Of Shills and Spooks


And there they are, a hundred thousand protesting students, not rebels, not vandals, not anarchists, just peaceful marchers demanding their government allow greater democratic rights. And how we cheer them along!” Narrator Bob Danvers-Walker, Pathé News, describing a 100,000 marchers in Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring, August 1968. And he knew the exact number.

How did our press report our Long March for freedoms in Scotland’s capital city? The Scottish press, indeed the British media in general, treated over a hundred thousand Scottish marchers as small potatoes to be side-lined or ignored.

A 100,000 marchers is a danger to national security and stability.

I regard that march, and all the previous ones in all the other towns and cities, of greater political impact than any blogging website, including my own. Ignoring something that big that’s right under your nose takes a lot of effort.

Any number of democracy deniers came out blinking into the bright sunlight. Scotland in Union’s equivalent of every intellectually challenged Labour leader, Pamela Nash, was first to parade her prejudices:

Those marching in Edinburgh are not representative of Scotland, they’re talking to nobody but themselves. The organisers should also be ashamed of the way they have attacked Historic Environment Scotland staff.”

The latter part of Nash’s terminal myxomatosis, the use of ‘attack’, is sheer unadulterated bull crap. The first part is a classic of the neurologically impaired unable to accept what they see in front of them is really happening, and yet others see too

In another tweet a disbelieving observer felt the “laws of physics might allow for 15,000 marchers” but to him it was “closer to 10,000.” A third thought the crowd was “very sparse indeed. Maybe a couple of thousand”. And so it went on. How much of that attempt to blur reality comes from SiU shills and sock puppets? The question to ask is, how much laundered money does SiU receive from British Imperial Might Incorporated?

England as cheerleader

Davers-Walker’s oratory shows us an England cheerleader to freedoms in nation states other than those it controls. In the umbrella system that is the United Kingdom it is a destabilising threat. One of the welcome liberations issuing from independence will see the last of that hypocrisy evaporate overnight. How many British spies and spooks will remain among us is a concern we have to face.

Reading some of our resident opinion formers, the Scottish ones, the ones with regular columns discussing Scotland’s political future, it’s often hard to tell if they’re writing from the head and heart, or a prepared hand-out from MI5.

Opinion formers

I have my own mind. No one on the independence platform is a hero to me or influence me, and that includes the belligerent badass Wings over Scotland. I admire a few of them. I was already fully formed as a constitutional nationalist when I chanced upon their work, reassured to know they understood that for the most part the British press ranges from brazen liars to the ill-informed illiterate.

Regular readers will have spotted I like a good scrap. One of my quiet interests is boxing. I don’t make much noise about it. I tend to follow boxing contests as a man might hide a stray pound note under his shoe till safe to pocket it. In boxing you know who your opponent is, you know his form, and there are rules and a referee to keep it a fair fight. None of those things apply to spooks and sock puppets exploiting the Internet.

Readers enjoy a good spat, too. When I’m confronted by open animosity there’s always ringside readers ready to leap up and shout “Stick it to him, Grousey!” The pugilist in us all is stirred spotting spooks, shills, and evildoers in the media, those who do Scotland down. I’ve met a few. On one occasion I had to be physically restrained from hitting a shill in a pub bar. He went visibly pale.

Twice BBC Scotland counselled against devolution

My time as an unhappy employee of BBC here, London, and a spell in Northern Ireland, taught me that if there was any imaginative, vigorous producers in the organisation, the BBC hierarchy would smother their voice with in-house bureaucratic red tape, in short measure. I never knew which colleague to trust.

The son of Alistair Milne is Seamus Milne, his father a former Scots Director General for the BBC, was summarily dismissed – literally sent a memorandum to pack his bags that day – for insisting too many times Scottish broadcasting should get a better deal.

Body swerving the media

Milne Senior had a long illustrious career at the BBC. He began as a clever producer before promoted to Director-General. The Independent described him as “one of the most original and talented programme-makers to emerge during television’s formative years”. He got on the wrong side of the British. He disliked MI5 and MI6 operatives in the BBC. He wanted them to desist moonlighting for our secret police, or leave. Some worked for BBC Scotland. He paid the ultimate penalty. The BBC spooks began briefing against him. Their whispers were handed to the press as if factual information.

Young Milne Junior learned from his father not to trust journalists. To the uninformed, Seamus is the face walking behind Corbyn’s shoulder in photographs, the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications, a man carrying a lot of influence over what Corbyn should say and do. Captain Corbyn is a tired old sea dog – fame thrust upon him too late in life – barely able to keep a course consistent in his head. He relies on trusted advisers to set the sails and steer the ship to stop him piloting it around in ever decreasing circles. Milne Junior knows how the BBC works inside-out.

