By a Newsnet reader

The Economist has caused a furore with its ‘map’ of Scotland.  'Skintland' is the latest in a series of insults and offensive ‘jokes’ levelled at us Scots.

Current and former First Ministers have condemned the magazine cover and twitter was alight with Scots of all hues angry at the latest slight against the nation.

Over at the Spectator, Fraser Nelson, not noted for his pro-independence leanings, joined the chorus of disapproval and blasted the Economist.

“Saying that Scotland would go bust without English subsidy is the clichéd unionist attack line, which has lost force over the decades because it is demonstrably untrue.  The emergence of new nation states, many much smaller than Scotland, has shown it that small is viable.” he said.

The Spectator's stance follows comments from Conservative Home Editor Tim Montgomerie who said: "Cover is hugely insulting and unhelpful to the Unionist cause."

A list of respected commentators from across the political and journalistic and academic spectrum left the London based magazine without a name, unlike the many insulting names it used to describe Scotland’s regions and islands.

Tom Devine – Senior Research Professor in History at University of Edinburgh, Henry McLeish – Former Labour First Minister, Lesley Riddoch – Broadcaster, Scottish Green Party co-leader, Patrick Harvie and many more, tore into the obnoxious adolescent jape.

However, this condemnation of the image was not shared by BBC Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser who insisted on his blog that perhaps nationalists cannot handle satire and ridicule and that the Economist cover hit a raw nerve.

Mr Fraser seems blissfully unaware that the map has been condemned by Unionists as well as nationalists and even respected journalists, so quite why Mr Fraser singles out nationalists for criticism is not clear, but he does.

“An alternative response is to note that the cover has hit a raw nerve among Nationalists, and that they seem to be unable to handle satire and ridicule.” he writes and adds:

“The magazine, while taking itself very seriously, is no stranger to satire.  Its 1970s' covers were the first shop window for the puppets that went on to make Spitting Image.  Last time it got this kind of response was when it savaged Silvio Berlusconi.  Not the best of company to be keeping.”

Douglas falls into that category of those who confuse the lampoonery of political figures, many of them pompous and/or hypocritical, with the use of a xenophobic stereotype in order to raise a cheap laugh, in this case that of the subsidy junkie Scot.

Would Douglas have laughed as much had the Economist depicted Ireland as ‘Thickland’ with ‘Dumblin’ as the capital or even maybe Africa as ‘Starvrica’.  No, I don’t think so.  But hey, it’s OK to have a go at the Scots, and according to Douglas Fraser anyone who complains is a humourless nat.

But Douglas has more to say, not least regarding BBC Scotland’s lack of enthusiasm in reporting the story.

“Even the BBC has come under attack, with the allegation that it shows the corporation's bias to pay little attention to the stramash over the magazine cover.  Perhaps people haven't been listening to our radio output.  Or perhaps it's because, well, it's only a magazine cover.”

Yes Douglas, the BBC would of course have covered the story had a diplomatic row ensued – much like the row that was caused by Scottish Labour’s former leader Iain Gray when he linked the independence of Montenegro with war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Oh wait, BBC Scotland employed a news blackout for that one didn’t they Douglas.

But Douglas surely has a point when it comes to satire.  One of the aspects of the BBC’s news coverage is that it can indeed tell the difference between satirical output and very real offensive content.

The BBC would surely ignore complaints from Unionists who were being lampooned and ridiculed in satirical fashion.  Except that is, when it came to the blogger Mark MacLachlan, who lampooned and ridiculed some Unionist politicians in November 2009.

Unionists of course are themselves prone to satirical lampoonery as demonstrated by Tom Harris on a Labour website when he suggested that online nationalist were less then sane – an image of a madman in a straitjacket accompanied the piece.

