15 06 2014

I’ve remained fairly quiet on the issue of internet twats when it comes to the indyref – partly because I learned a long time ago starving trolls is the best means of killing them, and partly because even mentioning the T word (troll not twat) seems to get the attention of every brainless moron displaying the extensive vocabulary of a Viz dictionary with most of the interesting pages ripped out. Who can really be arsed?

I won’t pretend there aren’t many, many abusive arseholes out there on both sides of the “debate” because I’m not going to patronise any poor bugger bored enough to read this. I’ve met my fair share of Yes and No cybertwats. I’ve been called a traitor by a member of the yes camp for not slavish licking Salmond the Hutts rotund belly every time he speaks, and I’ve been called much worse for daring to want more for the country I live in. Oddly none of it (yet) has focused on my ownership of breasts or vagina – maybe that’s why you’ve not seen my hatted head gracing the front page of the Daily Heil. I’m sure there’s time yet.

While many are quick to jump to the defence of the hundreds of thousands who don’t embark on offensive cybertwattery, there’s a huge, important issue we’re missing out. This is a huge part of Scottish culture. It happens in real life as often as it does online. It’s just much harder to document or prove when you can’t take a screenshot. I’ve been subjected to verbal abuse since the day I moved back to Scotland. This was long before indyref was ever mentioned. It’s like a cultural game for some. Insults are normalised and because abuse is ‘just having a laugh’, people struggle to see the problem. The issue here being based around the independence campaign, highlights that what was widely distributed, localised and aimed at fatties, ‘alts’/goths or people of colour, for example, has become politically focused and virtualised. I’ll be honest, being the recipient of street abuse has dropped for me personally since the growth social media. That’s not to say some imbecile with the intellectual capacity if an overripe banana hasn’t attempted to give me what for from the safety of their car, but as this anger has transferred online, it’s just not happening as much in real life.

I think we’re being awfully naive if we believe that cybertwats (regardless of stance) are a new thing and we can’t say anonymity is always a reason as some of these fuckwits don’t have the foresight to anonymise their interactions. The internet just gives those who have the ability to shout loudest to complain about it and give the mushy banana-brained twats access to big media names in a way they never had before. The goths of the country breathe a huge sigh of relief!

Talking of celebs, let’s not pretend that the whole Rowling abuse debacle wasn’t entirely stage managed either. I mean it was like a gift. She says just wait for the cybernat abuse to appear after highlighting her obvious support for No, and lo! just like an angel of the Lord before an unmarried, virgin, teen mum, it appears. Funnily enough, it just so happens she’s got a new book coming out too. A PR guru couldn’t have timed such a non-story and predictable response so well, or could they? Half of me wants to say, surely even noob trolls aren’t so daft as to fall for that invitation but I’ve wandered down sauchiehall street when there’s been a hint of sunshine. These fannies just don’t have a single brain cell between them. Poor bunnies don’t realised they’ve been played and it’s fuck all to do with indyref really, it’s just the PRs-PR machine spluttering into action.

Christ I can just see it now. Cybertwats will become the latest PR tool in the slimy arsenal of slimy arses, and they won’t have a clue. Twaty McTwatish will continue to drop the C-bomb cos he, or she, thinks it’s dead clever. Or funny. Or something. Truth is, they don’t know why they do it, they just do. Just as their father, mother and grandparents did before them. Like flies to shit they swarm and regurgitate unintelligible bullshit because that’s how it’s been for generations. Just sit in any Scottish pub and among the genuinely intelligent and engaged debate you’ll always find one or two who just cannot do it and turn to insult. They don’t understand it and unless they break free from the twatty habit they never will. These are the same people who’d rather end a pub debate with fists or jaggy bottles and call it a laugh the next day. At least online the fists are only pounding a keyboard.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with online or offline abuse of celebs or ordinary people, but someone somewhere has to recognise it’s entrenched in Scottish culture under the heading ‘banter’ and who wants to be the “miserable bastard” stopping “the lads having a laugh”? This problem isn’t restricted to the independence debate either and it won’t miraculously disappear on September 19th after the referendum. Something does need to be done about it both online and off but it’s bigger than the ‘online bantz’ suggests. The Scottish male’s (and females) acceptance of aggression and violence in every day life confuses me. I’ve asked people why they do or accept it and have been told “just cos” or “it’s always been that way”. I’m not claiming every scot is violent or even the majority of them, and I have seen an improvement in the past few decades but social media has given these people another outlet, this time using words and threats in writing, where it can be proven instead of in-street interaction.

