The Scottish Press


Playground politics

Scotland’s opposition parties are chronically unable to raise their intellectual capacity above click-bait politics. In that they are well supported by Scotland’s pitiful right-wing press. As far as both are concerned, Scotland must remain ‘owned’ and therefore kept politically immature, so they reduce everything to schoolboy chants and jeering.

We have an elected administration that proposes joint solutions between political parties to Scotland’s ills and an opposition that treats invitations to work together as a ball to be batted as far away as possible, preferably to Westminster.

If the press was neutral and fair-minded it would exhort opposition parties to stop playing silly buggers, and join forces with the elected administration. They won’t, of course, because anything that makes Scotland a better place puts another nail in the coffin of a mortally disunited United Kingdom.

Mark Twain said that “it is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” That maxim sums up pretty well Scotland’s right-wing newspapers, with the exception of the small-circulation National, the only one to support self-governance without caveat.

The price of integrity

Our journalists argue they are only doing their job. But whose job is it they are doing? Scotland’s press speaks on behalf of Westminster orthodoxy, invariably conformist, authoritarian, and neo-liberal. The owners of our newspapers thrive on that disastrous – for us – ideology, therefore we should not be surprised that they expect their editors to do all they can to protect their interests.

Subordination to the prevailing orthodoxy has consequences. It means you turn a blind eye to injustice. The press condones brutal changes in Britain’s “over-stressed” welfare system. Meanwhile, people are committing suicide, the basis of their support withdrawn.

It is hard to find the press demanding to know why the government extols the efficacy of privatisation of the English NHS when the partly-privatised NHS in England and Wales is in such a bad state. Scotland’s NHS is in a far better state, but the press won’t draw attention to it in case it is seen praising the SNP. Instead, it publishes Tory and Labour press releases full of phony wailing and gnashing of teeth for a phantom SNHS ‘crisis’.

Scotland’s profound lack of political choice is dismissed as “grievance politics”. Powers requested are blocked by Westminster parties and nary a newspaper expresses anger.

The list of errors and omissions increases

We are expected to be happy buying goods and produce with a Union Jack plastered on it though grown or made in Scotland. How do newspapers manage to contrive ‘holding to account’ triumphs like the Queensferry Crossing bridge? Yet they did manage to sour its successful completion by employing the most trite carping.

The Sunday Herald is proud of its journalism. For example, it professes to be pro-independence yet always seems uncomfortable supporting it. It condemned the Iraq war. This is odd. The press advocates we should only fight smart wars that are successful invasions even when it is plain they are international crimes. But if the invasion is a disaster, such as Iraq, feel free to criticise it.

Examples of the press indulging in mind control are too numerous to list here.

Demonizing the innocent

Another familiar aspect of subordination to fashionable orthodoxy is the casual demonising of official enemies. The SNP, the only party fighting Scotland’s corner, is vilified as a matter of course. It is Public Enemy Number One.

Attack is undertaken in subtle ways. We are told it isn’t safe to have Nicola Sturgeon so popular, held in high regard by the electorate as trustworthy. The press contends the more popular she is, the worse will be the policies she implements. It matters not a jot to the press her party has been elected by huge majorities to follow its manifesto as far as it can, and that includes organising a second referendum should England drag Scotland out of the European Union.

In spite of all their claims to the contrary, the Scottish press do not hold to account Westminster’s unacceptable interventionism in Scotland’s affairs, but they are quick to belittle SNP’s attempts to halt that interference, or alleviate excessive policies unwanted by the people of Scotland.

Blowing in the wind

The answer is glaringly obvious: Scotland should keep all it earns to implement and fund its own policies. You won’t see a newspaper columnist or editor suggest that, or cry foul when the UK Treasury reduces Scotland’s grant. A wealthy Scotland is a dangerous Scotland.

We see how trivial our press can be when it picks up a third-rate politician’s protest over the alleged lampooning of one of their cheerleading press hacks in a party political broadcast, and plasters it over their front pages. The great cartoonist Hogarth, the grandfather of political satire, would enjoy a belly laugh at their antics.

Parody can only affect a journalist’s perception of their self-esteem, not the freedom of the press. But that’s how Scotland’s right-wing press pack will argue anything that appears to question their judgement – any attack on staff is an attack on press freedom.

A free press

A free press is an independent press. Scotland’s press is not independent.

