Monday, April 29, 2019

ITV speaking power to truth

Peter A Smith, the Scotland correspondent for ITV News (which these days is a depressingly pale imitation of the past glories of ITN), conducted an interview with Nicola Sturgeon the other day.  It went on for several minutes, but somehow never moved beyond the one and only question that Smith seemed interested in hearing an answer to: what was Ms Sturgeon's "strategy" for getting round the Tories' obstructionism on a Section 30 order?  Now, in one sense that's not an unreasonable question, because as a number of us on the Yes side have pointed out, there are a couple of obvious ways forward that wouldn't require a Section 30, and in an ideal world we'd like to hear Ms Sturgeon commit to one or other of them as a Plan B just in case "now is not the time" turns into "never is the time".  But Smith didn't come across as a man who was pursuing an exercise in intellectual curiosity about why the Scottish Government are so needlessly reluctant to act without Westminster's permission.  Instead, as he shouted in ill-mannered fashion over the First Minister's answers, his subtext appeared to be: "Give up, know your place, and accept there is no strategy that can get you a second referendum. Stop giving your supporters false hope."  And that really wasn't a great look when the argument he was shouting down was that the UK government should and will simply accept the democratic choice the Scottish people have already made to hold a referendum in the lifetime of this parliament.

As a clownish postscript to the interview, Smith triumphantly announced on Twitter that the UK government had since "reiterated" that it would not allow an independence referendum to take place, and then added "back to you, First Minister".  Which was as much as to say: "No, no, you weren't listening the first time, it really is hopeless.  Ready to give up now?"

Given that he was essentially trolling the SNP leadership, it perhaps wasn't surprising that Smith attracted a fair bit of ire from SNP and Yes supporters, and unfortunately some of it took the form of personal abuse.  He was perfectly within his rights to complain about that, but the manner in which he did so simply cast further doubt over whether he is living up to his duty of impartiality as a broadcast journalist...

"A selection of the joy sent my way since interviewing Nicola Sturgeon.
These so-called ‘cybernats’ (a useless, reductive term I don’t like) are no worse than other fragile individuals. The problem of people not liking their views being reasonably challenged is just endemic now."

That's about as cynical a dog-whistle as you'll ever see.  He might as well have put on a Francis Urquhart voice, and said: "You may think that there's such a thing as a 'Cybernat' problem, and you may feel that these screenshots bear that out, but I'm afraid that I could not possibly agree with you".  It was astonishing to see that one or two people were naive enough to take his protestations that he "doesn't like" the word Cybernat at face value.  Can any of us imagine him reacting to unionist abuse with the words "these so-called CyberBrits" or "these so-called Yoons"?  Nope, thought not.

Basically he's inviting us to make a straight choice between taking the side of abusive people on the internet, or accepting that his interview style was an example of fearless journalism that was legitimately challenging the views of a political leader.  Well, in much the same way that I reacted to George W Bush telling us that we were either with him or we were with the terrorists, I'm going to opt out of that moronic false choice.  I have no truck with personal abuse of journalists and politicians, and I wish people on all sides would stop doing it. But that doesn't mean I'm daft enough to believe that Smith was nobly speaking truth to power.  He was actually doing the polar opposite of that, and attempting to shut down Nicola Sturgeon's views by telling her that "power says no".

Speaking power to truth has long been the preference of the UK broadcast media.  Can you recall a single interviewer in the run-up to the indyref shouting over the answers of David Cameron or Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling, and demanding to know "but does 'permanent' mean that the Scottish Parliament's existing powers can never be removed?" or "how can the Scottish people be expected to vote for a plan that you won't actually devise until the referendum is over?" or "what recourse will the Scottish people have if this turns out to be the baloney it appears?" or "on what date will you resign if none of this ever sees the light of day?"

Of course you can't.  It was all "oooh, how interesting, do tell us more, and why not call it Devo Max?"