Douglas goes on digging though and his nat bashing theme continues with this paragraph:

“There's a confusing variation on this response - condemning it while arguing it's a disaster for the pro-union parties, as referendum campaign co-ordinator Angus Robertson has done.  Surely if the offence caused is bad for the pro-union case, the anti-union case should be relishing it, and demanding more of the same?”

Here’s what Douglas misses as he tries to attack the SNP reaction to the offensive cover.  People can both condemn something whilst making political capital from that which they are condemning.

In fact, it is a natural human reaction to condemn that which actually insults you and yours.  However the offence has to be unambiguous and acknowledged by a cross section of the community in order for your complaint to have maximum effect and for political capital to be made.  In short, the complaint must have widely accepted merit.

Unlike Douglas’s own attack on online critics when he was political editor of the Herald.  Labelling readers of the paper as “vermin” because they disagreed with him was not a wise move given the paper at that time was beginning to show signs of a declining readership due in part to Douglas's own political contributions.

Quite fortuitous that the BBC provided a publicly funded lifeboat when the Herald ship started listing and Douglas hopped aboard at Pacific Quay.

Douglas ends his blog by saying:

“What it does is rehearse arguments that will be no strangers to those who have followed the economic debate in Scotland, including this blog; isn't oil revenue a dangerously volatile basis for balancing the budget?: how could an independent Scotland bail out failing banks?: wouldn't its borrowing rate probably be raised?: what would be the costs of inherited public borrowing and nuclear power decommissioning: and how would it handle its currency and European membership?

They're all legitimate questions to ask, even if some have already been answered.  But you'd only address those issues if you got over your offence at the front cover.”

Yes, and all part of the Unionist scaremongering rhetoric that we’d be happy to answer for you Douglas – especially the part about failing banks that your colleague Derek Bateman answered months ago.

Yes, we’d like to answer them Douglas, but you have prevented any dissent by disabling public comment on your blogs.  Not much debate if the only voice to be heard is your own.

But we’ll leave you with a laugh Douglas, here's some real satire:


# UpSpake 2012-04-16 06:28
How far is all this bile intended to go ?. At what point in all of this will a hot head break through and spoil all the good work towards self-determination that is being persued, peacefully, by the Scots government ?.
Ireland seperated from the UK but it was a fearsome, bloody affair. Scotland seeks its legitimate right as a nation, to persue at its own pace, the future. Should there be no more UK after the vote in 2014 then perhaps that scenario should be being planned for ?. Whatever happens in 2014 the old UK can never hope to continue as before. Those who think it can and those who think the future treatment of Scotland would be far, far worse than this above stoke haterd and potentially explosive reaction.
Rational debate from both sides is absolutely necessary. This article and many others, the role of the BBC all need to be addressed. Cameron is playing a very crafty game as far as the future of his party is concerned. Maybe his fundraiser was right after all ?.
# Robert Louis 2012-04-16 06:54
I don't like the map graphic. It takes us to the same gutter level of the ill informed clowns who write for the economist.

As for Douglas Fraser and his forelock tugging unionist ilk at the biased BBC, his article doesn't surprise me. This is exactly the kind of patronising 'oh, you have a chip on your shoulder' guff, that has been peddled to Scots since 1707.

The good news is, that times are changing, people in Scotland are starting to see the BBC for the propagandist organisation it really is. The days of Scots to a man, thinking london is telling the truth when it tells us our oil is worthless, and we are all subsidy junkies are over.

The genie cannot be put back in the bottle, not even by propagandists from the BBC.

