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Wings Over Scotland

Personalising the debate

Posted on March 11, 2014 by

We’ve just watched three hours of the Education and Culture Committee at Holyrood discussing the report on media bias by Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland, which featured the good professor himself and senior BBC Scotland executives including Ken McQuarrie and John Boothman.


The contrast between Prof. Robertson’s absolute frankness and candour – openly discussing his political views and his mild autism – and the BBC men’s evasion and obfuscation was quite something to behold. We’ll have some analysis this week.

One finding of Prof. Robertson’s report was that the anti-independence media (or for short, “the media”) had a strong tendency to personalise the Yes debate in the form of Alex Salmond, and a piece in today’s Scotsman provides us with a handy illustration.

“Alex Salmond ran up £100K bill at Edinburgh Castle”, blares the headline, suggesting a serious blowout at the giftshop on Edinburgh Rock and pencils with a wee tartan tammy on the top. But of course, that turns out not to be the story. What the paper means by “Alex Salmond” is “the Scottish Government”, and rather than all having been splurged on a big knees-up, as readers might be expected to infer, the bill in fact took two years and 13 separate events to accumulate, averaging just £7,308 a time.


Frankly, readers, that’s such a tiddly price to throw a shindig for large numbers of dignitaries, artists, businessfolk, sportsmen and normal people – food and drink included – in what is by pretty much any measure Scotland’s most glamorous and historic venue that we’re now thinking of putting on a wee hootenanny there ourselves for Wings readers with some of our fundraiser money.

(It’s less than the  cost of the average wedding reception in a wee municipal function room, for example, which comes in at £9,774 including catering, booze, entertainment and flowers – all of which are included in the Scotsman’s various itemisations.)

Nevertheless, so desperate is the Scotsman to turn this quite startlingly modest level of expenditure for a government holding a party in a castle into some sort of scandal that it throws in the First Minister’s name a staggering ELEVEN times in just 567 words of text, or one every 52 words.

(52 words, incidentally, is the length of the sentence you just read. The phrase “Scottish Government” is used just three times, excluding the twice that it appears in a quote FROM the Scottish Government. And one of the three uses is to identify the source of that quote, so in reality there are only two in the main body text.)

We’d hesitate to suggest that the article represented a new depth to which the once-proud journal had sunk. After all, it still hosts regular columns by Brian Wilson and Michael Kelly. But on the day of the Holyrood hearing about Professor Robertson’s report on the standards of the Scottish media, we commend it at least on its impeccable sense of ironic timing.

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118 to “Personalising the debate”

  1. Big Jock says:

    The Scotsman has become a refuge for the senial,hostile and belligerant ex mp’s and councilors. They have gathered together a collection of writers all filled with venom and hate for the SNP,Salmond and by default anyone who feels Scottish and not British.

  2. CyBOS says:

    The Professor’s opening statement was explosive.

  3. Doug Daniel says:

    “it throws in the First Minister’s name a staggering ELEVEN times in just 567 words of text, or one every 52 words.”

    Was the article written by John Macintyre OBE, by any chance?

  4. Alexandra-M- says:

    Fantastic piece as always Stu!

  5. Roll_On_2014 says:

    The Hootsmon… I will be glad when it finally goes round the u-bend and disappears.

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Looking forward to the analysis of the committee evidence, incidentally. Neil Bibby in particular was nothing short of a disgrace.

  7. Les Wilson says:

    Just heard old Jackie Bird mentioning this on BBC Scotland lunch time news.Did say it was about Media supposed bias, did not of course mention the BBC were primary in it. Said without batting an eye.

    Still, it was mentioned when so many other things are not, so it does show that they are not so confident when the spotlight falls on them.

  8. M4rkyboy says:

    11 times would put a J MacOBE post to shame.

  9. patronsaintofcats says:

    Wings par-tay at the castle! I like it, how soon can we set this up? Maybe a wee press conference to announce a Wee Blue Book? Just sayin’ like…

  10. M4rkyboy says:

    Alex Salmonds Alex Salmond put Alex Salmond to Alex Salmond,shaming Alex Salmond and making Alex Salmond Alex Salmond.

  11. James Kelly says:

    Will the BBC report on the committee proceedings tonight? If they do, will the penny drop with viewers?

    “An academic report that found that Reporting Scotland was biased against the Yes campaign. Hang on, why didn’t I hear anything about this on…Reporting Scotland?”

  12. G H Graham says:

    I attended a function at Stirling Castle in December 2013 as a consequence of a personal invitation from The First Minister himself.

    And inquiries with the staff that evening led me to believe its even cheaper; about 7k including food & drink, heating & some light musical entertainment. I mention heating cos they switch the heating on in the Great Hall two days before an event to make sure it’s comfortable.

    The standard of catering is top class & the atmosphere is awesome.

    And you can park on the esplanade for free for these types of events too. Plus it’s more centrally located than Edinburgh.

    Food for thought?

  13. Luigi says:

    In the BritNat mind, the only reason that large numbers of people are considering turning their backs on the wonderful union, is that evil Salmond must have brainwashed them with all his braveheart rhetoric. After all, Great Britain is so wonderful, there can be no other explanation – can there?