42 comments:

  1. There was a whole series of really crappy interviews with Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, during which the journalists - who aren't themselves unintelligent individuals - affected astonishingly obtuse stupidity. The Channel 4 guy - Ciaran Jenkins - kept insisting that Scotland would HAVE to adopt the Euro, only to reveal in subsequent questions and a quote from Bulgaria(?) that he was fully aware of the subtleties of agreeing to aspire to the Euro, but never signing up for it. And so on relentlessly for the whole day. When the Yes 49% poll came out the next morning I could fondly imagine Nicola sticking the Vs to the telly whenever any these sticky gits-for-a-day appeared. And don't get me started on that Sir John Curtice - who I've just noticed always ends his obfuscating little perorations on why Scottish Independence will be difficult/tricky/well-nigh impossible, with a little smirk. (Bit of a giveaway, John)
    Oh, and thanks (not) for the reminder of that Jackie Bird's contibution to Better Together. That was a feckin' disgrace...

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  2. I don't see anything wrong in abusing an abusive Yoon creep. They deserve it with interest especially the Yoon Media whores.

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    1. It is what you Nat si do best, so why not!

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    2. It's better to point out their bias, unconscious or otherwise, than hurl abuse. If we want to win we need to convince folk that voted no - not scream at them

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    3. A pity Nicola hadn't told him, if he cant hold a civilised conversation he can leave.

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    4. Comments of the following nature are a two edged sword. While it it is sensible to simply point out the errors in style or content of commentators/reporters, as insults are unlikely to convert anyone and may in fact put off potential independence supporters, drawing attention to this fact encourages abusive trolls passiing themselves off as independence supporters. It's an unfortunate Catch 22 situation that leads me to wonder how many abusive 'independence supporters' are in fact anti-independence.

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  3. I am rarely impressed, but this:

    "Speaking power to truth has long been the preference of the UK broadcast media. Can you recall a single interviewer in the run-up to the indyref shouting over the answers of David Cameron or Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling, and demanding to know "but does 'permanent' mean that the Scottish Parliament's existing powers can never be removed?" or "how can the Scottish people be expected to vote for a plan that you won't actually devise until the referendum is over?" or "what recourse will the Scottish people have if this turns out to be the baloney it appears?" or "on what date will you resign if none of this ever sees the light of day?"

    Well, yes.

    It is argueably, the real question.

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  4. I read your site every day and am always impressed but, today you have excelled.

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    1. Ditto that. Excellent stuff.

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  5. Refusing a Section 30 is the worst mistake the English/British government could ever make. It will cost them the union.

    The damage it is causing will be irreparable. It's utterly destroying the union for many unionists who genuinely believed it was their / Scotland's free choice.

    The British/English government is punching unionists in the face and taking their right to vote away from them. We 'nats' expected this would happen; many unionists did not. It is them who will feel utterly betrayed, and by the very people they had trusted in 2014.

    And unless Lab + the Libs come out and totally condemn the Tories, the Scots electorate will seem them as entirely complicit in subjugating Scotland against the will of the people.

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    1. You should be happy if the above scenario happens.

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    2. Cordelia loves a bit of subjugation.

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    3. I think May will concede a section 30 order so that England will not be in perminent dissagreement with an independent Scotland.

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  6. I still think that (as my mother used to say) it will all end in tears. Many of us believe that the UK government will at some point have to give sway to another referendum but I am not so sure. History doesn't really back this up. The words of David Mundell yesterday show an attitude that is foreign to those of us on the social justice side of the fence. We really do have to countenance the continuing refusal of a UK government to grant independence through whatever route we end up taking. Presently we are talking about timing and process but at the end of the day it is what happens after we have exhausted process and are faced with refusal. I do not believe it is impossible that we will be faced with a Catalonia style situation where some of our politicians have to face up to the possibility of breaking the UK law to respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland and facing the consequences of such an act. Look at the history of the UK most countries have had to wrest their freedom from them. They are happy to ignore international law when they want to Iraq or the Chagos Islands for example, and have been 'imprisoning' people illegally for years from the Tolpuddle Martyrs, to John MacLean to internment, opting out of part of the European Convention on Human Rights to detain people. When you look into it just even a couple of google searches will show you that the UK is not the kind auntie it broadcaster makes it out to be - its ruthless when it serves its interests. I am beginning to think that we missed our chance in 2014 and that it is going to get ugly in due course.

