Posts tagged ‘BBC’

November 16, 2014

The BBC and the 2015 General Election – it’s ‘at it’ again.

The UK’s publicly funded broadcaster, the BBC, was under fire for its distortion of news and blatant promotion of views in favour of preserving the union during the Scottish independent campaign. It issued the usual denials it was ‘at it’ but then it would say that wouldn’t it. The referendum controversy was happening at the same time the BBC found its reputation taking a hammering over revelations of mismanagement and its institutional cover-up of serious sex crimes involving its personnel.

With the 2015 general election in the offing it is again doing what it does best declaring impartiality and fairness while in fact it is twisting and manipulating arguments in a way that undermine democracy. BBC management and government are inextricably linked so it can be blatant about taking certain actions such as its refusal to host the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeal when Israel was pulverising that strip of land and its people.

The BBC takes its role as the voice of the state seriously. The links between the BBC and government are strong and effective. When the criminal Andy Coulson was forced out of David Cameron’s office, BBC Global News controller Craig Oliver stepped right in. The Director General of the BBC Lord Hall insisted that when former cabinet minister James Purnell, who served in Gordon Brown’s government, took up his £300 000 job as Director of Strategy and Digital with the BBC he ‘hung his boots up at the door and left politics behind.’ And yes he is that same Purnell, yet another Labour MP up to his neck in scandal having screwed money out of the tax payer, claiming £100 a month for cleaning expenses and £586 for repair etc etc – not forgetting £247 for 3,000 fridge magnets. More damning in my eyes was he was the one who proposed charging interest on crisis loans taken out by people on very low incomes. However he impressed the BBC management and got a plum job.

There was Gordon Brown’s other little helper, Ed Richards, also an adviser to Blair on media, telecoms, internet and e-govt, who helped draft the Act setting up Ofcom. He found his niche at the BBC and as chief executive of Ofcom. Nice piece of symmetry there.

There was Bill Bush, Head of Political Research and Analysis at the BBC, who then worked for Blair and Tessa Jowell whose brief covered the BBC licence fee. His assistant at the BBC, Catherine Rimmer, went with him to Downing Street.

There are so many of them – former Director General John Birt had been member of Labour Party. Former DG Greg Dyke was a Labour donor and activist and once stood as a Labour candidate for the GLC. Oh, and Birt’s former diary secretary, Katie Kay, also worked for Blair.

There was Gavin Davies a former BBC Chairman and Labourite and financial backer, and adviser to two Labour governments, whose wife was Gordon Brown’s private secretary. There was Sir Michael Lyons , one-time Labour councillor, also a BBC Chairman who headed the BBC Trust, and appointed by the then Labour government. Ben Bradshaw BBC Labour – is that a Party? I’m beginning to wonder.

There was Chris Bryant BBC Head of European Affair /Labour MP for Rhondda. Celia Barlow, one-time Labour MP and PPS and BBC reporter and Home News Editor when she was also Secretary of Chelsea Constituency Labour Party. And not to be left out her husband Sam Jaffa and one-time BBC’s man in North America and a Labour wannabe politician coming 3rd in an election in 2001. Better than 4th.

Let’s draw a curtain over Celia’s involvement in the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal. What’s that – she claimed over £28, 000 for her second home and then flipped it. I just hope it was worth it – and the whirlpool bath and the high lustre silver shower screen, nice. Phil Woolas Labour MP and Minister and BBC producer on Newsnight. Denis MacShane Labour MP and Minister and BBC reporter. Tom Kelly former BBC Head of News in Northern Ireland worked for Blair and became Director of Communications at the Northern Ireland Office. His role came under scrutiny in 1998 when ‘plans for an unprecedented PR offensive to secure a Yes vote in the referendum on the Good Friday agreement’ came to light. Denials were put out it was an attempt to manipulate public opinion but the Rev Ian Paisley said at the time it, ‘makes Machiavelli look like a rank amateur.’