How long before someone’s having a go at me for daring to say this? Well I’m allowed my opinion and to discuss my observations on my blog. Don’t like it? Scream into a pillow! I won’t be listening.


Slippery Salmond and his media mates.

30 04 2012

Let me start by reiterating that ALL POLITICAL PARTIES ARE CORRUPT to some degree, and within them politicians are self-serving, egotistical and unscrupulous . We’re surely not daft enough to still believe they work in our best interests and do so in an entirely altruistic manner. So when the media decides to attack Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond for doing what essentially every politician does, forgive us if most of us aren’t reeling in shock and horror about it.

Unionist parties and journalists seem to think they have the winning lottery ticket with their ‘independence politician talks to media mogul about controversial company takeover’ stories. They are conveniently ignoring the wider issues surrounding conflict of interest and corruption among UK politicians, who in this instance were hugely influential in the potential BSkyB take over process and it’s (then) ultimate success or failure. And the implications of the issues surrounding the UK government and the BSkyB bid are massive, humongous even!

Then there’s the apparent revelation that Salmond privately assured Donald Trump over dinner there would be no wind farms within sight of his golf course. Who actually knows if he did or didn’t. It seems odd that he would make such a promise when renewable energy is likely to pull in considerably more investment and jobs for Scotland than a golf club, coupled with his seeming commitment to renewable energy as a major income source for Scotland. On the face of it, such a pledge would seem unlikely! However, it’s not inconceivable he’ll say what is necessary to get what he wants. He is a politician after all and a pledge is as good as lie in the political world, just ask Nick Clegg.

So who’s the bigger fool? The american businessman who took a politician at his word, or the media for the resulting faux outrage?

On the scale of things, Salmond, (a man I’m not particularly keen on, head of a party I’m not particularly keen on), and his media defined Lapdog behaviour is minuscule. Any remotely intelligent person will see this for themselves. He was just doing what those of his ilk all do, schmoozing with the media and lobbying on issues that could benefit his party or people or country, and yes probably also his ego. Why single him out for special media attention when this issue highlights a far more dangerous and destructive sleaze practice in the UK government? It seems that while people talk of Hunt needing to go, just like Fox before him, we do nothing to ensure it happens and the media look the other way.

The multiple improprieties of those in government over the past two years should have the entire country up in arms, in the same way the media appear to be over Salmond and Murdoch up a tree k.i.s.s.i.n.g. It was pointed out on twitter that The Guardian had posted five… Yes FIVE stories in 24 hours on the Salmond and Murdoch issue, each one a rehash of the others, paraphrased here:

“Politician trying to destroy our great England, does what all politicians do, but we don’t like his so here’s why he smells and you shouldn’t play with him anymore”

It’s getting a bit old reading story after story trying to discredit one man who on the face of it appears to be doing a reasonable job for Scotland in current circumstances, with behaviour no worse than that of his Westminster counterparts.

Now this may sound like I’m waving the golden flag and I don’t deny I may do so in the future as red no longer suits me, but there are no comparable politicians in Scotland at the moment. Three clone-like bores and a single green MSP suggests our choice is limited, indeed it appears there is no choice. The UK and unionist media are well aware of this and take every opportunity to discredit Salmond and his party. As someone totally disillusioned with Labour and never willing to vote for the Conservatives and latterly Liberal Democrats for showing their true colours, I’m finding the SNP policies more attractive but not yet to the point I’d become a card-carrying member. However, when the media concentrate solely on one party and focus in on one man, it gets me wondering what they’re so scared of.

Its true the other parties don’t have headline-worthy leaders, and they’re not exactly creating waves in Scottish politics at the moment. If they’re not having dinners with media moguls it’s because they’re dull as dishwater and any journalist worth their wage will realise there is no story there. Hell, the other main parties in Scotland barely have a decent policy between them to talk of, they’re  not exactly newsworthy. Their approach to politics, much like the medias approach to reporting it, is to negatively discuss Salmond and the SNP without offering so much as a constructive criticism.

