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Wings Over Scotland

Ambush Time

Posted on October 19, 2012 by

It’s hard to level accusations of bias based on nothing but tone, so let’s stick to the facts. Most of last night’s edition of Question Time on BBC1 discussed general political matters rather than the independence debate (overlooking the fact that one informs the other, of course), but there was a hefty section explicitly on the subject.

At the time of writing you can still watch the show for yourself on the iPlayer, but to save you sitting around with a stopwatch here’s how it broke down.

13m 40s Audience member question: “Do you believe Scotland would be better off as an independent nation?”

– Margaret Curran (Labour) speaks for 1m 49s.

– Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) speaks for 1m 46s.

– Audience member intervention. Initially sounds like a Union supporter, but by the end it’s clear that he’s a socialist, and expresses no direct preference for any party or either position on independence. For the purposes of this piece, he’s neutral. Nicola Sturgeon gets a brief reply, with interruptions.

– Alan Cochrane (arch-Unionist commentator) speaks for 42s.

– Audience member, with standard Unionist boilerplate about Ireland and Iceland.

– Audience member, with standard Unionist boilerplate about EU legal advice.

– Ruth Davidson (Conservative) speaks for 2m 40s.

– Cochrane speaks for 35s.

– Mark Serwotka (PCS Union chief, Welsh, non-aligned) speaks for 1m 55s.

– Curran speaks for 1m 05s.

– Audience member, in favour of devo max. Neutral.

– Cochrane speaks for 40s.

– Audience member, in favour of independence.

– At this point, bizarrely, Dimbleby solicits more audience interventions with the words “We’ve had two or three speakers FOR independence, who’s against the idea?” (We have in fact had ONE audience member supporting independence, who made a very short and generic “Why not give it a try, because things are rubbish as they are?” comment, along with two Unionists and two neutrals.)

– Audience member, ranting about an independent Scotland being unable to pay its share of UK debt.

– Audience member, making no particular point, keeping his hand raised while talking. Neutral.

– Serwotka speaks for 1m 20s.

– Cochrane speaks for 25s.

– Davidson speaks for 1m, and we move onto the next question at 33m 40s.

The segment has lasted exactly 20 minutes, with the panellists speaking for just over 14 minutes of that. The amount of time given to each viewpoint was:

UNIONIST SPEAKERS: 8m 56s (64%), plus three audience members
NEUTRALS: 3m 15s (23%), plus three audience members
INDEPENDENCE: 1m 56s (13%%), plus one audience member.

When the line-up of the show was announced and nationalists protested, many in the No camp (and, embarrassingly, the odd supposed SNP supporter) attempted to justify it by saying it represented public opinion in line with the latest polls.

Yet that’s palpably rubbish. Even the worst poll, from the independence perspective, put support for a Yes vote at 28% with a No vote at 53%. That doesn’t even justify a two-to-one outnumbering, let alone three-to-one, let alone an airtime bias of FIVE-to-one. But that’s balance, BBC-style.


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    81 to “Ambush Time”

    1. Scott Minto (Aka Snekyboy) says:


      Is that the secret love child of Chris Evans and Jackie Baillie?

    2. McV says:

      Excellent analysis as always. I still reckon the No Campers lost the argument.

    3. Training Day says:

      ..and of course no Unionist panellist advocated devo-max or more powers for Holyrood – the ‘more powers’ group being the key demographic to be convinced of independence in the battle ahead – so the panel was actually even MORE skewed!

    4. Jen says:

      I was surprised by the opinion of the Trade Union Rep.  I thought he spoke well.  It’s a shame more Trade Union people don’t come out and condem Labour for what they are: Tories by another colour.

      I think Nicola did well under the circumstances, however, the panels are loaded so as to ensure the impression that Independence is a minority view.  The audience must have been organised by Bitter Together.  The booing just made it seem, like football mob behaviour.

      I did enjoy the chairperson telling Margaret Curran that it was not definite that SNP would be in government after independence.  Her face was a picture.  


    5. Morag says:

      With respect to the “we’ve heard from some pro-independence people, can we here now from some who are against it,” my jaw hit the floor.  I wondered if he’d just made a mistake, because I’d only heard one half-hearted comment of approval and, it seemed, quite a bit of anti.

      One thing has struck me about a number of debates and vox pops, though.  The anti-independence people who are picked to speak seem vehemently dismissive, while the pro-independence people are half-hearted by comparison.  I don’t know when I heard an ordinary member of the public express real enthusiasm.  Are they just not broadcasting these interviews, or is everyone to diffident to come out strongly in favour?

    6. Morag says:

      The Trade Union guy was great, because he was allowed to speak.  Nicola listened to Magrit without interruption, but when she spoke Magrit only stayed silent for a short time then started to interrupt.  That of course makes Nicola raise her voice and it turns into a shouting match.

      The unionists didn’t know how to deal with the Welsh guy, and he was making considered points it would have been churlish to shout down, so he was very effective.

    7. YesYesYes says:

      You have to wonder, how much longer can the BBC keep this up for? But also, if and when, the polls start to show an increase in support for independence, can we expect to see representatives from the Yes campaign outnumber the No’s on QT? Interesting, too, that now that the UK government has signed the Edinburgh Agreement, Dimbleby allows Nicola Sturgeon and a Scottish audience to discuss independence. Yipee! The rest of the UK now has an official interest in independence, it’s no longer a taboo subject on the BBCs prime current affairs programme when it’s broadcast from Scotland!
      The question is: can we now expect the BBC to lift its virtual boycott of SNP party conferences? Unfortunately, no.
      Of course, there is another question: in this age of global, 24/7 news coverage – where we can even watch  live coverage on the BBC of all the US presidential debates – isn’t it remarkable that we’re even having this discussion about how (and why), our so-called ‘national’ broadcaster persists in its boycott of our government’s party conference whilst claiming to be impartial in its political coverage?
      Although I have little interest in David Cameron’s or his party’s opinions about anything, and I have little interest in Nick Clegg’s or his party’s opinions about anything, and little interest in Ed Miliband’s and his party’s opinions about anything, nevertheless, every year I can watch 8 hours of live, uninterrupted coverage on the BBC of all these party conferences every day. And if I miss any of the comprehensive live coverage during the day I can watch all these party conferences all over again as they’re repeated, on an endless loop it would seem, on the BBC Parliament channel. But as far as the BBC is concerned, if you’re not actually at the SNP conference yourself and you want to hear anything about the SNP conference, you have two choices: you can go fuck yourself or you can read about it in the papers. 

