Newsnight Trash Scotland 48

Newsnight held an item on Scottish independence last night in which the BBC threw away any pretence at objectivity. Allegedly investigating the practicalities of independence, it ran a series of interviews with diehard unionist figures, mostly openly New Labour. The only “expert” interviewed on the economy stated that nobody could support an independent Scotland on the grounds they would be economically better off. Another “expert” opined that an independent Scotland may be kicked out of the EU, while a former New Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow said it was laughable that a country the size of Scotland could have its own army, navy and coastguard [presumably Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Portugal don’t, then].

The point is that these were not presented as pro-union views, but as “expert analysis” of the practicalities. Jeremy Paxman then tried but failed to intimidate Nicola Sturgeon, and went through a pantomime of body language and facial expression at the idea that Scotland may leave NATO and eventually get rid of the pound sterling.

The good news is that propaganda as bad and blatant as this has little effect – and indeed is counterproductive for those promoting it – in a situation where people do have access to alternative sources of information. Scotland is not Uzbekistan. A great many Scots will have watched Newsnight last night, and realised that the BBC think we are stupid.

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48 thoughts on “Newsnight Trash Scotland

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  • David Grace

    As you say, Newsnight may not have the effect it planned. Burns seems appropriate:
    The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
    Gang aft agley,
    An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promis’d joy!

    I have no fears for Scotland if independent but I fear for England with a built-in Tory majority. Burns again:

    Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
    On prospects drear!
    An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
    I guess an’ fear!

  • alan campbell

    A Fiver on SNP not winning a referendum on independence in the next 10 years.

  • John K

    Quoting Burns in support of a political viewpoint has its risks:

    “We’re bocht an sold for English gold
    Sic a parcel o rogues in a nation!”

  • mary

    Newsnight seem to be at cross purposes to the BBC’s masters in No.10. The Observer reported on Sunday that Cameron would not oppose a referendum and would assist economically –

    ….Alex Salmond has been given the green light by David Cameron to pursue a referendum on Scottish independence after the first minister swept back into power with a commanding majority in the Scottish parliament.

    The prime minister spoke to Salmond hours after the Scottish National party won a dramatic victory in the Holyrood elections, and guaranteed that the UK government would not put any legal or political obstacles in the way of an independence referendum.

    Ministers in London will also speed up the introduction of new borrowing powers for Holyrood, which will be worth at least £2bn, and allow communities in Scotland to earn more money from charges on offshore green energy projects currently paid to the Crown Estates.

    Cameron’s concessions finally clear away any prospect of the UK government challenging the legality of a referendum: senior figures in the last Labour government believed a referendum was barred under the Scotland Act because changes to the British constitution are the preserve of Westminster……

    Salmond to meet Michael Moore ‘Scottish Secretary’. BBC website today.

  • Julian

    Funnily enough during the election results programmes on various channels, but particularly the BBC I noticed a disparaging of the notion of Scottish independence and many quotes about 3/4 of Scots polled don’t want to leave…etc etc.and how impractical it was anyway.

    My thoughts were: if the Scots vote to leave the union, then that’s their democratic decision; and even if the above polls were correct now, maybe the Scottish people might change their minds and vote for independence when the referendum comes in a few years time.

    It is very interesting to see the strange contortions of the mouthpiece of the establishment when a Scottish voters have overwhelmingly backed the SNP, and presumably did actually know what major policy they were voting for, despite all the speculation by the commentators that it was a protest vote (how do they know – they were in London!).

    All very indicative. BTW, when Eire broke away from this little Union of ours, did the sky fall in? Thought not. 🙂

  • Leo

    Aren’t referendums used by our government as a tool to stop things happening, not for things it wants or feels impartial about?

    When government actually wants to do something, it just does it without asking and tells us it’s for our own good.

  • Sam

    I’m pleased with the SNP’s victory and support some (thought not all) of the SNP’s policies, I’m not so naiive to believe that they are the best thing since square sausage.

    “The Guardian reported Salmond was an invited “guest of honour” at a dinner held by Murdoch’s News International publishing company in April, the only Scottish party leader in attendance, and speculated on a secret meeting between Salmond and Murdoch in the preceding months. Murdoch is particularly supportive of the SNP’s plans to slash corporation tax. The SNP were also supported by the Herald and the Scotsman newspapers in the recent election.”

    The SNP is in danger of going down the route of New Labour: setting their sights on power and realising that to get into power you have to please Murdoch and big business.