Anyone remember Geoff Mulgan BBC reporter and adviser to Brown? No. Well what about Lance Price, BBC journalist who was Alistair Campbell’s assistant? You know Labour’s Director of Communications. Tim Luckhurst goes back a way, once PPO for Donald Dewar, Labour former First Minister of Scotland, and stood as a Labour candidate in the 1987 election. He went on to work on the BBC’s political and current affairs flagship programme Today. He was Editor of News Programmes at BBC Scotland (that fine democratic and professional body). Luckhurst wrote a critical piece for the New Statesman on Scottish devolution entitled, ‘Scotland returns to the Dark Ages.’ With Donald Dewar in mind there was Peter Hyman who worked as a researcher for Labour’s Scottish leader who was also a producer at the BBC.

Charlie Whelan once seldom out of the news was another Brown spinner and BBC presenter. Martin Sixsmith was a BBC foreign correspondent who switched to become Director of Communications with the Labour government. When I say switched it wasn’t much of a switch as most of you will agree. He was Labour’s Director of Communications and Press Secretary to Harriet Harman and Darling Darling. Where is he now? Still works with the BBC – had a 25-part radio series on this year, ‘In Search of Ourselves.’

Don’t have to search too far to discover the hand of a Labour apparatchik on the rudder of news and current affairs at the BBC. Where were we – ah, yes – someone called Joy Johnson worked as a Political Editor with the BBC – curious how these people are all interested in politics isn’t it, not many hanging up their proverbial boots at the proverbial door as far as I can make out. Joy was a Campaigns Director for Brown – Brown again – he’s a guy with lots of links or is that strings? Joy went on to work for Ken Livingstone – I believe he was in charge of some parochial wee town in the far south of the UK. And staying with Brown, did you know that at his wedding his bridesmaids were the offspring of Gavyn Davies the former BBC Chairman? No reason why you should – except there is every reason you should be aware that the UK political establishment is riddled with former BBC employees and visa versa. All of which is a long-winded way of saying when the BBC insists it is an honest broker in the world of British politics it is anything but. What is the point of a state-run broadcaster if the state cannot use it for its own ends?

In 1940 Sir John Reith, Mr BBC, was appointed Minister of Information with the Chamberlain government. During the 1950s the DG of the BBC, Sir Ian Jacob, was seconded to the Ministry of Defence where he was criticised by Churchill for failing to be his propaganda bitch. To his credit Jacob believed that the BBC should not be used in such a way by government. It is a pity his opinion has not been shared by all who take up influential posts within the BBC. Sir Hugh Greene was DG in the sixties. He had been involved with the Political Warfare Executive during WW2, a covert propaganda organisation that had been set up in 1921. This shadowy body included others from the BBC – Robert Bruce Lockhart, a later DG, Ivone Kirkpatrick, an adviser to the BBC. The information spinning machine run by this group was partly housed at BBC HQ. Many of you will recall the bizarre period when the government wanted to stifle the voice of the IRA and so we were subject to the likes of now Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, being voiced-over by actors although curiously the BBC did not subject the UDA to the silence treatment. Not that there was anything political in this decision.

All this is a long way of saying when the BBC maintains it is pursuing a ‘fair and realistic formula’ in its coverage of the 2015 general election we can take that with a pinch of salt. When it presents us with what it swears is an objective presentation of the current state of UK politics we can be sure it is anything but. When the BBC says it uses levels of past and current electoral support to determine how much it promotes political parties we can be sure it is ignoring that bloody great elephant in the room. When the BBC hold up its hands in horror at the suggestion that UKIP’s success is partly down to the amount of coverage this party gets on the BBC we know it is being deceitful. When the BBC attempts to justify its unjustifiable intention to include UKIP in the 2015 leader debates it is dissembling – BBC – ‘Although UKIP did not win a seat in the 2010 general election, they polled more than three times as many votes as the Green Party, which did win a seat. In the 2014 European elections, UKIP topped the poll, beating all the Westminster parties in terms of seats (24) and share of the vote (more than 27% – up more than 10% on 2009). The Greens won three seats in the European election, with just under 8% of the vote (a small drop since 2009).’ 