    8. muttley79 says:

      Thinking about all the independence debates on the BBC this year, one theme has been common, quality wise, in terms of articulation of arguments and respect shown to other speakers, they have all been really awful.  People are constantly being spoken over as they attempt to give their views.  I have noticed Ruth Davidson being particularly bad at this. 
      Unfortunately, the audiences have been as poor as the quality of the debates.  I get the distinct impression that some political parties in Scotland, Labour and the Conservatives in particular, have been getting some of their members to be disruptive as possible, to try and lessen the quality of the debates and generate a negative, partisan atmosphere.  Last night confirmed this, the loud cheering of Curran, after she said she was against independence, was noticeable and odd because everyone knows she is against it anyway, and it was hardly a profound thing to say. 
      The Labour Party have also adopted the booing tactic recently.  Any notion that the booing of Salmond in George Street was not organised by Glasgow Labour should be set aside.  Lamont boasted about Salmond getting booed at FMQs a few weeks ago.  It seems Scottish Labour have learned nothing from last year’s thrashing, let alone from their defeat in 2007.  They seem to be intensifying their negativity if anything. 

    9. Luigi says:

      Morag, many of those speaking out against independence are becoming very emotional and bitter, because, for the first time in their lives, the world they cling on to is under real threat. Those in favour, by contrast are much more upbeat and excited about the referendum. It’s a generalisation of course, but the exceptions to the rule are gradually disappearing. The real abuse has not even started yet – just wait until the polls start moving in our favour (in about 6 months time, I reckon).

    10. G. Campbell says:

      I thought Alan Cochrane showed his best side last night.

      But seriously, why are Unionists so uncouth?

      Margaret Curran says she will vote no to independence. Unionists in audience clap. Nats sit quietly.

      Nicola Sturgeon thinks Scotland will be better off independent. Pro-independence supporters cheer. Unionists boo.

      They should rename the no campaign ‘Booing Together’.

    11. Training Day says:

      Muttley is correct.  Better Together have formally adopted the visionary tactic of booing Salmond/the SNP/independence supporters in an attempt to create the impression among the undecided that all three are overwhelmingly -and increasingly – unpopular.   Murphy, Lamont and Jackie Baillie have all publicly revelled in this contrivance.

      How many days is it now that we’ve been waiting for the positive case for the Union, Stu?  

    12. Silver19 says:

      I think the guy with the ginger hair and glasses must be younger brother of this guy on the last BBC Big Debate ( at about 5:20min in) another misguided labour plant. Funny how both of these labour plants both had visable clothing for dimbleby, one with a horrid shirt and a unionist type tie.

    13. ianbrotherhood says:

      It’s good to see this type of analysis. The producers of QT and other Beeb referendum-related output should bear in mind that this material is all archived and remains accessible for years, if not via their own libraries then Youtube etc.
      No doubt we’ll also get to hear from members of the audience who can give first-hand accounts of the behaviour and atmosphere inside the venue, what didn’t make the final cut for broadcast, what folk were discussing afterwards on the way out etc. If Unionists had any sense they’d be having a word with their buddies in MSM – every time they try to collaborate on blatant set-ups of this sort they just blunderbuss their own balls. 

    14. Juteman says:

      I’ve been wondering. Do any ‘Scottish’ Labour party MSP/MP’s actually believe they are socialists, or they all careerists?

    15. balgayboy says:

      Fairly healthy debate on this same subject of the bias bbc going on at NNS which is heartening to read. Collective protest and complaints to bbc seem fruitless to these unusual bbc scots-people and their london  controllers by which they are willingly participating in the undermining the people their nation for what can only be for the possibility of furthering their mercenary/tax free careers. Hopefully come post 2014 they will be unemployed and have to endure the means-testing when they move south looking for a job. Nothing here in an Independent Scotland for them.

    16. james morton says:

      @Training Day

      We’ve already had the positive case for the Union – Royal wedding, Jubilee & the Olympics. Though Cameron is hoping that jamboree jingling brit fest were we celebrate the start of a war might clinch it….what an arse that man is.

      In all serious though, the problem is that they are what has been referred to as Banal Unionists. Their unionism has never been challanged like this. The have never had to articulate what it means, it was just accepted, like part of the furniture. The irony here, is that they have never attempted to defend it when it came under attack, first by Thatcher and later by Blair. Its a shadow of itself now, which is why they rely so much on nostalgia, sport, war and fear of change.
      Maybe I’m being too kind to them, maybe it was always like that.

    17. panda paws says:

      Juteman – does this from today’s Herald help answer your question?
      “Jim Murphy named among 27 MPs in new expenses row

      MPs were embroiled in a new expenses row today after it emerged that 27 are letting out London homes at the same time as claiming public money to rent in the city.”
      Some people are definitely Better Together it appears!

    18. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “No doubt we’ll also get to hear from members of the audience who can give first-hand accounts of the behaviour and atmosphere inside the venue, what didn’t make the final cut for broadcast, what folk were discussing afterwards on the way out etc.”

      If it’s like the time I was in the audience, the only thing that won’t be broadcast is the “practice” question at the start, which is generally fairly innocuous.

