Monday, September 12, 2016

Sin Bin

In the summer of 2014, my Twitter account was, over a period of four months, 'locked' by Twitter seven times.

I couldn't post, I couldn't access. I was in the sin bin.

The reasons for my being locked out varied from: "suspected spam" to "suspicious behaviour from your account" and one happened just after a complaint from someone who took umbrage at me calling them a "big fibber". 

To find yourself locked out of a social media platform is annoying and perplexing in equal measure. Your 'Grrrr meter' goes off the scale and righteous indignation is your default emotion. 

Sometimes it took me minutes to unlock, other times it was days. Every time it was:

I have never actually had my account suspended, so when I woke up to the news this morning that one of the top 3 political bloggers in the whole of the UK was suspended, I was pretty shocked on his behalf. What had it taken to warrant a suspension?

I often report porn accounts to twitter.

I report racists.

There is nothing on the Wings timeline that I could see that has ever warranted a suspension for Rev Stu.

One thing I do know: The person who instigated the complaint is one of the nastiest members of the NUJ I have ever come across. Far from keeping the values of journalism in her heart, this one tells whoppers for the Daily Express. She's appeared from nowhere. No-one has heard of her. But she has been pouring out anti-Scottish propaganda for the Express for some months.

She has accused 'Wings' of orchestrating a hate attack against her and that she has received death threats. The woman publishes lies every other day in the Express and these are just more lies.

I hope that 'Wings' gets up and running again soon.
Without the "Wee Blue Book" from Rev Stu, we'd be still in the 30% for Yes in Scotland and the MSM would reign supreme. He has taught us to call out the liars. This Express liar must not be allowed to prevail.

The truth will out.

They didn't sin bin Wings. They suspended the account on the request of a freelance journalist with 1700 followers who has been gigging for the Express.

It all sounds a bit dodgy.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Four years ago

Four years ago, I was probably like most people: comfortably attuned to my usual radio station and habitually picking up the same newspapers I'd read since the age of 14. 

That was until I heard a Radio 4 "Today" Programme interview that painted Scotland as a "One Party State". It was the then Secretary of State for Scotland (the now disgraced liar) Alistair Carmichael. The phrase "one Party State" popped up four times in a seven minute piece and that was just the interviewer. There was a narrative of hatred towards the SNP that didn't match up with my experience of the SNP.

Four years ago I'd have taken time to look at the headlines on the Newsagent's paper stand. That was until I started noticing the anti-immigrant themes appearing across multiple titles.

I challenged my local Newsagent (who's a Scot from Pakistan) why he was putting these racist papers up for sale? I held up a copy of the Daily Express and said:

 "Ahmed you are selling racists more racism! This paper supports UKIP!" 

He shrugged and smiled sheepishly: 

"They keep sending them". 

Since that conversation, Ahmed now just sets them aside as returns.

Four years ago I bought the Guardian, the Herald, a few copies of the P&J, and Scotland on Sunday.

I was saddened as these titles began debasing their brands by punting out anti-Scottish BritNat propaganda and I ditched them. Their language had become offensive towards anyone that wanted Independence.

Four years ago I would have watched BBC News and let it waft over me.

Now I find myself like the little girl watching the news in the film V for Vendetta

She has a one word reaction to the BBC: "bollocks".

Four years ago, I was like most people: unaware of how biased and anti-Scottish the media were.

I am awake now.

The Day Job

The Scottish Parliament is only just back from the summer hols and my tolerance of unionist ‘whataboutery‘ is non-existent.

The first First Minister’s question time of the season, and the opposition (there is no formal opposition in the Scottish Parliament. It's not like Westminster, so if you are not in charge, you are part of the opposition) parties are woefully unprepared for the business at hand. 

The opposition unionists went straight in with pre-prepared soundbite attacks specifically designed to catch the ear of BBC News Editor Sarah Smith. Sound bites destined for inclusion in the “news where you are” at lunchtime and teatime.

Ruth Davidson wanted to know why Scotland wanted to incorporate the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland implying that they should be left alone to be a Great British Transport Police. 

This was an inexplicable question because during the Smith Commission and throughout the Scotland Bill discussions, it was agreed that the responsibility for Police was devolved to Scotland and that the Transport Police would be incorporated into Police Scotland. 

Nicola said this would have to be legislated for and that Ruth could bring up any of her concerns during the relevant debates.

Ms Davidson pressed on telling the Parliament that 300 police officers from the British Transport Police had written to her and that the British Federation of Transport Police had said that they were not being consulted:

 "this could leave the whole network unguarded"

Nicola easily defused Ruth with quotes from the Federation of British Transport Police saying they were:

"working constructively with the Scottish Government".

Kezia asked about mental health provision for young people and told the Parliament that 900 young people had called the Childline charity with thoughts of suicide - hoping that the Parliament would see a causal connection. 

She asked about referral times and when pushed on the question of how many young people had waited 52 weeks for a referral, Nicola replied: "One".

Nicola said there was much to do in this area of health and that the Scottish Government were the only part of the UK to set targets for mental health treatment.

The two main opposition party bosses could nary land a blow on Nicola.

BBC Scotland coverage provided a post-match discussion from Brian Taylor with his hand-picked unionist journalist pundits. And it was all very chummy and complimentary of Ruth and Kezia. They relish the scraps of today's skirmishes like hungry dogs.

The business of running Scotland is a serious thing. The business of the BBC seems to be #SNPBad and salivating at which unionist opposition MSP got the better of Nicola - not the running of Scotland.