I keep abreast of all Scottish parties social media output and while they all have moments of cringe worthy unprofessionalism, I don’t see the same negative talk from the SNP publicity team that I do from the other 3 parties. Labour are the absolute worst for spending useful canvassing time putting down SNP candidates and their policies, instead of promoting their own policies. At times it’s like a playground bitching session where they gather their peers around and try to convince them the new(er) pupil is nasty and horrible and everyone should stay away. Much like the national media in any instance of Salmond not being Mr Perfect, Scottish Labour pounce on it with more passion that a belieber with loose knicker elastic and this REALLY put me off them. The positivity of the main SNP publicity accounts online is somewhat refreshing. There are always individual SNP candidates/members who feel they need to spend their time bitching and backstabbing the opposition, but on the whole it’s left to labour et al to make a tit of themselves. It’s odd how the national media or indeed regional media rarely picks up on this competitive negativity, yet you’d think the other parties would notice when they’re essentially ignored in the media.

This again takes me back to my point about dinner with the media moguls. It may be, I honestly have no idea, that the other party leaders in Scotland will meet with News International (etc) staff to promote their cause, but that the media, like the rest of us have difficulty in establishing exactly what it is the parties campaign for. There is a lot to criticise SNP for, but their ability to manipulate the media and create a story, is not one of the reasons.

With the above in mind, and knowing the average users inability to read words, I feel it’s important to highlight that I disagree completely with the levels of power the likes of News International hold over parliament and politicians, as well it would seem as certain sections of society who consume the NI brands like they’re chocolate. Parliament and politicians are there to represent us and work for us and we need to reiterate this at every level. Just because all politicians behave in a similar manner courting the press and lobbying for companies that may benefit them or their families, doesn’t make the behaviour right or any more acceptable. Singling out one politician to mask the behaviours of more corrupt members of the uk parliament or indeed the entire sleazy coalition government, treats media consumers like fools. I don’t think I’m especially intelligent and if I can work out the rouse, I’m sure millions of others will too.

Id like to think that the media could and would adapt to suit a more alert readership, a readership who are more likely to be able to read between the lines. And for those who do not want to or cannot do so for themselves, I’d like a balanced, unbiased media who used their literary skills to present information in such a way that their readers could make their own minds up based on the facts presented, not to spoon feed them the party line of whomever is in favour that week.

It’s probably too much to ask.

Salmond and Murdoch up a tree

26 02 2012

So readers of tomorrow’s chip poke, the Scottish Sun on Sunday will have discovered this morning that the date of the Scottish Independence Referendum is to be Saturday 18th October 2014 (link to BBC not Murdoch jam-rag). Reputable Scottish blogger Burdzeyeview, posted on this, ‘All bets not quite off on date of indy referendum’ where she discusses the pros and cons of the date. I’m not going to replicate that discussion here as she does it far better than I ever could, Instead I have two points I want to rant about.

My first gripe with announcing the date in such a way. If the date is indeed the correct one, and as yet we have nothing to say it is or is not other than the Sun report, why was it not made in some kind of formal public announcement? Why was the date not presented to parliament first? And as Burdzeyeview highlighted, what is the point of a referendum consultation, if these kinds of decisions are made independent of it?

Of course, Salmond et al aren’t the only ones ignoring public consultations in favour of pushing their own agenda, but perhaps naively of me I hoped that the Scottish government may try to employ a best practice approach to their work, to differentiate them from their narcissistic neighbours. If Scotland is to become independent, I want it written into the constitution, that the public are key to decision-making. I want what already exists on paper, essentially an effective and involved consultation process, to be the norm and to be widely known about among the public. I want public involvement central to all aspects of the Scottish government and I want this education on consultation processes to start in schools.

But I digress, should the Scottish Sun on Sunday date be correct, it raises questions as to the appropriateness of the relationship between the SNP and the Murdoch empire.

During the hacking scandal most major parties were seen to visibly distance themselves from the cosy and profitable pockets of Murdoch’s papers. Obviously looks can be deceiving and despite the much publicised closure of News of the World, the new News International title, the Sun on Sunday published its first edition this morning. In no time, politicians will be grappling with each other to get the paper onside. Despite this ongoing furore down south, Salmond appears to have stayed firmly in the pocket of Murdoch and it seems to have paid off for him. In the past week Salmond and Scottish independence have been the topic of a number of Murdoch’s tweets, with positive overtones, which has led the media to suggest that his papers will be supporting the SNP in their quest for independence. There is no denying the power of Murdoch’s support at elections, however, there is the ethical issue of Salmond jumping into bed with him so readily given public opinion of his journalist’s methods is so low.