    Some of them may think that, without Salmond, the YES campaign would collapse and so they deliberately try to personalise the debate. However, many of them actually do believe that Salmond really has brainwashed us, and hate him with a vengeance.

  14. seanair says:

    Just heard Jackie Bird read her script about the session in Parliament today. Brief statement about Prof. Robertson’s analysis then the BBC says ” it was flawed”. End of story. Move along now.

  15. McHaggis says:

    The Scotsman is withering and will soon pass away. A shameful disgrace of a newspaper, where sadly, it is not ignorance or lack of resources that produces the garbage they write, but willful bias from owners, editors and journalists alike.

    And J MacIntyre OCD, Woking has pissed all over The Scotsman anyway, using the words ‘Alex Salmond’ a record 43 times in a single Herald online comment forum which in itself only contained 107 total words.

    I also notice that in the last 4 weeks or so, rather than consistenly being downvoted by a large factor, JM’s comments now strangely attract a large number of upvotes from ‘guest’ users. Far be it from me to suggest his OCD is now being applied to that particular facet of his work.

  16. bunter says:

    At the hootsmon they probably reckon, if they are going down, then best to go down all guns blazing. All very BritNat.

    On the ”grilling” of the BBC execs, I could not believe the committee didn’t take the chance of getting clarification on the reasons of closing comment on BBC Sco blogs, at this time in Scotlands history. Duh!

    Oh and the repeated omission of Aviva’s stance would have been helpful to highlight, but then I guess it was about the UWS report.

  17. Murray McCallum says:

    Roles and responsibilities Ken MacQuarrie, includes:

    “Ken provides the vision and creative leadership necessary to deliver BBC Scotland’s portfolio of multiplatform programmes and services and is responsible for maximising public value through creativity, innovation and efficient use of resources.”


    If Ken’s performance at the Education & Culture Committee is a demonstration of Ken’s vision, creative leadership, and innovation then BBC Scotland have a serious problem.

    Unless they mean that Ken needs to display these qualities when explaining away news broadcast bias?

  18. yerkitbreeks says:

    Tim Minchin put nicely what our MSM hacks don’t do :

    “A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.”

  19. muttley79 says:

    The protracted death spiral of the Scotsman is certainly something to behold. If the Scotsman was a person it would be Rasputin.

  20. Fishtank says:

    This was enough to finally make me give up on the Scotsman.

    Despite everything I WANT to like it. In theory it’s a quality paper. When I’ve been back in Scotland (non resident, no vote, would be a reluctant “don’t want to leave the UK but it’s what’s best for Scotland imo” Yes if I did.). My Gran worked there before my Dad was born.

    I just can’t take such ridiculous, cynical, gutter level writing any more.

  21. bunter says:

    I think, almost as worrying as the Prof’s findings of BBC’s bias, was the condemnation he made of the MSM and their censorship of the report. You then add what he described of the silence of his fellow academics, and you are not exactly talking about an open and free democratic society, are we?

  22. Gillie says:

    So the BBC doesn’t break down complaints into subject areas.

    So no one at the BBC has any idea where the problem areas in broadcasting are.

    What a completely clueless and dysfunctional organisation.

  23. Gillie says:

    Prof John Robertson: “I would like to condemn the behaviour of BBC Scotland’s department of policy and corporate affairs in suppressing the dissemination of my research, and in circulating an insulting and ill-informed critique of my research directly to my principal.

    “I’ve been personally hurt by the combination of threat from a powerful institution, although there has been no horse’s head in my bed yet, abandonment by the mainstream media and by academia other than my own immediate colleagues.

    “I interpret the above as an attempt at thought-control.”

  24. Papadox says:

    Mcquarrie , Boothman & Mullan. I bet you none of them turn their back on the other two. What an uneasy bunch of sleazy rogues, would you buy a second hand car from any of that crew, I was quite shocked to see how furtive and devious they all are. If these guys sleep at night it must be with a gun under their pillow. Honour among thieves, don’t think so!

  25. iain taylor (not that one) says:

    It works. This is one reason why folk hate the FM.

    Had dinner with an ex colleague last month – a mature (as in 70 something) intelligent (as in former publisher) person whose views I always respected – and as soon as he saw my Yes badge he launched into a rant about the FM being “dangerous”.

    Oh yes, he’s a former LibDem councillor too.

  26. heedtracker says:

    Note that BBC guy couldn’t even do up his shirt. Scruffy, bloated, expensive, corupt and heading for the footnote page of Scotland’s history.

  27. silver19 says:

    @McHaggis The herald changed the voting system, See here Basically there is no proper visual voting down count. Still OBE still gets little if any votes which is good to see.

  28. R Whittington says:

    So I guess that when you guys bang on endlessly about who Alex Salmond should or shouldn’t be debating with in the indyref you’re ‘not’ personalising the debate? Usual hypocracy from the pages of wings. I’ve come to expect nothing less.

  29. Vronsky says:


    “What an uneasy bunch of sleazy rogues”

    I was very disturbingly reminded of the Godfather movie.