    19. ianbrotherhood says:

      When you did QT, do you know whether or not the whole session was actually broadcast? I’ve always thought that the programme is pre-recorded. Of course, it gives the impression of being live, with Dimbleby doing a trail implying that it hasn’t started – perhaps you can clear this up for me.
      Also, curious as to the process for selecting questions – does everyone submit a question beforehand? 

    20. Morag says:

      The time I did it, the practice question was about banning foxhunting, which was something I had a bit of knowledge about.  That bit was more interesting than the real event, which only touched on the Scottish issue at the very end (Nats had been invited because Alex Salmond was going to be a panellist, but then he had to withdraw).

    21. balgayboy says:

      Aye, let’s try the “practise” question F.U. Scotland, we hate your people but we need your resources and your land mass to make us feel like a world power..that’s all. GTF london.

    22. James McLaren says:

      It is a wee trick of the BBC to have different microphone levels for different guests. That way Murphy, Magrit, Alexander etc can mutter loudly when any of the SNP speak and their interruptions drown out the speakers.

    23. muttley79 says:

      It does look like there is a ‘positive’ case for the union.  However, it is not positive in the usual meaning of the word, and it can only be understood from the no campaign’s point of view.  They are essentially defending tradition, the way we have been governed for hundreds of years, London knows best, takes the big decisions, and we doff the cap as a result.  Better Together would be more honest if they renamed themselves the ‘Preserving Tradition’ campaign or something similar.

    24. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Better Together would be more honest if they renamed themselves the ‘Preserving Tradition’ campaign or something similar.”

      Or, for a snappier version, the “Conservatives”.

    25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “When you did QT, do you know whether or not the whole session was actually broadcast? I’ve always thought that the programme is pre-recorded. Of course, it gives the impression of being live, with Dimbleby doing a trail implying that it hasn’t started – perhaps you can clear this up for me.”

      Everything except the practice question gets broadcast. The show is recorded around two hours before it goes out, but certainly in the one I attended nothing was cut (so far as I noticed, anyway).

      “Also, curious as to the process for selecting questions – does everyone submit a question beforehand?”

      You submit a question (if you want to) when you arrive at the venue, using forms they give you. They tell you which ones have been selected before you go into the auditorium, then once you sit down they find everyone who’s going to ask a question so the camera knows where to go when it’s your turn. Funnily enough, the question I got to ask was one that was also referred to last night, relating to why governments bother getting expert advice on drugs policy when they’re just going to ignore it.

    26. muttley79 says:

      @Rev Stu
      Yeah, it has all the hallmarks of being both a conservative, and Conservative campaign.  Change is bad, something to be avoided at all costs, no good can come of it. Led by Labour conservatives, such as Darling, Curran, Lamont, who will not hesitate to go further to the right, and ably assisted by the Conservatives.

    27. Andrew says:

      But, Muttley, Magrit was saying last night that there’s lots of change, apparently for the worse, on the way and that accordingly we mustn’t think about leaving the union. Or something like that – she’s not exactly the most coherent.

    28. Andrew says:

      In fact the unionist line seems to be that we’re somehow better together although things are going to get a lot worse, and there’s no end in sight.
      They’re making our case for us!

    29. Grendel says:

      When I was on QT there was one “warm up” question, then the show was recorded and broadcast with no editing. What they record goes out in full. Likewise the Big Debate, although the panel was more balanced. What we have to remember is that QT deals with UK issues, and as such will always have Con/Dem/Lab representatives. That is our tough luck I’m afraid.

      What should be taking place is a thorough analysis of bias in BBC News reporting and Scottish political debate/discussion programming, on TV and radio. It has to be done now, BEFORE the referendum. Complaining afterwards will be utterly pointless.

    30. ianbrotherhood says:

      Cheers for that. I wonder how many viewers believe that what they’re watching is ‘live’ – it must colour their perception of the whole thing. These may seem like niggly points, but an understanding of how these mainstream media work (i.e. the nuts and bolts of production, process) is helpful when trying to decode what they’re up to. I’m a bit of an anorak when it comes to this stuff, but as the debates go on, get testier, the topics addressed become more controversial, I suspect we’ll see an awful lot more blatant editorial nip & tuck.

    31. scottish_skier says:


      In fact the unionist line seems to be that we’re somehow better together although things are going to get a lot worse, and there’s no end in sight. 

      At least they are being honest about the last bit. But what can they do, it is going to get a lot worse over the next couple of years / if we stay in the union. Westminster is beyond repair.

      Misery certainly seemed to be the no campaign theme from the outset. I did find it strange how the better together campaign push their ‘super’ ‘best of both worlds’ video using the scene with the guys at the shipyard. They all look so utterly miserable, with the main one seemingly about to cry.

    32. tartanfever says:

      I don’t know how many of you have seen this, but I thought it might be wee tonic after last night’s QT and the bout of cold that seems to have been doing the rounds this week.

      Who want’s to see some unionists getting roasted ?  Yes !!! 

      Over to you Duncan Hamilton .. 

    33. Ron Maclean says:

      The key is the licence fee.  Without it Question Time and it’s like would soon disappear.  The BBC wouldn’t last long either if it had to convince us we should pay to watch ignorant harridans like Margaret Curran run us down.  How do we get rid of the licence fee or is there an alternative?  Someone on NNS mentioned Newswatch.  I think that would be the equivalent of – but hey whit can ye dae, eh? 

    34. Juteman says:

      I first read this on the small screen of my phone. Now i’m home, and looking at the photo full size.

      Sorry Scott, but you’re wrong.
      That’s the love child of Frankie Boyle and Mergrit Curin. 🙂

      And Ron, just don’t pay the propoganda tax.

    35. Christian Wright says:

      Rev. Stuart Campbell in article:  When the line-up of the show was announced and nationalists protested, many in the No camp (and, embarrassingly, the odd supposed SNP supporter) attempted to justify it by saying it represented public opinion in line with the latest polls.”