In his well-researched book on the 1984-85 miners’ strike, The Enemy Within, describing how MI5 had penetrated the miner’s union to the highest level and were keeping Margaret Thatcher in touch with events, Seumas Milne wrote this:

The incestuous relationship between the intelligence services and sections of the [British] media is, of course, nothing new. The connection is notoriously close in the case of foreign correspondents… Sandy Gall, the ITN reporter and newsreader, boasted of his work for MI6 during the 1980s.”

SNP was a dissidents organisation to avoid

When I began working for the BBC spooks and shills were open about their allegience. You got kudos for being a patriot disliked by the left-wing short-contract producers. The Radio Propaganda Unit better known as the World Service was jam packed with patriots. When I bumped into the odd spy they assumed my integrity must lie with theirs, otherwise how did it come to pass I was made an executive?

Knowing spooks exist, you understand the suspicion, never denied, placed on the head of BBC’s Gavin Esler for giving a completely fictitious ‘No Border’s’ baloney ‘grass roots’ outfit ten minutes of prime time news – repeated generously on the hour – during the independence referendum.

Meeting the press and handling press issues I got to know most newspapers had their share of informers, and ‘guidance’ advisers. One newspaper, The Telegraph,  had a large percentage of its staff on the MI6 payroll. The Times was  runner up. (Confirmed by US senate committee hearings in 1975.) Con Coughlin, Defence Editor at The Daily Telegraph, (The Torygraph) was recently outed. Nobody seemed to care. It could have been Gordon  Ramsay outed as a potty mouthed chef, for all the outrage it generated.

“A 2,000 article reveals Coughlin was fed material by MI6 for years, which he then turned into Telegraph news articles.” Coughlin also admitted to have been “an eager shill for the Saudis”. Coughlin is also a fellow at the anti-Muslim New York think tank Gatestone Institute. You can safetly assume most right-wing think tanks have at least one MI6 stooge as a member, and are probably financed by the British state to some a degree.

Are you one of us?

Meeting BBC members of our espionage service switched on a light bulb. If the same journalists got promoted to the BBC as reporters, editors and heads of departments, how could the BBC call itself ‘impartial’, and where was the wonderful ‘free’ British press of which ebullient politicians boast?

That a free press underpins what’s left of British democracy is a colonial myth, as much a blatant lie as claiming Scots whisky is British. The word ‘free’ is a joke.

Anybody with half-a-brain perceives and acknowledges the British establishment press and media is awash with Unionist plants and stooges. That they act as a conduit for the British and now Brexit agenda is less well known. On reflection, I think Scotland’s independent supporters are wise to this by now. They recognise some flaky news reports could only come straight from covert confidence tricksters, feeding false material from their computer to a BBC editor’s desk. They colour everything we read and see.

They can’t all be bad

Yes, I raise my hands in the air, I admit there must exist one honest soul in the BBC or the Sunday Post so shocked and insulted at being approached to work for our secret services that he resigned in disgust. I know of none. What I do know is some media shills tried to smear our elected representatives, failed, and until exposed will keep trying.

Last month readers could have attended a lecturer given by one at Edinburgh University’s Business School. (The event was followed by a networking drinks reception. How jolly civilised.) Sir David Omand, GCB., former head of GCHQ, explored key ethical and technical issues relating to data security we face today.

Spying is a jolly occupation

Omand was previously UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, Permanent Secretary of the UK Home Office and Director of GCHQ. He published a book  entitled Principled Spying: the ethics of secret intelligence, Oxford and Princeton University Presses. He justifies intelligence agencies on the basis they provide critical information to national security and foreign policy decision makers. What he avoided discussing is the British state spying on its own people poses inherent threats for Scotland’s liberty, human rights and independence.

Please, let no one tell me Russia or Iran or Saudi Arabia are bad people out to ruin the West by sending assassins and spies to poison Albion. We have our own in appointed jobs well paid to pacify and corral Scotland. No wonder we Scots are paranoid!

Here’s an excellent a documentary “Diomhair’ on the subject, produced many years ago by BBC Alba. YouTube link :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-id8hYRx0D4


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24 Responses to Of Shills and Spooks

  1. “In the umbrella system that is the United Kingdom it is a destabilising threat.” – in other countries it is a destabilising [i]opportunity. [/i]
    Do not think that they care two hoots about freedoms or principles or any of that nonsense.
    “What’s in it for me?” is their only guiding ethic.
    The only difference that independence will make in this regard is that these particular spooks and shills will be working for MI6 instead of MI5. Sad to say, one of the first priorities of a new independent Scottish government will be to establish their own network of counter-intelligence operatives to combat this threat. I hope that the SNP have one eye on this already.

  2. xsticks says:

    In the run-up to the 2014 referendum I continually tried to raise the issue about british intelligence and how they undoubtedly would be involved in trying to derail any chance of Scottish independence. I think my fears were well founded, as the result ultimately proved.

    I think the SNP were incredibly naïve in 2014 and believed the british establishment would play by the rules. They do not play by ANY rules when there is a threat to their power. The independence movement was just exactly that threat.

    We allowed the Electoral Commission to run the referendum. First mistake. We allowed the local councils to run the postal voting and the counts. Second mistake. We failed to provide sufficient oversight to the counting and storage of postal votes at very insecure council offices and the delivery of those ballot boxes to the counting centres. Third mistake.

    Added together these failures on our part ensured the british establishment won.

    At the time I was accused of being a tin-foil hatted conspiracy theorist.

    I sincerely hope that if there is another referendum we will be much more aware of the threat of british intelligence services and how they will do everything (and anything) to prevent Scotland ever becoming an independent country.

    I believed in 2014 that only an overwhelming landslide vote for indy would overcome attempts by the british state to rig the vote. I still think that is the case, and next time it will be even harder to overcome as they now know how close Yes got the last time. If we allow the establishment ANY control over the referendum I am sorry to say we are likely to lose again.

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    Some will say there’s no evidence for your concerns, such as Wings, I say the opposite; I agree with you. I mean, it’s only a nation’s future at stake! There will also be cheats tinkering at the edges, but in a referendum where every vote counts we have to create a water-tight system – look at the Brexit lies and paid votes!

  4. One might argue that if Scotland is ever to exist as an Independent Nation again it must first have a counter-intelligence service.

    The UK has already declared us an existential threat to its territorial integrity. To ignore that threat would be foolhardy.

  5. Another great one GB! All English media in Scotland is ofcourse tory. They hire fresh young tories, they protect aging mad old tories. They brainwash us by the hour with tory propaganda, in England and Scotland. Its deep corruption but its the logical process of UK elitism inherit in private education and our class structure. Working class people would never get near the BBC’s giant news and “current affairs” construct today. That did happen a bit in the 60’s, even in the BBC. I can still remember guys like Brian Redhead really laying in to the tories, Imagine a BBC ligger oking Kathy Come Home? No chance. They’ll never make that mistake again. BBC in Scotland’s interesting only in that it was over run by Labour people, who ofcourse utterly detest Scottish democracy today. The real issue today is the future of the BBC. Can this giant right wing media corp, the biggest in the UK by far, clearly slithering in to neo fascism… can they actually bring down Scotland’s elected SNP gov in Holyrood, let alone destroy Scottish democracy completely. BBC always wins, in the end.

    Keep em coming Grousy!

    Also, Stu Campbell is a hero, terrific writer, fearless, like you.


  6. Today’s technology is vastly superior to that in Harold Wilson’s time. He was being monitored by these spooks and it caused a furore, since Wilson was Prime Minister at the time. It was thought he had links to the KGB, at least that was the excuse at the time, any excuse will do. In those days, rooms were bugged by listening devices. Today, parabolic microphones can record voice inside rooms, laser technology can hear voices by focussing on window panes. The vibrations of the glass can be decoded into speech, scanners like we see at airports, can be used to see inside buildings. Some people think this is conspiracy theorising and our Government would never do this to us. They do, often and now in May’s time, without scrutiny, even though it was shown to be illegal and contrary to people’s human rights etc. The snooper’s charter it was entitled by the papers. Indeed it is.

    Now consider the threat the Scottish Government are perceived to be to the Union and you can understand that even more surveillance would be undertaken. Everything said or done in Bute House will not be strange to Mi5 and 6. Every meeting will be logged and conversation noted, read, disassembled and posted up the chain of command until read by the UK Government departments responsible for national security. We are all a National Security threat by the way we wish to vote. Our e- mails, telephone texts, phone calls can be recorded for later perusal by the Government. Regardless of human rights, this is where we are now in this technological age.

    Excellent essay yet again. I am sure you will be one of those who will be getting some attention henceforth, as will many who write in the name of Scottish Independence.

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    Excellent point. Agreed.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    I wonder if we will ever see the BBC make a drama in the socially conscious style of ‘Boys From the Blackstuff’? Not in our lifetime – eh?

  9. Alan Gordon says:

    I would dearly like to say “wonderful stuff” but this is worrying stuff expertly laid out.

    Many of us have strong suspicions of “spook” involvment, even in what I regard as lowly campaigning, thought and opinion sharing. I have, while discussing/arguing the toss on social media, noticed that suddenly the way words were being used, the phraseology, changed and I was left feeling I was arguing with more than one person, with the same “handle”.