  30. Breastplate says:

    I expect the last ever headline in the hootsman to be, ALEX SALMOND IS A FAT BASTARD!
    Or maybe something equally profound

  31. Jim McIntosh says:

    When watching the Culture Committee hearing this morning I was ‘ashtonished’ to hear that Ken MacQuarrie doesn’t think it’s relevant where certain information is placed in a broadcast (e.g. negative stuff first). I’m not sure that’ll agree with what his ‘journalists’ were taught. I think most print journalists still use the’ inverted pyramid’ for structuring a story, and the major form of writing for broadcast journalists is the use of ‘dramatic unity’.

    With the ‘inverted pyramid’, the most newsworthy information is at the top (or first), and then the remaining information follows in order of importance. With ‘dramatic unity’ the end of the story or the most important, or dramatic thing that happens comes first. So whether we are discussing print or broadcasting media the position of where you place information in a story is indeed relevant.

  32. Stuart Black says:

    “Was the article written by John Macintyre OBE, by any chance?”

    Nah, he’d’ve managed a lot more than that. I’ve seen the name twice in the one line on occasion, never mind one sentence.

  33. Vronsky says:

    @doug daniel

    “Neil Bibby in particular was nothing short of a disgrace”

    True, but what do you expect – I was looking around for his carer.

    I was astonished by Liam McNobody (Lib Dem) continually asking if Robertson didn’t believe the Bad News stories. That wasn’t the point Liam – it’s that only the Bad News stories are reported. Duh.

  34. Cazador says:

    Apologies for the pedantry, but pretty sure that the video will be uploaded by the Scottish Parliament rather than the Government. An important distinction as the parliament is obliged to be politically neutral, which the government, of course, is not.

  35. Appleby says:

    It’s a bargain really. Chickenfeed compared to what the biggest companies spend and these are government level events at a top location in a castle! I’m wondering if he was doing the catering himself to get it so cheap! I had no idea such a prime location could be secured at low prices like that. How much does Westminster spend each year? I suspect substantially more.

    Put this into perspective – MPs claim more than DOUBLE this in expenses alone in the same time! How much does the subsidised catering cost in Lords? How much does their £300 pound a day bonus for actually turning up for their job cost us each year?

    Another laughably poor story that crumbles with any kind of scrutiny or comparison.

  36. Suzanne K says:

    Dammit Rev! You mean to say I just wasted 3 hours of my life watching that utter drivel as you’re going to analyse it for us later?! You could have told me before i subjected myself to watching squirming BBC worms desperately trying to hide under their table when faced with a mildly difficult question, whilst allowing Mr Bibby to personally attack Prof Robertson?! Harrumph!
    No doubt the BBC will feature in depth coverage on the evening news of their corruption and bias towards self determination?

  37. Jim McIntosh says:

    @Gillie says: So the BBC doesn’t break down complaints into subject areas.

    I heard that from KM, but about 2 minutes earlier John Boothman (I think) had just admitted that in the past year they had had an increase in complaints about the referendum and football.

    How do these two statements square? I think these two suits need to get their stories straight.

  38. Craig says:

    Simple task for the Education and Culture Committee to establish if the BBC is unbalanced and biased:

    – Enter the BBC website and in the search field try all different ways of entering Professor John Robertson……..NOTHING

    – Mmmm…. let’s try google instead. Try different connotations of Professor John Robertson and BBC……….NOTHING from the BBC listed.

    In 1 minute I have found the answer relating to BBC bias.


  39. MochaChoca says:

    “…when you guys bang on endlessly about who Alex Salmond should or shouldn’t be debating with…”

    I’ve seen it discussed on here occasionally, but as far as I’m aware not been mentioned for a few weeks.

  40. liz says:

    @silver 19 – re voting on the herald.

    You will also note that most up votes for the naysayers consist mainly of ‘guest votes’

    Also there is an odius man called Kelly from Ireland – what is it about these Kellys – apologies to sensible Kellys -who complained about the number of down votes he was getting and shortly after that all down votes disppeared.

  41. Westie7 says:

    Hopefully not too early to digress.
    But Aberdeen city council to press ahead with inclusion of a No letter with the council tax bills. I would have thought some sort of legal intervention could be brought to bear

  42. ericmac says:

    @R Whittington
    “Turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London” We know who you are.

  43. seanair says:

    The frequent naming of AS is a shameful attack designed to attract those of little brain into voting NO. If speaking to such people ask them how they would vote if AS dropped dead on 17th September. Would they then be inclined to vote YES? Would they hang—AS is a convenient scapegoat for numbskulls who can’t think for themselves.

  44. R Whittington says:

    @MochaChoca let’s hope it stays that way.

  45. MochaChoca says:

    Poor retraction, but noted.

  46. Desimond says:

    Im getting fecking sick of this Salmonds persons spending.

    It was bad enough he wasted 54k on a daft Ryder Cup trip…as if hosting a wee golf tourney in Perthshire is gonna do any good for this country or even help out the local economies.

    Thats bad enough BUT less we forget, hes the fool who also threw £7m at that daft wee cartoon Brave…aye it won an Oscar,gathered worldwide acclaim and generated hundreds of millions in Tourism according to YES Scotland( I like the old names) but I ask you ..

    WHAT else has Salmonds spending habits ever done for us?

