have served in the armed forces. It honours and remembers those who fought and died and sacrificed. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be.

But choosing to hold the event in Stirling on the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn was a shamefully transparent attempt to politicise what ought to have been a solemn and non-political event in order to use it as a stick with which to beat the Scottish political opponents of the Westminster parties. That’s a perversion of the stated purpose of Armed Forces Day. If you honestly believe that it was sheer coincidence that the event was held where it was and when it was, I have a Stirling Bridge to sell you." Wee Ginger Dug, A tale of two events
It's clear that many working for a no vote view militarism as a method for gaining support, but the reasoning goes beyond this. The UK Parliament is looking increasingly likely to pass a National Service Bill, which will make military service (or community service, something which Westminster views as a punishment) very likely for those who will be voting for the first time. It is this link between the state broadcaster and the state interests which causes so much concern.
"[T]he demonstration rated a few seconds at the end of the BBC Scotland evening news broadcast, and attendance was described as “hundreds of people”. Interesting is it not that one event’s attendance was inflated to 35000, while the other was reported as a vague low estimate. The protest did not rate three film crews and live coverage throughout the duration of the event followed by endless analysis and discussion afterwards. A demonstration against BBC bias itself demonstrates the bias that the demonstration seeks to highlight. BBC management don’t do irony." Wee Ginger Dug, A tale of two events
The YouGuff Surveys
Survey Group YouGov has come under criticism from online analysts for how it records support for independence amongst SNP voters.

The group, which now gives the lowest figures of support for a Yes vote and had stated as early as 2011 that a Yes vote was 'literally impossible', have so far refused to explain it's unusual methodology of splitting SNP supporters into two groups when weighting support. They have also failed to justify their position of not offering the base numbers in their datasets.
Laurence Janta-Lipinski, an employee of YouGov, stated on Twitter during an exchange with Scot Goes Pop:
"no, you will not get breakdown (of the hidden SNP datasets). Why? Why should you? We don't put up 1000s of potential xtabs at behest of bloggers" Laurence Janta-Lipinski
Survation and Scot Goes Pop, whose successful crowdfunding appeal raised £3,475 earlier this year, highlighted the flaw in the YouGov defence:
"(YouGov) specifically cites the eccentric practice of splitting SNP voters into two distinct groups as a reason for thinking YouGov are right and others are wrong. I'm not quite sure where that leaves Mr Janta-Lipinski's claim that it's OK to be ultra-secretive about that part of the methodology because it's just one trivial detail out of 'thousands'!" Scot Goes Pop, 2nd of July 2014
We have written before regarding how opinion polls can influence elections (see: 'It's Great to be Different') but experts appearing on the controlled media are not highlighting when polling agencies artificially lower Yes support in their figures. Thankfully, the controlled media is a dinosaur, and it is soon to be extinct!
Labour MPs helping David Cameron?
On Wednesday the 2nd of July, Jim Sheridan MP had a chance to challenge David Cameron during Prime Minister's Questions. What question would be the best to ask on behalf of his constituents in Paisley and Renfewshire North? Would he ask about widespread increases in poverty during a supposed recovery?
"Does the Prime Minister agree with me that there is a moral responsibility on employers to inform their employees what the consequencies of any separation of Scotland from the UK in order they can make an 'informed' choice prior to the referendum?" Jim Sheridan MP, 2nd of July 2014
Former Trade Union Convener Jim Sheridan thought the best way to represent his constituents was to ask a planted question to a Tory Prime Minister asking managers to tell their employees how to vote. Just read that line a few times again so that it sinks in. A Labour MP, a former Trade Union Convener, is helping David Cameron by asking a soft question encouraging bosses to be able to influence how their workers vote.

Mr Burns, a hero of Labour MP Jim Sheridan (probably)
Of course, this tactic of having large corporations coercing their employees to vote a certain way isn't new. Jim Sheridan is calling on the UK Government to take the same approach that failed US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney encouraged in 2012.
But is there any economic justification for this approach? Earlier, Mr Sheridan claimed that companies were withholding investment in Scotland due to the referendum. This is at odds with reality as Scotland has seen a dramatic increase in investment since the referendum was announced. Good to see that he is aiding a Conservative Prime Minister for ideological rather than practical reasons!
Don't offer an opinion!
It was revealed that international news broadcaster Russia Today was warned against discussing the Scottish Independence referendum on their most popular show 'The Keiser Report'.

