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No-one actually dies

Posted on January 22, 2014 by

The headline above comes, with a small twist of artistic licence, from Philip Larkin’s brilliant poem ‘Toads’, and it’s easy to believe it if you should ever find yourself reading the Mail Online website. Those paddling in its perfumed waters would be forgiven for thinking Earth a bright, spangly place full of luscious women and rich men.


There are no heavier concerns in this world than which fad diet to try or whether the latest spray tan products give an even glow. We can read about how the fashion for the ‘scouse brow’ is so over, and then there’s that famous woman who married that famous man. There are popstars and juice bars and babies in mini-Gucci. All is well.

There’s no death or cancer or starvation in the gaudy land of celebrity tat, unless it’s a supermodel who’s let herself get just the wrong side of “thin” and into an “anorexia shocker”. Yet this primary-coloured adult kindergarten is the most visited newspaper site in the world. There are millions of us, sucking and gulping at this dross.

This toxic filter feeds readers a false but alluring perception of reality. The imagination is skewed towards a country where the only news is that of celebrity divorces, the latest eyebrow-threading techniques and, for light relief, tales of tubby, vulgar lottery winners from Bolton. The closest thing to a social issue is when a glassy Parisian boutique is roped off because some air-brushed celebrity bimbo wants to browse.

But presumably the visitors of the world’s most popular news website are sharp and savvy, fully aware they’re being sold a Photoshopped world? The levels of literacy and vitriol in the various comments sections suggest otherwise. They portray a country of morons, their brains turning to soft mush through disuse, junk-food smeared hands outstretched for more gossip and glitter.

Jeremy Paxman said this week that humanity is cosseted these days, that we’re pale and protected, caring only for instant gratification. I suppose I’m soft too. I’ve never been in a war or worked down a mine or gone hungry. I even spent a few minutes this morning dithering over a lilac eyeshadow or a deeper mauve shade. But where my imagination won’t take me, experience has.

I arranged to visit a foodbank in Glasgow for a newspaper last month, because I was enraged and becoming increasingly nervous of the stinking sewer of propaganda pumped out by our benevolent Westminster government about benefit claimants. I wanted to witness the truth and not have it filtered down to me through an extra layer of sensationalist spin from Channel 4 or the Daily Mail.

Because there’s always one rogue family who’ve spurted out nine children, who jeer at the idea of working, and have tracksuits in abundance. They’ll be eager to caper for the daytime chatshows for a few moments of grim fame, and are then nailed to the mast as an example of what all benefit claimants are like. Look at them, with their leather corner sofa and Sky channels! That’s a life on benefits, people will grumble. Money for nothing. An easy time. No-one actually dies.

My day at the foodbank showed that people do.

I met a woman with cancer at the Glasgow North West foodbank. The government had dismissed medical opinion and insisted that she was fit to work. Hers is a story so horrendous that it requires a hefty leap of the mind to try to catch even a sliver of what she had gone through.

Imagine it: to be diagnosed with stomach cancer, stricken with inflamed kidneys and high blood pressure that turns the backs of your legs a deep, worrying red. Depression naturally follows. Then you have to attend a meeting with a benefits adviser to be told – after little more than a glance and a sneer – that you’re actually quite healthy, now take your cancer pills, your inhaler and your stick and go out and get a damn job.

Imagine that sheaves of medical evidence and the opinion of a team of specialist doctors means nothing. A government jobsworth can undo it all with the stroke of a cheap biro. Imagine getting up each morning, with the hideous weight of cancer pressing on you, lifting your crimson, trembling legs out of bed, knowing that there’s no money in your purse and that the fridge is full of nothing but white light.

If you don’t have family, or the foodbank, or you feel too ashamed, you’re going to die. From lack of food. In Britain, in 2014. And if you DO have the good luck to have a foodbank nearby and manage to get yourself referred, you’re a woman with stomach cancer who’s getting her sustenance from Pot Noodles and broken custard creams.

News stories of people driven to suicide by having their benefits stopped and being left sick, blind and helpless are now almost a daily feature. Can you push your imagination that far? To imagine yourself dead, pushed towards that awful final gesture. How do you do it, when you can’t even afford paracetamol and a bottle of budget vodka? What note do you leave? How long will you lie there before anyone finds you?

Readers of the Mail Online can’t picture that scene, can’t accept it as part of their world. Or maybe they just don’t want to, and the sparkle and glitter of the catwalk and the red carpet is what it takes to distract them. Because what riots and revolutions would be sparked if people looked away from the flashing paparazzi bulbs to just sit silently and imagine a different life, one where people actually die?

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey data on welfare released today showed that Scots are increasingly taking the same route. We’re becoming harsher on benefits recipients, more insistent that their lives are too easy. The Mail is the third-best-selling newspaper in Scotland, and it’s starting to rub off on us.

Is there still time to step back and be something better? Can we push our imagination beyond what’s on iPlayer and how many retweets we got for that funny quote, all the way to the cancer patient living, three days at a time, on Pot Noodles?

It’s a lot easier and more comfortable to join everyone else reading about Kim Kardashian’s £3000-a-day jeans doctor. But a society which does that will get precisely the governments it deserves. It’s time to look around for the bodies.

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113 to “No-one actually dies”

  1. Tony Little says:

    Thank you. A powerful glimpse at real life. Perhaps the SSAS tells us that Propaganda does work. Repeat the lie, repeat the lie, repeat the lie. Every country needs a villain, the “enemy” to distract the populous and to enable bad governments to do bad things. Not necessarily because they’re “evil”, but because they have become increasingly distanced from real life.