    I know Alex Salmond has his hopes pinned on the renewable energy industry rejuvenating the industrial base of the Scottish Economy, and the aim to cut corporation tax is probably aimed at supporting that. But the projections for the number of jobs which might be created in the wind industry in the short to medium term are wildly optimistic (and I work in that industry).

    In the short to medium term, the Scottish Economy will get hammered just as much as the rest of the UK, as we embark on an economically suicidal austerity programme. In these conditions any proposed corporation tax cuts will simply be used by existing business, particularly the banks) to boost profits.

  • Frazer

    Crap. Independance will be the best thing that will happen for Scotland. The English have nothing we want. Control of our own economy, schools, health facilities and attracting more investment will see the quality of life improve for the Scottish people. The ultimate goal will be to kick out the Germans and open Sandringham to the public.
    Westminster is terrified that we might actually go ahead and do it.

  • Tony

    Westminster is indeed terrified and the slurs which will be thrown at Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon for the next few years will eclipse biased BBC reporting on the topic. I agree with comments above about Salmond having to avoid the New Labour trap. He is not so much of a cynic or a narcissist as either Blair or Brown, though.

  • Vronsky

    BBC bias in this has been blatant and ongoing for as long as I can remember. They are by no means the only culprits – the MSM as a whole in Scotland is hostile to the SNP and independence, and the eleventh-hour endorsements of the SNP by the Scotsman and the Herald fooled nobody. It is only about a year since both of these newspapers carried full-length press releases from New Labour on their front pages, both identical and reproduced absolutely verbatim.
    This is not reporting by the BBC, it is overt political campaigning, as Tony says inspired by fear. They are especially terrified of a referendum – they know their claimed ‘75% against separation’ is moonshine. Wendy Alexander was very quickly stamped on for her ‘bring it on’ challenge to Salmond – Gordon Brown certainly knew which way the wind was blowing.
    Speaking of wind, note that Scottish interest in renewables is much wider than wind, and in fact projects a small role for wind compared with HEP and tidal flow – necessarily as the unpredictable intermittency of wind means it can never be a baseload supplier, and therefore could never replace fossil fuels. Even the wind lobby cannot see wind penetration at more than 25% of supply: combinations of many sources will be the answer. It is also worth pointing out that the pursuit of renewables is not some flight of unrealistic idealism: what is unrealistic is expecting present energy sources to continue as before. Salmond’s energy policy is merely a squaring up to the hard facts of life on a small part of real estate on a finite planet. Reduction of energy consumption will also be unavoidable, but we have yet to hear how that will be handled – perhaps a post-independence problem, given that that is now not distant.

  • Tom Welsh

    “The ultimate goal will be to kick out the Germans…”

    Frazer, haven’t you heard that racial intolerance is out of fashion?

    • craig Post author


      He means the “royal family”. I don’t think it does any harm to remind people that they are German, as there nationality is highly relevant to their job – and the Germans replaced a Scottish royal family.

  • JimmyGiro

    Wasn’t the inducement for the Scots to join the Union in the first instance, mostly economic advantage?
    The appropriate metaphor for the Scots is as the gold digging harlot, who marries for money, then divorces for the same.

  • JAB

    The BBC regards Scotland as a funny little fiefdom; much as I love Radio 4, I’m always thrown a bit when English panelists, commentators, etc. make throw-away comments about Scotland and the Scots. But a possible elephant in the room is Trident. Faslane is the largest single-site employer in Scotland – though it’s debatable how many jobs are specifically Trident-related. But the British Navy is in the process of moving the entire Royal Navy submarine fleet to Dunbartonshire, a constituency that actually INCREASED its Labour majority at last week’s election. Jackie Baillie retained her seat after pounding the streets declaring that the SNP would cancel Trident and its upcoming replacement, thus rendering Dunbartonshire a cesspit of unemployment. Of course, no one was consulted about the expansion of the base – it was just announced – and this semi-rural area is now going to have to deal with an influx of possibly 4-5,000 people with the concurrent impact on infrastructure, schools, health service, housing, etc. How would a ‘yes’ majority in a referendum on independence affect this arrangement? Will Dunbartonshire become like Gibraltar – a little red dot on a yellow map of Scotland?

  • Wikispooks

    BBC bias in this has been blatant and ongoing for as long as I can remember.