    One of these occasions was on Bella. Other stuff with paper work, phones and digital device connections, difficult talk about, harder to prove. It didn’t make me feel important, just more cautious and more determined to see Scotland independent.

    Your essay makes me feel less belonging of the Tin Foil hat Club thanks.

  10. Johnny Rudkin says:

    I still think that Alex Salmond and the SNP made grave mistakes. One that Alex Salmond took the blame for was no exit polls. Did a professional like Salmond forget that? I doubt it. The postal votes is what won it for the No’s.

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    A lot of letters that arrive following a published essay teach me something new, or something I was barely aware of but had not registered its significance. Yours is one such letter. They narrative changes from direct speech to sly propaganda took over the debate when it appeared Yes was winning. The Vow is a prime example of it.

    I quote news reportage penned by Daniel Defoe in the essay about him. It shows how he taught journalists to play with truth, a to make one thing say another without actually lying in the face of the reader.

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    Johnny: Yes, there’s lots of people have misgivings about postal votes. It makes no sense Scots would vote against governing their own country.

  13. Douglas Deans says:

    I fear that I might now add an extra layer of paranoia.
    Just very occasionally I come across comments from Yessers that so deeply counterproductive that it makes me suspicious. The vast vast majority of Yessers are positive and constructive. Sometimes a counterproductive attitude is the product of a particular group agenda tagging onto Yes but sometimes it seems so crass as to be wilful wrecking. An example is that on a recent march someone tried to get a ‘Tory scum out’ chant going. Those round him wanted nothing to do with this and the attempt got nowhere because it didn’t reflect the outlook of those present.
    I was taught ‘never put down to malice what can be explained by stupidity’ however the stupidity explaination is sometimes hard to believe…
    I’m gonna need a lot more tin foil for my hat.

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    Well, there’s bourgeois good manners and there’s cognisance that in any revolution some sections of society should expect to be outraged.

    As I understand it, those of influence in the cause of self-governance want to illustrate how inclusive the movement is, everyone is welcome, but quite frankly, everyone cannot be welcome who work against it. Self-censorship to avoid insulting sensibilities narrows the debate. On the other hand, I recall being shooshed at a meeting when mentioning ‘colonialism’ because English were present, which seemed an odd reprimand. Where does self-censorship begin and end?

    ‘Tory Scum’ limits identification of democracy’s enemies to one party, the one in power. Captain Corbyn and his Labour crew are just as hell bent on scuppering our rights.

    There are some things which it would not do to speak of in polite society. Or put another way, ‘no right thinking’ person would shout “Tory scum!”.

  15. Brian Powell says:

    Why do we rarely get their names?

  16. Grouse Beater says:

    You can be fined and imprisoned if you name them. They ‘out’ themselves in some way, or the press discover a number are involved in espionage of civil protestors, and their clandestine work unravels from there. In court trials they are given anonymity.

  17. Douglas Deans says:

    Thanks GB,
    I suppose I was a little too coy reporting the content of the chant because the rest of it advocated bonfires and combustion of the enemy. I just didn’t want to give this any more prominence. The chant was clearly inflammatory to the point of being illegal. Thankfully (and unsurprisingly) it found no resonance with the marchers.

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    Aye, well, Anglophiles don’t hang, draw and quarter secessionists anymore, only because they have subtler ways of controlling and silencing dissent called the press and media.

  19. davidmccann24 says:

    Excellent article as always.
    If you need further proof of how successive British governments worked covertly to discredit the SNP, have a look at the excellent a documentary “Diomhair’ produced many years ago by BBC Alba. Here is the YouTube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-id8hYRx0D4

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    I’ll place that at the foot of the essay, David. Many thanks.

  21. Hugh Wallace says:


    Bit of a contrast to some of the things Derek Bateman has written over the years.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    I stand to be corrected, I think Bateman worked in the news department. I entered the BBC at the top and soon discovered I wanted out. I’ve seen his calls for tolerance but they are worthless in the face of an organisation that managed to help block devolution on first vote and independence too. I trust the BBC won’t manage the same trick a second time for self-governance. Incidentally, I can’t recall him re-tweeting an essay of mine, or quoting from one, but that might be down to professional diplomacy. 🙂

  23. Hugh Wallace says:

    I valued Mr Bateman’s articles nearly as much as yours, GB, and wish he still wrote regularly, but I’ve never believed that his stance on the bbc was accurate.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    I do not find his approach rigorous enough. From the tenor of his articles, I perceive him a man who’d take an executive role in the BBC if ever offered, but announce it as his crusade to clean up their attitude to Scotland. For my part, I’d take their money to shoot my female driven Clearance movie but resolutely remain freelance. Of course, all that is fantasy hypotheticals. 🙂

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