    Bread and circuses. Such is the way empires fall. This UK empire is in its death throes.

    Scots have one chance to forge a new story. I can only hope we take it.

  2. Dinnatouch says:

    Powerful and frightening. Thanks Julie.

  3. Clootie says:

    This is why I want Independence!
    An end to – Greed is good / survival of the fittest / a friend in need is a pain in the arse.

    Enough of the “Chicago Mob” economist philosophy.

  4. sneddon says:

    Bang on the button Julie. You’ll hear them all squeal when interest rates go up and the affluence bought with the credit leveraged on their house value and low interest rates turns around and bites them on the arse. Their smug complancy will turn to tears and anger “but i’ve always paid my taxes” It’s a pity your employer choose not to then. “I ‘ve paid all this tax and I only get 71 pounds a week JSA” Welcome to the neo liberal hell you helped create.

    The jobs increase won’t disguise the fact that these jobs are still low paid and insecure. That won’t protect mortgage holders when the rates go up and the false housing bubble driven recovery bursts. We’ll see some absolute meltdowns on the DM’s comments pages then. Sorry to ramble on.

  5. Cath says:

    Great article Julie.

    My conversion to yes came while working for the Citizens Advice Bureau and seeing harrowing and unbelievable cases constantly. People with terminal cancer, having blackouts, with colostomy bags etc forced to work. People being put through Kafkaesque hell to claim benefits to which they were entitled, with the most vulnerable penalised because they were least able to fight back.

    It was worlds away from the “they all have laptops and flatscreen TVs” world of the Daily Mail. Many people are living without electricity or gas. Because they’re on prepayment metres that have a daily standing charge, regardless of whether they’re working or not. So if you’ve been skint and not had gas or electric for a week, and finally get a fiver to stick in, it goes instantly on the debt and you still have no gas or electric.

    I did income and expenditure accounts for people who were living apart from family and couldn’t afford the bus fare to see their kids once a week, far less be able to do anything with the kids if they did see them. People who, if you could find £2 a week extra would be pathetically grateful.

    I spent hours on the phone to the DWP and other patronising and hideous government phone lines on behalf of people who’d lost all hope and ability to do it, or who didn’t have phones. There was one old woman with heart problems who’d walked two miles from the hospital where her daughter had just died to try and get a crisis loan (we couldn’t help because it was too late in the day to process it and even if they could, the post office was another 2 miles and she just couldn’t do it – she didn’t even have bus fare.)

    We had a client with very severe mental health issues who was told by an ATOS doctor “well, you don’t look mental to me” because he turned up in a suit.

    I could go on. And on. But it makes me too angry.

  6. Juteman says:

    Powerful stuff, but change the Paracetomol reference.
    I know someone that woke up feeling sheepish but thankfull that they had survived a booze and paracetomol od.
    Three days later they died in hospital of major organ failure.
    Better to use sleeping tabs or barbiturates.

  7. Wee Jonny says:


  8. MajorBloodnok says:

    I firmly believe that anyone with compassion and intelligence in Scotland can do no other than vote YES. Sadly the likes of the Daily Mail and its imitators are systematically trying to deprive our society of both those qualities. It’s not too late though…

  9. Ken500 says:

    The Sun 2million readership
    Daily Mail 1.5 million

    Not many people are buying into it. Out of 62million.

    The right-wing, tax evading MSM

  10. EphemeralDeception says:

    Scotland wasn’t Utopia before the Union and wont be afterwards but there is a distinct difference in our attitudes to our fellow man.

    We do cannot suffer people who are demonqstr

  11. Paul says:

    I read the mail on line just to see what the enemy is up to but I will no longer. This may explain why so many of our young are either against independence if the polls are to be believed or just switched off from politics all together they are so sated from all the pap that they are exposed to or just deprived of hope they have little or no chance of a career and even less of buying a home. We actually had on the main news someone delighted because Subway was creating 13000 sandwich making jobs I nearly wept Is that all Britain can offer it’s young after 4 years of a university education and £36000 of debt to pay off bloody sandwich making.

  12. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    Yes. Paracetamol does not kill. It gives you a painful, lingering death by progressive organ failure, maybe next week, maybe next year. Perhaps one of the worst things that can happen is surviving a large paraceamol overdose

  13. Powerful writing and very well put.
    Tony your assessment is also spot on…sadly.
    We do still have a different mind set up here.
    There were no Poll Tax riots in Scotland, just
    protests, and no riots when Mark Duggan was shot.
    How much longer will that last if we vote No and
    are subjected to an increasingly right wing Press?
    Thank goodness for the Declaration of Arbroath
    and the power we have to take a different path.

  14. X_Sticks says:

    Powerful stuff Julie and thanks for sharing.

    What is happening to society in the UK is one of the main reasons I want independence for Scotland.

    Sorry for an O/T but the Alan Bissett and BfS webcast is just starting here:

  15. Croompenstein says:

    Actually filling up here because the naysayers and the jobsworths will never know what this level of destitution is like, to be utterly bereft of hope and unemployable in their ‘something for nothing’ culture is criminal. There are many sides to the argument for independence but this one article should be read by the no’s and don’t know’s and really look into themselves and ask how they can make things better and it can only be by turning to yes.

  16. Paula Rose says:

    This is going to be won on the doorsteps – time to get out there again ( just popped in for a cuppie).

