by Christian Wright (updated)
The media are a real impediment to a fair debate on the issues germane to independence, and they are a very real danger to a successful outcome in the referendum.
By far the biggest threat comes from the BBC. The state broadcasting network has tremendous power to influence opinion in Scotland.
The BBC has systematically diverted resources and public money to further its Unionist political agenda in violation law and its corporate charter.
It has offered as news, propaganda designed to advance the case of the NO campaign and to brief against the interests of the YES campaign.
In its reaction to criticism the BBC’s management has displayed sickening arrogance and a preening self regard, amply demonstrated in their treatment of the highly respected academic, Dr John Robertson and his peer reviewed study that offered dispositive evidence of the Corporation’s deceit and corrupt practices.
Their attempt to bully and silence the academic rather than address the substantive issues in his report, suggests the beeb may be irredeemable.
Will it require perp-walking its executives out of Pacific Quay in handcuffs to bring the Corporation to Jesus over its wrong-doing? Enquiring minds and procurators fiscal wonder.
The evidence is overwhelming that the intent is to fix the outcome of the referendum by systematically and maliciously undermining the electoral process.
Its power to do so is derived from the public’s perception that it’s news and analyses are fair and impartial, and that it’s output is a truthful representation of the facts.
Succinctly: The BBC has power because it is believed.
It should be a priority of the Independence Movement to disabuse the electorate of that notion.
The best and most effective propaganda is propaganda that is not recognised as propaganda by its victims.This sort of customer conditioning is worth its weight in gold.
How much do you think hours of daily free pro-unionist television advertising will be worth over the next six months, augmented by a daily diet of SNP-bashing in the national press?
What needs to be prioritized is not offering counterpoint to every dingbat charge the opposition dreams up, or challenging false or misleading data it presents, but neutralizing the effectiveness of the conduit through which the lies and “inaccuracies” are disseminated.
We have no megaphone loud enough to be well heard over the din of the daily diet of “Salmond Accused!” propaganda articles in the Scotsman and Herald, or the latest invented fracas caused by the mistreatment of a news story by the Beeb.
One of the most egregious examples of malfeasance was the invention of a Labour victory at the last local elections. This was a tour de force in the black art of fooling all of the people some of the time.
THE BBC’S THREE-CARD TRICK
In that election the SNP surpassed Labour, the Tories, and the Liberals, increased their representation in Glasgow, gaining the greatest number of seats country-wide of any party, and winning the popular vote.
This was a sui generis event in the annals of British politics, where a party five years in government, beat the opposition in a midterm election, taking seats from all parties and won the popular vote.
Compare this with the performance of the Tories and LibDems south of the border, were the Labour opposition made significant gains overall against the Coalition.
Yet incredibly, the BBC and the print press spun this as a crushing victory for Labour and a humiliating defeat for the SNP.
This through-the-looking-glass analysis was predicated on the notion that since Labour had held onto Glasgow with a reduced majority, they had somehow triumphed over the SNP.
By way of corroboration, a fist-pumping, and apparently victorious Labour, were depicted in a celebratory photo and accompanying video and articles of their “comeback”.
What that photo actually captures is the Labour leaders realization that after a near death experience, they are still alive.
The smiles and joy are not those of victory, but of relief. They had lost seats in Glasgow, failed to beat the five-year incumbent governing party, and had failed to stem that party’s advance.
This was the first time in modern British political history that this had happened.
Even the most ineffectual, incompetent, useless, opposition parties in British political history had done, not just better, but much better than this shower. Yet they are presented to the public as victors.
The BBC and other media provided contrast to fit their wholly false narrative with this misleading atypical photo of the SNP campaign on election night.
Let’s call this what it is – it is lying pure and simple. It is manipulation of an election result to mislead citizens into believing the opposite of the truth.
On Newsnicht, next evening, Lamont and Davidson were seemingly giddy, with the knowledge of the SNP “defeat”, and the interviewer (I think it was Glen Campbell) was sneeringly dismissive of the SNP representative’s claim that the data clearly indicated a victory for his party by every substantive measure.
