The Information Deficit & the Truth Gap

UK Media is largely broken … what consequences does this have for #Brexit, democracy and the UK’s long term future?

You can usually learn lessons for the future, from the past, so let’s start. One harsh lesson learned from the 2014 Indepedence referendum by the losing #Yes side in Scotland, was the difficulty in getting your message out to the general public in the face of a pretty closed, biased media.

To quickly recap, we had no television or radio stations that were pro-independence (and still don’t). We had one Sunday paper that had come out for Independence; the Sunday Herald (since defunct, replaced by sunday edition of The Herald) and The National didn’t yet exist. (Incidently, there’s a whole other interesting story about the decline and demise of the Sunday Herald, which I won’t cover here, but needs documented).

I would argue that there was plenty of positive facts and information that should have led to a successful independence vote. A key issue was ordinary people not being given fair and full information by the traditional media in Scotland and people not being used to go a-looking, or indeed knowing where to look or even feeling motivated to go and start for information on their own terms (sound familiar, #Remainers?)

At that point, I’d argue many ordinary Scotland citizens simply didn’t know that they were effectively being lied to; they thought the Scottish media had their back, or at the very least wasn’t actively working against them and the Unionists used that to their advantage, not least of all, the staunchly Labour supporting Daily Record.

The infamous ‘Vow’ on the Daily Record being comprehensively shown to be a lie, has since busted that wide open in Scotland and what has happened since, is remarkable, with three big changes in the Scottish media landscape.

Firstly, people such as Murray Foote, who was the Daily Record deputy editor credited with the construction of ‘The Vow’ which made the front page on The Daily Record, have rightly in my view, been held accountable for some shocking abuses of power on a personal level. Murray for example, no longer works for the paper and is busy engaged in trying to recover his professional reputation and public image with furious backtracking and a public about-face on Independence. Good luck on that one.

Secondly, consumption of media has changed radically; readership of papers such as the Daily Record have collapsed and titles have closed, with individuals voting with their feet and wallets on who to support. The Sunday Herald, which was the first paper to support Independence, was taken over by a new Editor Neil Mackay in 2015 and first covertly, then overtly, stopped supporting independence. It’s first overt, mass alienation of it’s readership came in May 2018 after a photo story hugely misrepresented a public march in Glasgow, shortly after it hired the hugely devisive and contraversial journalist, Angela Haggerty, widely regarded as being a died-in-the-wool Scottish Labour supporter as deputy editor. After massive public outcry when she doxed and outed a young woman on twitter, Haggerty resigned in July 2018, citing ‘online abuse’ but was kept on as a columnist. The Sunday Herald has since closed in September 2018.

This has also been accompanied by viewing figures for BBC Scotland’s flagship news program, ‘Reporting Scotland’, tumbling to less than 5% of viewing adults and Radio Scotland’s main news reaching less than 2%, as reported Prof John Robertson and mentioned by Pat Kane. It’s hard to conclude anything other than people no longer feel BBC Scotland is relevent, especially as so few people believe it is trustworthy and see it attacking notable people who support Independence.

Thirdly, those still supporting Independence who wanted to get balanced facts in front of the Scottish public, decided to go down the self publishing route, to get their message out. We have a formidable array of new information channels emerging in Scotland . The daddy of them all, Wings Over Scotland (impeccable fact based journalism) has gone from strength to strength, together with Wee Ginger Dug (info with blunt humour), Indyref2 Scotland (behind the news, anti-spin) and one of my favourites, Talking Up Scotland by the rather wonderful Prof John Robertson.
Prof Robertson, particularly, delights in detailing carefully, with excellent 1-2-3 guides, how the media misreports and distorts the news in Scotland, about Scotland, whilst giving well sourced, authoritive facts about these stories. If you don’t read his work, then you should, IMHO.

So, why list all of this? What do I want to say to #Remain supporters?

Folks, you gotta get your shit together and I don’t see that happening yet. There’s several issues where you need to get better, fast.

Number 1 – Labour in England are not going to save you, Labour in Scotland are not going to save you and Labour in Wales are not going to save you.