The show's host, Max Keiser, tweeted that he was not allowed to offer any opinion on-air at the risk of the channel losing their licence on Freeview. A petition to uncover who at OFCOM issued this warning to an outspoken supporter of a Yes vote and to allow Russia Today to report freely again has been started here.
A super big rally (with 220 people)
Prime Minister David Cameron was the star attraction at the super-mega important Rally for the Union. Just 220 people attended. Cough. That isn't even enough to fill a large passenger bus or even the economy seats on a 747 (not that David Cameron or his pals would ever need to travel economy!)

I'll give you £15 million a year for just £270 million (Deal or no Deal)
That is the offer Prime Minister David Cameron offered Scots in early July. This is a terrible deal which no amount of spin from the Daily Express can hide for long. Rather than reporting the reality that Glasgow will receive a paltry 6% of the cuts in welfare payments back, they instead claim that money being invested by the Scottish Government is also Cameron's (although if his family had paid tax in the UK it would probably equal this amount!).

Nurse, Nurse!
Earlier this year Sir Paul Nurse, a senior UK scientist, claimed that cancer research could be harmed by a Yes vote. Despite having obvious flaws, this statement was given blanket coverage throughout the controlled media.

In early July, Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to outgoing EU president Jose Manuel Barroso, refuted the assertion that a Yes vote would negatively affect research in Scotland.
"On the 19th of September I don't see that changing because if I am in China or in North America, I want to work with the best and if the best are in Scotland, I'm still going to work with the best." Professor Anne Glover, Holyrood Magazine
Professor Glover has no titles to gain speaking positively or negatively regarding the referendum. So how does the BBC report this important (and independent) assessment? "Scottish Independence: Academics say 'Yes' vote could harm scientific research". You know BBC, writing headlines like this which are the opposite of reality is why so many people turned up to the 'anti-BBC bias' rally last month!
Then again, perhaps all of this could have been prevent if people stopped mixing science with politics! Nurse!!
Nurse, Nurse (2)!
We view the online version of the Huffington Post quite a lot. However this post from the 4th of July was read purely for its comedic value.

Dr Nicholas M Almond, who states that he is 'a quarter Scottish', made so many mistakes that it could be the most ill-informed piece of writing regarding the referendum. Thankfully, Reverend Stuart Campbell at Wings over Scotland made a full review of them.
"So that’s 16 flat-out major factual blunders, and a whole bunch of screaming batshit madness on top, squeezed into just 914 words. That’s one serious mistake every 57 words. (This paragraph has 65.) God alone knows how many it would have been if he hadn’t been a quarter Scottish. The bar’s certainly been set high for Johann Lamont’s next speech, that’s all we can say." Rev Stuart Campbell, Wings over Scotland
"Whatever it is, I'm against it!" Dr Almond (probably) [note: not actual photo!]
I think we would get more sense from Dr Hackenbush!

Oil, oil everywhere (except in the Scottish newspapers!)
On Sunday, the 6th of July, Professor Donald Mackay, board member of right wing think tank Reform Scotland, declared that the UK government's projections for an independent Scotland's oil revenues was woefully undervalued and half of what it should be (resulting in an extra £8,000,000,000 of revenue every year).
On Monday, the 7th of July, the following media outlets said nothing:
Daily Record
Scottish Sun
The Scotsman
The Herald
Scottish Daily Express
Scottish Daily Mail
Press & Journal
BBC Website
STV website

Only the Sunday Mail ran with the story. What was even more ironic, was the response of the OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility). Upon their predictions being described as absurdly pessimistic, they further reduced their expectations for oil revenues. This aspect of the story was covered by the Times, Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Independent, Scottish Sun, Daily Record, Courier, Guardian, Press & Journal, Daily Mail, Financial Times, BBC and STV.
Many thanks to Wings over Scotland for spotting and covering the story.
Europa Un-Universalis
Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott of Oxford University produced a study in an independent Scotland's membership of the EU following a Yes vote. You can read it here. It highlighted that it was in the interests of other EU states to support Scotland's continued membership. Derek Bateman stated:
"[The report] lends an unimpeachable voice to the only sane solution on the EU, the one with least hurdles for existing members and the course already laid out by the Scottish Government. Her calm exposition reads like straightforward common sense when compared to the childishly hysterical screams of alarm from Unionist MEPs and commentators who don’t know any better." Derek Bateman, 8th of July 2014
That's pretty clear. And we received statements from Italy (who will hold the presidency of the EU till the end of the year) and the new president of the European Commission stating that the wishes of the people of Scotland will be respected. How many of the newspapers will highlight this?..