When the BBC attempts to justify the unjustifiable decision to exclude the SNP from these debates through a cobbled together argument that the SNP is not a UK-wide party we are witnessing direct political interference in democracy in the UK by the BBC. The last time the BBC were actively campaigning it was to keep Scotland in the UK so either Scotland is in it or it isn’t and as it clearly is still a member of the UK its interests should be aired during these debates, across the UK, not those confined to Scotland. If the BBC can argue a case for UKIP to appear on grounds that it, ‘…performed strongly in local government elections in England for the past two years’ then the strong performance of the SNP in Scotland should be also germane. If England is highlighted as relevant in a UK-wide context then so too should Scotland.

Where the BBC argues it takes ‘account of opinion polls, when there is a robust and consistent trend’ then it should open its eyes farther than the shires of England to the political hinterland of Scotland and see what the polls are saying here about the biggest party in this country (still part of the UK) and the third largest party in the UK.

When the BBC shrugs its collective shoulders and insists it is acceptable that the whole of the UK see political leaders arguing their case for issues which affect Scotland as part of the UK without the leader of the third biggest party in the UK it is returning to the days of gagging certain political voices and promoting others.

The BBC website carries a page called Manifesto watch: Where parties stand on key issues the pictures on this page are taken from it. Couching it as views from ‘The main UK-wide political parties’ is a ruse to prevent exploration of matters relevant to the whole populations of Scotland and Wales. And the BBC gets even this completely wrong because while it maintains it is presenting only UK-wide concerns it includes law and order, education, jobs, housing which are devolved issues to Scotland. So even under its own strangulated logic it fails to present its licence fee payers in Scotland (and Wales) with a breakdown of policies by party on these vital issues. One of the problems with the BBC it is up to its neck in politics and is furiously promoting a reactionary agenda that fails to reflect the changed political landscape here in Scotland (still part of the UK). The BBC is being dishonest . It should remove this page immediately and replace it with one which includes references to devolved matters in Scotland on which the UK citizens in Scotland will be voting in 2015.

It should immediately discard its plans to have any TV debates that include the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour and/or UKIP, (and the Greens) without representation of the SNP. Having secondary debates in Scotland allows multiple opportunities for the first four parties to present their opinions while wilfully restricting the voice of the SNP.

We do not expect the BBC to reform itself. It is clearly so mired in party politics it does not even recognise the absurdity and anti-democratic nature of its output. All we can do it expose the corruption of this nasty and deceitful organsiation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29642613 Oh what a tangled web we weave…

August 29, 2014

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive: BBC Scotland and the Labour Party

bbc scotland tangled web

Welcome to The Family; the BBC Scotland family aka the Labour Party.

The Family resides in Glasgow and is presided over by Ken McQuarrie. Ken MacQuarrie’s Head of News at BBC Scotland is John, John Boothman. John is married to Susan, Susan is Susan Deacon. Susan is a former Labour MSP and Health Minister at Holyrood.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/bbc-chief-too-close-to-labour-claims-ex-colleague.22317694

Ken’s Head of Online News is Tom, Tom Connor. Tom and John are said to have offered media training to Labour Party wannabe politicians. Tom’s department operates BBC Scotland blogs; infamous for their ban on public comments, unlike any other part of the UK.

Another Tom is Tom McCabe. Tom is a member of the Scottish Labour Party and used to be an MSP. Tom also used to be the partner of Lorraine, Lorraine Davidson. Lorraine’s career has swung between the Labour Party and the BBC. She used to be a spin-doctor – with the Labour Party or was it the BBC? Not too sure on that one. Lorraine became a weel-kent voice on BBC Scotland frequently ushered in to air her views on all the big issues of the day. Lorraine is now married to David.

David is David Martin and he’s a Labour Party MEP. David Martin is friends with Catriona, Catriona Renton. Catriona loves politics which is good because that’s what she covers as a BBC Scotland reporter. Catriona was a Labour councillor in Glasgow with ambitions to become an MSP but sadly didn’t get elected in 2003. Catriona is a friendly sort of lady with Facebook chums the likes of Jackie Baillie ( herself a very friendly lady who is also chums with Gary Robertson and Alan Clements hubby of Kirsty Wark ), Yousuf Hamid, Tom Harris, Mike Dailly, Frank McAveety, John Robertson, John Park, Steven Purcell, Dave Watson – is there Labour person Catriona isn’t chummy with?