  47. Vronsky says:

    Has anyone got a link to the (very scary) Gordon Brown interview where in response to every question he replies ‘We are doing this because it is the right thing to do’.

  48. Fudgefase says:

    They’re looking for a journalist. Via twitter. I tweeted that pro independent candidates need not apply and was told it was a newspaper, not a fanzine. Not recently, I replied…

  49. M4rkyboy says:

    ‘AS is a convenient scapegoat for numbskulls who can’t think for themselves.’
    Spot on mate,first i have heard anyone put it like this before.

  50. Harry says:


    What a ridiculous point to make. Hardly comparing like with like. The Scotsman and others are clearly trying to stir up as much hatred for Salmond as they possibly can. £95,000 over 13 events over almost 2 years. Come on!!! Look at the wastage from Westminster, in the MoD alone. This is not even chickenfeed, it’s gnatsfeed, excuse the pun!

  51. jenny says:

    Ahhh the Beeb,

    Just had a wee read at the Trust decision regarding the Lucinda Creighton, EU fiasco. @Rev, I think you did write about this but can’t remember for sure.

    Slippery wee buggers.

  52. Tattie-bogle says:

    Yes the Hootsman does seem to have given it Tallyho old chap just like cardigan and the charge of the light brigade

  53. Jim McIntosh says:

    @R Whittington


    – Alec Salmond £95,000 over 2 years representing Scotland.
    – Gordon Brown £215,000 over 2 years representing……Gordon Brown.

    I know which one I think is value for money.

  54. MochaChoca says:

    BBC going strong with RBS relocation to England.

    Surely if it moves out of Scotland it would make little sense to still be called Royal Bank of Scotland?

    I suppose it’s safe to assume they would still have a presence in Scotland, so why not formally split it? (it’s 80% state owned anyway, so about 6.6% belongs to the Scottish public)

    The English bit, that’s already in England, stays in England and can call itself whatever it wants.

    The bit that’s actually Scottish can still operate from Scotland and may indeed be able to shed it’s casino banking notoriety, recover it’s previously good reputation and re-grow but in a more sustainable way.

  55. toshtastic says:

    @doug daniel

    Why was Bibby a disgrace?

  56. Papadox says:

    If Alex Salmond was standing trial in a court charged with being a lying devious not nice person. Would there be enough evidence to find him guilty?

    Whenever I ask these people what Ecks done wrong I get the same old answer O I just don’t like him! The power of the media repeat the same thing often enough and a lot will repeat it just like a parrot.

    @R Whittington says:
    When you mature a bit you’ll maybe understand sunshine it’s not very difficult for normal people.

  57. gavin lessells says:


    Have just ordered 370,000 leaflets from printers to fill orders from Shetland to the Borders. Well done everyone who ordered. 150,000 will be despatched this weekend and the balance next week.
    The printers have suggested that I continue to accept orders at the price of £66 per 10,000.
    We do have several thousand available in smaller quantities for slightly more.

    Many thanks for the support from readers and the Rev of course. We hope the hits are in for a substantial increase!

  58. HenBroon says:

    BBC,McQuarrie, Boothman, Bibby, OBE, and many others who slither around vomiting bile about the SNP, Scotland and Alex Salmond are simply doing what the state has tasked them to do. The UK state is in panic. Dave is using every means at his disposal, except talking to real people and debating in front of us live. He prefers slithering behind our backs encouraging the likes of Putin and Barrosso to dis Scotland. The UK state is fighting for it’s place up the USAs arse. If the UK state looses Scotland, it looses face, clout, thump, wallop, bang, it cannot ever again afford to or expect to be a “wuld powa.” It will simply takes it’s place as a divided unequal class ridden society, up to it’s nostrils in debt. We, if we do not vote Yes, are doomed to eternal ridicule, and by Christ we will deserve it. I have made exit plans to Eire for that hellish nightmare scenario. I have no wish to die amongst the servile dependent junkies we will be forced to become.

    “Do you want solid proof that paid government shills are targeting websites, blogs, forums and social media accounts? For years, many have suspected that government trolls have been systematically causing havoc all over the Internet, but proving it has been difficult. But now thanks to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and revealed by Glenn Greenwald, we finally have hard evidence that western governments have been doing this.”

  59. jenny says:

    @Gillie, @Jim McIntosh

    It’s highly unlikely that the BBC don’t break down complaints by subject. If you take a look at their complaints pages you can see that items they think are important/ perhaps has unusually high numbers of complaints have been summarised and ordered. That means someone, somewhere has a spreadsheet.

    There is always a spreadsheet.

  60. bunter says:

    Business for Scotland say GERS figures are due out tomorrow. We will see what damage Labour and Unites shenanigans at Grangemouth have done to Scotlands numbers.

    Was it really a year ago the BBC and every news organisation ran with a spoiler about a Scot Gov so called cover up over pensions? Jeez time flys!

  61. Bill Walters says:

    I think we have to be careful not to completely misrepresent what Dr Robertson’s report actually tells us. It’s being used by some (mainly Newsnet Scotland) as proof of a grand BBC conspiracy to campaign for a No vote. In reality he was quite clear about saying it’s “not actually a big imbalance” and that “this kind of thing doesn’t happen because people are conspiring… imbalance creeps up because of little decisions day by day and people haven’t got time to look at the overview”.