This leads me to consider two possibilities. Either Salmond is consumed by a quest for personal power and will do anything necessary regardless of ethics to get it or, he’s playing a very savvy but dangerous game of courting the media. Either method seems to me, rather tasteless.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest Salmond is in it for the personal prowess of being the Prime Minister of Scotland.  The Scotsman newspaper, quoting Jack Irvine once editor of Scottish Sun, said Rebekkah Wade (now Brooks) found Salmond very arrogant in a meeting they had. The paper also continues to discuss Salmond’s aggressive and deterministic courting of the Murdoch papers. He’s not daft is our Alex, he understands the power they have and knows massaging their over inflated ego’s can only help his. However he seems to be ignoring the public perception of News International after the hacking scandal, which on the whole is very negative. Indeed many are finding it hard to understand why he is putting such effort into courting such a shamed empire. It’s also important to consider what News International have to gain from backing independence. The Scotsman are trying to suggest that Murdoch backing Scottish Independence is an attempt to create trouble for the English after his treatment at the hackgate affair. It would seem unfair for Murdoch to use something as important as potential independence for a country of around 5 million people, to settle a petty score he has for his dodgy business deals. And there were the gifts to and courting of, the staff working for Murdoch’s papers, perhaps more so than staff of other media groups. Salmond’s campaign has been very targeted. It’s his motives that aren’t quite so clear.

It’s true public outrage didn’t appear to be as great north of the border as it was down south at the Hackgate Scandal. The degree of disconnectedness from events in the South East of London is huge, and despite Tommy’s family allegedly being targeted nobody up here really seems to care. I think perhaps the renowned Scottish cynicism for the likelihood of such behaviours replaced the Westminster outrage. It worries me that a large swathe of the population won’t be asking questions of the Salmond/Murdoch relationship, given what we know of Murdoch’s previous close political alliances. I tried to consider why Salmond would make use of a ‘friendship’ with such an outcast media mogul. The Scottish Sun has a circulation of around 300,000 and obviously that is not a figure of potential voters to be sniffed at. However, a study (that I can’t find the link to anymore – if anyone knows of it please let me know) suggested that those in lower-income bands, the target market for the Scottish Sun, are mostly in favour of independence, while higher earners, the middle and upper classes are not so keen. Without going too in-depth with media snobbery (although it should be noted journalists for the Sun and similar are asked to write their articles for a reading age of 9), the middle and upper classes are less likely to be reading a red top rag to inform themselves of political activity and opinion. It sounds to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, as if these are the people Salmond should be targeting with his Yes vote campaigning.

Scotland’s two candidates for broadsheet newspaper, The Herald and the Scotsman appear to have firmly taken sides already. The pseudo-socialist Glasgow based Herald newspaper appears to be in favour of independence, while the Edinburgh based Scotsman seems to be firmly opposed. Neither appears to have the same degree of interest from Salmond on this issue. The circulation for both newspapers is less than 50,000 each. Considerably less than their red top rivals. It is also interesting to note however that the Daily Record, who have taken on a pro-union stance also have a circulation of around 300,000 and they have not received the same attention from Salmond as the Sun.

300,000 votes out of a possible 5m votes doesn’t appear to be worth the effort for the party, yet Salmond is still notorious for his relationship with News International over all other media groups and it begs the question, why? What does he gain from it and what do we gain from it? Do we really want someone like Rupert Murdoch trying to play God with Scottish politics in the same way he did with UK politics? Is there any reason why we cannot have an open and honest and unbiased reporting of the situation, allowing the public to make an informed decision?

For many reasons, I like the idea of independence, but for many more I get put off by the behaviours and allegiances of the politicians and the media. If Scotland gains independence, it needs to be a completely new and transparent system not a replication of old school, traditional, ‘who you know’ methodologies. A politician should be courting his or her public, or finding favour and forming allegiances with the public, not treating us as if we are incapable of independent thought or some kind of personal, ego massaging cash cow.