Concentrate your fire! Why genuine pro-independence campaigners will approve of or at least accept the anti-BBC billboards and get on with the real task

‘Why anti-BBC billboards are a terrible idea before indyref 2’

I’m not going to read this piece on Common Space. I haven’t got the time to waste on infighting within the pro-independence movement. I’m not going to respond to any criticism for the same reason. Call me arrogant. I don’t care. I’m not saying for one minute that anyone should be denied freedom to say what they want but this is no time for ego-flattering and posturing on the fringes of a propaganda war that requires discipline and concentration if we are to succeed.

I spend all my time attacking the misrepresentation of Scottish politics by the 90% pro-Union corporate and state media, constructing or exaggerating failures and ignoring successes that might give the Scottish electorate the confidence to vote for independence.

If others within the pro-independence movement think my strategy and the strategy of Inform Scotland to expose the BBC is wrong then they are entitled to hold that opinion. They must remember, however, that in political campaigning there are only opinions. I and others might disagree with the strategies of groups like the Greens, Common Space, RISE or even the current SNP leadership. You could observe that the tiny growth in support for independence since 2014, despite awesome levels incompetence and contempt for Scotland from the current Tory government, might suggest they’ve got it a wee bit wrong. However, we have the sense not to waste time or energy attacking our own side because we have more important tasks in pursuit of our real enemies: the institutions, the politicians, the corporate leaders, the cultural icons and so on who massively dominate the media discourse upon which the electorate must base its notions of reality.

There’s a real danger, as the campaign lengthens and the years pass, that some ‘campaigners’ will find themselves too comfortable within it and lose the drive to end it in victory. This happened notably last century in the Labour Party as careerists lacking discipline and focus on the enemy, casually prolonged the war for equality and lived comfortably in its failure without end. Many became personally wealthy. Some even became members of the House of Lords! Already, there are politicians, salaried activists and journalists for whom independence would really be a bit inconvenient not to mention challenging. They need a bit of stability if they are to pay long-term mortgages, to pay school fees and to afford extended holidays in France.

According to a piece (fair) in the Herald tonight, ‘the SNP distanced itself from the poster campaign, saying it had nothing to do with it and did not support it.’ I’m an SNP member but I don’t agree with aspects of the post-Salmond strategy which has only pushed support for independence up by a disappointing one or two percentage points since 2014, despite Brexit and austerity. This comes after the dramatic increase from around 20% to 45%, in more difficult times, under Salmond’s more visceral leadership. Alex Salmond is on record as being much more directly critical of BBC Scotland. It’s little wonder after their appalling personal demonisation of him in the run-up to the Referendum.

Despite this, I remain loyal and will not be drawn into infighting. I trudged the streets of Ayr, for Nicola, only to see the new strategy fail to unseat our local Tory. I could easily spend time analysing that defeat and finding fault but I’m far too busy fighting the good fight.







22 thoughts on “Concentrate your fire! Why genuine pro-independence campaigners will approve of or at least accept the anti-BBC billboards and get on with the real task

  1. Jim Mackie October 26, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    John, you say you don’t have “time to waste on infighting within the pro-independence movement”, but the title of this piece says that anyone who thinks the BBC billboards are bad or daft is not a “genuine pro-independence campaigner”. Make up your mind. Are you fighting or not?


    • johnrobertson834 October 27, 2016 / 7:21 am

      Thanks but I didn’t actually say that – bad or daft, eh whit?. I said genuine ones will ‘either approve or at least accept.’ The second bit is important. You are of course correct in pointing out that by attacking infighting I am infighting myself. Life is full of these paradoxes but I promise now to stop. I only attacked the infighting after years of watching it. Can I have one go? Just the one, maybe two?


    • johnrobertson834 October 27, 2016 / 7:27 am

      If the Common Space writer were genuinely committed to independence as the first priority, would they even have time to attack the billboards scheme? They might in passing disagree but wouldn’t they be too busy researching and writing something that might undermine one or more of the many opponents of independence?


      • Graeme Purves October 30, 2016 / 7:07 am

        Yes. If, like me, they consider it counter-productive.

        I’m a very stern critic of BBC Scotland and its failings, but I don’t believe billboards to be the best way of tackling it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • johnrobertson834 October 30, 2016 / 8:33 am

        Is ‘consider it’ enough? No one knows that, just as I don’t know that the actions of the Greens will be counter-productive. So, in the absence of that knowledge, which no one could have anyway, I’ll just get on with what makes sense, attacking the Tories directly.

        And, did we say it was the best way?


  2. caltonjock October 26, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Wow!!!! That’s them telt.There are some that think a second referendum and result is a shoo in. But the BBC has shed it’s gloves and dawned gauntlets once again. The disinformation campaign is focused on the target, “defeat of those who would have the effrontery to dare challenge the authority of Westminster”.