https://www.facebook.com/www.bbcbias.co.uk/posts/10203997650641431

I don’t know if Catriona knows Raymond, Raymond Buchanan that is. Raymond used to work for BBC Scotland until the little matter of his mis-representing what was said by an Irish Minister, Lucinda Creighton, on EU membership of an independent Scotland along with another little matter of a so-called ‘leaked SNP document’ suggesting Scotland’s reliance on English consumers to cover the cost of Scottish energy  encouraged Raymond to make a strategic withdrawal. Whichever – Raymond has retreated to the Outer Hebrides from where he loves to tweet about politics and, well you can make up your own mind where Raymond’s heart lies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0JfJNK8k0I

Raymond’s brother-in-law is Brian, Brian Wilson (allegedly). Brian used to be a Labour MP, you know the one put in charge of Labour Vote No Campaign in 1979 in the devolution referendum campaign. Brian loves and promotes nuclear power, and why wouldn’t he for he was a non-executive director of Amec Nuclear Holdings.  Brian is no stranger to BBC Scotland which likes nothing better than to canvass his views on everything from tweed to nukes.

Then there’s Ken or rather was Ken. Ken Macintosh, like many before and since, has found his career slipped seamlessly between the Labour Party and the BBC. Currently Ken is a Labour MSP with an eye on leadership if only Ed Miliband could remember who he is. Ed Miliband lives in London where lots of Scots migrate to from wee Scotland to enhance their careers, and why not. You’ll be familiar with Andrew, Andrew Marr.

Andrew decided his future lay in London. And one day BBC London noticed North Britain was jumping up and down trying to draw attention to itself. Now BBC London was not in the habit of encouraging such self-promotion but decided some canny handling of independence matters was required. It looked around and spotted the lovely Andrew who despite all evidence to the contrary turned out to be Scottish! Andrew, they realised, was the perfect person to embody Scotland; to go out and explore this backwater in the north and enlighten the good people of Britain why it was the whingeing Scots were whingeing. And Andrew obliged because he’s that kinda guy. He’s also the kinda guy who discovered the Labour Party suited him nicely while a student. And Andrew is married to Jackie.

Jackie is a journalist, oh and broadcaster, which takes her into the BBC quite a lot. Jackie is the daughter of the late Jack Ashley. Jack was a Labour MP which might be why Jackie specialises in the Labour Party, according to Wikipedia, though I’m not sure what that means. And she supported Gordon Brown’s government, so it says. Think you might be on your own there Jackie.

boothman

Now for all I know Jackie and Andrew might be friends with James, James Naughtie. James or Jim as he’s sometimes known  also found himself taking the road south to find fame and fortune. And behold the BBC discovered that Jim is also a Scot and who better to add some gravitas to the wretched Good Morning Scotland and demonstrate how to tackle the issues making the natives restless.  And if you’re waiting for an argument from me on that one you will wait a while. I don’t know much about James except he hails from the very lovely Milltown of Rothiemay and my friend Graeme and one-time journalist says he used to think him one of the better reporters. So that’s Jim – cleancut and non-affiliated unless you think his comment of ‘if we win the election’ when interviewing Labour’s Ed Balls during the 2005 General Election suggests anything. But hey, it’s an easy slip to make as many at the BBC will tell you. Welcome back to Scotland Jim and a warm welcome too to Laura and Sarah. Don’t pay any attention to those harping on about what it’s costing – big bucks (the new Scottish currency I’m told) but just hold on, they’re worth it. Don’t you agree?

Laura is the lovely Laura Kuenssberg, daughter of Nicholas. You know – that Nicholas -one of the donors to Wendy Alexander’s campaign that went so badly wrong. You must remember all those donations of £995 that meant donors could remain anonymous. Got it now? Okay, so Nicholas, father of Laura was one of those people lending support to wee Wendy. Wendy, once even led Scottish Labour at Holyrood but perhaps her greatest claim to fame is being the sister of Douglas, Douglas Alexander.