You can avoid the BBC version of events by watching First Minister's Questions on Scotland's dedicated Scottish Parliament Channel where you'll get no commentary, just coverage. 
Here's the link to Parly TV:

The question time runs for 45 minutes and the Presiding Officer, our version of the Speaker, has made sure the back-benchers get airtime and to that end managed to fit in lots of topical questions:

  • Oliver Mundell gained assurances that everything was being done to help Penman Engineering.
  • Sandra Whyte gained a promise that the Scottish Government will do everything to help the Clutha families.
  • Patrick Harvie got confirmation that the Scottish Government will not give grant funding or taxpayer guarantee schemes to the tax dodgers that are setting up shell companies in Scotland.

The big 'stooshie' of the day came from the SNP and went unreported by the BBC.

James Dornan called for an apology for the disgraceful treatment of Christian Allard at the hands of the Tories – and the First Minister spotlighted Ruth Davidson and said she expected an apology. This is not going to go away.

Murdo Fraser got to his feet to lie about a fictional £6000 union dividend and dodgy GERS figures and got booed like a pantomime villian when he said "why do you want to take that away from people?"

  • Liam McArthur asked for decommissioning work to go to his patch.
  • Jenny Gilruth got an update on the International Council of Educational Advisors and Liz Smith said she wanted more autonomy for schools.

Sticking with education, Iain Gray asked about standard assessments. Nicola wondered why he was asking as Labour MSPs had already agreed to standardised assessments. Doh! Have a drink of water Iain!

Gordon Lindhurst asked what the FM was going to do about a reported decline in inward investment (A single report). Nicola said 2015 was a record year for inward investment and that there were plenty of other assessments that said Scotland was viewed as a great place to do business. 
Lindhurst then blamed a:

"threat of a dark cloud of a further independence referendum" 
(and got heckled).

"The people of Scotland have spoken in plain English. No means no. When is she going to accept that" he persisted checking his soundbite had been delivered as planned, he looked up at the gallery for approval.

Nicola pointed out the only threat was uncertainty over Brexit and that the Tories were now like:

“An arsonist trying to blame the Fire Brigade”!

Jackie Baillie rose to her feet to join Gordon Lindhurst in Better Together camaraderie blaming both a threat of Independence and Brexit for a reported drop in inward investment.

Nicola remarked that she remembered Jackie had toured the country with the Tories telling people we'd be kicked out of the EU if we voted Yes and that, given the mess Labour had got themselves into, she would just leave her to "stew in her own juices".

Liz Smith asked about train services and asked for a special commission into train safety. She had a delegation of RMT union peeps in the gallery with an important message about driver only trains. 

The first FMQs managed to hear a lot of topical questions from back-benchers. Kudos to the Presiding Officer for tweaking the format.

Friday, September 2, 2016

"I want indy but...."

No 'ifs' no 'buts' no monkey nuts. You either want independence for Scotland or you don't.

There is no half-way house. You are either committed to Scotland being free of London rule or you are committed to hanging around in a union of unequal nations being ruled by a never-ending succession of Tory Governments.

Today I want to look at "Yes buts". Those people who want independence, but feel they have a reason why not.

The 'buts' I come across, even among some Yessers, are manufactured doubts that the mainstream media and UK Government have been throwing at you since day one of the union. You'll be: "Too Wee Too Poor".

If you have a 'but' when it comes to Scottish independence, it is but a construct of their making, not yours. It is a seed planted to make you doubt your ability to run your own affairs. A Lawyer would always seek to introduce doubts in the minds of a jury to secure their client's acquittal. The same has been done to you.

This time we start the race at 50/50 Yes/No. The last time we started the push it was 20/80 and, if everyone that voted yes last time votes yes this time, then we are free of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

'But' me no 'buts'. 

Most 'buts' start off as defensive shields, like the excuses wee kids use when they get caught doing a naughty thing:

"Did you draw on the wall?""Yes, but, but ,but, but....." 

Then we learn the deflection 'but':

"But Andrew threw my teddy in the bin!"

As kids we learn to justify and explain away our actions and absolve ourselves of blame by using the qualifier 'but'. We use it to get out of apologising. We use it to cut off conversations as if what comes after the 'but' is the 'end of'. Ahhh 'but'....

We all laugh at the incoherent torrent of defensive "Yeah 'but' no 'but'..." that spews forth from 'Vicky Pollard' in Little Britain. But have a listen out for the 'buts' that we all use day in and day out to prevent ourselves from taking positive action. 

"I would do that 'but'..."

The more we take charge of our responsibility, the less we use the word 'but'.  When you add a 'but', it turns an explanation into an excuse. Keep adding 'buts' and you've got yourself a reason and you've convinced yourself.

"I am late for work... but: the bus didn't come." 
(it's not my fault, don't blame me).

You are late for work. Apologise and take it on the chin. Nobody wants to hear the long drawn out explanation of why. 

"I would vote yes... but"

When you squeeze in this 'but' you are shutting down the possibility of an independent Scotland in your own mind. You create a conflict that probably has no bearing in fact and has more to do with fear.

Most 'but's are financial. Project Fear tapped into this to motivate people to vote No.

Let's look at some of the 'buts' Project Fear used.  
What about:

Value of currency?

These 'but's need answering. 
Key to the getting the 'yes buts..' into yes is having an answer. 

This time, politicians and activists must have a clear answer for these concerns. If we don't sort these worries out for voters, they are not excuses, they become reasons not to vote yes.

There was wholesale lying and fear-mongering done to pensioners in Scotland. All we had in our arsenal to counter their lies was a 3rd hand photocopy of a letter sent to a pensioner in Westhill from the Department of Work & Pensions telling said pensioner what their pension would be secure in an Independent Scotland. This time we can do better.

This time, we kick those 'buts'.