  17. themadmurph says:

    It took me to the eye-shadow to realise it wasn’t Rev Stu! 🙂

    Sad indictment of today’s society, and the governments the rest of the UK vote for! I had a discussion in work today with someone who, unlike me, is unsure that we have different attitudes to the Mail readers. I live in hope.

    Surely we can do better than this!

  18. Stuart Black says:

    For those who missed it, here is Julie’s very powerful and moving piece regarding her visit to Blawarthill; this should be required reading, especially for IDS and his wretched apologist scum.

    I was down the week after Julie visited, and Lorraine, the woman referred to above, was grafting away in the run up to Christmas, making sure that around 150 people were going to have a Christmas dinner, and the odd little present, a lovely lady, and one who gives the lie to the demonisation of the poor that the Mail finds so fashionable and compelling.

    If there was any justice, the people responsible would die of shame…

  19. E. says:

    There’s an excellent extended article on the history of the housing crisis and its current state here:

  20. scottish_skier says:

    Excellent article but before folks get all panicky…

    If we lived in a centrist socio-democratic country, then we’d expect half the electorate to favour reducing taxation and spending less on public services including welfare with the other half wanting higher taxes and more public spending.

    Lower taxes, less spending = 6%
    Same taxes, same spending 48%
    Higher taxes, more spending = 42%

    That is most basic question possible to determine right vs left and easy to understand. According to the results, Scotland is centrist to slightly left leaning.

    Quelle surprise at it’s current government!

    When it comes to how much should be spent on specific benefits such as unemployment support things become a lot more complicated. This is because many people don’t actually know what people do get, how many are getting what etc. They’re told by the right-wing press lies that people are getting massive handouts on which they can live a life of luxury. If you are led to believe that, then of course you say it should be reduced. If you are told someone is getting 70 quid a week you would disagree with cutting it.

    Things have to be put into context here. The results reflect lies are affecting people’s opinion, but do not imply people will vote right-wing as a result. Clearly, they’re not doing that in Scotland.

    As an aside I must say as an Academic I’d never fund Curtice’s work. He doesn’t understand the data at all. He just reports numbers. Likewise he is most clearly biased just making token attempts at appearing to be fair. I’ve no idea why he’s a prof.

    Also, I’m sick of him saying ‘Look, Scots are not too different to the English’. Well Prof, you are right. While they are more right than Scotland by a decent margin, they’re a lot less right than they governments they get but it’s up to them to get of there erse and do something about that. Also, we’re not too different to the French, nor the Poles, nor the Danes, nor even the Chinese. WTF is your point?

    I’m sick to death of every statistic in Scotland being compared to that in England on the News etc. Really, I’d vote Yes just to end that alone.

  21. kininvie says:

    What we have to ask ourselves is why Mail Online is the (second I believe) most popular website? It’s not as though anyone is forced to go there. I suppose it’s the old bread and circuses answer – although in this case it is the profit motive rather than the political one…

    I expect all of us have run across voters who don’t give a stuff about Scotland’s future, or who ask ‘What referendum?’

    A bad state of affairs, made even worse when the Mail decides to demonise a whole sector of society.

    Mind you, we’re in for a taste of that. They’ve been doorstepping cybernats today. Not going to be long before we’re down there with the Romanians and the benefit scroungers.

  22. heedtracker says:

    The Police in England now want Theresa May to sanction deployment of water cannons on their streets. Security in the UK, well if water cannon dont work, whats next, rubber bullets?

    What is Police intelligence telling them about austerity UK that our noble media is not?

  23. Chickenhawk 2 says:

    I watched and recorded that ‘debate’ from Greenock and when the foodbanks question came up, oor kulture sec. was neither up nor doon. I think she should have been a damned sight more involved at these disgraceful goings on. She should have been saying, In a New Scotland we will do our damndest to stop this cancer in our society.

    And while I’m on the subject, when Faslane came up, did she not know that it is going to be the SN and army main base. A poor performance. Some members of the audience were better.

  24. Robert Llewellyn Tyler says:

    You have allies in Wales. Good luck with the vote in Sept.

  25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Better to use sleeping tabs or barbiturates.”

    I’m not sure efficient suicide tips were what we were going for with this piece.

  26. scottish_skier says:

    The Police in England now want Theresa May to sanction deployment of water cannons on their streets

    There will be more riots. It’s inevitable as inequality and poverty grow.

    The GXHQ/NSA internet snooping is not about terrorists, it’s about controlling angry from Manchester / Massachusetts.

    Extreme forced capitalism or socialism/communism inevitably require a police state. The more extreme, the stronger the level of authoritarianism as the dwindling few who actually benefit from the status quo try to protect that. All comes crashing down in the end though.

  27. memaw says:

    Please remember the ATOS protest demonstrations all over the country on the 19th February. Please spread the word. I think we need a few YES Campaigners out there in the front to say we will not allow this to happenin an Independent Scotland.
    Just got my local SNP Councillor to commit to attending the Oban protest and I am not even an SNP voter (yet)..

    And really this is not about a political protest but a humanitarian one.

  28. John D says:

    Hitler had the Jews, Cameron has the sick & disabled

  29. tony o'neill says:

    Iwatched the debate last night,but im sorry get fiona hyslop off these debate programs.This debate was a joke,sartwat talking shite aided by the host,and as for the two supposed fence sitters lol,massey a right wing tory boy,and as for kohli,he should stick tae playing naveed in still game,at least he is honest and knows a chancing bastard when he see’s one.Naveed would have chased massey and sartwat oot his shop and right doon the road.