      With respect to this ding-bat notion. 

      No one with an intact cerebral cortex should give this argument the time of day.

      .We now have agreed on a single question with two and only two possible answers. There can therefore be one and only one equitable debate format, and that is the one where advocates on either side are evenly matched in number and in the time allotted to each side to put their point.

      To me it would seem cretinous to be persuaded any other arrangement might be acceptable. The Nationalist side loses nothing by declining invitations to debate where they are outnumbered three, four, or five to one. 

      Where they most certainly will risk losing is where they agree to enter the arena undermanned and out-gunned. If Nationalists do participate therein, they legitimize the practice and risk their entire cause.

      If they do NOT participate in ANY stacked debate formats they highlight the corrupt practice and fairness WILL eventually win out. 

      I have no idea who thought it a good idea that Sturgeon go out there AGAIN without wingmen, but the practice surely warrants a Darwin award for cosmic stupidity .

      It does not matter that the BBC claim other segments address broader issues, and that therefore . . yada yada

      There is no therefore about it – if you want us to debate the issue of independence, then for the time of that debate there has to be equality of opportunity to speak and to be heard. There has to be demonstrable fairness in numbers – the number of advocates.

      And there has to be resolve on the part of nationalists to see this through until parity in debate practices is achieved. 

    36. Juteman says:

      I’m being persuaded that you are right, Christian.
      As much as i hate US politics, maybe a series of ‘one on one’ debates would be the answer?

    37. Andrew says:

      I’m away to complain to the BBC. First, though I’ll just pop a wee note in the post to the Pope, advising him of his denominational status.

    38. Arbroath 1320 says:

      O.K. folks, it is beginning to dawn on me that there are one or two pro Independence supporters on this site, I might be wrong. 😀
      With this in mind I have come across the Scottish Border Agency Scottish Citizenship test.
      How Scottish are we all?

    39. Juteman says:

      If the ‘Yes’ side simply said they would only appear if the split was a fair 50-50, it might be a diplomatic way to point out the previous bias of the BBC?

    40. Andrew says:

      B Taylor had a debate from Perth on the radio today which was 2 v 2. Annabelle Ewing & Blair Jenkins against Bella Goldie & Anus Sarwar. Brian was pretty fair and everyone was able to get their points across, even if the latter two’s contributions were total guff. It can be done.

    41. Macart says:


      The amendment for the updated NATO policy has just been carried. SNP backing membership of NATO on the condition that Scotland is a nuke free zone. Narrow vote right enough, carried by a little over 100 votes.

    42. muttley79 says:

      Probably a good result, SNP leadership wins, but are reminded that there is a lot of opposition to NATO in the party.

    43. Marcia says:

      I watched the full debate on BBC Parliament and fair do’s to them that they extended their coverage to include the votes. I wish the BBC reporters would stop talking when the speakers are debating. I hope it is on the I-player as it was a first class debate. You don’t normally see open debates at party conferences on the BBC .

    44. Juteman says:

      I’m not sure this was a ‘good’ result for the SNP. I’m not a SNP member, but my gut feeling is that folk voted for them BECAUSE they are not like other party’s. There is an attraction to a conviction politician that the other ‘major’ party’s lack.

    45. Macart says:


      426-332  so 94 votes 

      Damn good debate from both sides. Probably the best debate of the conference season, excellent speeches from those for and against and a real credit to the SNP as a whole.

    46. velofello says:

      Andrew: I’m a regular listener to Brian Taylor’s Friday debate on Radio Scotland and today was little different. He simply cannot resist throwing in an further question – in his jokey manner – to the panel member as they are speaking. Think back, how many times did  Annabelle Ewing have to say “would you please let me finish”. either to Taylor, or to another panel member.
      Taylor,as chair, has the duty of enabling panel members to speak their view without interruption, he doesn’t, and worse, he is a main culprit for interruption. Now with his background education and his BBC career experience this failure to chair effectively cannot be through ignorance of procedure. Its deliberate, laced with his little bonhommie witticisms and references to Dundee United.
      He also fails to pull up a panel member when they are “mis-speaking”, so Annabelle Goldie and Anas Sarwar were allowed to quite erroneously talk Scotland down about tax and deficits, and their mis-spoke distortions would be clear to Taylor – he is a political something in the BBC is he not?
      Possibly through lack of programme funding there does seem to be less control on audience participation compared to the staged fiasco that is Question Time and so oft times the audience comments are interesting.

    47. James T says:

      To be honest, the Union Leader nailed it right on the nose last night. This isn’t a referendum on Independence or being in the Union. This is about what you are going to get for the next 30 to 40 years. Do you want Social Justice…then vote Independence. If you want the Union…then get ready for hard Neo Con Liberalism Americano style.

      Get ready, because if the Unionists win the vote, and afte rthe Banking Union being created by the EU last night, this will be the green flag for Cameron and co to finally get out of Europe. And if he does, then he’s going to tear up TUPE, and end Workers rights. Minimum wage will be turfed (it really will be minimum wage), and he’ll try to end long term contracts so companies don’t need to pay out huge redundancies.

      The Union boy was right….and he’s warning the Unionists. Get your act together, and start DEMANDING policies to protect jobs, and social justice if we are to keep the Union. Because if not (and I think he seriously hinted this)…I’m backing Independence. That was the impression I got !!   

    48. James T says:

      Apologies for the rushed previous entry just there….the wife was howling at me to get off the PC as my tea was oot !!!!

