How to get fair coverage of Scottish politics. Read a slightly left-of-centre English newspaper



‘Future-proofed against austerity: new Scottish social security system’

Can you imagine that headline in the Herrod or the Hootsman? Remember the speech marks are mine and were not in the original. The writer means it literally and they are right behind it. Positive and without a hint of an ‘ah but’ to come, this was the Observer’s headline yesterday for a report on the Scottish Government setting up an independent body that will check to make sure any changes preserve human rights before the Scottish Parliament gets a vote. This is, to my mind, another example of how the SNP administration has a real commitment to acting as if they ‘live in the early days of a better nation.’ It’s utterly divergent from current trends in England and makes me a bit more pleased to be living here.

Here’s part of what Libby Brooks, their Scotland Correspondent had to say:

Scotland’s new social security system will include an unprecedented degree of independent scrutiny – with the express intention of future-proofing the powers against the kinds of austerity measures that have devastated vulnerable groups in the rest of the UK. Scotland’s social security minister, Jeanne Freeman, announced on Sunday that there will be a Scottish Commission on Social Security, an independent body that will scrutinise any proposed changes to the new system – and give its view of their compliance with human rights protocols – before Holyrood can vote on them.’

There’s little point in me repeating the article. Go and read the whole thing yourself via the above url link. The point is, it’s not balanced. The writer is enthusiastic about the idea and sees no need to scrape up some opposition voice to find something, anything, to moan about. Notice, they are prepared to compare this favourably with the rest of the UK without a Brian Monteith figure calling it diversionary, ‘whitabootery’.

Now, some people, some journalism students, some journalists, seem to thing you always need to have balance, at least two differing views and certainly not enthusing about things. This a fallacy. Some topics have no reasonable alternative viewpoint. Equally, some developments are so humane, so morally correct, so just, it’s perfectly reasonable for the writer to join in. It would be hard to imagine a two-sided balanced debate on tobacco today thought we did have in the past. Would a writer enthusing about disability rights legislation feel the need to find some argument why the disabled should have less rights? There have been times in the past when that might have been argued but to do so would be to challenge an almost total support for equality of treatment, today in Scotland.

However, II can find no mention of this development in the Scotsman, BBC News or STV News and the Herald offers only a dry, grudging (?) acknowledgement that the SNP claim it will stop the Tories:

‘SNP minister Jeanne Freeman says commission would stop Tories bringing in benefit sanctions’

Why are the Scottish media not enthusing about a ‘new social security system [which] will include an unprecedented degree of independent scrutiny – with the express intention of future-proofing the powers against the kinds of austerity measures that have devastated vulnerable groups in the rest of the UK’?

Is it because it’s an SNP initiative? Is it because it makes Scotland seem better that the UK? Is it because the Unionist media are so bitter and full of hatred for the SNP, they cannot enthuse about anything they do, no matter how close to the values they at other times profess?

Finally, look at the photograph they used. Talk about making the SNP look positive, bright, optimistic.


22 thoughts on “How to get fair coverage of Scottish politics. Read a slightly left-of-centre English newspaper

  1. BSA January 22, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    This is an exception for the Guardian. Libby Brooks and John Harris are the only regular Guardian writers who are positive, objective and credible on Scotland. Generally in the Guardian, in common with the rest of the British media, Scotland is never discussed or reported even handedly in terms of what might be best for Scotland or what Scotland might want i.e. on Scottish terms.. The perspective is entirely the impact of Scotland on UK or English politics and invariably ignorant, condescending and anti SNP.

    Liked by 1 person

      • BSA January 22, 2018 / 1:42 pm

        Ok. Forgot him but he’s much bigger than the Guardian.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Clydebuilt January 22, 2018 / 8:05 pm

        Monbiot came out in favour on Nuclear . . .