    There’s a difference between saying the BBC needs to balance its coverage more carefully by ensuring there’s a 50-50 split between pro and anti-independence voices, and saying that the entirety of the coverage is systematically designed to act as propaganda for the No campaign. The former is a reasonable statement, the latter is a conspiracy theory.

  62. Jim McIntosh says:

    @toshtastic: Why was Bibby a disgrace?

    Because as someone else mentioned he tried to play the man and not the ball. The Q&A session was supposed to be about the Prof’s paper, not about his opinion of the Labour Party. Even when censured by the convenor he went back to asking the same question. The Prof knocked the wind out of his sails anyway when he admitted he shouldn’t have called them a bunch of whatever’s at a press conference. Bibby even tried to get him to retract the statement, which he refused to do.

    You can see his problem with the Labour Party, after all he admits to being a socialist.

  63. Tattie-bogle says:

    I wonder if the fear is not losing the north sea oil and more likely that they fear losing trident as oil exploration off the west coast could find what they have dumped in there over the years.

  64. turnip_ghost says:

    Ohhhhha shindig you say! I’m gunna go buy a new hat to make me look purity!

    There is one thing that has always struck me about the entire Unionist side is the attempts at smearing. The other fine example is the content enquiries of which he/Scottish govt is always cleared…A simple change to the rules would work wonders.

    If the accused is found guilty, that party pays for the expenses incurred by the enquiry…if they are found innocent the accusing party/MSP has to pay…You can bet your bottom dollar that all the enquiries would stop…otherwise the £2.50 pot that Labour has left would be sucked dry.

    In other news, I hate the Scotsman. Waste of paper.

  65. liz says:

    @Hen Broon – I’m afraid I’m with you on this one.

    I have already discussed with the other half about moving from Scotland in the event of a No as I could not stand the shame of living in a country which is too feart to vote Yes.

    They will destroy us and folk need to waken up – I hate AS because….. – this attitude drives me up the wall and I have heard it from people who are intelligent, articulate, computer literate etc.

  66. Caroline Corfield says:

    Personalising the general debate within society about the independence referendum, i.e. in newspapers, on tv, and in organised debates, is done by suggesting a side is solely the property one person, and that they represent the whole gamut of that side’s support and opinion.

    Suggesting that the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, which in being democratically elected is fufilling the manifesto pledges of its majority government, should have A debate, organised and televised with the Prime Minister of the Westminster Parliament, namely the two people who signed the Edinburgh Agreement, is in no way personalising THE debate being held around the country in livingrooms, pubs and online.

    Alex Salmond is being personified as the Yes Campaign, the SNP and Cybernats all in one being, constantly. This does not happen with the No campaign, the closest they come to being lumped together is to be described as many-hued Tories. Quite a different thing.

  67. Tony Little says:


    Re the RBS in rUK. I have an account with one of their branches in the NE England which is apparently in the process of renaming itself “Williams and Glynns” a former Banking institution, before being absorbed by Nat West.

    So it is not beyond the bounds of probability that rUK branches of RBS eventually ALL be renamed either Nat West or some other former banking group.

    Frankly, this is as usual a non-story, as no one with even half a brain is suggesting that the retail network of RBS would close in Scotland. And I would not shed a tear if the casino scam element DID move lock, stock, and barrel to rUK. It can ovulate their “City” square mile as much as it wants.

    Scotland will manage quite well enough with a strong retail banking sector, and modest, and WELL regulated investment arm in Edinburgh.

  68. Jamie Arriere says:

    Re RBS, I don’t see why they don’t just rename it National Westminster (which is the English part of it), relocate to London, then sell off the Scottish part as part as the government divestment during the Independence negotiations, and the Royal Bank of Scotland can live on.

    No doubt there will be reasons why not, but seems sensible and reasonable to me.

  69. Papadox says:

    In the event of a yes vote EBC SCOTLAND will consider moving to Egerland maybe, if they’ll have them. Failing that big Ken suggested they move to BALAMORY.

  70. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    To re-work Tom Nairn’s famous words:-

    Scotland will finally be free when the last BBC Executive is strangled with the last copy of The Scotsman.

  71. MochaChoca says:

    Tomorrows GERS publication is likely to show our finances considerably weaker than previous releases, primarily because of the big hit in North Sea revenues for 2012-13.

    The SG may play this as ‘even in a bad year we’re still financially stronger than rUK’

    Hopefully though they will have some added analysis we’ve not seen before to throw into the mix, maybe something to do with where UK govt dept procurement is done, distribution of higher paid public sector staff, location of VAT collected etc.

    The 9.9% vs 9.3% argument from last year was clear and easy to convey (even if some unionists wilfully misunderstood), this year the we need something with as much, if not more, impact.

    The GERS figures have become central to the debate, and this could be the last (ever?) one.

    Remember, the day of the GERS publication last year was smothered by ‘project fear’ publishing the ‘leaked top secret Swinney document’.

    If they have something similar for this time round it could seriously undermine our side.

    Sorry for the doom and gloom, best to know it might be coming though.