That alone shackles how it can respond to rights and wrongs. A truly independent press isn’t subordinate to power and authority. And that includes the JK Rowlings of this world and BBC Scotland’s flaky news department, filled with ex-Scottish newspaper journalists and governed by BBC London.

BBC Scotland news bases much of its output on what the press of the day thinks is important, following up broadcasts by inviting the same press hacks with the same limited vision to comment on what the press is reporting that day, a neat family circle.

Commentators who think the BBC is a hotbed of radicals and anarchists need their heads examined for any sign of intelligence.

The press’s media

The BBC was shaped by a Scotsman on the make, John Reith, later Lord Reith, a man desperately keen to be invited to Churchill’s Tory cabinet. Like Gordon Brown a son of the manse, Reith found it difficult to relate to people. Churchill didn’t trust him. He never offered him high office.

Reith moulded the BBC in his own image, authoritarian and pro-establishment. It remains that way with only a shake up of its moral ethics in these last years. Please be advised: BBC Scotland pays homage to British orthodoxy daily.

Higher standards or die

If the Scottish press and its broadcasting outlets BBC and STV had any real integrity, any scruples beyond keeping an eye on their contracts and salaries and advertisers happy they would jettison Westminster orthodoxy into the sea.

If Scotland’s press want to help create a free, democratic society it better begin participating now before their newspapers collapse for lack of readers, held in contempt, supplanted by the Internet. Time and tolerance are fast running out.



NOTE                                                                                                                                                  This is a companion piece to ‘The Shame of the Press’:

The Sunday Herald changed title and outlook, stopped ‘supporting’ Independence, instead publishing over-wrought articles denouncing independence supporters who use the internet as a platform of communication and activism.

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37 Responses to The Scottish Press

  1. daibhidhdeux says:

    For some “strange” reason, whenever I have thought of or think of Reith, the image of Hoover of the FBI springs to mind.

    Odd? Maybe not.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Don’t think Reith was a cross-dresser! Hoover was short and squat, Reith very tall and lanky. Reith demanded an unquestioned loyalty to his leadership same as Hoover, and a strict dress code for his staff. And in some regards Reith set up an internal surveillance system of is staff, a bit like Hoover.

  3. Hackalumpoff says:

    I would say it’s more of a vicious circle than “a neat family circle”. Excellent article nonetheless, thanks.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Nepotism? Incest?

  5. Probably your most powerful post yet, Grouse. Everyone in the land should have access to what you’ve just produced. Nailed it, all of it. Brilliant

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    I’m surprised to learn that – wrote it in an hour, and now worried it reads rushed. But thank you just the same. 🙂

  7. Hackalumpoff says:

    Nepotism? Incest? Aah, you’re too subtle for me !

  8. Excellent yet again Mr GB.I believe that the MSM in Scotland(as they are not Scottish) are being funded by the UKgov via dirty money.Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to survive financially.

  9. I agree with Deryck in both assertions , great article nail hit on heid , and it is unfathomable that these newspapers are not receiving some forms of financial ASSISTANCE , where from needs genuine INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS , but with the current crop of failures I won’t hold my breath . Come back Pilger

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    My sadness is nothing anybody says, including not buying newspapers, appears to make them understand the public want a society that isn’t a watered down version of English society and politics. Vive la difference! Once we regain nationhood our confidence and generosity will grow. If Westminster stops blocking our progress we will become better neighbours than we can afford to be now.

  11. Alan Gordon says:

    Good flow and covering the points without sounding like a rant. Thank you.

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    Much obliged. I begin by asking myself what are people saying, and after writing and revising, hope I end up expressing what they are thinking.

  13. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant
    thankyou Grousebeater.

  14. saorsa2018 says:

    It’s a great article – better than anything you’ll read in a newspaper. Which is why I’m reading your blog, rather than newspapers.

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    🙂 I must be my worst critic thinking I should do better. Thanks, Saorsa.

  16. Alex Holmes says:

    Excellent sir – excellent! Nicely divided into sections that I can turn into memes – with this post link listed of course. Thank you GB!

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    I’ve find it comical our right-wing newspapers are so against independence of spirit and yet profess to be independent themselves – a total lie.

  18. The SNP should be knocking at your door. An extremely well written piece which everyone (not just Scotland) should read.

  19. Graham Harris Graham says:

    This is no rant, it is a sad summary of the media in Scotland/UK; servile & subservient to a perceived superior British State, absolutely determined to return Scotland to no more than a 3rd rate economic region while its vast natural & man made wealth continues to be used to realize policies that it never voted for. This is the perfect colonial dream.

