By G.A.Ponsonby
'The Freedom of the Press'.  It's a statement that's wheeled out whenever newspapers fear a curb on their more nefarious practices might be on the way.
Without freedom, says the fourth estate, we wouldn't be able to pursue those in power, we wouldn't be able to expose corruption.

What they really mean is that they want freedom to act as they see fit, to pursue their own agenda.  Indeed in many cases the newspaper itself was and still is a means through which the wealthy maintain their grip on power.

Newspapers allow the wealthy to weild power by influencing the readership.  They are, amongst other things, political weapons.

Newspapers of course are private businesses and should be free to pursue whichever political line they wish – or the owner wishes.  Indeed across the UK you will find newspapers which are vehemently right-wing, whilst others are solidly left-wing.  Occasionally some will take a relatively neutral view.

Such a situation is healthy as it allows everyone's views to be articulated.  There will of course be frustrations with fringe views marginalised, but by-and-large the whole population will see their opinions represented and headlined.

In Scotland though the term 'freedom of the press' has taken on a wholly different meaning.  North of the border this freedom is being abused.

Aside from a business decision take by the Sunday Herald, which announced in May it was backing a Yes vote, Scotland's newspaper industry is staunchly pro-Union … or more accurately it is rabidly anti-independence.

The referendum campaign has caused a veil to draw back that has exposed the ugly truth about Scotland's newspaper industry and the wider Scottish media.  It is a beast of the Union, owned and driven by pro-Union interests.

On Tuesday STV broadcast a debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together head Alistair Darling.  The head-to-head saw a subdued Salmond and an over-animated Darling.

A section of the programme allowed each to interrogate the other.  Darling chose to focus on one issue – that of currency.

That the No campaign leader chose this issue was not a surprise.  Unionists have concentrated on two areas since the turn of the year – the EU and the pound. 

However, last month new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his de-facto support for Scotland's continued membership of the EU.  His office publicly debunked claims from Better Together after the No campaign tried to claim he had backed their view.

It removed the issue of EU membership from the Better Together armoury and left them with one solitary line of attack, and that was precisely what Alistair Darling did.

The debate itself was close, neither man landed a knock-out blow.  Yes supporters were disappointed, expecting the wily Salmond to trounce the former Chancellor.

No backers were at first relieved, then ecstatic when a poll emerged apparently showing their man had 'won' the debate.  It later emerged that the poll had in fact been made up of more No backers than Yes and the result broke along partisan lines.


ICM's panel of 512 people who gave their instant verdict on the debate comprised 40 per cent Yes supporters, 46 per cent in favour of No with 14 per cent Undecided.  Asked who had won the debate, 47 per cent said Mr Darling won, 37 per cent felt Mr Salmond came out on top and 15 per cent were unsure.

Newspapers and broadcasters rushed out headlines proclaiming Darling the winner.

However, ignored amid the media hype was an interesting statistic.  Salmond had actually impressed those who were undecided.

When the Yes and No supporters were removed and only the undecided were asked, Salmond emerged the winner by almost three to one.  A snap survey carried out by the firm showed a four per cent swing to Yes.

That particular story was buried as newspapers and broadcasters began to promote and circulate the myth that voters had backed Darling.  Something I have referred to before began to happen - media outlets began to reinforce their own misreporting by referencing one another.

And so it began with STV and BBC broadcasting newspaper headlines.  TV and Radio programmes reviewed the same newspapers.  Pundits from the newspapers turned up on current affairs programmes spouting the same line.  On Scotland Tonight, Rona Dougall actually stated that the Darling win was "the verdict of the press".

The truth had been rewritten and the myth was being promoted.  Once the lie that Darling was the winner was established, the 'reason' for the defeat was presented.

For almost three days the Scottish public has been force fed the pro-Union line that a currency-union after a Yes vote is the only issue that matters.  So important is this issue, apparently, that it gave Darling a comprehensive victory.