  72. Inbhir Anainn says:

    Apologies to the Rev. for going of thread but I note that the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced plans for a referendum on whether to change the national flag. He said he wants a nationwide vote in the next three years. If it goes ahead will they or won’t they ditch the British union flag?

  73. wee e says:

    The Scottish Parliament uploads everything to youtube — a lot easier to search thanParliamentTV, and you can download & watch them offline. Its URL is…

    If you scroll down a wee bit you’ll see it has its videos arranged in playlists — FMQs, Chamber Business, Commitees etc. (Each different commitee has its own sub-folder.)

  74. Charles Docherty says:

    Wasn’t Santander going to take over all the RBS Branches in England? Then decided that they were too toxic or something like that.

    I live in England and still have accounts with RBS in Scotland.

  75. CHALKS says:

    Yep oil revenues 40% down, but this is due to unstable taxation changes by Westminster, £10 billion tax raid… doesn’t include the VAT exports money either….still better than everyone BAR London.

    These figures, I hope, will have what Scotland would have to play with, if it wasn’t shelling out for Trident/Defence and things of National Importance…

  76. Patrick Roden says:

    The clear evidence of MSM/BBC bias, is definitely the personalisation of Alex Salmond.

    You only have to look back to the beginning of the respective campaigns and you will see that the BT Campaigns stated aim was, to demonise The First Minister.

    He is popular and was the SNP best asset in the 2011 election, so they needed to attempt to destroy his popularity. The BBC/MSM have bought into this disgusting smear campaign, 100% and we must never ever forget what these cretins have done.

  77. In less tolerant countries, institutions like the Hootsman would have been torched by now and their misinformants soundly beaten.
    Just as well we live in a tolerant society.

  78. bjsalba says:

    Aren’t there 2 companies under the name RBS?

    There is the High Street bank (retail) which does local business and the er shall we call it Casino bank which I suspect would prefer that we didn’t know what it was doing.

    Guess which one will move to London?

  79. Ian MacDonald says:

    I was disgusted at the performance of the BBC execs. Confronted with evidence of actual bias they were unconcerned that there was strong evidence of personalising negative reporting against Salmond. They appeared disinterested in looking into the facts in detail. They were unable to say if they got more complaints from YES or NO supporters. To show such utter arrogance and complacency in the face of such serious criticism is an affront to democracy and licence fee payers.

  80. Ivan Ayedia says:

    Stick around Mathie…stick around 🙂

  81. MochaChoca says:

    @ bjsalba

    I’d suspect RBS operate under dozens of different company names. Almost like an organised crime syndicate, but not quite.

    I actually think that ironically the two big ‘Scottish’ banks could be enough of a spanner in the works to lose us the referendum. Think of the amount of ammunition they have lent ‘project fear’ versus how it would be going if we had been able to say ‘look how our 2 big banks are performing when all those English* banks have needed bailing out’.

    *I know the location of the HQ doesn’t affect the dispersal of bailout liabilities but heyhoo.

  82. Grumpomcchief says:

    They can’t stop it even when reporting on the bias story. Jackie Bird mentioned the investigation by the Holyrood committee regarding Prof Robertson’s study. Last sentence before finishing !!! “opponents claim his methodology was faulty” SAY NO MORE !!

  83. Dcanmore says:

    @Tattie Bogle …

    … and don’t forget Scotland as a convenient place to dump nuclear waste from old and future reactors.

  84. Jamie Arriere says:

    That Great Hall looks a brilliant place for indoor fitba practice. You could practice free kicks there.

    Line the suits of armour up to form a wall and aim for the fireplace. They’ve even moved the chandeliers to the side for that very purpose.


  85. CalumCarr says:

    May be wrong but don’t think this has been posted yet.

    Prof Robertson at the Committee

    The BBC is here

  86. Helpmaboab says:

    Obfuscation, mendacity and saying-one-thing-while-implying another are characteristic vices of the staff of the BBC. Let’s remember their in-house ‘training presentation’ on the independence referendum as unearthed by Newsnet in 2012.

    Warning! Images of Brian Taylor from the start!


  87. Edward says:

    Slightly O/T, just reading that RBS ‘might’ have to move to London, to comply with EU regulations that state that the Head office must be in the same location as the registered office.

    That’s seems simple enough

    Ok so RBS are both registered and headquartered in Edinburgh, so why would they have to move?

    Perhaps I’m missing something?

  88. Linda's Back says:


    EU and other forthcoming banking regulations will force this registration (but not relocation of jobs) in England. Means RuK is responsible for the “casino” banking bit.

    Standard Life for example has registered Standard Life Ireland and employs thousands managing UK customers investments from Ireland despite being in a foreign country that uses the Euro.

  89. Weedeochandorris says:

    A good website about news manipulation both here and in America – a bit disappointed that they don’t have anything about the manipulation going on right now around the referendum. Not a sausage, might come later. Anyway, they’ve been at the lying game for a very long time. Why is it not illegal for the media to print and broadcast lies?

  90. Edward says:

    Thanks Linda’s Back , appreciated

  91. orkers says:

    @Jim McIntosh

    Something along the lines of “I said I regretted saying it, not that it wasn’t true”.

    Bibby was not pleased and there was a general titter.