I wanna hold your hand
Our favourite story from early July involved Tory MP Rory Stewart. His 'hands across the border' (not actually taking place at the border) was designed to show how much people in the UK oppose decisions affecting Scotland being made in Scotland. However for 'logistical' reasons, this has been called off.
"I wonder if those "logistical" problems might conceivably include - a) not enough people, and b) the wrong border?" SCOT goes POP!, 9th of July 2014
I think that Scot goes Pop is wrong in this instance. The only problem must be that those about to take part just didn't know how to hold hands so, for the benefit of the no campaign and their leaders in Westminster, we have linked to this 'How to Hold Hands: 10 Steps' by wikiHow. Now that the real logistical problem has been solved, 'hands across the border' can take place...or maybe not.

What side would you like to be on?
This is a question those in the main stream media should be asking themselves (but so far aren't):
The BBC - A guide to how to mess up referendum coverage
The UK state broadcaster has made a number of unusual editorial decisions (unusual until you understand that it is merely an extension of Westminster that will do anything to maintain a status quo) but its latest spending choice is probably its biggest blunder of the campaign so far.

It's good to know that the state broadcaster always respects our licence fee
The BBC wants to host a debate in Glasgow regarding the referendum one week before the vote. This is fine, however they then proceeded to pay £100,000 so that a live audience of 12,000 people where maybe 0.0015% of them would be able to even ask a question (just 17 questions were asked in the 3rd US Presidential Debate which was 90 minutes long). If that was a stupid idea, then allowing the budget to spiral out of control to £500,000 is even worse.

What were they thinking?!

You've got mail (but don't worry, we deleted it)
"Communications between the Electoral Commission and the CBI that led to a meeting to discuss the independence referendum, have been deleted the electoral watchdog has told Newsnet Scotland." Newsnet Scotland, 12th of July 2014
Is this how the impartial, accountable and professional Electoral Commission is supposed to behave? Is it right that they don't appear bothered by errors in the official no campaign registration or have much interest in the spending and actions of the no campaigning Orange Order? We will leave these questions up to you readers.
I would cycle 500 miles
A number of the Sign for Scotland team managed to meet Indy Cyclist Mark Coburn on his 500 miles fundraiser. The campaign, which was generating funds for 10 local yes groups as well as Maryhill food bank, started on Thursday, the 10th of July and easily surpassed the initial goal of £5,000. The fundraiser officially ends on Friday the 18th so if you haven't donated yet then please consider doing so.

Well done Mark!
Checking your purse before your pulse
This is one of the most important reasons for supporting a Yes vote:
"But there is a further threat facing the NHS. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the fruit of long-running negotiations between the EU and the US over trade liberalisation. One of its fundamental principles is that services, including state services, should be open to private competition from American multinationals. According to Garcia Bercero, the EU Commission official with responsibility for TTIP, health services in Europe will be opened to private competition, but only where privatisation is already established.
In other words, where there is an existing state monopoly, foreign companies cannot sue the government in question for unfair competition.
But the UK Health and Social Care Act opened the UK system to TTIP because it explicitly introduces a private market in health provision in England. After a No vote, private providers and insurance companies may argue that, since Scotland is not a sovereign state but a region of the UK, it cannot be exempted from competition for health provision. We are a long way from that being tested in law, but what is beyond doubt is that the UK has made the NHS in England TTIP compliant. It seems highly likely that the Scottish system will be seen as an unacceptable anachronism in a unitary state." Sunday Herald, 13th of July 2014
Independent nations are capable of defending and representing themselves. Even if you believe that health care should be privatised, it is wrong for that view to be forced upon the people against their wishes. If you believe it, then you should have the courage of your convictions, start campaigning and win debates, not wait for an uncontrollable Westminster to force it through (especially since many of the House of Lords stand to gain financially if health care profiteering takes place).
Join us again near the end of July for our next look at what's 'not in the news'!
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