The claim of course that currency is the pressing issue is false, as a poll for the BBC showed in February this year which put it fifth, behind welfare and Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK.  The issue is of course number one for the No campaign after Juncker's EU intervention.

Plan B

In almost every headline, news bulletin and interview; reporter after reporter, presenter after presenter is claiming that currency is the dominant issue of the referendum and that Salmond's lack of a Plan B has derailed the Yes campaign.  That this has been the Scottish Government's stance for months and has already been widely scrutinised and debated is not being allowed to get in the way of a concerted effort to help the No campaign.

The media has turned itself into a full-on campaign vehicle for Better Together.  Such has been the ferocity of the propaganda that I have to admit to being shocked.

And it's why I believe all Yes supporters should now consider their own role in helping to promote what are now de-facto Better Together campaign drives.

If newspapers want to contrive headlines and narratives in order to assist the Better Together campaign then they should know that such a primitive partisan stance will have repercussions.

From this weekend, and each and every day until the day of the referendum, every single Yes supporter and activist should stop buying these newspapers.  Cease funding this kind of journalism.  Money talks so let it speak for us from now on.

Don't buy the Daily Record – the newspaper that referred to readers of this site as "crackpots". 

Leave the Scotsman on the shelf, the newspaper whose sister paper superimposed a Nazi Swastika on the Scottish flag, and abandon the Herald, a newspaper that once attacked SNP supporters in an editorial and whose current political editor Magnus Gardham accused independence supporters of spreading "vile hatred and abuse".

Let them know what you think of their now routine attacks on the Yes campaign and independence and keep your money for other worthwhile ventures, like the newly launched online Referendum TV site, or even Newsnet Scotland.

See how they react when their margins are hit when Yes supporting readers say ‘enough’ and decide to keep their pounds away from newspaper coffers.

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter."

So said Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest Presidents the United States.  Jefferson of course never witnessed the rabid anti-independence shite that is currently masquerading as journalism in Scotland.  Don't fund it any more.


# Alien Act 2014-08-09 01:17
If you can't trust the press to report the truth, then there is no point in buying newspapers, either now or after independence.
# Christian_Wright 2014-08-09 02:24
Uncannily germane and timely WRT this article . . .


While the Daily Mail and BT are screaming what a blow to Salmond and the YES campaign this post-debate poll is, the raw data contradict their headlines. Qelle suprise!

First, well over a third of the sample population didn't watch the debate at all. The number of avowed NO voters outstrips those advocating YES, by an unseemly margin.

And most importantly as it relates to the critical cohort of undecided, the poling subgroup who are DK and watched the debate comprises a weighted value of 61 souls.

Of that meager 61, 33 did NOT agree that Darling had won the debate. The majority thought either salmond had won or that they could discern no winner.

More here
# Breeks 2014-08-09 05:16
I'm all in favour of freedom of the Press. The problem is it is a misnomer to describe these agencies as the Press collectively, or journalists individually.
They are propagandists engaged in a campaign to subvert democracy in our country.
# gus1940 2014-08-09 06:14
It would appear that the near 100% Scottish Media consider that if, in a 2 person debate one of the debaters interrupts the other often enough and shouts over him enough, without the intervention of the chairman somehow that person is the winner irrspective of whether or not that person is spouting rubbish.

Of course all that Darling was doing was following the established Labour practice previously employed by Lamont and Sarwar.
# Jacque De Molay 2014-08-09 06:58
The print media is finished - it is in the final stages of decline.

The switch to online will not work due to the change in loyalty behaviour i.e. you bought the Mirror on the Telegraph and that was your source. People are now looking at several on line sources for balance and this highlighlights just how biased these papers are.

They have become so bad that their passing will go without regret.