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    1. For sure. We can't rule out English/British jackboots on Scottish streets beating up old ladies for trying to vote. That is the natural continuation of a Section 30 refusal, and what an English/British government would need to do if Scotland went ahead and held a free and fair iref2 yielding a result not to the former's liking. It's that or the UK ends.

      Remember, UDI is 100% successful every time...

      ...unless the jackboots are sent in to 'take back control'.

      And on a permanent basis, because once you are keeping control by force rather than democracy, then you'll never be left alone. It will mass protests on the streets, strikes... and if that doesn't work....very likely dirks in the night, bombs at the roadside etc until the subjugated natives finally kick you out. History shows us this is as sure as night follows day. You cannot peacefully rule a country if the locals don't want you there.

      It is a really, really stupid and dangerous move to refuse a Section 30. It will kill unionism in Scotland, and pursuing such a path can lead only to dark days.

      ---

      I see the Catalan pro-indy parties have just beat records in the Spanish union elections. So much for Spain arresting loads of their politicians and imposing direct rule etc. As expected, all that achieved was to turn Catalan unionists into independence supporters.

      When Spain rolled back devo (like Westminster is doing for brexit), indy support shot up, leading to catalan ref1. The continued refusal of a Section 30 + recent crackdown is now fully destroying catalan unionism.

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    2. We should keep asking because each time a rabid britnat bawls out No! it shows up the "precious2 union for what it is: unfair, undemocratic and unsustainable.

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    3. The treaty of union was to make Scotland raise money to pay off English debt, read the 25 articles of union. We are still paying off English debt 312 years later.

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  7. Never saw the interview and never will. Life is sweeter when not wasting precious time watching shallow TV hacks grind out their personal agendas.

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  8. Following on from the comments over the last couple of days about 'no' friendly pollsters regarding yes/no indyref polling, I have broken down the polls and come up with a couple of charts that show how 'no' friendly the various pollsters are in relation to each other over time.

    http://bit.ly/2vsjFPm

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  9. Supporting Scotland being in the UK is a very, very different position to back stripping the rights of its people to freely choose that. These two positions could not be further apart.

    No true Scottish unionist could ever support the refusal of a Section 30 requested by a Holyrood parliamentary majority. If they back a Section 30 refusal, they are not Scottish unionist nor a democrat.

    If you don't want another independence referendum, then you need to win Holyrood elections on that ticket. To refuse a Section 30 is to try and overrule the result of a democratic election because you didn't win. To refuse requests as a rule going forward is to cancel future elections because you can't win them.

    If elected politicians cannot implement key policies because they are overruled by the unelected (the UK government is wholly unelected in terms of Scottish self determination), then elections are rendered meaningless.

    And what next? Devolution is already being dispensed with via the brexit bill; a massive power grab by England. Refusal of a Section 30 would be even worse as it's an attempt to prevent Scots voting to leave the UK in response to such a power grab.

    Sorry folks, but a Section 30 refusal would be fascism beginning in the UK. It doesn't matter if the Scottish government might find a legal route around it in some way; the fact it has been attempted by the UK government is sufficient to make it fascist / dictatorial.

    And where is the 'democrat' Corbyn? Where is the outrage from Labour and the Lib Dems demanding the 2016 result be respected? Holyrood was their baby, and it is being stripped of all democratic meaning before their eyes.

    Dark times for UK democracy are approaching. Scotland must leave, and as soon as possible.

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  10. If Holyrood results can be overruled like this, why not UK election results?