        Liked by 1 person

    • bigjon999 January 22, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      Aye, Severin in the Guardian is as guilty as anyone of pushing the SNP BAAAAD agenda. I used to support the Guardian but left during the 2014 referendum debate – their coverage was disgracefully biased.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. angela January 22, 2018 / 1:30 pm

    scotlands voice never gets heard england is making out thay own our land and thay own the scttish people that is crap thay dont own our land thay .definetly dont own the scttish people. if scotland has to go to war my family freinds and my self will fight for our freedom and our rights we will be proud edwards army

    Liked by 1 person

  3. angela January 22, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    we have our own goverment so why is westminster saying thay own scotland the sooner we get independence the better


  4. gavin January 22, 2018 / 1:54 pm

    Although I bought the Scotsman for two decades and the Herald for longer, I would no longer consider them “Scottish” newspapers, any more than I consider BBC and Radio Scotland as “Scottish” broadcasters.
    At probably the most interesting juncture in Scotland’s constitutional history, to be without a media we can trust to put factual information on the table, is both sad and disgraceful.
    I can manage to filter out the more obvious planted stuff, but that is down to decades of reading and listening to many diverse sources of information. Young people have a very difficult problem in sorting out fact from fakery—but that is the point of having the EXACT same lies told on several different media platforms , is it not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 22, 2018 / 3:47 pm

      It’s a challenge for old and young at times though if they admit it came from a Labour or Tory source, it’s pretty clearly propaganda.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brian January 22, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    They (the MSM) are forcing the young (and old) to look elsewhere for trustworthy news. That pushes them online, where they are more comfortable anyway. The MSM answer then is to pour scorn on social media, accusing it (oh so ironically) of fake news. It’s a hard one to resolve. But the internet has to be the place where the SNP find the solution to direct and wide comunication with voters. Us older folk, who grew up with print media, won’t be around forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bigjon999 January 22, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Not strictly to do with this article but inrteresting article here – seems like some of the English health groups have been cooking the books… imagine if this happened in Scotland, the rage from the Scottish accounting unit of Labour and the Tories (plus the LibDems of course).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ludo Thierry January 22, 2018 / 6:21 pm

    We can’t really ignore the msm and beeb – they have enormous resources (including tax-payer provided funds) and the elites and public authorities funnel their information through these existing networks. It is difficult to keep informed if one entirely boycotts these sources. Instead, we have to develop our analytical skills and take sensible precautionary strategies such as assuming the Headline is telling us the direct opposite of the info within the article and always checking the last couple of paras against the first couple. The development of the Citizens’ Media in Scotland has been a real help to everyone with an interest in reaching the ‘genuine’ info – but it is still difficult to operate on a daily basis without exposing ones’ self to the glories of the britnat press/broadcasters. By approaching the msm ‘news’ with an analytical mind we can still access useful info.

    I note that the Herald is carrying the story of (yet another) of the Colonel’s troopers mutinying: (see below):

    A COUNCILLOR whose election was seen as a sign of a Scottish Conservative revival has resigned from the party complaining about a lack of internal democracy.
    Paul Aitken, who became the first Tory councillor elected in Barrhead in 25 years last May, quit after saying he would not be bound by “party diktat”.
    It is understood the move follows a series of disagreements between Mr Aitken and fellow Tory councillors in East Renfrewshire.
    Mr Aitken says he will now sit as an Independent…In a statement announcing his decision with “immediate effect”, Mr Aitken said he would “no longer have an association with a political party”.

    So that is a piece of good news.

    Common Space are carrying an interesting poll result found in The Times regarding public opinion on the charitable status of private schools in Scotland (This must be from behind the Murdoch pay-wall and I’ve not seen it mentioned elsewhere so am apologising for being Off Topic but feel worth posting a wee snippet here):

    A MAJORITY OF SCOTS believe that private schools should have their charitable status brought to an end, a new YouGov poll has indicated.
    Conducted among 1,002 Scottish adults, the poll – commissioned by the Times newspaper – found that 73 per cent believe that fee-paying schools should not enjoy classification as charities, which allows the schools to reduce their tax bills.
    Despite the opposition of the Scottish Conservatives to any such reform, the poll also found that 62 per cent of Scottish Tory voters are against charitable status for private schools. 77 per cent of Scottish Labour voters were against, as were 78 per cent of Scottish Liberal Democrats, and 82 per cent of SNP voters.
    In order to qualify as a charity, any organisation or institution must pass several tests laid down by the Scottish Charity Regulator, chief amongst which are demonstrating proof that there is public benefit to their work, and that access to services are not unreasonably restrictive.