If only journalists had made a stand.
# neoloon 2014-08-09 07:00
An accurate assessment by GA Ponsonby.
The British nationalist media, especially its willing cohorts in Scotland, has attempted, through hysteria and blatant misreporting, to permanently pollute the political landscape in Scotland.
Thankfully the majority of people in Scotland see through such squalid tactics.
Thank God for the internet.
# IXL 2014-08-09 07:23
Way ahead of you G.A.P.
I stopped buying newspapers years ago since it has been clear that they have had a London-centric agenda driven from England's cesspit for a long, long time.
What surprises me is that anyone with half a brain still persists in paying to be brainwashed.
In a similar vein, why would any reasonably intelligent Scot pay a BBC licence fee ?
# Talorgan 2014-08-09 13:26

I am in the same boat. The last time I parted with cash for a Unionist rag would have been about ten years ago; and I have been television free for nearly twenty six years.
# Diabloandco 2014-08-09 07:25
I look forward to the demise of the so called "quality" Scottish papers - their
" quality " has been revealed over the last few years and they deserve no pity.
What will the world of Scotland do without a foreign owned Scotsman or Herald? Rejoice!
Both these papers have shown themselves to be poor imitations of a reviled tabloid press.
Once upon a day the Glasgow Herald stood head and shoulders above all others for me , allowing various views in print and letting their readership assess for themselves the worth.
Now we have a badgering ,bent and bogus vision masquerading as journalism with only a handful of journalists as a saving grace.
Take a bow the two Iains.

I am angry , but I am also deeply saddened that it has come to this. Scotland needs honesty and integrity in the MSM and it has none..
# indy2014 2014-08-09 08:04
If they can't report the truth about what's happening now, what worth are all those history books.

Example: Darien. The most successful explorers on the planet, somehow got this so so wrong. Yeah right. This is where the term anti-English comes from. Westminster and its few colonies were so brutal that ordinary English people would have been appalled for what they did, but it was okay because "the Scots are very anti-English." What's there now? Panama Canal.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World by American historian Arthur Herman is one book you should possibly read.
# Abulhaq 2014-08-09 08:25
Totalitarian unionism shares with totalitarianism per se all the fear of being challenged; challenged by accountability, responsibility, truth, democracy and the burning desire for freedom. Online is best anyway.
# WRH2 2014-08-09 08:33
However, out there on the doorsteps even No inclined voters admit they don't trust the press. I have a handy small leaflet that gives the links to sites such as Newsnet Scotland, Derek Bateman, WGD, WoS and many others. I try to update it with other blogs and reports such as the latest from Credit Suisse and the Adam Smith Institute. Giving this info and discussing the latest issue being headlined can have surprising effect. Best result was someone who initially was 1 on the scale and after a discussion and info where to find out more, decided they had moved to 6. I know that person is well on the way to Yes and faced with the ballot paper most likely will go for independence. The press may well be damaging the BT campaign in small but significant amounts not to mention themselves. By the way, never buy papers or magazines any more. I refuse to support such a corrupt industry.
# Onwards 2014-08-09 09:02
I think the Sunday Herald still deserves support regardless of its reasons. Of course they will be hoping to reach a gap in the market.

But the fact remains it is the only independence supporting paper at the moment, and if it does see a big sales increase, then others are more likely to follow.
# Leswil 2014-08-09 09:08
"We cannot forgive them Father, because they know EXACTLY what they do"
# solarianne 2014-08-09 09:15
This is how I see Darling, and his No campaign and media backers as they spin and spin and attack Alex Salmond and his lack of Plan B. He is rather like The Wizard of Oz - supposedly all powerful magical ruler of the land of Oz yet in reality, just mere man behind a curtain staging a large hoax. And the currency issue is just that - the staging of a huge hoax. The truth is that there is no need for a Plan B. In the event of a yes vote, rUK will agree to a currency union because it is the only sensible option for both countries. The No campaign know this and Alex Salmond knows this. That's why he brought up Better Together's track record of ridiculous scare stories and why he asked why Better Together refer to themselves as Project Fear. Stand back and look at it and see how ridiculous the Unionist stance of denying that there will be a currency union really is and see through the whole big bluff. See how scared and desperate they really are. Vote Yes and go for the win!!!
# gus1940 2014-08-09 12:54
Re the Plan B nonsense Rev Stu on WoS hits the nail directly on the head and drives it straight into the guts of Darling and his pals in Project Fear and The MSM with his article titled 'Arithmetic For Thickos'.
# proudscot 2014-08-09 09:57
On the subject of the general misreporting and anti-independence propaganda of the vast majority of the press in Scotland, aided by the BBC, I agree with Onwards' post. I don't care if the Sunday Herald's decision to back the independence campaign is a financial one. I will continue to buy and read it, as I have done since May.