  30. fairiefromtheearth says:

    Just had a friend visit, she tells me that the school that her son goes to is pro union, he came home today spouting how Scotland would be trillions in debt and we would be better together. Are the repeaters(teachers) of this country so blind to whats happened in the last 40 years, i cant speak for anyone else but i dont think history has proven westminster have run things in the peoples intreast.

  31. Albamac says:

    The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey data on welfare released today showed that Scots are increasingly taking the same route. We’re becoming harsher on benefits recipients, more insistent that their lives are too easy. The Mail is the third-best-selling newspaper in Scotland, and it’s starting to rub off on us“.

    That’s the ‘glut’ I was hinting at on another topic.

  32. wee jamie says:

    Great piece , really highlights the sickening,uncaring, hellhole modern Britain has become, I just don’t want to be a part of it anymore. Please Scotland, I implore you to vote yes and end this vile parody of a society, and create a beacon of light to help our brothers and sisters in the south see the way to compassion and decency.

  33. bunter says:

    Mr Bateman needs our help to keep the pressure on the BBC. Check out his blog!

  34. David Agnew says:

    the very idea of being “British” sickens me – I am ashamed of the UK. I am deeply troubled & quite scared about were it is going. I truly fear a no vote and what it means.

    I am hoping that on the 19th of September I am reading headlines about how we are finally out of that nightmare.

  35. Les Wilson says:

    A terrible reality of just how the human race can, er, not be human.We MUST be able to do better.

  36. Croompenstein says:

    If I wake up on the 19th and it’s a no at least I now know to keep away from the paracetomol and use barbituates

  37. Ericmac says:

    This is true. You can have an organisation of well paid people, salaries paid above the market average. But if there is a sense of inequality or bias, no one is happy

    Conversely, you can have another organisation where the employees are paid overall, slightly below the market average, but it’s a fair and equitable salary system, and people feel any differentials are fair, then people are happy.

    The point is, people will suffer a little hardship as long as its fair and everyone is genuinely in it together. It is rampant inequality, unfairness and lack of recognition, (relative to the better off or more fortunate) that hurts people.

    Westminster and London has burst the values of fairness wide open over the last few decades. It is going to come back and haunt the UK.

    People want fairness in this life above most things. That’s what an independent Scotland can provide.

  38. Luigi says:

    Hitler had the Jews, Cameron has the sick & disabled

    It always starts with the sick and disabled. Easy targets first.

    Lebensunwertes Leben

  39. Davy says:

    Aye thats a hard bit of writeing, and how can we dismiss the actual facts and needs about foodbanks without damning our souls for eternity. I dont want to live in a country that treats its own people as nothing more than commoditys, which are only of value to their government by the amount they cost it.

    I agree with “clootie” the culture of ‘greed is good’ promoted by Thatcher and Blair must be ended. People should always come first, and surely the well being of our nation will be the new priority of an “Independent Scotland”.

    And I believe the only way we will rid our country of the need for foodbanks will be to rid Scotland of the Jackels of Westminister, where over 800 people sit in the House of lords and claim £300 per day plus expenses. And does the unemployed man or woman get anywhere near that for an entire week on JSA ? nae chance.

    If we claim our right to chose our own direction for scottish socity by voting YES, perhaps our friends down south will look at Westminster with new eyes and see it for the self-centred freeloading bag of rats that they are. And perhaps that is what the unionists fear most about our independence, and thats its catching.

    By voting YES, we are voting to rid our country of the “bedroom tax, workfare, foodbanks” and having one in five children in poverty. By voting YES we are voting for the soul of our country and its people and how we want history to remember us, as a compassionate caring people or self-centred rats.

    We chose.

  40. Paula Rose says:

    Also – people like myself who moved here, who hang our hats on the peg marked Scotland want to live in a fair, democratic nation, always though – a wee bit perplexed as to why those born and bred here would trust Westminster, some folk are now dying.

  41. Molly says:

    Not sure I should really say this but,
    There is a big group in the middle ( £25,000 -40,000 ish) bracket who are ‘safe’. They have a reliable income, nice house , nice car -it is that group we need to get the message across to as they see no need ( I’ve heard this repeatedly) for change.

    The irony is, look at the back pages of The Big Issue, look at the salary , some positions in the NHS, Social Work . The Professional who deal with many of the results of Westminsters policies,the original sort of left thinkers , who wanted to help are now the ones, reading The Daily Mail, deliberating whether KK is pregnant or not again , they’re the ones who I unfortunately have found are most dismissive but with the least awareness of what is actually going on.

  42. caz-m says:


    I would say the majority here are singing from the same hymn sheet.

    Then you remind yourself of the Scots that are No or Undecided voters. Just what will it take to turn them around.

    Did you hear half the audience applaud Sarwar when he made some shit comment. Your heart sinks. Just why are they applauding arses like Sarwar or Massey.

    On top of that you have Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath. Hot Labour heartlands, The latter has had nothing done to it since the 1970s, yet they are strong favourites to hold the seat.

    Very frustrating and puzzling that the voters in these areas don’t seem to want a better future for their children.

  43. annie says:

    I was working with a Polish woman this week she has a work ethic which can only be admired however she thinks if you work less than 50 hours a week you are feckless and also if Scotland gets independence she might have to apply for a visa to continue to live and work here. I did of course try to reassure her but I worry there are lots of other immigrant workers with the same fears.

  44. Steve B says:

    Replying to Molly some people in that “middle” income group may feel “safe” but I’m sure there are also a lot who realise they are only a P45 away from disaster, or a percentage or two on interest rates away from losing their home or a change in policy as regards tuition fees away from their kids not getting the future they deserve.