Douglas is a Labour MP and often asked to appear on political shows, which is as it should be. Douglas is a canny politician knowing not to say too much and he has never been accused of dodgy practice over campaign funding and certainly hasn’t uttered Wendy’s catchphrase of ‘Bring it on’ which only brought on her own downfall which I’m sure Laura’s father Nicholas Kuenssberg would have been sorry to witness.

http://order-order.com/2008/02/07/

Wendy is married to Brian, Brian Ashcroft. Brian is Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute. The Fraser of Allander Institute is often cited on BBC Scotland as an independent think-tank which coincidentally issues lots of warnings about the weakness of the Scottish economy. Oh well everyone’s entitled to their opinion – although not all have access to them being aired by the BBC but life’s not fair is it Wendy?

A friend of Wendy’s is Sarah. That is the Honourable Sarah Smith, daughter of the late John, one-time leader of the Labour Party who also  found the invitation north impossible to refuse. Sarah had a lovely wedding not so long ago which she shared with her friends the Alexander twins and their father who married Sarah (as minister officiating not, well you know). Other guests included the great and the good (it’s a phrase okay) from the Labour Party. Sarah’s sister is the daughter-in-law of the Right Honourable the Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC and of the Labour Party. Do you think he says that every time he answers the phone? Sarah’s political shows on BBC Scotland have not been well-received but that’s no reason for her not to keep trying. Go Sarah go!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/sands-clans-and-illthought-plans-14217.html

Which all proves nothing very much at all other than  it’s not what you know that matters as much as who you know.

I was sorry to have missed the hour-long programme on Alba on Brian Wilson. Lucky man.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/summary-of-commission-interview-with-wendy-alexander-1.847788 http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/affairs-scotland/9619-the-dirty-dozen-the-case-against-bbc-scotland-part-2 http://gaiusmarcellus.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/unacceptable-links-between-labour-and.html
http://www.newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-news/5962-what-was-behind-bbc-scotlands-attack-on-the-scottish-nhs

Please take time to read the blog linked below – an extensive unpicking of the unhealthy relationship between Labour in Scotland and the BBC. There is a holy trinity at work encompassing BBC Scotland, the Labour Party in Scotland and Glasgow University that has become unpleasantly incestuous and hugely undemocratic.

http://caltonjock.com/2014/11/05/bbc-scotland-labour-party-mouthpiece-in-scotland-politically-corrupt-biased-public-inquiry-badly-needed/

February 23, 2014

Roger Scruton English Nationalist and the vote for Scottish Independence

Roger Scruton is a right-wing English philosopher and English nationalist.

He was given air time recently on BBC Radio 4’s A Point of View to comment on Scottish Independence and whether or not the English should have ‘the right’ to decide on Scotland’s future. His view that they should has some support in England where there has been a fair amount of sneering and incredulity over Scotland’s ingratitude to the Union and desire by much of its population to get out of this political arrangement. Why should people in England have a vote on this? How much does your average English person know about Scotland? What they read in the Mail? What they see on their televisions? What they hear on the radio? 

scrutonVery little that comes across the airwaves or in the print media has much that is recognisable to your average Scot. Exasperation at lazy, sloppy journalism, tedious clichés and entrenched prejudices are the norm.

What does the average school child in England learn about Scotland? It’s safe to say practically nothing. Is Scotland ever mentioned in any subject they study? I doubt it. Not the last time I looked at the curriculum. Something called Britain is but that can be largely dismissed as entirely England making Scotland’s place and contribution to this Union all but invisible.  

As an English nationalist Roger Scruton’s position is clear from the outset and surely the reason the BBC gave him air time to let the world know what he thinks about the Scots and our desire for independence. His views were sandwiched between an episode of Any Questions which had as its sole representative of ‘Scottish’ politics a Unionist voice in the guise of the LibDem/Tory Minister for Scotland,  Alistair Carmichael, and a Radio 4 news reader who referred to Culloden (near Inverness where Bonnie Prince Charlie led his men to a brutal early death) as Culluden – the way a certain class of English personages pronounce it but which no-one living at Culloden does.

Do you ever question the impartiality and ‘national’ integrity of the BBC?  So back to Scruton.