If we supporters of independence all do likewise, then the hard financial fact of the Sunday Herald's comparative success might serve as a wake-up call to the rest. After all, the likes of Magnus Gardham and Torquil Crichton rely on their respective employers to pay their wages. And these wages rely in large part on their commercial income!
# Angry_Weegie 2014-08-09 09:57
I think it may be too late for the tactic to work. Newspaper owners will be perfectly happy to suffer a drop in sales for just five weeks in return for a no vote, expecting a return to "normal" after the referendum.

Print media is dying anyway, so a boycott will only hasten the end, not change the outcome. I wonder how many titles will close after the vote, having done all they could to secure a no.
# cynicalHighlander 2014-08-09 10:13
THE BIGGER THE LIE - Media Bias in the Scottish Independence Referendum:

Professor Robertson promotes the idea of greater political transparency of those offering media opinion on the debate. As the filmmaker of this work I have never been very political in the past. I am a former Labour and SNP voter who will be deciding on Yes because I believe this is a great opportunity to achieve a more equal, wealthier and, above all, democratic Scottish nation.
# DoricBob 2014-08-09 10:17
I stopped buying the local "Evening Express," the paper of choice for most Aberdonians, a few months ago. It became increasingly obvious that they had a definite unionist agenda.
# ButeHouse 2014-08-09 10:33
Exactly Onwards. My thoughts are whilst we are NOT buying the unionist papers we SHOULD Buy the Sunday Herald which has declared for Independence and gives us a very fair shout.

# Marian 2014-08-09 10:42
If Westminster succeed in getting a NO vote it will be a pyrric victory that only succeeds because the unionists and their MSM chums have made the people of Scotland so frightened of Westminster’s big stick that they are unwilling to contemplate let alone grasp the carrot offered by independence.

Westminster and their media chums will be hoping for things to return to “normal” after a NO vote but Scots eyes have been opened and the wounds Westminster and the MSM have inflicted on Scotland and its people during this referendum are now so deep there will never be a healing.

No matter what happens with the vote the the Labour, Tory, LibDem parties and the MSM will be the biggest losers strategically because of the memories that Scots people will always have of what was done to them by Westminster unionism and their lackeys in this referendum debate.
# Seagetagrip 2014-08-09 10:44
Mr Ponsonby.
What happened to the promised article on DA Notice on St Clair oil field. If you are worried about jail it could be the subject of a giant street leaflet accusing Westminster of a coverup and their friendly press and broadcasters. This story would be genuine game changer.
# Dundonian West 2014-08-09 12:28
Media bias in Scotland
Professor John Robertson.
An eye-opener.
Filmed 6th. August 2014.
" Overall, the findings did uncover some general evidence of bias and particularly repetition of 'bad news'. The techniques used such as sequencing of stories, reliance on sources such as the Treasury, OBR and IFS, demonisation of First Minister Alex Salmond and use of 'experts' were all more telling.
This film might just change the way you look at the BBC’s coverage of Scotland’s most important political event."
# Leader of the Pack 2014-08-09 12:33
It is interesting to note that previous to the No campaigns spin machine kicking in with regards to the televised debate the media were pretty much telling us there was no clear winner but Alex Salmond came across the more composed.

Now we have a couple of prepared in advance poll results showing Darling winning hands down. I say prepared in advance because the first results where released the same time as the debate ended.

We now have another showing in the media only showing the results with no detail of who commissioned the poll nor the methods employed.