  45. bunter says:

    Scotland Tonight had G Kerevan on, mentioned his SNP links as usual, another chap was on but was labelled as a political commentator. The political commentator seemed well versed in Better Together, but no mention of a link. he was clearly not impartial. Very suspicious.

  46. Chic McGregor says:

    O/T Bateman calls for SG inquiry into BBC and support for UWS report against BBC attack. Over on NNS

  47. Chic McGregor says:

    o/t P.S. Anybody fancy crafting an email to the chairman of the BBC trust?

  48. jingly jangly says:

    Jim Sillars on Scotland Tonight, Brilliant, forgot how good he is, last time I seen him speak was at SNP convention at Govan in about 1990. Welcome back Jim we need more of you in this debate.

  49. bunter says:

    Jim Sillars spoke well, though I thought his idea of an aircraft carrier hospital ship was er interesting.

  50. Archie [not Erchie] says:

    Wow Jim Sillars fairly laid it on the line. Loved it

  51. Lanarkist says:

    Greenock first then Kelso, Kirkcaldy. Seems the media debates are sticking to safe areas so far. It will be interesting to see if they venture into the Highlands, North East or the Isles, rather than the Borders, Fife or the Central Belt which you could consider to be more Better Together friendly.

    B.B.C. Using same old tactics over bias claims by attacking academic and going over heads to Uni Principal. We’re they not kicking up a stink themselves over questions asked about Chair neutrality at 5 Million Questions in Dundee.

    People sentenced to jail time for Twitter abuse, verbal abuse. DWP and I.D.S sanctions create destitution, poverty, starvation and death!

    Our country is desperately dysfunctional and bias in more ways than one.

  52. Papadocx says:

    Honey bear on newsnight talking about the fall in unemployment, God what a TUBE he’s priceless.

  53. gillie says:

    Dr John Robertson of UWOS has received a threatening email from BBC Scotland.

    Time for everyone to show support.

  54. msean says:

    Well said Mr Sillars,welcome to the debate. I don’t care what government we get after the yes vote,just so long as WE voted for it.

  55. Early Ball says:

    O.T. Just thought of a horrible thing that might hurt us.
    A punter in a well known bookmaker’s Windsor branch “lumped on” a substantial sum on the Queen abdicating.

    Now if Chic and Camilla take over no problem but if they miss a generation. William and Kate getting a coronation in the run up to the vote then that might not be helpful.

  56. caz-m says:

    I do hope the good people of Cowdenbeath were listening to Jim Sillars on STV tonight.

    He is targeting Labour voters to vote Yes in the up and coming referendum.

    The next best thing would be for them to send a message to New Scottish Labour and vote for the SNP candidate. This would send a clear message to Scottish Labour that nobody is interested in their Tory like policies.

  57. Chic McGregor says:

    Good letter to Patten over on Bateman’s blog from Andygm1.

    This sort of thing could interest the English press. Tough call for them at any rate.

  58. Paul says:

    That was my thoughts also, these areas are hardly hotbeds of Nationalism When the referendum is over the media must be held to account for their disgraceful one sided coverage of the campaign. We should stop buying their papers and the TV license hurt them in the pocket that is all they understand.

  59. annie says:

    Have to admit Jim Sillars had my attention right up until his aircraft carrier/hospital idea, am sure there would be a cheaper alternative ie. The Maid o the Loch or something similar, we are after all a small Nation. If he can get us the Labour vote I wont knock him.

  60. Chic McGregor says:

    BTW great article from Julie. My missus was especially impressed.

    Apologies for the Beeb OT but its one where its one where alacrity might be of import.

  61. Molly says:

    I agree Steve B that’s what makes it so frustrating when they ( as a couple did recently , very loudly) make ill informed statements about Scotland not being able to stand on her own two feet.

    They feel safe, but it’s an illusion, tied up in the fantasy of being able to shop til they drop.

    Unfortunately they will be the first two who say, well no one told me, if there is a No vote.

  62. Molly says:

    The same Daily Mail etc is pushing the Cressida thing , I’d go for Harry getting married soon rather than the Queen retiring.

  63. jingly jangly says:

    Can you tell me a better use of an Aircraft Carrier which is not an Aircraft Carrier as the UK canny afford the planes.

    It was not cost effective to cancel the 2nd Carrier because dunderheid (I saved the world) Brown signed contracts that made it cheaper to build something they didn’t want.

    We are due our percentage of UK assets.

    We don’t want Nuclear Subs/Missiles etc and their planes (Typhoon’s) cost 4 times the cost of the competition to fly so why not take the redundant carrier!

    Think of it as a Floating Hospital/Aid ship with space on the top for Helicopters to take off/land on there mercy missions. Now that’s what I call influence in the Real World.

  64. tartanpigsy says:

    Sorry to carry-on the BBC thread, apologies Julie, it’s a great article. This is a straight c&p of what I just posted on NNS.

    Time to make a stand people!

    In 3 months we will be approaching the official referendum period and the BBC will be playing it squeeky clean for all the world to see what wonderful, impartial believers in democracy they are.

    Meanwhile they do everything in their powers to subvert this referendum and deny Scotland her place in the world!

    We must take action now to highlight their desperate, underhand tactics, perhaps a vigil at Pacific Quay?

    Certainly the public AND their staff need to know what they are up to.

  65. Alasdair Reid says:

    Thank you. Very poweful piece of writing. Time we all stopped for 10 minutes and asked ourselves where the hell are we heading.

    Wings, man, keep up the good work.