    An enemy divided is an enemy defeated hence the need to remain firmly focused on the objective “independence”. The time to look to a future beyond a referendum is when it is won.

    Discipline, discipline fighting as one will win the day. Nothing else matters

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clydebuilt October 26, 2016 / 10:19 pm

      Aye and no splitting the vote. That gave us Ken MacIntosh and lost our Majority.


  3. Clydebuilt October 26, 2016 / 10:16 pm

    I’m a Genuine Independence campaigner and I endorse this post…… Bring on the Anti-BBC bill boards. How else are we going to get the public to snap out of their BBC induced stupor. Too much navel gazing from common space…….
    I preferred Salmonds style…… BUT maybe Nicola has a wider appeal, used to hear Salmond described as being akin to Marmite, either loved or hated. The press find it harder to (successfully) attack her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 October 26, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      You too, CB. It’s good to know I have clear-sighted friends on this.


  4. Proud Cybernat October 27, 2016 / 8:56 am

    If anything can be done to make the general public in Scotland stop and think for a moment about the BBC and what they are being told by them, then I am all for it. The thing is, these bill-boards, to an uninformed reader, could have been posted by either side of the debate. The message is simply “buyer beware” as far as the BBC’s output goes. It is about placing a seed of doubt/caution in the reader’s mind about the BBC.That is all that needs to be done to make a lot more people if not fully aware, then at least ‘wary’ of the BBC’s message.


  5. Ron Maclean October 27, 2016 / 10:27 am

    Your article should be widely circulated as it explains the negative thinking behind the SNP’s ‘Policy of Positive Inaction’ very well.


  6. JImD October 27, 2016 / 10:47 am

    John, don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of support on this one. I see the funder has just reached it’s target – hope it goes well over it now!


    • johnrobertson834 October 27, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      On Linkedin, she describes herself as ‘Community Reporter BBC Scotland 2012-Present (4 yrs)’. This should have been declared in the article but was not.


  7. Gerry Mulvenna (@gerrymulvenna) October 28, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    I don’t really understand how it’s a waste of time to read Kirsty’s article. As the source of what is now labelled “infighting”, surely it is essential to read the substance of her argument in order to take a view on it. I’m really disappointed that so many people attack Common Space when there is a contentious opinion piece published. Opinion pieces on their website don’t reflect the editorial position of Common Space, yet it gets lumped in with the Greens, RISE and the SNP as if it’s a political party. It’s crowdfunded journalistic venture and one we should support as an antidote to the corporate media and not spit the dummy because they give a platform to an opinion we disagree with.

    Regarding her LinkedIn page, she explained that that was a 6 week scheme during the 2012 Olympics. She doesn’t work for the BBC. She had no idea/memory that page had been created during that training scheme. It looks like Kirsty has taken cover on twitter as I can’t find her tweets any more, which is a shame.

    I find the headline of your article unhelpful at best and at worst likely to inflame what is a disagreement about tactics in a movement that is an extremely broad church.”Why genuine independence supporters will do X or Y…” is implying the rest are not genuine. Not helpful.

    Kirsty Strickland has been a very vocal critic of the BBC on a number of issues. For instance see this awful experience she had with Nick Conrad after criticising his handling of the Ched Evans case on the radio he essentially messaged her that the police were coming for her and the BBC was monitoring her social media so she better take her petition down. All a fabrication on his part. In this context I think it’s pretty daft how a LinkedIn page created during a short training scheme 4 years ago has been used to convince people that Kirsty somehow has a pro-BBC agenda. Disagreements don’t need to become infighting. Contentious opinions can be rebutted with respect not with daft smears.

    In the interest of full and irrelevant disclosure, I had a 6-week paid placement with BBC Engineering in Belfast in the summer of 1987 (or was it 1988, I can’t remember).


    • johnrobertson834 October 28, 2016 / 2:41 pm

      She does seem a very good writer but I stand by my view that direct attacks on MSM should take up the time. Reservations abt other activists are pointless. Alsoif she is independent of the BBC why the linkedin association?


  8. Alastair Naughton November 2, 2016 / 12:00 am

    I think the more the msm (and especially the BBC) are discredited the better. It’s not just about the Scottish debate. I have a colleague at work who constantly asks me : “did you see Question Time last night? ” My answer is always the same, namely that I don’t believe a word the BBC says about anything. It’s not necessarily lecturing people about “how they made the wrong choice two years ago” to express the view that the BBC can’t be trusted as a reliable source for ANY topic (the Middle East, the Monarchy, Russia, you name it ).

    Secondly, one of the BBC’s roles is to report and inform in a neutral manner. The fact it woefully fails or more likely wilfully neglects to do this should be a matter of great concern to everyone.


    • johnrobertson834 November 2, 2016 / 9:46 am

      Yes, as you say. The current Russophobia is classic propaganda to keep us distracted and biddable


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