As suggested earlier, you wouldn’t know it, but Labour actually lost seats in Glasgow compaired to the number of seats they won in the previous council election. But that is how you determine performance election to election, right?
Wrong. Inexplicably, with respect to the Scottish local elections, the BBC decided that performance in terms of gains and losses should be determined by who held the seat the day prior to the election.
Why is this important? Well you see, in the run-up to the election, Labour in Glasgow was fragmenting, and the internal divisions over who got what job, caused a number of Labour councilors to throw their rattles out of the pram, resign from the party, and stand as independent Labour at the election.
The BBC by measuring gains and losses based on who held the seat the day before the election (something they had never done before in Scotland – ever) rather than who won the seat at the previous council elections, allowed them to report as Labour gains, those “Independent” seats in staunch Labour wards that they were always going to retain and never going to lose, in a month of Sundays.
It was actually stated that by the BBC that Labour had “won back Glasgow”, but the obvious question is, won it back from whom?
The answer is they won it back from themselves. That’s how cosmically dumb and pernicious the BBC argument is in justifying this twisting of the facts and defiling of the truth.
Have a look at that master of condescension, David Dimbleby, doing does what he does best – being economical with the truth and grossly misleading. Watch out for him using the foregoing canard to inflate the number of Labour “gains”.
Near the end Norman Smith lies through his back teeth about who won the most seats in the election. He did so to suport the rest of his thesis of a resurgent Labour in Scotland, which was the meme du jour of the BBC and the print press.
He also tries to conflate the council election results with the referendum – somehow, someway, with hand-waving fuzzy logic.
Consider his language too – Labour didn’t hold or retain or keep Glasgow (the customary and usual nomenclature), no, in Smiths doublespeak, they won Glasgow.
In the Beeb’s Orwellian view, when you lose that is a victory, and when you win, as the SNP did, that’s a defeat. Doubleplusgood, BBC, doubleplusgood!
The Big Lie culminated in the infamous FMQ Great Labour Kabuki Dance, where the whole of their Holyrood parliamentary contingent cheered and back-slapped for all they were worth as their leader, Lamont, rose to speak (much of the impact of this is lost by the BBC’s narrator drowning it out).
They understood that in politics perception is the reality . . . at least it is for a while.
Public perception of who are the winners and who are the losers is formed in that critical period right after an election, when the numbers are in and the assembled political cognoscenti of press and television tell us what to think.
The average citizen ignoring most of all of this but inculcating some of it, got the impression that Labour had given the SNP “a helluva beating”.
In the end truth will out, the data are the data, and the reality finally prevailed, but by then it was too late.
For any corrections to have meaningful influence, the serried ranks of the Great Unwashed have to be paying attention, and trust me, come the weekend after the Thursday election, they wont be.
It is in my view, somewhere near useless that the news media correct their “unfortunate errors” sometime after this critical incubatory period – no one is listening. More exactly, no one who counts is listening.
So, pretty much no matter what one tries to do, say beyond 48 hours post election, will provide you meager returns. You’re just pissing against the wind.
The need is to be proactive in countering the effectiveness of the messaging.
There is a crying need for a coordinated and concerted effort to undermine the risible notion of BBC impartiality, by drawing the attention of the electorate to its malfeasance, again and again, and again, until it is inculcated into the public consciousness.
It is clear now that this is the strategy of the opposition with respect to the First Minister. Bring down Salmond, and you decapitate the independence movement.
While each attack in itself presents no existential threat, the constant stream of attacks, day after, week, after month, after year, will take its toll and serve to destroy the First Minister’s credibility and blacken his reputation (or so they believe).
The opposition cannot possibly hope to achieve this without the complicity of the press and broadcast media, united in common cause.
The 800lb gorilla of that unholy alliance is the state broadcasting system – the BBC.
We cannot hope to unstick the Beeb and force change in its institutional position on independence, but we can go far to ameliorating its toxic influence on the outcome of the plebiscite on independence, by hammering home the message of its political corruption.
The next treatment of this subject offers suggestions on how that might be achieved: