Silencing the lamb

We’re less than a week away from the most important poll in Scotland’s history (© Nicola Sturgeon and SNP). Most parties have now produced their manifestos, so those who take the time to read them will have a good idea what they’re proposing should they get into government. But, of course, few folk take the time to read manifestos. They depend on the information they get from the press, television and increasingly, from social media. Though social media may be challenging the press in terms of readership, there is no doubt that most voters will make their decision on who to vote for based on their own prejudices and what they are told by the TV channels.

Because of the impact of television on voters election choices, the terrestrial channels, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are required to be scrupulously fair in their election coverage. The principle is to ensure that the special impartiality requirements in the Communications Act 2003 and other legislation relating to broadcasting on elections and referendums, are applied at the time of elections and referendums (Ofcom Broadcasting Code: Elections and Referendums). Indeed, the requirement to be free from bias is covered in the BBC Charter and Agreement, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Representation of the People Act 1983 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

As you can see, fairness in election broadcasting is so important that it is mentioned in practically all legislation relating to elections. But do these rules apply to all parts of the UK? Or is this just another situation where we can say “except for viewers in Scotland”?

Though the broadcasters have a duty of fairness placed on them during the election period, it is left to the broadcasters themselves to decide what is fair. This allows a certain flexibility in interpretation. For example, in the past, this meant that election panels could consist of representatives of the four main political parties, SNP, Labour, LibDems and Tories. The fact that three of them were unionist supporting parties didn’t seem to breach the “fairness” rules. For years now, the independence supporters have suffered from a lack of representation in political debates. This was democracy as seen though the eyes of the Scottish based unionist broadcasters. Of course, in the interest of democracy, it would have been possible for the leaders of the unionist parties to remind the broadcasters of their duty of fairness, but why wouldn’t they accept the inbuilt advantage handed to them.

In the current election campaign, another party has appeared. They currently have roughly similar membership to the Greens and the LibDems. They have, thanks to defections, representatives in Westminster and in several local authorities. They have put up 32 candidates, 4 in each of the 8 regions, though they are not contesting any of the constituency seats. They are led by, arguably, the most well known politician in Scotland, a former leader of the current party of government, whose current leader tried to get him jailed on sexual charges and who has been bad-mouthing him ever since the not guilty verdict.

Sounds like unmissable television, doesn’t it. You would have expected the broadcasters to have been licking their lips at the thought of it. Salmond vs Sturgeon head-to-head? TV program of the year? Scotland’s biggest audience for a political program?

But for reasons unknown, both BBC Scotland and STV declined to invite Alex Salmond to take part in the leaders debate, leaving us with the question – WHY? Were they frightened of allowing the audience to compare Alex Salmond’s capability to the rest of party leaders. Was it, as some have alleged, because Nicola Sturgeon refused to appear on the same program as Alex Salmond. Who knows? BBC’s alleged reason (excuse?) was that Alba had no MSPs, but those of us who remember back to 2016 will recall the appearance of David Coburn, the know-nothing UKIP MEP at a time when UKIP had no MSPs.

So was there another excuse (reason)? It has become obvious that, as the SNP push independence further and further into the long grass, the BBC Scotland and STV (and the rest of the mainstream media) have become noticeably less hostile to the SNP. There’s fewer and fewer SNP baad stories (replaced most recently by Alba baad). Could it be that the media now see the SNP as less of a danger to the union? Certainly less of a threat than Alba.

In case you think this is the way all television channels in the UK behave, have a quick look at what BBC Wales are doing. In a 90 minute pre-election debate, they have 5 leaders debating for the first hour, joined by another 3 for the last 30 minutes. Apparently only BBC Scotland feels the need to employ censorship. So I suppose “except for viewers in Scotland” is the way to describe the fairness of our media. Perhaps the television companies will introduce a ratings system for political broadcasting, similar to film classification: U(universal) for all programs not involving Alba and 100+ (only for really old adults) if Alba are involved.

What are we to take from this? Is it permissible for the television companies to decide what people and what parties are allowed to put forward their thoughts and ideas to the public? Are BBC Scotland and STV the arbitrars of what political viewpoints are so awful that the public wouldn’t be able to cope with hearing them? Or are they just absolutely determined to take every step to make sure the public can’t be infected with the independence disease? What do you think?