  92. JimW says:

    Pity no one told Reporting Scotland this was going on. They might have wanted to report it as pigs flew over Pacific Quay.

  93. Peter says:

    RBS operate as Citizens bank in the USA. You can see a very large example of their logo over the right field bullpen at Citizens Bank Park. Home of the Philadelphia phillies.

  94. Croompenstein says:

    Good piece on STV news about Prof Robertson and the committee Fuck all from the big Bird on Disreporting Scotland, these are the very news slots that Prof Robertson studied

  95. G H Graham says:

    The men that run BBC Scotland have assimilated within a skewed value system that rewards obedient behaviour towards corporate priorities.

    And unlike commercial businesses, there is almost no economic threat to them either.

    Thus, we witness a sneering, indifferent cabal of BBC employees who consider their interrogation at Holyrood a mere inconvenience.

    Scotland’s people deserve much better than this.

  96. lumilumi says:

    It must stick in the craw of the BritNat establisment that a ssseparationisshh Scotch Executive holds functions in that bastion of Britishness, the Edinburgh castle.

    I mean, the castle, as a working garrison, flies the Union Jack. Sssseparatissshts shouldn’t be allowed in that hallowed ground, forever a piece of England.

  97. rab_the_doubter says:

    Just saw the latest tweet from that vile c**t KatieHopkins. Link below for those not easily offended. The woman is a disgrace and someone should shut her up.

  98. RenateJ says:

    They (the unionists, media etc) regard Alex Salmond as the Achilles heal of the YES campaign. A large number of Scots loath him. Make it seem like a vote on his personality and you may just stop them noticing the multiple benefits of independence……

  99. Richard Bruce says:

    Thanks for the link CalumCarr watching now!

  100. Clootie says:

    Negative campaign 101:
    Undermine the man and you undermine the message. This is the key driver link independence to one person and imply the person is not to be trusted.
    If you had seen the Daily Express today you would have seen it full on. (sorry – I was going offshore and my back-to-back likes it).

    It is an insult to everyone in Scotland (including those who don’t like Alex) that the insulting language used towards the position of FM is used daily. This is another part of the degrading of the Scots by undermining their parliament and elected FM. The lead letter in the Daily Express from a Glasgow reader begged for Westminster to take back control as Holyrood was only a council (followed by comments about corruption).

    Everytime I confront someone who attacks Alex I ask if they have ever met him. 99 times out of 100 the answer is no and this indicates how well the MSM have done in promoting this negative image.

    I wish people would rely on their own judgement.

    The main thing this should be a united Scotland seeking change – it goes far beyond ANY party or individual.

  101. Taranaich says:

    @R Whittington: So I guess that when you guys bang on endlessly about who Alex Salmond should or shouldn’t be debating with in the indyref you’re ‘not’ personalising the debate?

    I’m afraid you might be misunderstanding the issue here, Mr. Whittington: when we talk about who should or shouldn’t debate with Salmond in the indyref, it’s because the person has to be in a position where questions can be answered and positions examined. We don’t argue Salmond should debate Cameron, we argue the First Minister of Scotland should debate the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Neither Darling, Carmichael nor Lamont are the UK Prime Minister, ergo the First Minister should not debate with them. Cameron is.

    If we were personalising the debate, we’d make a point of equating everything to do with the Union – Better Together, the UK government, media bias, oil tycoon donors, the McCrone report – to Cameron, as if he and he alone was responsible for the entire union idea, and that it would all collapse if it weren’t for him.

    There’s a difference between saying the BBC needs to balance its coverage more carefully by ensuring there’s a 50-50 split between pro and anti-independence voices, and saying that the entirety of the coverage is systematically designed to act as propaganda for the No campaign. The former is a reasonable statement, the latter is a conspiracy theory.

    So it’s a choice between the BBC being too inept and aware of their own bias to report accurately, or actually making a concerted effort to perpetuate a particular political decision: neither looks particularly good for the Beeb.

    I agree that this report shouldn’t be misrepresented as proof of a conspiracy, but that doesn’t take away from its importance in proof of bias. The conspiracy is a separate issue, and really, I don’t think it’s as far-fetched as you imagine: just look at what’s happening with the NHS and the BBC’s complicity in undermining it, not to mention Saville and other suppressions. But at the end of the day, this report merely proves the existence of bias, and that’s all it needs to do.

  102. X_Sticks says:

    CHALKS says:

    “if it wasn’t shelling out for Trident/Defence and things of National Importance…”

    Whit are ye on aboot? FFS these are jist wee things!

  103. X_Sticks says:


    95k expenses for Holyrood?

    “Restaurants, cafes and bars catering for the 760 Lords, bishops and baronesses receive £1.3million a year from the public purse, official figures revealed.”

  104. a2 says:


    Not sure it’s worth explaining anything to the lord Mayor really. or indeed that we keep banging on about that anyway.

  105. Jamie Arriere says:

    Looks like it’s not just the BBC that are shortchanging Scotland – Channel 4 getting told to increase Scottish output

  106. Pete Barton says:

    I watched John Robertson’s clip tonight – whether it’s because I’m a ‘YESman’ I don’t know (like him, I’m trying to remain objective) BUT:

    It reminded me of a Mccarthy Enquiry, and I really felt for him when he was asked if he was a nationalist.