    49. James T says:

      Rev (and everyone else)

      In your opinion, what do you make of what is going to happen over the next 3 years if the Union is ‘saved’ by a No vote. In my own opinion…with the EU creating a Banking Union, this is going to pee off the city of London big time. London’s Financial Center might not be in the Euro, but the EU is now going to pass laws that will affect the Financial Center anyway; Euro, or no Euro…I think London is in a tight spot. Cameron’s mates in those high ivory towers in London City Center are going to begin telling him that they want out of the EU straight away.
      And for David Cameron (and yes, I do believe he will win the next general election), I think that he will now pull Britain out of the EU (whether Scotland wants to remain in, it will be a case of ‘tough’. If he does that, he screws Scotland should we ever try to re-negotiate our way back in if we ever do get Independence. We would need to join the Euro, and a lot of people in Scotland don’t want that!). I think this was a watershed moment last night in Europe, because I believe it will unite the Tories over Europe. They will paint it as Germany finally conquers London. Third time lucky for the Germans; they finally conquer all of Europe…and not one bullet fired (you can see the Daily Mail headlines)

      If we lose the Referendum, and the Tories win the General Election in 2015….then I really do fear as to where Britain is going; not just Scotland….but everybody in the UK. I think we will finally be going down the path of Neo-American Politics. and we all know how vicious that can be !! 

      Oh dear God…I hope we get that Yes majority !!

    50. Davy says:

      I believe the change in our Nato policy is a total “win, win” for both the SNP party and for Scotland, it removes the unionist stigma that the SNP are not serious or committed about the defence of our country.

      People need to feel safe in their country and for many of us in the middle aged to mature bracket, this continunity of being in Nato, which we have been in most if not all of our lifes is a big plus.

      I detest the fact that nuclear weapons are on our soil and heartly look forward to their removel with independence, but I have a family and I want to know my family are going to be protected by both my Government and their policys to the highest level possible. this vote makes me feel confident this Scottish government will do that.

      I also believe a lot of possible yes voters will be swayed to definately vote YES with this decision.  

    51. James T says:

      And when this page refreshes, all I get is that dim-witted looking erse with the kidd-on union jack shirt and black retro NHS specs looking back at me. And he believes in Cameron or Miliband….

      God help us….  

    52. Juteman says:

      @ Davy.
      I don’t think the general Scottish public give a shit about the SNP’s stance on NATO.

    53. James T says:

      I agree Juteman. Sounds like the NATO thing is just an internal squabble. However, I do believe that most Scots would want to be in NATO rather than out of it. I don’t think we are total pacifists !!

    54. Davy says:


                      I totaly disagree with you, and when time draws nearer for the referendum I believe this decision will have knocked one of the unionist’s main arguements for the union ” defence” right out the window.

    55. James T says:

      In my opinion, the 2 key things that could scupper the SNP unless they get this right is

      The EU …are we in if we are Independent?
      And if so…are we to be forced to join the Euro?  

      I think most Scots would be happy on being in the EU. I suspect the vast majority do NOT want to join the Euro.
      If the EU says we must join the Euro, and the SNP decide that that is what we must do, then I think it will blow a big hole in their argument.

      If it comes to that…I would rather be Independent not only of the UK, but of Europe also. 

      Not too sure if anyone else feels like that…   


    56. Dual_Intention says:

      The Unionists cannot possibly argue with these empirically impartial timings.

      This proves that the BBC are biased and I can only imagine it getting worse as their staff begin to see their jobs on the line as independence gets nearer.

      Well done for taking the time to do this. Some might say it was both obssessive and compulsive.

      Pay no heed. We need our anoraks fighting our corner to repel the propaganda coming out  of this lieing state sponsored leviathan.


    57. thomas says:

      i know what you mean james t.
      to be honest i feel sorry for him , to be baffled by the bullshit of those two and their false britain.
      I take heart from the history of the scottish people , and their constant rejection of rule from the south of these islands , nurtured over a thousand years of intimidation and aggression .
      i have no doubt that inbuilt rejection of westminster rule  , nurtured from birth in every scottish man woman and child , will manifest itself in a big YES to the re establishment of the scottish nation in 2014.
      feckin rest assured.


    58. tartanfever says:

      Couple of things I wanted to pick up on regarding QT and the BBC. Rev Stu, I was one of the people that made a remark on Newsnet questioning our argument of bias. (Mind you, being on the naughty step with them, it usually takes 12 hours for them to ‘ok’ one of my comments, so I’m not 100% that it’s been posted)

      My reason for this is not about disagreeing with the genreal views here, it’s about playing into the BBC’c hands. The BBC want you to complain shouting ‘bias’ – it’s easy for them to deal with. What they do is come out with the standard reply, pre-prepared and all ready to dish out. It would say that QT is a political programme for the whole of the UK and reflect that in it’s choice of questions. It will allow some topic on local issues if they are relevant to the location in which they are filming ie independence. The BBC will also say stuff about a cross section of political guests and another guest from outside the political spectrum, in this case, the union rep. They will also say that polls give a good indicator and that if 70% of the questions were anti-independence that only reflects the national voice and the locale of where they are filming….etc etc

      And you know what, we think it’s bullshit (and we’re right) but that makes no difference. For the majority of the British public and a large cross section of the Scottish public, these explanations will suffice and win the day. Thats the way the BBC works and it’s effective.

      What I don’t get, is that we, educated people in Scotland will find facts, figures, examples and construct the most pertinent, intelligent, cogent questions and responses we can to support the SNP or Independence, yet when it comes to the BBC all we can do is say ‘we were outnumbered, thats unfair – they’re biased.’

      It simply is not good enough. We have to protest to the BBC with reasoned, argued , educated responses that will win popular support. What we want to do is turn round and get ordinary people in the street thinking ‘oh yeah, thats a really good point, I hadn’t really thought about that’ , rather than ‘it’s just some looney BBC protesters, the must be Nats, well I’m not a Nat so I’m not listening’

      You’ve got to make it difficult for the BBC. Last time I watched the Holyrood committee on broadcasting asking questions to McQuarrie and Boothman, the explanation of news coverage went as far as the BBC men listing off the number of hours of news coverage the BBC had produced to prove that they had produced the required quota. That was pretty much it. If I had been there my first response would be ‘ stop there gents, I’m not bothered about the amount you’ve produced, what about the quality ?’