    Agreed – but replace ‘this’ with ‘anything connected with foreign policy or any other area of State Business where the general public must be treated like mushrooms for their own good’ – and you have a pretty accurate definition of the primary and over-arching function of the BBC.

    For my sins, I was listening to Radio 5 news this morning (not something I make a habit of). It’s output on both Syria and Libya is almost unbelievable in its sheer crassness, not to say blindness to any suffering on the part of those pigeon-holed as the Establishment enemy du-jour or culpability/less than lily-whiteness on the part of those similarly deemed friends (du Jour). Gaddafi’s appearance on Libyan State TV last night was reported as “since the death of his son”. NOT since NATO (We) killed his son with our oh so humanitarian bombs and missiles – and absolutely no mention of NATO (Us) killing his three baby grandsons either – they have become ‘Unpersons’ – food for the memory-hole

    How anyone can take BBC news and current affairs output seriously – on anything but the most banal of domestic issues anyway – really is quite beyond me. They are simply a mouthpiece for ‘The official narrative’ and the sheer crassness of it is beginning to approach Soviet era reporting of the latest Supreme Soviet lines du jour. In fact, as you say, it is becoming so crass that it risks back-firing in spectacular and similar fashion – except the mass of our oh so gullible and credulous population still seem to think the BBC is something to be proud of so I guess that, with suitable trimming and tacking, they will continue to get away with it.

  • Cludebuilt

    The abuse that was dished out to Nicola Sturgeon on News Night is par for the course in Scotland. BBC Scotland basically treats SNP interviewees with spite. There’s no comparison in the way Westminister politicians are treated by BBC England.
    This should come as no surprise. The Sacked director general of the BBC, Greg Dyke once said of the bbc , “The BBC is the glue that holds the union together”

    Within minutes of Alex Salmond declaring the victory , Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed by Sally Magnusson (of “Songs Of Praise Fame). But she wasn’t very christain in her treatment of Nicola. Constantly speaking over her, not letting her make a point total lack of respect.

    By the way I wouldn’t bet against Alex Salmond leading Scotland to victory , as some of your earler contributores were quick to do.

  • kingfelix

    “The appropriate metaphor for the Scots is as the gold digging harlot, who marries for money, then divorces for the same.”

    It might be better to attend to reality.

    However, your point handily summarises a typical Unionist reaction, which is that Scotland is both a horrible drain on England, yet somehow must remain a part of the Union. Surely if you believe the former, you’d not subscribe to the latter, yet, magically, a contradictory posture is assumed.

    Scotland is being treated like a jumped up pantry boy that does not know his place.

  • Jon

    > The appropriate metaphor for the Scots is as the gold digging harlot,
    > who marries for money, then divorces for the same.

    I’d be interested to know why you think this, Jimmy. Or is this just a device to inject some misogyny into a thread entirely unrelated to the topic of women?

  • Sam


    I’m not knocking the SNP’s energy ambitions, which help to give confidence to investors to set up shop in Scotland. In the long term, we have to depend on renewables. I’m just saying the timescales are currently optimistic. Tidal flow and wave energy are still in fairly early stages of development with a few prototype devices in the water. They should be supported and developed, but they are still a long way from creating large scale power jobs (and I know people who work in both fields). Offshore wind is picking up pace, but still faces significant challenges to keep the costs down. It could provide decent numbers of jobs in a relatively short space of time (ship building, cable laying etc), but currently most of the supply chain is still outside of Scotland.

    All I’m saying is the SNP may leave themselves vulnerable if they assume an industrial renaissance can be achieved in a short space of time, against the backdrop of a global recession. An healthy, independent Scottish economy can be achieved, but it will take time and dedication, and things may well get a lot worse before they get better. The last thing the SNP need is to get into power, be short changed by Westminster, then be blamed for everything that follows.

  • Paul Johnston


    He means the “royal family”. I don’t think it does any harm to remind people that they are German, as there nationality is highly relevant to their job – and the Germans replaced a Scottish royal family.

    If the Windsors are German how long do you have had to live here before you take the nationality of your country of birth, language etc.
    Sorry but that’s just a plain stupid thing to say.
    If someone who was born over here as were their parents, grandparents … etc but you said they were Pakistani and always would be that would be unacceptable IMHO!
    That’s the sort of stuff the BNP spout. What is it?
    If a dog is born in a stable it doesn’t mean its a horse.