Everyone can voice their opinion in the UK although only a very few have the privilege of having their views touted around by the big media outlets which are owned and/or run by the rich with their own agendas. We don’t all have equal access to sharing our thoughts on broadcast or printed media. People like Scruton do however so what is it he is saying?  In brief it is that if people in Scotland are entitled to a vote then so should English people.

I am reluctant to go back to the divorce analogy which created trouble for one MSP a long time ago but which now appears to be the shorthand of choice on the matter but if one partner decides he or she has had enough of a relationship which is causing them no end of grief then it cannot be right to have to consult whoever is causing their angst before phoning a taxi.

Scruton makes the interesting observation that the Czechs and Slovaks came to a political agreement over becoming independent nations. I agree with him that might have been the way forward – and may still be in the event of a no vote in September. After all the SNP’s majority in the Scottish government increased greatly over the past two elections so what was there to stop it going into negotiations with Westminster? The Labour, Liberal and Tory parties recite from the same hymn sheet that the SNP stands for nothing but independence so surely the SNP’s majority was its mandate to push ahead with independence.

Scruton is wrong about pre-Union Scotland and England being virtually identical just because we shared an island. Anyone who has lived in both countries for any length of time knows how different they are still, and were then, from each other in all manner of things from architecture to humour.

It is those who don’t open their eyes and ears who don’t notice the difference. To give Scruton credit he did later mention differences  such as architecture but put it down to something about the climate. Now I know there are people in England who imagine Scotland is somewhere attached to the north pole but really our weather is not too different from south of the border – only drier – in the east certainly. And so what has climate got to do with our architecture? Hang on while I adjust that ice block on the igloo.  Are our tenements the result of Scots gathering together to keep warm? Does he know about tenements? What can he be thinking of? Your guess is as good as mine.

He mentioned our shared religion. I don’t know what religion he was referring to – Protestantism? Probably but that’s where the similarity ends because the various Scottish protestant churches are very different from English ones.

A language he says we shared. Only at a superficial level. Even now when our dialects are losing the battle against some bastardised estuary English and Americanese we are separated by a fair amount of difference and more so in the 18th century that Scots spoke a language pretty far removed from that in the south.  Sadly Scruton shows he really doesn’t know too much about Scotland when he mentions Gaelic, sadly the Irish type, you know gaylic and not Scottish gaallic, and it’s clear he doesn’t realise the extent Galeic was spoken, not just in the Highlands.

The monarchy at the time of Union was shared but Scruton’s little list is more flannel than fact. One moment he’s telling us we were all identical and the next that we were quite distinct.

He concludes that any differences were too wee to matter compared with the overpowering connections of history and geography. I don’t think our ‘shared’ histories were of the happiest that they call for shared celebration and as for geography, so what? There are many places across the globe that share geography, it is how societies develop within geographic boundaries that matters.

He is correct to refer to the fortunes made by both Scots and English during the period of slavery (not actually mentioned) and the empire. Scots have always been innovative so their exploitation of circumstances during the years of gunboat diplomacy can be taken as an indication of how much Scotland gave to the Union and contributed to wealth creation in the UK.  Scruton failed to make reference to the years before the Union when Scottish trade was smothered by England who resented having competition on its doorstep.

In a curious passage he says that neither Scotland nor England could have survived the wars of the 20th century if we hadn’t been fighting on the same side.  There were more nations involved in these wars than us in the UK so where does that argument take anyone or does he imagine Scotland, or perhaps England, would have lined up with the Triple Alliance and later with the Nazis?  Which one would have gone to that side I wonder?

Scruton is quite cavalier with his throwaway comments such as the Union being ‘natural and unquestionable’ in the 19th century. It wasn’t.  Very soon after the Union was formed there were calls for its dissolution and throughout the centuries since then people have returned to the possibility of Scotland reasserting its independence.  When Scruton claims the Napoleonic wars ‘sealed the Union’ he is wrong. Scottish radicalism following the Napoleonic wars was both a continuum and progression of anti-Union actions which began in the immediate aftermath of 1707.