  66. call me dave says:

    The latest scare story due. Report from Herald but not worth Archive:

    Paper due on border controls

    The prospect of border controls between an independent Scotland and England to prevent the former becoming a so-called “soft point of entry” to the UK will be raised later this week with the publication of the 11th Whitehall analysis paper.
    Released by the Home Office and the Scotland Office, the paper will focus on immigration, citizenship and borders. At least two more papers, including one on tax collection, are due to be published before the spring.

    This week’s paper will emphasise the strength of the UK borders system and the work and expense involved in managing it effectively with regard to keeping out any international criminals and illegal drugs.

  67. joe kane says:

    Brilliant old-school style social justice journalism Julie.
    Reminds me of the equally excellent Sonia Poulton who, ironically, actually gets some of her journalism published online by the Daily Mail.

  68. joe kane says:

    One form the archive.
    A common defence of the Labour Government development and introduction of the now infamous DWP-Atos test for deciding whether sick and disabled people are fit for work was that it introduced it on some kind of limited trial basis. However, the Labour Government itself, in 2006, was predicting and hoping to use it to remove welfare state support from slightly less than 10,000 sick and disabled people a month over a 10 year period. No medical science or medial ethics needed.

    From the Work Test Whistleblower blog –
    In 2006 – before the credit crunch – in the foreword to A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work, the Labour Work and Pensions Secretary wrote “We should aspire to reduce the number of incapacity benefit claimants by one million over the course of a decade”.

  69. annie says:

    Jingly jangly- Why should an independent Scotland take on the expense of an aircraft carrier of no use what so ever to rUK? We first have to get our independent Scotland up and running. I agree overseas aid is both desireable and essential but the aircraft carrier would still form a part of negotiations on the “split” and while I absolutely see the need for aid overseas I think in this case it’s a no thanks, we will make our own arrangements for foreign aid unless of course its bargain basement price.

  70. Hetty says:

    Excellent article, and the readers of that type of pap actually believe every word. I know the attitude from them, all parents are bad bad bad, well, the poor ones, I can’t stand the ignorant mindset these people have, especially that they are generally the ones doing well, they have savings, and have paid off the mortgage thanks very much, and with the slash n burn attacks by the regime in westminster, aimed at the poor, sick and vulnerable, it is disgusting.

  71. K1 says:

    The ‘political commentator on Scotland Tonight has form: ““a former Scotsman editor and self-proclaimed “leading political commentator”

  72. weedeochandoris says:

    Wow Julie, that was amazing. I used visit that newspaper mostly to write comments under stories about that slavering, nasty Alex Salmond or just scrounging, stinking Scots in general. I did try to point out that they were actually being, systematically, brainwashed. The incoming attacks were uber nasty so I finally gave up and dumped it into the cyberbin where it belongs. People do believe the trash they read on there, scary.

  73. Votadini Jeannie says:

    Thank you Julie, although I’d got as far as the lilac eye-shadow before I had to go back and check it wasn’t written by Stu.

    The Daily Mail seems to alternate between bread and circuses, bullying, and inciting hatred. The only person I know who reads it avidly is an English UKipper who plans on standing for his local council at the next elections. No prizes for guessing where he’ll get his manifesto from…

  74. Oneironaut says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this article!


    This needs to be broadcast to everyone in the UK. Perhaps even the world!
    More people really need to be thinking about this, and need to start thinking about switching off their TVs and iPhones and standing up for themselves while they still can.

    Excellent article! 🙂

  75. Ken500 says:

    Ann from Stagecoach does a Hospital ship already. Pity about the Bus service.

    Ran the competion off the road, and cut the service. The buses now pass by. Now travellers have to pollute the world.

    Swings and roundabouts.

  76. Ken500 says:

    Should a main principal of an apolitical Royal family be engaged in an illegal War. What message does that send out to the Commonwealth and the rest of the world? ‘The Killer Wales’.

    Where’s the Chilcott verdict? Has Westminster got it under a thirty year rule, or is the BBC colluding in the cover up.

  77. john king says:

    There are no words

    I and my wife both have disabilities, I am fortunate enough to be able to work, my wife unfortunately cannot, I am terrified of the possibility of losing my job and forced to ask for help from these creatures, worse still that I should die and my wife left to their tender mercies.

    This is not the country I was born into and it is CERTAINLY not the country I want to die in.

    A progamme on last year displayed the lives of benefit claimants as they would have experienced in the 1940’s and although a woman who was disabled was told your fit enough to work and benefits removed, the “social” moved heaven and earth to get a young man with a debilitating illness into his first every job, and the young mans (real) gratitude was one of the most moving moments I have seen on television.

    The man in charge was himself a benefits officer in the 40’s said that although he and his colleagues did have to make very difficult decisions within the prevailing rules at that time they were always tempered with compassion for truly destitute or physically disabled people,
    can these people today claim that? I think not.

  78. Macart says:

    A very moving post Julie.

    A title I’ve never felt the urge to read, it embodies everything I feel to be wrong with modern UK. Greed, shallowness, lack of empathy and intolerance. There is far more of worth to read from the commenters on this page than there will ever be in any title currently on sale. More connection to life as we know it, more will to do something positive about it.

  79. caz-m says:

    Nina Spence the BBC Scotland GMS newsreader has got to have the worst voice I have ever heard on radio.

    She must have been put through the BBC creepy voice classes and passed with flying colours.

    She not only has the low creepy Project Fear voice, but she adds her own 3 second delay between items.