    If a Section 30 is refused, as night follows day, so in time a UK government will say 'now is not the time' for a general election they suspect they'll lose. After all, if they've done it once and nobody put up a fight, then they'll try it again. 'A national emergency / emergency powers' is normally used to justify this move.

    More likely it will be the next Scottish election that's cancelled / neutered if it looks like pro-indy parties may win it. Spain's been trying this; it's the natural next step after refusing a referendum request. Doing so just leads to a surge in support for said referendum, so you need to neuter the parliament.

    That or we see a bill passed by English MPs to ban Holyrood being able to legislate for referendums, so effectively ending elections in Scotland. 'You can vote for whatever you want as long as its unionism'.

    Anyway, bye bye 'Mother of parliaments / cradle of democracy'. Not that anyone outside of England ever thought that.

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  11. Goodness me skier you must be Frank Carson resurrected, it's the way I tell them.

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    1. The hand that gives is the hand that lives.

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    2. ..said Ross Thompson. Allegedly.

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  12. Are Labour making a giving Holyrood a Section 30 a red line in any Lab-Con brexit coalition deal or are they going to join the Tories in forcing Scotland to stay in the UK / be forced out of the EU against its will?

    Asking for the electorate.

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    1. The electorate have spoken.

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    2. sorry you have lost me, a few days ago you were saying that a section 30 was not needed for an indy ref, had nothing to do with anyone apart from the Scot Gov. If that is the case then the UK Gov cannot force Scotland to stay in the UK.

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    3. Ofcourse they will join the tories, they will need the Scottish oil and gas.

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    4. It's your union being attacked here. It's like Juncker refusing to grant the UK an EUref, and saying legally Brussels will always refuse such a request.

      Bye bye Scottish unionism.

      And that's before getting dragged out of the EU.

      Yes vote could readily rise to the 74% achieved in 1997 after all those years of Thatcher saying 'No, no, no' to devo.

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    6. @Anon

      The UK government are attempting to end democracy. And that is what matters when it comes to votes. Whether they succeed or not is a different matter.

      As far as the electorate is concerned, such UK government actions don't suddenly stop being fascist because the Scottish government might find a way to get around them.

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    7. still not an answer - is a section 30 needed? If not your post about Scotland being forced to stay in the UK is wrong.

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    8. So what's the purpose of the UK government refusing a Section 30?

      Asking for the electorate.


      (what I think matters jack shit, as do my posts. It's what the electorate think that matters)

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    9. Why have the Scot Gov neither asked for an section 30 (if needed) or organised an indy ref (if not) to stop Scotland being taken out of the EU?

      asking for the electorate

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    10. If Scots can leave the UK without Westminster's 'permission', unionists need to shout it from the rooftops.

      Otherwise, the electorate are going to be believe the nat line that this Section 30 refusal thing is England trying to keep Scotland in the UK against its will. After all, that's what the UK government is actually saying it's trying to do.

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  13. If Labour sign a brexit deal with the Tories which takes Scotland out of the EU while the Tories refuse a Section 30 / attempt to block any new Scottish iref, then Scottish Labour can kiss goodbye to their remaining voters.

    Unless they back independence. Which is what a section would do if the above happens.

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    1. All sounding very cosy. Labour must back a Section 30 refusal as I can't see a mention of anything to the contrary here.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48090950

      Brexit: Labour-Conservative Coalition talks 'productive' and 'constructive'

      Are the Scottish Lib Dems backing the English Tories too or have they demanded a Section 30 be granted?

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  15. Why not have Brexit 2, IndyRef 2, and Irish Unification 2 (U2?) On same day? Guardian piece on inevitable independence in "some form" getting play over here.

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  16. Ruth Davidson now on the news saying there's no point in holding further Holyrood elections as results should just be overuled by England (no Section 30) if unionists don't win.

    That's actually what she's saying. Right there on the telly.

    This is seriously supposed to save the UK?

    Madness.

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