One last thought. Alba are not just taking a lot of stick from the media. They have been subject to almost constant attack by many members of fellow “independence supporting” SNP (and the nasty women-hating Greens), who have accused Alba of every known evil, including responsibility for the drop in support for independence shown in recent opinion polls, while, at the same time, saying no one is paying any attention to them and they’ll get no votes. Shows what happens when you let your hatred get the better of your common sense.

Another last thought. In a recent interview, Nicola Sturgeon said that if Alba were represented in the Scottish Parliament after the election and if they put forward a motion for an immediate start to independence negotiations with Westminster, as they have said in their manifesto they will do, she would instruct SNP MSPs to vote against it. Her view, just like Theresa May before her, is that “now is not the time”. Will she ever believe it’s the right time for independence? Who Knows? However, for me, that’s pretty much the last straw. How could the party of independence have sunk so low that they are prepared to allow Westminster to whittle away the limited powers available to them as a devolved parliament and their only response is do nothing but bleat about it for years and years and ………..

Another other last thought. Having just seen the photos of the new campaign buses and knowing that Nicola Sturgeon has often said she wasn’t keen on the party’s name, I foresee a change of name coming soon, from SNP Scottish National Party to NSP Nicola Sturgeon Party perhaps. Given there is no party name on the buses, it seems like a fair bet.

The SNP, the party that dare not speak its name.

FACING THE TRUTH

What follows is a blog by Iain Lawson, a long time senior member of the SNP, though no longer, for reasons not within his control. A passionate independence supporter, he still has considerable knowledge of all things SNP. If you want to see more blogs from Iain, you can find him at https://yoursforscotlandcom.wordpress.com

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DON’T BURY YOUR HEAD OR HIDE AWAY.

Here are some facts

  1. Alex Salmond was falsely accused with multiple charges being made against him.
  2. Long before any trial the “charges” were maliciously leaked to a newspaper.
  3. This led to a media frenzy that championed the multi charges from so many different women as evidence there was no hope of acquittal.
  4. Throughout the trial media reports were extremely hostile largely reporting the prosecution evidence while ignoring the defence evidence that effectively destroyed the prosecution case.
  5. During the trial Mr Salmond’s defence team tried to lodge a number of WhatsApp messages that they argued proved a clearly planned conspiracy against him. The judge did not permit them to be lodged.
  6. The trial ended with every single charge being thrown out by a jury comprised of more women than men. Not a single charge was upheld.
  7. Much of the prosecution case was shown up as patently false or contrived.
  8. Shortly after the trial those responsible for the rejected allegations signed a press release that continued their smear campaign against the man who had just been cleared of every single charge
  9. The BBC in the form of an hour long documentary then produced a programme called “the Trial of Alex Salmond” that repeated all the allegations, had interviews with the “victims” using actor’s voices and pictures of nervous twitching all for effect, YET MANAGED TO OMIT THE ENTIRE DEFENCE CASE, EVERY SINGLE DEFENCE WITNESS WAS IGNORED. It was aired multiple times.
  10. Last week one of those WhatsApp messages were leaked and it was revealed that the SNP Chief Executive was actively encouraging pressure to be applied on the police and to open up more allegations through the Met in London. I am led to believe there are more WhatsApp messages from this closed group which provide much more evidence of the plot and those involved.
  11. It is already known from numerous press reports that a number of the allegations were made by senior members of the SNP and Scottish Government.
  12. Craig Murray, who reported the trial honestly and accurately, unlike the MSM who continued to try and paint Alex Salmond guilty, is facing contempt of court charges despite doing considerably less to reveal the identities of the alphabet women than was possible from the reports in many of the mainstream publications

This section that follows is not all facts but includes opinion based on the information I have.

WHY? IS A QUESTION ASKED BY MANY.

Political patronage can be lucrative. Any leader of any Government has the opportunity to move into their administration many positions in both Government and Party to  their closest allies and friends. These positions, both paid and unpaid are largely reliant on the leader staying in place. 