    What is she doing in that 3 secs delay, does she fall asleep, is she taking a drink of tea. Why does she do it.

    Bring back Shereen Nanjiani.

  80. john king says:

    “If I wake up on the 19th and it’s a no at least I now know to keep away from the paracetomol and use barbituates”

    Not cool man not cool

  81. john king says:

    “Jim Sillars spoke well, though I thought his idea of an aircraft carrier hospital ship was er interesting.”

    BtP and I were talking about using the mothballed aircraft carriers for disaster relieve/ hospital ships on here months ago.

  82. john king says:

    Ghillie says
    “Dr John Robertson of UWOS has received a threatening email from BBC Scotland”

    Maybe the BBC should look to Rabbies Burns’s words

    “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!”

    They of all people should know the facts are irrelevant its the perception that matters as they are so very well aware as they are masters of manipulating perceptions,

    Glen Campbell anyone?

  83. john king says:

    If ever the BBC has presented us with a wide open goal this is it, if they even think about trying to persecute the professor ,its a shoe in to start a licence fee strike.

  84. Alex Taylor says:

    @ John King

    “BtP and I were talking about using the mothballed aircraft carriers for disaster relieve/ hospital ships on here months ago.”

    I well remember that, John, and thought then and now what a fantastic idea it is. Soft power. Man’s humanity to man. What an example that would be to other countries. And Scotland’s already positive profile in the world would increase by many notches,

    The unaircrafted carrier is soon to be finished (and mothballed three years after). Lets buy it on the cheap and use it for something positive.

    I love the idea.


  85. john king says:

    Thanks Alex I thought it was an obvious use to put an expensive white elephant to rather than selling it to a potential enemy to use against us at a later stage remember Argentinian navy ship Belgrano was originally a US ship USS phoenix.

  86. Juteman says:

    My ‘tabs’ tip now looks like bad taste. It wasn’t meant that way.
    Ironic smiley thing.

  87. Papadocx says:

    UOWS vs BBC

    Today will be the pointer as to where this is going. In the event of an attempted cover up (if there indeed any thing to cover up) therein lies the danger. BBC Will be unable to comment until they have investigated. Then it will be kicked into the long grass and that will be that.

    Remember the IRAQ WAR, and the dodgy dossier? Will Scarlet the chief spook, who I believe was promoted shortly after the dust settled. This ain’t going anywhere remember what I have always said we are threatening the UK state and that won’t be allowed without a bloody fight.

    If the populace wake up and care in honesty, truth and democracy then and only then something good might come out of all this. Unfortunately the proud Scots will just see the nasty nats stirring up trouble again. The proud Scots prefer HMG LIES, DECEIT AND THIEVING. To true democracy.

  88. scottish_skier says:

    RE the University of WoS report.

    Sunday Herald?

    Would be one hell of a story / shitstorm if they ran with it.

  89. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @scottish_skier –

    As we know, you are an academic.

    From what you’ve seen of Robertson’s report, can you identify any obvious reason to question the methodology?

  90. Gillie says:

    The BIG problem for the BBC is that they won’t broadcast or publicly comment on Robertson’s report but they will try to discredit him.

    That is a back door operation requiring others to be involved, namely other academics.

    It would be interesting to find out what Dr Elliot Bulmer’s views are on this development considering the treatment he received from the Scottish media.

  91. caz-m says:


    Prof John Robertson of UoWS, has issued an invitation to BBC Scotland to appear on Newsnight Scotland to talk about the report.

    This is the reply left on Derek Bateman’s blog.

    Dear Mr Small,

    Thank you for your letter.

    I would be pleased to discuss my report live on Newsnight Scotland at the earliest opportunity.


    John Robertson

  92. Mosstrooper says:

    Now why don’t we all calm down and leave all the political comment to that nice John Curtice. He’s a professor don’t you know and is always on the telly. The BBC too so he must be good

  93. Papadocx says:

    Gillie says

    A the cover up!

    There are plenty academics out there who will take whatever position the BBC wants, to get their 15 minutes of “fame”. There are also a lot who are true to their principals.

    O the twisted web we weave when we spin our yarn to deceive.

  94. caz-m says:


    BBC Scotland going big on the UK car production numbers.

    Check out the map of the UK to see exactly where all these UK car factories are located.

    Not one is located in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

    Why don’t they just say they are all based in England and cut out all the bullshit.

    There is NO UK car manufacturers. There is only English car manufacturers.

  95. HandandShrimp says:

    I like Prof Robertson’s style 🙂

  96. Mosstrooper says:

    Heard on radio 4 that the English NHS are having troubles around meeting waiting time targets. Where’s Eleanor Bradford when you need her?

  97. MochaChoca says:

    A slide show of the findings of the UWS report projected onto the side of the Pacific Quay ans STV buildings for a few weeks would sort them out.

  98. HandandShrimp says:

    The BBC’s reaction to the report shows that the report did not miss the target. They know perfectly well what they have been doing and simply hope to suppress any criticism until at least past the referendum date. Their feet must be held to the fire over their political collusion with Better Together and Labour.

  99. Les Wilson says:

    We should raise a petition online to support the academics who are being threatend by the BBC.
    It could be open to all Indy websites and bloggs,the result sent to BBC Scotland, Westminster BBC board, foreign papers, T.V networks, youtube,facebook,twitter.

    In this way the petition would really hold the BBC to account, and this WOULD make them think again.

  100. John H. says:

    My wife and I found your story about the Glasgow woman with cancer very moving Julie. We’ve been wondering if there is any way that we can help her financially. I know that she is, unfortunately, only one of many.