    Interesting that the Yougov poll finds that 62% of Scottish Tory voters “..are against charitable status for private schools.” – The Colonel will find that very worrying I suspect.

    It is amusing how the collapse of the britnat elites favourite PFI vehicle Carillion has allowed an unexpected light to be shone on Fluffy Mundell’s Scotland Office practices and personnel: (See below):

    From The Sunday Herald we learn that the former Interim CEO of Carillion Keith Cochrane CBE, who is Fluffy Mundell’s (paid) “..lead “non-executive director” (NEDS) for the Scotland Office and Office of the Advocate General …Cochrane sits on the Scotland Office joint management board and he even wrote a section of the department’s annual report. He receives a fee of £300 for each meeting he attends at the Scotland Office.” (The £300 is presumably to allow Mr. Cochrane to get into practice for recieving his future daily allowance from the Lords?).

    Mr. Cochrane (who is clearly a busy chappie) also finds time for this lot “..the “chair of the committee” at the Glenalmond College private school, backed No in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. He argued that independence would create “costs and uncertainties” for business, alongside “fewer, more uncertain benefits”. He is also an advisory council member of ‘These Islands’, a pro-UK think tank.”

    Always interesting to see those britnat elite ‘networks’ at work isn’t it?

    This is what we are up against folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald January 23, 2018 / 4:21 pm


      I think you are right that we cannot ignore the msm, including the BBC, because they are listened to/viewed/read by a fairly subatntial (though apparently falling) section of the population. They set the news agenda. They also have in their ranks the kind of people who hold the levers of power and are hugely over-represented by alumni of private schools and whose children attend private schools. So, much as we feel irritated, patronised, misled by them, we still have to take note of what they are publishing and to refute it or to include things which they ignore. That is what this blog and others are trying to do.

      With regard to the private school debate, last week there was quite a long interview between Bill Whiteford and Angela Haggerty about the effect of the removal of rates relief on private schools. Ms Haggerty is in favour of abolition of rates relief and set out the arguments well. Mr Whiteford put the other side of the argument, so that Ms Haggerty could reply to the points. On the face of it, that is a reasonable interviewing approach, however, it was clear (to me, anyway!) that Mr Whiteford was arguing from a committed personal position. As I said, it was a long interview and he sustained his side – and I think it was personal – of the debate throughout. He finished the interview with the statement :”It’s just the politics of envy, isn’t it?” The question was rhetorical and Ms Haggerty was not given the opportunity to answer. The private school lobby is a well-connected one and is well-represented within the higher echelons of BBC Scotland. Many of these people consider themselves liberal-minded, socially concerned and some, indeed, have or have had connections with the Labour Party. Some, although educated in the local authority sector send their children to private schools. One argument I think we will hear much of is “Rather than impose rates on the private sector, why not remove local authority schools from the rates burden?” Sounds like sweet reason, but, of course it does nothing for council budgets and it is likely that local authority schools will simply have the rates allocation removed from the headline budget figure. Essentially, the rates aspect was a notional ‘money in, money out’ budget line. Head Teachers had no powers to deploy this money elsewhere. It simply appeared as part of their allocation and then was removed in its entirety and returned to the authority. It was purely for accountancy purposes. So, removing rates from local authority schools makes no difference to those schools, while the posh arrivistes maintain their cheaper fees at our expense. Incidentally, a fair proportion of those who have high managerial positions in public services send their children to private schools and so, public funding is being channelled into the private sector in this way.

      You are right to highlight the Mr Mundell/Carillion link. It is just a glimpse of the subcutaneous network that exists.


  8. Donald McGregor January 22, 2018 / 6:44 pm

    Libby could be my new hero!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Clydebuilt January 22, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    Brian @ 2.38pm Young folk ain’t listenning to the MSM telling them Social media is Baaaadddddd. . . . Is social media free from Westmonster interference


    • johnrobertson834 January 23, 2018 / 10:50 am

      True, young folk won’t be paying any attention to bitter auld journos


  10. johnrobertson834 January 23, 2018 / 10:52 am

    All, I didn’t mean that they could always be trusted on Scotland just that you might get stories like this which you wouldn’t in Scottish media.


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