Now, if the people concerned have true talent they probably could survive a change of leader, but, it is much safer to them if any potential contenders can be kept well away from the centre of power. I fear that is what we are dealing with here with the malicious attempts to kill off Alex Salmond and keeping Joanna Cherry out of Holyrood. I do think they are both connected to the same fear. Likewise control of the NEC is part of the same problem.

BUT WHAT BROUGHT THIS ON?

I am told it was brought on by the incident involving Mark MacDonald where he retweeted a message he should not have done and a bandwagon developed calling for him to resign his seat. There was a great fear that Alex Salmond would view such a by election as an opportunity to re enter Holyrood. Two things happened at this stage, the first allegations against Alex Salmond emerged. I believe it likely this was to only to stop him becoming a candidate but it was also accompanied with an easing back on the Mark McDonald situation where there were no more calls for him to resign his seat, merely to lose the whip. So no by election, he could stay to the next election with his seat being probably based on a future all women shortlist if necessary.. Problem solved.

THE CONSEQUENCES

For Alex Salmond if he had been found guilty he could easily, at his age, been facing a prison sentence that could have seen him spending the rest of his natural life in jail. Think about that. Then think of the enormous pain and suffering he suffered over almost two years knowing he was innocent but still knowing his freedom was entirely dependent on a jury believing him innocent. The more so that the jury for that very extended period were subject to the same hostile commentary coming from the MSM in advance of the trial. Commentary designed to influence opinion. Look how many supposedly loyal SNP people were influenced to accept his guilt. Often the same people today who complain and whine when efforts are being made to encourage the Party to take action against those involved in this plotting.

IN CONCLUSION

I have known Alex Salmond for thirty five years. We are not close. I sent him a message of support in advance of his trial and contributed to his defence fund. I am friendly with a good number of MP’s and MSP’s and some of what I have written above comes from these sources. None of the above is single source information.

I hope this matter can be dealt with speedily. I have been calling for a Party Enquiry from the end of the trial. Perhaps last week’s revelation of the Chief Executive’s enthusiasm for pushing the charges against Alex Salmond is the explanation of why it has never happened. I remember swift action in the past.

I suspect this started as a silly plot, but having succeeded in heading off the threat in Mark McDonald’s seat, some bright spark, thinking of the various selection battles arising in the lead up to the May 2021 decided they should administer the coup de grace with the creation of more malicious charges which spiraled out of control and resulted in such damage to Alex Salmond, despite his innocence, and which will ultimately result in a lot more humiliation and disaster for those responsible as the truth about these events becomes increasingly apparent. More and more people know the identities so this is inevitable.

You will note this article does not suggest any MI5 or Westminster involvement in this debacle. I do not rule it out but if there is I am unaware of it. What I do see and find utterly despicable is the cooperation between those who created the false allegations and the Unionist media who have been delighted to use these gifts to smear a man who was, and still is, the greatest threat to the Union. That has been betrayal with a capital B and they should be ashamed of themselves and certainly holding no office within the SNP or Scottish Government. It is just ridiculous that those seeking justice on this matter have to suffer accusations of being disloyal and disruptive from the same folk who are willing to overlook the actions of those who created these disgraceful and vindictive events. Has the World gone mad?

I desperately want Independence. I never created the false narrative, I never leaked the charges to the media, I never conspired with others to endanger the freedom of an innocent man, or who continued to run an organised smear campaign against him once the charges were all dismissed. All done from hiding.

Think about this, if people see you trying to bury such wrongdoing, prepared to let it go, they are going to ask what else is being hidden in our drive for Independence? It would be an effective attack that we can’t defend and would cost us dear. You simply can’t call for a fair and just Scotland and then turn a blind eye to this. It won’t work, but more important it is just so wrong.

So if you are angry at all this and you would be right to be so, restrict it to those responsible. Being seen to tolerate and condone this sort of evil plotting, cowardly and devious behavior is not the route to a free, just and prosperous Scotland. We are a better people than that and our leadership needs to reflect that honesty and decency to inspire our people, or else all will be lost….and will deserve to be. It’s a better, honest and just Scotland we are fighting for! Let’s not forget that and lead with the high standards Scotland deserves.

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland