Before I begin with the main point of the article, I want to say a big thank you to every person who downloaded our magazine, and especially those who made a donation.
Every single penny helps us enormously, and every download proves there’s a thirst for this stuff. In the last seven days, we’ve had almost 800 download our first issue and that is amazing.
Since the article, Breaking The Silence, went up, I’ve published another four pieces, one on the choice facing the left, one from the magazine, on Jim Murphy (which seems to have been popular!), one on the resignation of Peter Oborne and one on Trident.
These issues all surfaced in the last seven days, all were inevitably tied to Scottish politics somehow and all confronted issues that the mainstream press would have rather been forgotten.
The choice facing the left is not the flagrantly dishonest one being promoted by the media – a choice between a Labour government and a Tory government – but is a much more complex issue, requiring a far more thoughtful response from voters.
In Scotland, that means voting for the settlement that will do most good for not only this country but for the ideas espoused by those on the left flank of the political debate. That choice seems, to me, a simple one.
The SNP is committed to halting austerity, to re-opening the debate on Trident by calling for its removal from Scotland or scrapping it altogether (which, of course, I covered in detail), to genuine review and reform of Westminster’s institutions … this could offer a real and lasting series of gains for the English regions and for Scotland too.
The article on Jim Murphy was not only well received and timely, as it has caused a lot of people to actually question everything they hear from this guy. Based on this week’s events, where he cynically tried to distort NHS figures and to force his way into two years of discussions on the issue of alcohol at football grounds (destroying the work of those two years, for one day’s headlines, so well done) the scrutiny he’s being given can only be good for the Scottish political scene.
Murphy is a gimmick guy. He has no real political savvy and the Labour Party has nothing to offer the Scottish people in terms of policy. They are honking at opposition, both here and in Westminster.
Sadly, they don’t look as if they’ll be all that much better at government … but this guy in particular, in keeping with so many on the Blairite wing (their man hasn’t been in office for nearly ten years … how tragic is it that they, like the Thatcherites, have no new role model?) have no real concept of what ordinary people need or want … so gimmicks are all they’ve got.
Oborne’s resignation rocked the Fourth Estate to its foundations, and strengthened the need for more citizen journalism, because it’s clear that we can’t trust the written media at all. How many other newspapers out there have buried the truth because of advertiser pressure, or for political access, or just out of fear of rocking the boat?
All of them, probably, and every one of them is certainly partisan, and so their reporting is hopelessly skewed.
That, in itself, is not a deal breaker … we expect certain papers to bang certain drums … but what Oborne described was nothing less than sheer corruption. He called it a “fraud on the readers.”
Furthermore, since his criticisms have come out, the newspaper has taken the truly retrograde step of trying to deflect from its own shameful behaviour by putting out a story about two suicides at rival papers, which they claim are due to the pressure staff are put under to hit advertising targets.
It might well be the most cynical smokescreen effort I’ve ever heard of, and has resulted in an outpouring of anger and opprobrium, with anonymous journalists at the paper claiming that “none of its staff” are happy with the publication’s conduct.
Which, of course, suggests they’re willing to tolerate it regardless, to keep their jobs.
In other professions I might respect that. But this is journalism, where reporting the truth is not just part of the job description … it is the job itself. It was once why people went into the profession in the first place … and to treat it as nothing more than a career is unconscionable.
It’s also worth taking a moment to pay tribute to Stan Collymore, which I never thought I would write in my life. His brave stand against sectarian singing has brought him into conflict with his bosses at BT Sport, who shelved him for last night’s match at Starks Park, where the behaviour of some sections of the away support fully vindicated his stance.
His bosses decided it was better to ditch him than to confront the issues he tried to raise. That stinks to high heaven, and their advertisers and subscribers should seriously consider their own position as he continues to be subjected to a mountain of abuse with barely one of his colleagues in the media standing up to defend him.
That, too, is inexcusable.
In that context, what Oborne did cannot be over-stated. It was an indictment of the whole media culture, and in an election year the consequences of that might be enormous.
The Trident debate is a vital one, because there are national security threats facing us, but they will not be resolved by our possession of nuclear missile carrying submarines.
When Russian bombers are flying over the English countryside because they weren’t detected on radar in time, when there aren’t enough available fighters to secure our skies and when the very idea of a rapid reaction force in Europe puts our generals in a cold sweat because they are already over-stretched … there is simply no justification for retaining weapons we can never use, whilst crucial areas go short.
When terrorism and cyber warfare are, according to the experts, far more pressing concerns for us than a war with a foreign power, why in God’s name are resources being diverted from that simply to protect our “national prestige?”
This is a great time to be engaged in new media. The fights we’re facing, on multiple fronts, are important, and exhilarating, and I genuinely believe we can change the country. It’s been done elsewhere, in tougher environments than this.
The worst I have to worry about is that Ikea sue me for saying their drawers are flimsy (!) … people doing this in other countries are hunted by the authorities, imprisoned and even killed.
For having a voice. For having their say.
The general election is just over 70 days away. The political picture, across Britain, is astonishingly fragmented. Some say this is dangerous … I see opportunity everywhere, and especially here in Scotland where a staggering, overdue verdict is about to be delivered on a party that took our support for granted and which has failed to deliver time and again.
We lost the independence referendum, but we are on the verge of changing the direction of the political tide.
I am excited about what the next few months hold, and I’ll be blogging on it all the way, and this website would enjoy hearing from you and even receiving your contributions. If you have something you’d like to write for it – or the magazine – please get in touch.
As ever, in addition to this, I continue to need your help, both with funding and with spreading the word. If you think someone would like an article on this site – and I’ve written on everything from the child abuse allegations to the future of the Labour Party – then please share it. If you haven’t “Followed” us yet, you can do that by clicking on the floating button at the bottom right.
This has been a huge week, but the work is just starting.
Keep on watching and listening … and don’t let them away with anything.
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