      Why doesn’t Reporting Scotland reduce the number of stories from 18 per half hour to 12. This would give more time for more stories. Political stories could be developed a little further, with more responses from a wider cross-section or a little more explanation behind the detail. (What will most likely happen here is that either stories will balance out or they will become so one sided that shouts of bias will stick.)

      Why do we never see/hear questions be asked to politicians directly on camera to which they have to respond their and then ? This would put a stop to the legitimacy of just reading out a press release. This happens all the time on BBC London news with Boris Johnson and he gets caught out now and again, it is extremely refreshing to see. 

      Why doesn’t the BBC follow it’s news guidelines and not regurgitate press releases from think tanks without question. Those guides point out that the BBC should not accept these institutions as politically neutral. It would stop Reporting Scotland referring to ‘Reform Scotland’ as an ‘independent think-tank’ which is how Reform Scotland describe themselves on their website. (Reform Scotland consists of two ex-tory politico’s and a bunch of businessmen and CEO’s who churn out reports that all come to the same conclusion, we should have private enterprises taking over public bodies.)

      These are points made without the use of the word bias but still have the same effect. They may also offer a bit more of a challenge to the BBC in replying to them. They are also point/arguments that would resonate through more of Scottish society than just us independence supporters.

      We need to gain support. We need numbers. Everything has been tried with the BBC – from bad press, organised movements, small demo’s, Ofcom telling them off and nothing has changed with the BBC. The only thing the BBC has never had to deal with is a protest of 20,000 outside the premises being noisy as hell and a sustained weekly attack on it’s service. Thats what we need to do in my view.

      I’ll be honest, I saw a million people in the streets of Barcelona and when I saw the 10k in Edinburgh I thought, ‘good effort, well done organisers, but that’s a shite turnout’

      I thought the same thing at the BBC protests when 150 turned up. 

      We need to get off our arses ladies and gents, if you want to really do something about we have to make sacrifices.

      And as the great American Howard Zinn said,

      “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” 

    59. Juteman says:

      Without drawing too much on the American declaration of independence, i’m convinced that the ‘pursuit of hapiness’ is what most Scots folk seek.
      Optimism will win.

    60. James T says:

      I hope so, Thomas. We need change. Severe social change!

      If you read one of my earlier posts slightly further up, I think this EU Banking Union is a game changer for the Tories. They WILL now want out of the EU. The whole bloody lot of them. This Banking Union (which is correct in my book…finally…regulation) will unite the Tories big time. In their eyes, Germans and French interfering in ‘our’ banks, and then laying down teh law in ‘our’ country…how dare they!!!

      You can just see it !!! 

    61. thomas says:

      severe social change? tell me aboot it james t. i grew up in the slums of govan and the council estates of paisley , and through LUCK  and HARD WORK have been one of the very few success stories of social mobility in our beautifull country.
      The scottish are tryers and doers , and think how many of our children are condemned to a life of poverty and no hope despite a can do attitude and intelligence that is sucked out of them by this hellish unequal unwanted union.
       The only hope for the people of scotland is an independant edinburgh based government , who we can hammer if they dont deliver the goods instead of sending a handfull of yes men to a foreign parliament of over 500 englishmen whose sole interest is rule britannia and the south east of angle land.
      i wholeheartedly believe in the scottish people , a people who are loved and respected throughout the world. 
      YES  to a free and a socially progressive , fair and just scotland !
      I`ll kiss nato`s arse if its a stepping stone to an independant unionist free scotland! 

    62. Arbroath 1320 says:

      James looking at your two questions I think I have some answers for you.
      The EU …are we in if we are Independent?
      And if so…are we to be forced to join the Euro?  
      1) As far as the E.U. is concerned I believe that the SNP have said at some point in the past that membership, or continued membership, of the E.U. would be set for a referendum in a post Independent Scotland. Personally I believe the E.U. referendum will result in an OUT vote winning. This is not the end of the E.U. story however because we could as an Independent Scotland look to join E.F.T.A. (European Free Trade Association.) This currently consists of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

      2)  Joining the Euro is the usual garbage spouted by the Bitter gang. However, there is one thing that can be said that shoots this ridiculous “claim” down in flames. That word is Sweden. Yep that’s right Sweden. Sweden joined the E.U. in 1995 and yet today they are, I believe, still to join the Euro. Therefore, if Sweden can join the E.U. in 1995 and today, 17 years later, still not be a member of the Euro then I am sure that an Independent Scotland can achieve something similar if we were to vote to stay IN the E.U.
      A second thing that has to be considered with regards to the Euro that the Bitter camp do not mention is that a “new” country to the E.U. can not just join the E.U. one day and join the Euro the next. Certain financial criteria must be met before Euro membership is approved by the E.U. Until such terms are met the “new” country can not join the Euro.

      Consequently. if my assumptions are correct, then I do not envisage Scotland joining the Euro until around 10 years after Independence. As I’ve said before I dot think Scotland will be joining the Euro because I do not think we will have a IN vote in the E.U. referendum.
      There I’ve put my tuppence ha’penny worth in and no doubt confused you even more James. 😀

    63. James T says:


      I also believe in the Scottish people. In the golden age (1760 – 1820), Scotland was the no.1 nation in the world. The age of philosophy, free thinking, art, writing, creativity. I honestly believe that if Scotland did become independent again that our Nation would explode once more. I think the Scottish people would really go for it, by trying to prove to the world that we can do it. I’m not saying we would be no.1…but I think it could lead to a 2nd Golden Age (Oil, Finance, Renewables, Whisky exports, Tourism, Engineering (software, hardware, science, etc). For a nation of 5 million…in my book….that’s f**king fantastic !!!!
      If we did become independent, I would like to see a Scottish ‘Holywood’…say someplace like Perth. Now hear me out. We bulld film studios, and allow film companies to use Scotland to film in our cities and countryside. We tell the Colleges and Universities to have courses in filming, creative CGI, computing, etc…everything that can be used to help this industry. Straightaway…you’ve got a new industry with the universities and colleges involved. The marketing could be fantastic. I just don’t see a downside with this idea !!!