Douglas fraser and his cringing, knee bending ilk will carry on with this pro unionist nonsense right up until 2014. It is what they are paid to do. We will all remember however, just how much of a disgrace we thought such people were. History books will not be kind to them. Pity them.
# zedeeyen 2012-04-16 07:22
Please stop, NNS. The Economist cover was ugly and it needed highlighting, but this is the third "article" about it in as many days. Your continued outrage is granting that rag a significance it simply doesn't merit.
# Wave Machine 2012-04-16 07:25
If Douglas Fraser is typical of the average high profile Unionist mind set, then those who support constitutional change should be optimistic for the future. I do hope Douglas has time to read these comments as he needs to recognise that he has a limited ability to envisage a political and economic future for the country he lives in, and I include England/Wales in this statement.
No sane and rational person can accept that the status quo is acceptable, indeed the current framework within which the economic machine churns away is fatally flawed. There have been numerous Westminster governments who have tried to make it work but it clearly hasn't. Constitutional change is the only catalyst available to build a future for all the people living in these islands. Not just Scotland.
Douglas isn't only a Unionist. He's a person with very limited insight and intellect. He is very sadly lacking in the required skills to work in his chosen field. I'm not being petty; I'm stating an obvious fact.
If there is a clear Unionist positivity, it really needs to be articulated properly, and we have yet to see it.
Douglas encapsulates the very narrow mindset of the Unionist, whether politician or supportive journalist.
From an intellectual point of view, it makes for very thin fare when you want to read an adult debate.
On an aside, the above alternative map is just satire and although it raises a slight smile, it's not the best way of engaging nor encouraging the debate that we really need. We can do better. Douglas can't.
# J Wil 2012-04-16 07:34
It is really sad that people like Douglas Fraser have a position which seems to give them power they don't deserve.
# tartanfever 2012-04-16 07:42
"They're all legitimate questions to ask, even if some have already been answered. But you'd only address those issues if you got over your offence at the front cover.”

Seems to be the key quote here. Even if questions are answered, dismiss the answer and keep asking the question regardless. This is obviously going to be Fraser's tactic in the coming two years.

Is Douglas Fraser the only man in the world who consistently sees North Sea Oils as a hinderance ?
# Dál Riata 2012-04-16 12:23
Yes, t.f., what you have quoted stands out a mile.

"...even if some have already been answered." gives away so much. When you don't like the truth, repeat the question without acknowledging the answer. On online forums, for example, this is classical flamer/troll behaviour. It has now become the default strategy of the pro-unionists - to their detriment.

For Fraser to spin the story of The Economist's offensive "Skintland" cover by asserting that pro-independence supporters "... seem to be unable to handle satire and ridicule.” is pathetic and insulting.

And his Spitting Image(?) and Silvio Berlusconi jibe as, "Not the best of company to be keeping.” is so dismal that it's laughable! (Still, it adds another couple to the 'Alex Salmond' compared to...' list. Though surely Spitting Image is stretching it a bit!)
# Dundonian West 2012-04-16 12:42
He's writing from behind a BBC wall of 'No comments'.
He can say just about anything he likes.
The electorate can like it or not like it.
Made your mind up yet?
# Diabloandco 2012-04-16 15:02
The same Douglas Fraser that berated the " cyberats" for daring to question his veracity while at the Herald, his sense of humour seemed more than a little lacking - that Douglas Fraser??
# Dundonian West 2012-04-16 15:12
I always held him in the highest regard,listenin g to his views on 'Reporting Scotland'.
However to write this on the BBC,without right of reply is wholly unacceptable,ev en by BBC standards.

“An alternative response is to note that the cover has hit a raw nerve among Nationalists, and that they seem to be unable to handle satire and ridicule.”

Is he comfortable with this jibe at me and what I believe,using the British Broadcasting Corporation as his vehicle?

I rather think he is.
Goodbye BBC.
# chicmac 2012-04-16 07:47
To quote section 21 from the 'Wee' guide to the Unionist's Handbook:

"Negative, we know, but the key to success is to keep Scots' national self-esteem down as much as possible. Comedy is particularly effective here as any criticism of it can be pooh-poohed as demonstrating a lack of sense of humour. "
# xyz 2012-04-16 07:54
Excellent article, hit hits the nail on the head and drives it home.
# bringiton 2012-04-16 08:11
I know this has been stated many times here but is worth mentioning again.
If we are such a drain on the English purse then why haven't they declared independence from the costly Union in the past?
Either London has an extraordinary amount of benevolence towards Scotland,which would be a first for them,or the truth is being distorted for some other purpose.
I wonder.....
# Robert Louis 2012-04-16 08:28
You hit the nail on the head.
# Dcanmore 2012-04-16 08:59
A good friend of mine, a Yorkshireman who despises the attitude from SE England, once said: "these English would like to keep Scotland, the hills, the islands, castles and whisky, but they don't want the people."