Untrammelled immigration is regarded as Scruton as the reason the English don’t have a sense of their own identity. I find this distasteful and at odds with the overwhelming view in Scotland that irrespective of where you come from, if you come here to stay you are one of us. We have our racists but there is not the clamour here to shun people from other cultures that there is, and growing, in England, with its support for right-wing Tories and Ukip.  It might be pointed out here that while English nationalism tends to be racist and right-wing Scottish nationalism is dominated by the left.

I don’t believe Scruton when he blames the uncertainty that the English have over who they are, on Blair and Brown. The confusion over what is English or British was there well before these two discredited politicians came to office.  And he’s wrong that it was the re-opening, or as he has it, the creation of the Scottish parliament, that gave Scots a  ‘new identity’.  Scots have always known who they were and that is why the parliament was reconvened in Edinburgh not the other way round.

The man really does not understand this subject at all.

His resentment is palpable when it comes to the issue of Westminster Scots having a say in what happens in English constituencies. Quite rightly. He may not be aware, and going by his the many errors in his piece I doubt he is, that SNP members do not vote on issues which are solely English. MPs from the other parties do.  His resentment extends to Scotland having its own parliament when England doesn’t have an equivalent. Of course Scotland is a separate country, in a Union remember? with England so providing the same limited power parliaments in Scotland as throughout England is not the same thing.  Devolution he describes as ‘gerrymandering’ by which Scotland still sends Labour MPs to Westminster, which according to Scruton, England would prefer not to have. And with a few exceptions I can well understand why.

Scruton and I part on his assertion of that mouldy old lie that Scotland is subsidised by England. This will be oil rich Scotland, or is the oil Britain? I’ll say this just once – Scotland generates 9.9% of the UK’s total tax and receives 9.3% UK total spending. You do the sums.

union 1707

Despite Scotland being a sad subsidy junkie Scruton surprisingly concludes that England might not be better served if Scotland goes her own way. Just because we are a dependant of England, yes you got that right, but before you get hot under the collar Scruton turns the abusive accusation on its head and tells us that England is dependent on  Scotland as well  because  while THEY subsidise us – THEY depend on us. Got it? No? I think it’s a game of keep them (us) onboard because you never know when we’ll be needed, as in oil revenue? He doesn’t say – perhaps Trident is closer to the truth.

And then we learn that is indeed what was in his mind when he talked about having to cling onto us in case we should prove useful in the future (we are reduced to being the proverbial bad penny but handy to be saved for a rainy day). Remember when Scotland’s shores and waters were taken up with military and naval bases not to mention generations of Scots men and boys who made up more than the country’s fair share of the thin red line? (In that case you were probably educated in Scotland.) It is the fear that one day England might be attacked by some johnny foreigner that puts doubt over Scottish independence into Scruton’s head. Nothing to do with liking us only that we have land and deep water which England might require for its defence. 

His point about England drawing away some of Scotland’s talent to where the jobs are in the south is well made as far as it goes but he doesn’t allow himself to see the impact of this on Scotland’s economy and Scottish society at large.

He concludes by saying, given a vote he would use it for English independence. Do you see what he’s done? He’s turned his resentment over Scots being able to vote themselves a better future to a positive vote for England which rather bizarrely he states would go some way to ‘strengthening the friendship between our countries.’ As he talks he draws out differences between Scotland and England and any undecided voters out there worried about rUK be reassured for according to Scruton a yes vote for independence can only enhance the relationship between the four countries of these islands.

I suspect Scruton cobbled his piece together without too much thought. He reached the same conclusion I did long ago that only a yes vote is one that will be positive for the UK, albeit from different positions. Despite years and years and years in educational establishments his contribution to the issue of Scottish independence reveals he has some sizeable gaps in his knowledge of this country and the ignorance gap he doesn’t mind plugging with silly petulance.  Scotland’s ban on fox hunting (not included in this talk) was seen by him as an attack on the English and their traditions.  It did not occur to him that might be another difference of outlook which divides our two nations – those differences he sometimes admits to and at other times denies.

Scruton is entitled to his view but given his lack of awareness and understanding of Scotland and her people and because he has chosen not to live here he has no entitlement to a vote. Pity – he would boost the yes side.  

 

Read the transcript of Scruton’s talk here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26173128