    Are there any voluntary organizations helping her and the others in a similar plight? If so we would like to make a contribution. Anything we give won’t be enough I know, but we feel that we must do something. If you know of such a group would you please let us know. We want to help.

    Any society which allows its government to behave in such a barbaric manner has no right to call itself civilized.

  101. Jimsie says:

    Karl Marx “religion is the opiate of the masses”. It was in his day,not any more.It is the cult of celebrity which seems to obsess people now. Another excellent piece from you Julie.

  102. Ken500 says:

    £2Billion UK Gov public investment in Nissan Plant in N/E England, for electric car production. Where are they? £2Billion UK gov investment in two coal production Plants in N/E England, near Clegg’s Contintuency.

    The CC Project for Longannet, in Fife was refused permission by Hulne. Buy back from Solar was cut from 42p to 21p – halved. Now for older people with diosable income it is less avntageous, to receive pay back for the investment.

    The EU is putting up renewable energy targets. Scotland’s renewable policy is to feature on the business section of EuroNews channel on Sunday. Oor Euro friends, along with the Russians.

  103. John H – you can make donations to the food bank who assisted this lady, and with whom she now volunteers. They take donations in the form of food, toys or cash. Their website is

    Thanks everyone else for your comments on this article.

  104. Robert Louis says:

    The news regarding the BBC today and their offhand response to the one year long study by the University of the West of Scotland showing BBC reporting to be massively biased against independence, clearly shows that in Scotland, the BBC is rotten to the core.

    The BBC have not bothered to even report the findings in ANY of their bulletins, yet behind the scenes are attacking the integrity of the report.

    Academics are always open to scrutiny via peer review, but what has been done by the BBC is not the same. Here, we have a state funded broadcaster that likes to shout long and hard about its impartiality, yet when a year long academic and independent assessment finds marked and significant bias, they reject and criticise the findings without even knowing all the pertinent details of the work.

    It is imperative that we show our support for the University of the West of Scotland, but also ensure these findings are spread to the BBC in London. My honest opinion is that writing to the BBC in Scotland is a waste of time.

    Like I say, in my opinion, the behaviour of the BBC in Scotland to this academic report, proves that the reporting by the BBC in Scotland is biased against Scottish independence – and by a very substantial margin.

    It is now imperative that both the electoral commission and other bodies (the BBC trust?) take action, if we wish to have a full frank and FAIR referendum in Scotland.

    The world is watching.

    The full report can be found here:

    Newsnet reports can be found here:

  105. scottish_skier says:

    From what you’ve seen of Robertson’s report, can you identify any obvious reason to question the methodology?

    No, and I imagine he has all his evidence compiled. Just imagine what such a compilation of video evidence would look like if each little bit was added to make one film…

    If you could easily find major flaws with the study, it would already be in the MSM being torn apart.

  106. Dal Riata says:

    An excellent article, Julie, and well said!

    The Daily Mail is a festering sore in the UK that has a society so much in thrall to its mainstream media. They are the diversional tactical arm of the British Establishment – a propaganda outlet that is used to vilify the unemployed, the poor, migrants, single mothers, etc. to distract the population’s scrutiny away from the ‘real’ crooks and miscreants within the 1% who avoid tax in the tens of millions of pounds while raking in countless millions on ‘projects’ kept well away from public scrutiny. State corruption, in other words. Do you really believe it is only those ‘scary’ Communists in China who squirrel away billions of dollars in, up to now, hidden bank accounts…?

    What is the story about Mail journalists and photographers doorstepping independence supporters who use Twitter? This has also been mentioned BTL of an article in the Guardian online site. Someone there said it included someone who posts on CiF, possibly under the psuedonym meljomur? They said photos may have been taken, including ones of her children? What’s the legality of this?

    Is this is the next line of attack from Bitter Together? If that’s what it is, while using the vile Daily Mail to carry out its mission, then they are beyond the pale. Utterly, utterly disgraceful. Have these people no morals? Fuck them, then. Fuck the lot of them.

    By the way, Wings (and others) and its crowdfunding successes gets a decent write up from Severin Carrell (I know, shock, horror!) over on the Guardian.

  107. Extreme0 says:

    Remember that restaurants, coffee shops, hospitals, colleges and the like usually buy the cheapest newspaper for people to read while they are waiting or eating something.

    I do however say that this whole world is unfortunately turning into this. Makes me kind of ashamed of my generation. I would not be surprised if people were more interested in “OMG Corrie Star has affair?!?” then the actual developments of the world today.

    This island needs to be burned and sunk into the ocean.

  108. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @scottish_skier –


    IMO, the Beeb has made a catastrophic error of judgement. They could have invited John Robertson into GMS, and have Nauchtie give him the treatment, both barrels. We would have been crying foul, but no matter – easily brushed aside: ‘it’s just the cybernats going off, as usual.’

    Instead, they’ve called into question the integrity of the UWS, Roberston himself, and, by implication, anyone who dares question BBC ‘impartiality’. They have blunderbussed themselves in the Rab Ha’s, and have no-one to blame but themselves.

    They could, of course, apologise, give due coverage to the report, and hope no-one notices…what chance?

  109. Ken500 says:

    It’s illegal to photograph kids, without permission. Call the Polis. Get the DM mug-shot up in court.

  110. HandandShrimp says:

    STV needs to be held to account too, they have been quiet on the report and their figures were not a lot better. STV might be more amenable to addressing the issue putting the BBC further on the backfoot. Anybody heard what their position is?

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