It's a typical colonial/imperialist attitude which emanates from London where they are quite happy to asset strip Scotland while trampling on the 'ungrateful' Scot should they complain about it.
# Leswil 2012-04-16 08:29
What amazes me is just how Scottish based Unionists can continually refer to lies and deceit when it comes to Scottish independence.There is a huge list of purveyors of this going back hundreds of years in order to deny Scotland the CHOICE, of Self determination. They are everywhere and are desperate to retain the Union for their own career choices and big bucks. They know who they are, and there are too many to be listed.
All I can say, is they should be utterly ashamed. The UK tries to tell the world about democracy, but then it is always ok for other countries but not for their own country and especially Scotland. There is one overwhelming and obvious reason for this. THEY NEED US! However it is more and more obvious that we do not need them.
# Mac 2012-04-16 08:50
The important point about BBC Scotland is that if it could have ignored this story it would have.

The fact that they couldn't says that BBC management and editors at Pacfic Quay have given into growing criticism but have responded in typical fashion - they have made this story into a criticism of nationalism and nationalists.

It also reveals that BBC do not have it in them to empathise with Scotland and Scots. The land and the people have been grossly insulted - response came there none from the BBC. There is a coldness and a aloofness that has put barriers between BBC reporters, presenters, editors and managers and the native population being reported on.

Not only that BBC Scotland steadfastly refuses to acknowledge never mind connect with the blogosphere. It is seen as the enemy to the news and views it broadcasts.

What the Economist has revealed is that the BBC is costing us more than we receive from the corporation. All Douglas Fraser has done is concede that point.
# edinburgh quine 2012-04-16 09:02
Right newsnet, we want this poster-sized and why is this article in the 'opinion' section? Front and centre please. And someone with the technology; send it to mad man duggie fraser, who despite his name, apparently hasn't a proud Scottish bone in his body. Ach, he's mair tae be peetied than laughed at.
# Barontorc 2012-04-16 09:07
The question for me is just how do supposedly intelligent journalists square the argument that opposes their pet views?

They cannot continue to fly in the face of reality which is supported by facts, without being painted as partial and subjective. This has to be the antitheses of investigative journalism.

I am told that Brian Taylor, Nick Robinson, Ms Flanders, Andrew Neil, Douglas Fraser, Alan Cochrane, et al, are extremely capable analysts - that being the case - just how can they dismiss reality and go on the spin with straight faces?

The BBC College-Gate Tapes show a pre-set agenda, no doubt very ably presented, but balanced - clearly not and there can be no other reason for peddling such a line other than to set operational guidelines for aspirant trainees.
# Dcanmore 2012-04-16 09:27
These people are intelligent enough journalists and capable analysts but they are biased in their politics, which is fine if your politics belong to the Establishment. And one can't forget that the BBC is part of that Establishment. However the SNP and their ideology represents something outwith the cosy home of the Establishment, and there lies the threat. They cannot accept the SNP and the independence movement as part of the political spectrum because it does not represent 'them' by any stretch of the imagination. A threat is a threat, so they react to that threat and their bias comes to the fore. What we are seeing now is what has always been there, but there hasn't been a strong enough political threat to challenge this establishment until now. And thus these commentators show their true colours to aid the Establishment (whom they work for).
# Suomi 2012-04-16 09:29
I think it is best not to get too heated about this one.Moridura on his blogsight today has just revealed the perfect respons.It tackles the issues,rather than the fury around the map.
# .Scot 2012-04-16 09:31
The Economist with the truth indeed. I even read of one fool attempting to defend the article by describing the Magazine as Britain's best selling weekly Magazine? Try telling that to a clutch of women's Weekly mags full of more important gossip, hair & make-up advice, baking recipes and diet suggestions?
# .Scot 2012-04-16 09:42
Douglas ends his blog by saying:

“What it does is rehearse arguments that will be no strangers to those who have followed the economic debate in Scotland, including this blog; isn't oil revenue a dangerously volatile basis for balancing the budget?: how could an independent Scotland bail out failing banks?: wouldn't its borrowing rate probably be raised?: what would be the costs of inherited public borrowing and nuclear power decommissioning : and how would it handle its currency and European membership?

Hmm. He was clearly copying that trash from the Andrew F Neil's British Defence league's script there, as published earlier this week in NNS through YouTube. It seems someone did produce a hard copy as a swat-sheet.
# I Say Yes 2012-04-16 11:27
I apologise if this has been shown already but the following link fom the Scottish Sun shows a different kind of map.
# J Wil 2012-04-17 09:40
Interesting article appended to the Sun article about Fiona Armstrong under pressure because of her links to Scotland.

I have no respect for this woman after the interview she did with Darcus Howe during the London riots. Her totally scurrilous comment that he had been involved in riots in the past, in order to undermine his appraisal of them. Why she should be allowed to bring personal hang ups into the interview I do not know. I believe the interview was not shown again by the BBC and did not receive the opprobrium it deserved..

The interview can be seen on video here.
# A_Scottish_Voice 2012-04-16 11:30
To be fair to Douglas Fraser, ever since he showed his true colours with his Cybernat sewer comment, I can’t help from thinking that everything that comes out of his mouth is tainted with a faint whiff of horse manure.
# Dundonian West 2012-04-16 11:40
I suppose he feels quite comfortable behind a 'No Comments' wall.
Answerable to no one.
Sound familiar?
# Frankly 2012-04-16 13:36
The View from England:
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-04-16 14:11
Maybe Newsnet Editors could review their increasingly tabloidesque headlines, tone down the chippiness that is creeping into the writing and return to focussing on the positive, as NNS slips towards becoming a parody of the very style of journalism it was set up to expose.

The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you think about this and come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, that it is only destructive, you can begin to distance yourself from anger - Dalai Lama.

Any chance you might mention:
# creag an tuirc 2012-04-16 14:19
I'm with MJM this can be countered with the article MJM posted "Seven key strengths of Scotland’s economy" should be headline news on here.
# cirsium 2012-04-16 20:53
Quoting Mad Jock McMad:
Maybe Newsnet Editors could review their increasingly tabloidesque headlines, tone down the chippiness that is creeping into the writing and return to focussing on the positive, as NNS slips towards becoming a parody of the very style of journalism it was set up to expose.

well said MJM
# highlander 2012-04-16 14:36
The increasingly xenophobic "England Calling" website naturally jumped on this:

Some truly hateful people on that site. It's as if we Scots ruined their perfect country. I suppose you get ******* everywhere.
# Jimmy The Pict 2012-04-16 19:49
As Dr. Miranda Bailey (of Grey's Anatomy) would say

"Rise Above"
# Wee-Scamp 2012-04-16 20:05
Fraser's comments about oil only serve to illustrate how very little he actually understands about business.

I'm a consultant and analyst in the energy sector and also write a column on the topic.

Consequently I can assure everyone that the only reason that the oil price might collapse would be a) due to a global economic meltdown and demand collapses or b) someone discovers another Middle East and there's a supply bubble.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about volatility but the truth is that the price trend is upwards and what volatility there has been is stil all around a rising number.
# graememcallan 2012-04-20 05:57
Hey, Fraser - it will be considered satire when you allow posters to post comments, ya muppet ;-)))

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