      That’s a little vision of how I would try to enhance Scotland post-independence 

    64. James T says:

      Hi Arbroath,

      No probs mate. The only reason I ask these questions about Europe is that it does seem like something that the Unionists do have something to beat the SNP with.
      It’s the first time I have seen wee Nicola on the ropes, and surprisingly, it came from Ruth Davidson (Question Time last night). At that one point, I actually feared for her, as I thought with 3 against 1, and a fairly partisan Unionist audience, I thought they could smell blood.

      I just feel that the SNP need to clarify this position and somehow make a decision on it. The longer this ‘unknown answer’ goes on, the more it seems to feed and arm the Unionist cause by saying the SNP have ‘no answers’ when it comes to Europe.

      cheers again      

    65. thomas says:

      aye james. Well said.

      The golden age?

      remember the ancestors of the scottish people had a sophisicated culture when the ancestors of the english were still living in their mud huts in angeln and saxony.

      The gaels were using the first european hospitals when the germanic peoples  were putting their sick to death.

      The potential of the scots has lain dormant for 300 years , and other countries have built their nations on scottish immigrans fleeing the tyranny of british rule.

      Scotland has the potential to be the greatest nation on this earth and to lead the way  in the prosperity of its people , showing the world that wealth is to be enjoyed by the many and not the few!

    66. Alan says:

      I watched this. I used to live in Easterhouse. I’d like to know exactly whereabouts in Easterhouse this was? And if this audience was representative of Easterhouse then I must be a MI-5 [BBC] manipulator… Cochrane would get a kicking in Easterhouse…

    67. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      tartanfever: You make some very strong points. Whether we like it or not, there’s a legitimate defence for there being three Unionists versus one independence supporter on Question Time, because it’s not a debate about independence. That’s why I focused on the airtime last night, because that’s much harder to justify – if you devote one part of the show to an independence question, that’s where you DO have a clear duty to be much less biased.

      We also urgently need a MUCH more aggressive approach towards ALL politicians from our interviewers. Not necessarily John Simpson-style talking over them incessantly when they’re trying to answer, but a zero-tolerance approach to the universal habit of simply ignoring the question and embarking on a pre-prepared script. Switch the fucker’s microphone off. Bang on the desk. Climb across it and lamp them in the teeth if that’s what it takes. Or just cut back to the studio or move immediately onto the next interviewee:

      “Clearly you’re not going to give me a straight answer on that, Johann, so what do YOU have to say, Nicola?”

      Eventually they’ll learn that if they’re asked a Yes/No question they better damn well say Yes or No inside the first five seconds or they’re not going to be heard at all and their opponent will get the airtime instead.

      The question of how to get the broadcaster to make that happen, of course, is much harder. Appealing to the BBC to uphold its Charter is a waste of time. As you note, feeble protests of a few dozen angry shouters just make the Corporation look better. And to be honest, the prospects of ever getting 20,000 outside Pacific Quay are nil unless someone’s giving out free doughnuts, and it’s debateable whether it would do any good even if you could.

      I increasingly like the idea of a licence-fee boycott, explicitly announced by letter: “I am withholding my licence fee because of this”. With cash getting tight, that’d hit them where it hurts, and it’s appealing from the protester’s perspective: you save money and there’s very little chance of being prosecuted.

      But it would take organising, and a website stocked with lots of calm, reasoned evidence and that didn’t look like it had been put together by psychopathic badgers on acid. And that’s a tougher thing to get together than you’d think. Are you volunteering?

    68. KBW says:


      You need remekber that the Basques have had a tradition of street protests going bacl decades. They annually put around a million on the street on days of festivities and protes it is much more in thier culture than ours.

      Basque Week

      This decades long festivity taking place at the beginning of September features events related to Basque culture, such as performances of traditional improvising poets (bertsolaris), Basque pelota games, stone lifting contests, oxen wagers, dance exhibitions or the cider tasting festival. Yet the main highlight may be the rowing boat competition, where teams from different towns of the Bay of Biscay contend for the Flag of La Concha. Thousands of supporters coming from these coastal locations pour into the city’s streets and promenades overlooking the bay to follow the event, especially on the Sunday of the final race. All day long the streets of the Old Part play host to droves of youths clad in their team colours who party there in a cheerful atmosphere….
      Scotlands history has not been one of great street protests, but 2012 has seen that change thanks to Jeff. I predict that we will build on the near 12,000 we saw in the gardens in Edinburgh. The goodwill and positive vibrations I witnessed from passers by many who had no idea it was on was very uplifting. Next year I predict we will see tens of thousands. Jeff Duncan is a formidable man.
      Ther Bitter together mob would give their expenses to be able to get even 25% of our numbers on the street marching.

    69. Andrew says:

      James T
      In order to join the Euro a country has to:
      1) have its own currency
      2) join ERM II for at least 2 years – “Participation in ERM II is voluntary
      Ergo Scotland will not be forced to join the Euro

    70. Arbroath 1320 says:

      I don’t know where the Easterhouse Q.T. programme was held Alan but I would not put it beyond the bounds of possibility that the venue was not actually in Easterhouse. I say this because I still remember the Q.T. that was advertised as being held in Dunfermline, only it wasn’t It was held in Lochgelly which is not even part of Dunfermline. So in my cynical view it could have been anywhere within 50 miles of Easterhouse, but the BBC would still call it as coming from Easterhouse.