Neither of these three parties are directly fighting Brexit. By all accounts, Corbyn wants Brexit and Labour MPs allowed the Westminster Government’s Brexit power grab to pass through Parliament. Scottish labour can’t support it for fear of looking like they support something that The SNP want to stop and god knows what Labour in Wales are doing. Their last leader caved in faster than a chocolate fireguard over the Brexit power grab and then promptly resigned. Forget Welsh Labour, they are not the vehicle to use to avoid Brexit, especially by having a Leadership contest right around the crucial Oct-Nov period in 2018 when Brexit negotiations will hit crisis point.

Labour in Scotland has also recently alienated what support it has left, by suggesting they would block the already present democratic mandate for a second independence referendum. Thats not gone down well up here. Stop hoping that Labour will save you. Not going to happen, sorry Corbynites.

Number 2 – Scotland is not going to save you (sorry, not sorry).

Sorry folks, we voted #Remain by 62% to 38% and we got ignored in our desire to stay in the single market and customs union by your opposition party (see No 1). We were also lied to by Westminster about the only way to stay in the EU was to vote Remain and that line was also pushed by UK Labour. Frankly, we have had enough. Scotland’s 5m population doesn’t achieve much against England’s 49M and we’re fed up trying. For a change we are looking after ourselves and don’t expect us to stick around and run with you off that cliff edge.

In fact, recently we’ve had very prominant people, including Vince Cable criticising Scotland for the apparant lack of support in pushing for a People’s vote. Yeah, that’s going to win us over. How about you respect the 62% of Scots that voted #Remain first mate?

Number 3 – Get your own facts, stop trusting the BBC and your press and get your truths out to the masses … organise!

Many countries have done their own assessments of the impact of Brexit on the UK, the EU and therefore opportunities and strategy for their own countries to follow, post Brexit. It is very sober reading, but this information is simply not to be found anywhere other than a few good sources on Twitter. The London based TV channels, the London based press and media have been utterly shocking in their lack of honest critique of Government policy, government reporting and actions of Brexit. They have been asleep at the wheel, whilst the medias of Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands have provided an abundance of information, facts and opinion on Brexit that should have been reflected back by our media.

Here’s the latest shocker, from the Australian Government as reported on Twitter. This information has been in the public domain for A YEAR and I haven’t seen this in any British publication or media channel. Here’s a few snippets.

4. The UK is likely to be the distressed negotiator, and it should be possible to extract significant concessions. https://twitter.com/EmporersNewC/status/1052459872606924800

or

7. There may be history between Australia and the UK, but nostalgia should not override trade realities. Australia should draw on recent developments to diversify its trade links with Europe and foster greater connections with EU, and non-EU, countries. https://twitter.com/EmporersNewC/status/1052460542588276736

or

16. Brexit will most likely result in a reduction of outward trade and investment with the UK. SME’s in particular will divert or delay their commitments. FDI can be expected to be reduced or diverted. Firms will have to choose between the EU and the smaller UK market. https://twitter.com/EmporersNewC/status/1052462621453164544

Frankly, the sharks are circling, but even as a #Remainer, would you know that if you relied purely on the BBC, ITV, The Daily Mail and The Times for your information? If you are pro #Brexit you won’t be looking for sources that contradict your opinions, so millions people who potentially may change their mind, as soft #Brexiters, if they knew of this new reality, will never have the opportunity to change opinion and then act on it as they simply do not know. That scares me to death.

in summary, there is no much heat and noise going on in the discussion pages on articles on BBC Online and in the press in England and Wales, but all I see is two far-apart sides becoming more polarised with few in the middle knowing what is going on and therefore being turned off from the debate.

In Scotland, we became mobilised and organised on a massive scale, as witnessed by the rise of use of social media (Scottish twitter is now absolutely dominated by well informed, vocal, pro-indy supporters engaging with people on a daily basis), throwing our purchasing power and eyeballs behind pro-indy media and away from biased Unionist sources … and getting out on to the streets.

What we’ve learned up here is that, if you want something doing, so it yourself. We saw 100k people march in Edinburgh to support Independence last weekend. That is a remarkable 2% of the Population and the biggest show of support we have had to date. That would be equivalent to 980k, almost a million people, marching through London – get out onto the streets and make so much noise that even the BBC can’t ignore you.

Several recent polls now place support for Independence equal to, or higher than support for the Union. When you take a hard Brexit into account, Independence wins. Scotland has significantly and substantially changed position on Scottish Independence since losing the referendum in 2014.

It took us four years. I’m sorry, but you don’t have that long to save the (r)UK being in the EU.

Good luck.

 

 

 

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