    Some days, when I huddle over my screen at work, checking out Wings blogs, I feel the same.

    Is it such a cringe to want better for your country, and a fair and free vote?

    There was no attempt from the BBC heads to reflect that Robertson’s research might just merit comparison by other independent minded bodies; THAT would have been their moment.

    Most of us would have taken our tammies off to them.

    Instead, the same old sang.

    They don’t respect Holyrood, don’t answer to democracy in THIS country it seems, and have missed a Golden opportunity to get themselves out of a hole.

    Well, keep digging, Auntie – you’ve lost any respect I had left for you, and my licence money.

    Anybody want to do the same? STU?

  107. Gavin Greig says:

    That was a long watch on Democracy Live, but worth it. The very last question floored them – watch Ken MacQuarrie’s mouth wobble before he manages to summon an answer! (Part 2, watch from 1:25:50)

  108. Grouse Beater says:

    Yes, that’s the BBC Scotland I know – refusing to promote Scotland politically, socially, or culturally, no radical drama, our prominent sports men and women “great Brits,” but tourism, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival without scottish content, and crude jokes at the expense of its people, those are okay.

    As for Ken McQuarrie, you’re only given those posts if you are a “safe pair of hands.”

  109. stone says:

    I’m afraid Steve Bell has been up to his old tricks in today’s Guardian. The main cartoon has Gordon Brown over Salmond’s face and there’s a nasty little sketch in his If.. series on the back of G2 about Salmond’s face really being a derriere. My parents are seriously considering giving up our subscription to the Guardian. The only good thing is it only has 8000 readers in Scotland so it has little influence. Our local county newsletter has more readers.

    Pleased to see in yesterday’s Scotsman that Larry Fink, the chairman of Blackrock, the big US finance firm with 550 staff in Edinburgh said he is “relaxed” about independence and has no prospects of leaving. It got a paragraph in the business pages of the Scotsman. There was also a very good letter from someone in Cupar about how the SNP will remain popular in Scotland even if and the reasons why. Even if there’s a NO vote the YES campaign has been activated and will not go away and can easily be restarted.

    Re- the personal attacks on Salmond. I agree with the person who said that Salmond’s just being used as an excuse by people who’d vote NO anyway. Remember when John Swinney was leader we only came third – no disrespect to John Swinney.

  110. Barontorc says:

    Admitting that I have skimmed through the BBC Scotland head honcho meeting in Holyrood – I am left feeling totally disillusioned – I would not give any of these characters control of broadcasting – I am now totally bereft of good will and seriously doubt that these men ever intended to give a fair go to independence – that being the case why are they being paid by independence minded Scots, under legal penalty not to do so?

    What a despicable bunch of torags – they wouldn’t get a stall at the Barras without laying down a big deposit for fear they’d do a runner and some UK bampot’s put them in charge of BBC Scotland – one wonders – for what objective?

  111. Ted says:

    The most telling part of the Prof’s interview in Holyrood, that years from now when the full truth comes out about the British compared to the Soviet Union, the British were far worse than the Soviet Union ever was. Wonder what else the Prof has up his sleeve!

  112. Let down again says:

    Vote YES to downgrade the BBC. Party Broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party Placemen.

    The Commonwealth Uniform is awful not awesome. Glasgow style is not ‘miles better’. Rather an insult to Scottish design. Suitable for a trip up the hill or a clippy.

  113. fergie35 says:

    I can’t look at the Scotsman and the BBC is a manipulator of political thought control, vote Yes to hear the news like it is and not like the British government want it to be!

  114. Zed says:

    Maybe it’s time for an online protest!

    A simple message to both BBC & STV News via Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #PleasestopLyingtous

    Pick a date, get it well publicised and protest bomb them en-masse.

  115. Fiona says:

    Pleased to see in yesterday’s Scotsman that Larry Fink, the chairman of Blackrock, the big US finance firm with 550 staff in Edinburgh said he is “relaxed” about independence and has no prospects of leaving.

    I am not. That company is part of the problem: it is certainly not part of the solutions


  116. s says:

    Well, fair enough Fiona. But you can’t just have independence the way you want the world to be. The Financial Services sector is a fairly big part of our economy and has its place too. I have some older friends who are conservatives and retired successful businessmen and they are planning to vote for independence. They like the idea of Scotland returning to the enterprising/trading culture we had during the Hanseatic (sp?) League. That’s democracy. Once Scotland is independent the people can vote for the parties they want.

    I don’t agree with people who will only support an independent Scotland if it fits their world view. That’s undemocratic. It reminds me of Robbie Coltraine’s comment “Yes to an independent Scotland but only an independent Labour Scotland”. That struck me as a strange comment because in a democracy people can vote for who they like.

    There are people who would like Scotland to use independence to become more like Switzerland or Hong Kong in some ways. People have different motivations for supporting independence. People in the YES movement should understand that although most voters will come from the Left and the Centre, there are voters from the right, too. Perhaps not many, but they do exist. Anyway, sorry I don’t mean to sound preachy or having a go, just my view. And I believe firmly in social democracy aka Scandinavian style social nets and good public services without PPI, but finance has its place, too.

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