    71. tartanfever says:

      Rev Stu, thanks for the reply. Agree with everything you say, to a large degree actually. I watched a documentary a few months ago about the history of news/interview/talk shows. it was one of those BBC4 hour long cheap documentaries, you know, a few interviews dusted around 50 minutes of archive material that doesn’t cost anything. Anyway, in there was a little gem of an interview with David Frost (I really have don’t have much time for him) but fairplay to him, he discussed this current stand off we now see in political interviews. Politicians will not reply properly and evade questions, interviewers will shout and scream and become pretty aggressive. At the end of them the viewer is none the wiser. This is stalemate, and it’s getting us nowhere. 

      I’m not sure how to advance from this,  The only thing I would suggest is that what usually gets politicians to open their gobs is when you place them next to each other in an interview. Usually then they can’t close their gobs, but in the worst case scenarion (BBC Scotland) the interviewer is often partisan, or can’t control the interview.

      Re- protesting. I tell you what, if you get 20,000 people to protest loudly outside for one day a week for a period of four weeks, you will make a change to the BBC. They have never in their history faced such a full public protest and it would scare the shit out of them.
      Just think, four weeks from today we could be sitting in a world where we aren’t all depressed about the unfair coverage of a political TV programme, we are sitting in a world where the BBC are under huge pressure to answer questions on the quality of the product (especially news) that they deliver. 

      We wouldn’t be afraid that they are going to unduly influence the outcome of the referendum ( which we think, because if we didn’t we wouldn’t all be blogging moaning about them, right ?) 

      Tell you what i would volunteer for. i’ve spent 20 years working in the media (on many contracts for the BBC) as a documentary cameraman. My education was at Filmschool and I have a MFA in Documentary Photography. If anyone wants to know about editing/dissecting the media/how programmes are made/ how interviews are conducted and probably most importantly, how to dissect the programme you are watching to understand it’s constituent parts, then drop me a line.

      Or if anyone needs some help with a BBC complaint or letter etc and need a bit of technical nouse, I’m your man. 

    72. Marcia says:

      For those who missed the SNP Conference debate today you can now see it on the BBC I-player:

    73. tartanfever says:

      KBW – point taken about the Basque culture. I remember seeing a You Tube video of their ‘Flash mob’ demo (is that what these impromptu demo’s are called ?). Anyway, it starts with one in a busy city square waving a flag and shouting slogans and in the next few minutes there are thousands there – every single one with a flag, all shouting. It really was just stunning – and it’s a double whammy because not only is it a demonstration there and then, it made a wonderful short protest film that was very dynamic and watchable.

      Yeah, the protest in Edinburgh was good – likewise i met many people who weren’t aware and said ‘I wish i had known’ or ‘I’ll be there next year’ and the organisers did do a fantastic job on very limited resources. I take my hat off to everyone involved.

      However – am I the only person here that thought “I wish this crowd was 50,000 strong ?’. What a sight that would have been, people would really sit up and take notice. Imagine the whole of George IV Bridge a mass sea of Saltires – truly inspiring. Anyway, maybe it will be next year, I hope so.

      But we have to get of our arses. There is no excuse for apathy. If Edinburgh has 300,000 voters and Independence is supported by 30% of the population, thats just under 100,000 of us in Edinburgh alone. So for one day of the year, a glorious sunny day we could only muster 10k and many of those travelled from distance, I’m sorry but SNP supporters in Edinburgh particularly should be feeling a wee bit red-faced.


    74. Rev, I increasingly like the idea of a licence-fee boycott, explicitly announced by letter: “I am withholding my licence fee because of this”. With cash getting tight, that’d hit them where it hurts, and it’s appealing from the protester’s perspective: you save money and there’s very little chance of being prosecuted.

      This is a great idea, but my wife’s a wee bit feirt of people coming to my door demanding money etc. Could some of your readers, who have stopped paying their licence fee, tell us feirties of their experiences with the authorities after they took their decision?

    75. panda paws says:

      Slightly o/t but if anyone is still reading this topic, did you see Have I got News for you last night? I thought Ian Hislop’s sneering about Scotland was dreadful. I laughed at some of Jo’s comments but there’s a difference between poking fun and just being objectionable. Or am I being too sensitive?

    76. Siôn Eurfyl Jones says:

      Although Maggie Curran is an out and out unionist, she is so poor at articulating her position that she is actually a great asset to the YES camp. Ruthie Davidson, the bullying head girl,  likewise. 

      PS Why is Curran never challenged over her obvious confusion over the difference between Fiscal and Monetary policy? She seems to think the Bank of England sets fiscal policy!

    77. BillyBigBaws says:

      It annoyed me when Dimbleby said the financial argument over independence would be “too arcane” for the rest of the Uk viewers to understand. When he does a QT from Belfast there is never any suggestion that the highly unique, localised and confusing political make-up of NI is “arcane” to the Scots, English, and Welsh. He just doesn’t like to have people talking about the reality of Scotland’s finacial contribution to the UK live on air. I wonder why?

    78. Craig P says:

      Tree of Liberty. This is my experience of not paying the license fee. A number of ‘urgent!’ letters over 18 months that I have put straight in the bin. And then silence. 

    79. Siôn Eurfyl Jones says:

      BigBaws- Dimeblebore didn’t want the reality of the fiscal advantage of independence to be given an airing on the English airwaves!  Probably acting under instructions. 

    80. Appleby says:

      Dimbleby, like many BBC presenters, seems to hold great contempt for Scotland and Scottish issues and is part of the BBC group blocking discussion and information on Scotland, either through deliberate actions or because they simply don’t care about it and so shut down debate and discussion on it.
      Tree of Liberty, the licence fee collectors have less teeth than they pretend to have. You’d have to almost bungle into admitting it to a policeman or invite in the inspectors and own up to get in trouble. They rely on unconscious obedience. The efforts it takes them to go through any more motions than letter harrassment or the odd moan on the doorstep means they rarely do it.

    81. Alan says:

      Simple. Don’t pay the license fee. I don’t.

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