    The most shocking aspect is that there is a hard core of Scots determined to make it happen because of their deep levels of cringe & devastating lack of self esteem.

    What other nation thinks itself so shite that it is desperate for a government of another country to decide how it is run & managed?

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    I remember bemused that newspapers were not outraged Tony Blair was moving Scotland’s maritime border to secure our oil to pay for England’s ambitions. Had the oil been discovered on dry land in Scotland all hell would have broken loose, but because it was out at sea this was accepted as UK politics at work, lawful, not grand theft.

  21. Macart says:

    That’s a keeper Grouse. A powerful piece.

    One other thing our media tend to forget in their rush to irrelevance. Speaking truth unto power isn’t the sole preserve of the media. It is also a basic right of the person in the street and the media themselves do represent power. They can stand to have some truth about their performance put their way.

    Both the political class and the media seem to believe that the general public should be on the receiving end of both political legislation and media pontification without right of reply or redress. NOTHING could or should be further from the truth and if they think that small factoid has escaped the notice of at least half the Scottish electorate, then they’re in for a rude shock.

    Today people have a platform to make their opinion and critique of both our politics and media (non) representation known. When we have been placed in harms way. When we have been on the receiving end of punitive or poor legislation. When we have been misled, misrepresented, alienated or disenfranchised. We can and will make our feelings known. When power/s won’t give people a voice? It’s been my experience that people will eventually find a way to make their voice heard regardless..And if they still won’t listen?

    As an end user of both media output and political practice, in what purports to be a democracy, people can and will use their ballots against those who cause them harm. Equally they can and will withhold financial support from a media which deserted them when they were needed most.

    Maybe they should really think about that in the coming months.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you. That expression ‘a keeper’ always makes me smile for I forget what I’ve written, though the political beliefs stay imbedded.

    Do have a read of Iain Macwhirter’s latest on the demise of neo-liberalism – a fine piece using RBS’s brazen thievery as a linchpin. I am still of the opinion the state should have allowed RBS to collapse but also kept the profitable sections and turned them into the basis of Scotland’s state bank. But we had Gordon Union Brown as ‘leader’ and bag man. All he saw was his glorious anointment as ‘saviour of capitalism’.

  23. Macart says:

    @Grouse Beater

    Thanks for the tip Grouse. Mr Macwhirter didn’t miss and hit the wall fer sure. I also suspect he’s onto something in his conclusions.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    He has a way of surprising me; just as I think he’s reverting back to his British federalism nonsense he shows he’s spot on aware of what the big problem is that needs remedy.

  25. Bill Hunter says:

    Fantastic stuff. Love it.

  26. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you. 🙂 I hope you will encourage others to drop in for a read.

  27. Graham Niven says:

    It should be remembered that the BBC state propaganda machine funds provision of 20 “Local Democracy Reporters” at newspapers throughout Scotland.
    He who pays the piper…?

  28. g m says:

    I wouldn’t change anything in it if you are tempted to.

  29. Grouse Beater says:

    Graham: A timely reminder. The BBC appends ‘democracy’ to their local employees as if somehow the corporation exercises it as a matter of principle.

  30. Auld Bob says:

    I’m joining the queue here of people who claim this set of articles is your best yet. (note I say, “Best yet”, in hope and in anticipation that more will follow.

  31. Grouse Beater says:

    If only I wrote them for money! 🙂

  32. Franco Valente says:

    Yes GB. The Scots MSM (including the BBC) is under a higher control that is there to disrupt and provide a method of news subversion to the people of Scotland.

    For the above reasons I haven’t bought a newspaper for well on over 10 years. I no longer watch TV political news such as QT, Andrew Marr and Daily/Sunday politics as the message projected are neoliberal and against all what we (the majority) of Scots adhere to.

    Good posts this weekend and keep them coming. We need political dissertations that you so succinctly give us.

  33. Kangaroo says:

    This one’s a belter. Try your luck with the National and iScot.

  34. Grouse Beater says:

    The word ‘belter’ always makes me smile. Strange how some words unconnected to a sentence can move you.

  35. TheItalianJob says:

    Yes Kangaroo the National and iScot are the ones to read.

  36. jacquescoleman says:

    Who needs the gutter press (and that nowadays includes the ‘qualities) when we have writers of your intelligence and nous in Scotland. Excellent piece.

  37. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you. Keep the compliments flowing! 🙂 Actually, better to pass my research to people you think benefit or need ‘telt’.

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