Like the first poll I have no doubt the 2nd will show a majority of No voters participating.
Clearly the first poll didn't spin it enough in favour of the No camp.

Anybody who watched the debate would have to agree if they were being honest that it was poor with no clear outstanding performances from either side. But come on Darling was unbelievably dire.
# creigs1707repeal 2014-08-09 13:20
I think Salmond is a lot craftier than he has been credited with here. He well knew that Darling was ALWAYS going to win this debate in the media. He knows also that Darling has already won the debate with him in a few weeks time on the BBC. The headlines for Darling's win are probably already set in most of the unionist media.

Salmond did the only thing he could do--offer a positive vision, remain calm, statesmanlike and measured in his responses. Compare his body language to that of Darling who came across as a ranting, angry lunatic with only negativity to offer the viewing public.

This approach by Salmond saw the female vote increase along with the overall YES vote. And if he maintains this in the BBC debate, it will continue to do so.

Forget the media--they're a lost cause unto themselves. Salmond knows exactly how to play them and he's doing it just right.
# gus1940 2014-08-09 21:29
Unfortunately since the debate BT and their pals in the media have ensured that they have captured the agenda of the campaign and all we are hearing, seeing on TV and reading is Currency, Currency and more Currency.

YES much act quickly to combat this or support will start to drain away.
# Breeks 2014-08-09 23:15
Take a look at tomorrows Sunday Herald.
# Willkinning 2014-08-09 20:53
used to be a reader of the Scotsman,when it was still a decent newspaper, then later switched to the Herald. I no longer purchase a daily newspaper or watch the unionist news progs.Tend to get my news from Newsnet Scotland.

# wee e 2014-08-09 21:01
Is there any more on the complaints that the audience was not as selected by IPSOS MORI?

I saw allegations on twitter that YES members of the audience were getting knockbacks at the door with excuses about paperwork, which MORI said were rubbish.
# gus1940 2014-08-10 07:15
Why is there no Sunday Politics Scotland today just weeks before the referendum?

Is this just a sign that it has been agreed by The BBC and BT to give free rein to BT and their pals in the MSM to continue hammering away about currency without any TV debate on the subject leaving just The Sunday Herald trying to bring some sort of balance.
# Faith 2014-08-10 07:40
I've personally been thinking about this andthe press response to the dabate and also previously. I've gone through periods of thinking seriously about cancelling my subscription. The only paper I remain subscribed to is the Herald. But this week has just been awful. Ians Bell and McWhirter are the reasons I've held on with it until now. Robbie Dinwoodie gives us a fair crack of the whip but seems over ruled frequently by Gardham. Settle just givs the no side. So, having read this piece I have now cancelled my herald subscription and put double the money as a regular payment to newsnet Scotland. I'll buy hard copy Sunday Herald only now. No more msm for me. They've been awful and I'm ditching them. If I'm not mistaken there is only one political editor of msm newspapers in Scotland that was actually brought up here
# Marian 2014-08-10 08:43
After the referendum and whatever the result, the Scottish Government should press ahead with bringing the Leveson Report recommendations into Scots Law in full, in order to make the newsprint media fully responsible and accountable for what they misreport.

Its no coincidence that Westminster has kicked the Leveson Report into touch whilst those newspapers who have the most to lose from its introduction are the most vociferous in doing Westminster's bidding to oppose independence.
# Dr JM Mackintosh 2014-08-10 12:13
Good article G.A.P.
I had resolved some time ago never to buy any UK papers.
I will now extend that to never even lift one up (even the free ones) and read them.
There is nothing in them of any relevance or any interest to me.

Win or lose the referendum, I am now an independent Scot.
# 1820 2014-08-11 08:48
I don't buy them and I won't buy them.

Having got that out of the way I sat with my wife and watched the debate, and by the time it finished I felt like a Brazilian football fan after watching them being humped by Germany.
Darling only had one point to use and he concentrated on. The FM's attemps at humour with space aliens, etc, didn't come off.
It may have won some undecideds, but it did nothing for me.

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