    • craig Post author

      I quite agree for ordinary citizens – I don’t care. I am a republican anyway, so I don’t really care about the monarchy. But if you are going to buy that monarchical rubbish, kings are supposed to be from the same country as the people they rule. This lot aren’t.

  • Frazer

    I think the point is that there is a Scottish Royal line and I certainly would like to have a Scottish Monarch rather than the Windsors, I mean really, what have they ever done for Scotland apart from blasting away at the wildlife every time they toodle around Sandringham ? Do you ever see or hear of them directly promoting Scotland for investment or tourisim, apart from Charlie swanning around in a kilt with a tartan that he is not entitled to wear ? And by the way, Scottish aristocracy commonly refer to the ‘royal family’ as The Germans …A case in point are entries in the late Duke of Atholl’s diaries on open display at the museum at Blair Atholl castle in Scotland….I am sure Craig is far more knowledgable on the royal sucession line for the Scottish Monarchy than I am and he may choose to enlighten us in another post, maybe titled ‘The Case For A Royal Scotland Without The Windsors ?’

  • alan campbell

    Actually, given all the sectarian hate that still exists in Scotland, then Balkanisation and independence must be the logical path to follow.

  • Vronsky

    The German stuff goes back to Jacobite times, and the idea that the English royal family is actually German is of course an inevitable target of satire. This little number has a nice dancy tune – and aren’t the words wonderful?
    The Wee, Wee German Lairdie
    Wha the de’il hae we gotten for a king,
    But a wee, wee German Lairdie:
    When we gaed ower to bring him hame,
    He was delvin’ in his kailyardie.
    He was sheughing kail, and laying leeks,
    Without the hose, an’ but the breeks,
    An’ up his beggar duds lie cleeks.
    This wee, wee German Lairdie.
    An’ he’s clappit doun in our gudeman’s chair,
    The wee, wee German lairdie;
    An’ he’s brocht fouth o’ his foreign trash,
    An’ dibbled them in his yairdie.
    He’s pu’d the rose o’ English loons,
    An’ broken the harp o’ Irish clowns,
    But our Scotch thistle will jag his thumbs,
    This wee, wee German lairdie.
    Come up amang our Hieland. Hills,
    Thou wee, wee German lairdie,
    An’ see the Stuart’s lang kail thrive,
    They hae dibbled in our kail-yairdie.
    An’ if a stock ye daur to pu’,
    Or haud the yokin’ o’ a plough,
    We’ll break your sceptre owre your mou,’
    Ye feckless German lairdie.
    Auld Scotland, thou’rt ower cauld a hole,
    For nursin’ siccan vermin;
    But the very dogs in England’s court,
    They bark an’ howl in German.
    Then keep thy dibble in thy ain hand,
    Thy spade but an’ thy yairdie;
    For wha the deil now claims your land,
    But a wee, wee German lairdie ?

  • Frazer

    Vronsky…brilliant and thouroughly enjoyable to watch..thanks for the link..

  • Frazer

    Paul..we Jocks have rather long racial memories (in a good way not bad).
    There are some Highland Clans that have lived in the same area for 400 years and are considered relative newcomers by other Clans. We really still have not forgiven the English Longshanks for chopping up William Wallace,nor for the Primus Noctus, and tend to regard the present monarchy with a great deal of suspicion..I certainly do, but then I am a nationalist, though if we do attain independance I would still be happy to take English money..after all I am Scottish 😉

  • Frazer

    Alan…..Please, don’t judge the entire country on a Rangers v Celtic match on a weekend..
    Most of us are rather nice peace loving people..

    • craig Post author

      No it isn’t. Balliol and Bruce were indeed Norman. William Wallace means William of Wales, which in itself doesn’t necessarily mean Wales as we know it, rather William the western british celt. Wales, Gaul, Gael, Gaelic and Galloway are all from the same root.

  • Paul Johnston

    Frazer …
    The memory doesn’t go back before the Normans came I assume, where is the Pictish pretender 🙂
    son of son of …… Causantín
    Anyway I always rather hope Scotland would look towards being a republic rather than all this undemocratic Royalty bollocks.

    Racial purity means at the end of the day we are all probably African and I for one have no problem with that!
    Longshanks was a Plantagenet and that means he was French so we can also not forgive him!! (Joke, not serious)
    My surname comes from Annandale but that means nothing … after all I am from Yorkshire and we are tighter than you 😉

  • Chris_K


    Your geography is suspect – Sandringham is in north west Norfolk.

    Did you mean Balmoral?

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