Jackson Carlaw is not wrong. BBC Scotland at this time dislikes and fears this Conservative Party and for the moment cannot help but admire this SNP leadership

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Brains versus big brawny beasts?

Jackson Carlaw has made a formal complaint to BBC Scotland of pro-SNP bias.

Strangely enough, in a way he’s right. In this time of pandemic and widespread personal trauma, his party leadership has revealed only incompetence, huffiness and insensitivity while that of the SNP, notably in the form of apparently caring, intelligent and competent women, seems to have caused them to defer criticism and to show respect. That makes the BBC seem, to a Tory used to anti-SNP bias as the norm, pro-SNP.

This is a longer story than it seems and it’s about both the so-called moderate middle-ground of UK politics since the Second World War and, critically, about women in politics and in the mediation of politics.

I’ll try to be brief.

At the end of WWII, the officer class and the squaddies came home with new-found respect for each other and a shared commitment to a better, fairer, more equal world for them and for their families. They voted for it in 1945, dumping the great war-leader Churchill, in the process and electing a Labour party with socialist policies but, critically, which had broken any ties to revolutionary communism.

For thirty years, UK politics, in all three parties, was consensual, ‘moderate’, ‘middle-ground’, as they, with only minor differences, worked to build decent housing, to produce a meritocratic education system and, of course, free health care for all. It wasn’t a complete success, but it was a unique achievement as a country bankrupted by war, built hundreds of thousands of council houses, thousands of modern schools and hospitals and, of course, nurtured the BBC as the voice of that middle-ground.

In 1979 Thatcher began to tear it down but by then a generation including, significantly three ‘Scots’, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Smith (father of Sarah), had been born.

For nearly twenty years, that more right-wing, neoliberal, Conservative party managed to hold the reins but as Thatcher’s charismatic leadership was lost to them and Blair’s appeared in the Labour Party, the middle-ground was able seize control again.

Once again, though more hesitantly than in 1945, the now ‘New Labour’ Party did reduce poverty, supported further EU integration on human and worker’s rights and took some credit for peace in Ireland but much was show rather than substance and they fooled themselves in three big, fatal ways – PFI, deregulation of financial services and, of course Iraq.

Weakened and badly led now by Brown, they fell to a Tory/Lib Dem coalition, led by two Blair-clones in Cameron and Clegg, but only marginally different from them in policies. The middle-ground might have survived, still betraying the working-classes and the poor but not punishing them so brutally as the Tory right would like.

In some ways, the Second Blair, David Cameron, fell in the same way. A lawyer and a PR man, they knew little of history, as they fell into traps set for them by men with a strong sense of alleged historical grievances, George Bush and Nigel Farage. Both said yes, Blair to a war that would consume him and Cameron to angry English nationalism that would eject him and give birth to the creatures who now lead Jackson Carlaw’s party.

Today, those who lead the BBC and the BBC in Scotland are largely products of that ‘better world’ before Thatcher in 1979, when hundreds of thousands of working-class and middle-class kids went to an expanded higher education system, fully-funded, with no tuition fees and grants for living costs.

Kirsty Wark and Sarah Smith are the best-known faces of that generation and Kezia Dugdale is their wee sister, but there are many more behind the screens, writing and editing, informed by their ‘moderate’, ‘middle-ground’ values. Very close to New Labour, sometimes intermarried, sometimes their children, sometimes their colleagues, often their friends, they despise and fear both the ‘hard-right’ of the Tory party and the ‘hard-left’ of the Labour Party, sensing correctly that both desire their end.

Until very recently, these children or ‘nieces’ of Blair, Brown and Smith, graduates of Scotland’s ancient universities and their ‘Atlanticist’ (pro-Western, often pro-US, Unionist) politics departments have had, in Scotland, a third bête noire – Scottish Nationalism.

To some extent understandably, given its early ethnicist roots and, and later, less justifiably so, because of its combative anti-NATO/US stance, under Salmond, BBC Scotland demonised the SNP leadership at every turn.

Things are changing. Pro-EU, moderately progressive in terms of their approval of social policies and, of course, in favour of their own survival, BBC Scotland has lost its anchor. The Scottish Labour Party is adrift, the Lib Dems are vanishing and the Scottish Conservatives, once led by a woman, Ruth Davidson, with seemingly ‘middle-ground’, pro-EU values, has fled to be replace by an opportunistic ‘gammon’ prepared to go along tamely with those schoolboys, and Priti Patel, who would destroy them.

And then they see Nicola Sturgeon, Kate Forbes and Jeane Freeman. Pro-EU, pro-women’s rights, socially and culturally progressive, comfortable with children, calm, patient and, of course, never ever drawn into angry attacks on the BBC or the press. On top of that, the First Minister seems to have revealed herself to hold the same Atlanticism important to them. Unlike Salmond with his RT show and his attempt to have their god, Tony Blair, charged with war crimes, Sturgeon, a Glasgow University graduate unlike Salmond, has enthused about Hilary Clinton as her main inspiration, has tweeted that we might benefit from reading a book by that dread war criminal, Henry Kissinger, and then did not repulse the creepy Alistair Campbell as he squeezed her for a selfie.

As Scottish independence has been put on the back-burner by this First Minister, are they in Pacific Quay, getting to like her a lot and just praying that as some other radical leaders before her have done, she might just settle down into some more ‘moderate’ solution to the constitutional question, one that lets them survive?

18 thoughts on “Jackson Carlaw is not wrong. BBC Scotland at this time dislikes and fears this Conservative Party and for the moment cannot help but admire this SNP leadership

  1. Insightful, John, and even generous to a fault.

    Self determination is, however, the goal to be pursued to the exclusion of all else. After independence the choices- social, political, fiscal and all – are ours and only ours to make.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t entirely agree. BBC Scotland still manages to manipulate yesterdays news in England, into an SNPBAD story in Scotland, today—whether relevant or not.
    However, Carlot is desperate. His big beaming face more florid than “normal”!
    He is the Scottish end of a party visibly struggling to keep on top of a pandemic, where PPE is limited, health staff have been undermined, undervalued and underpaid for a decade.
    The Tory top echelon could not follow their own advice on distancing, and many have caught the virus. In Johnsons case, the media conspired with No 10 to keep the public unaware of how serious the PM’s illness actually was, while the true extent was knon among politicians and journalists.

    One of the stories “bigged up” by todays colonial media is Alister “Union” Jack claiming that —during the pandemic borders don’t count, and Scotland MUST stay in tandem with England.
    Oddly none of the media (who only hear their masters voice) seem to realise there are OTHER borders, and no one says we should stay in “lockstep” with France, or Spain or America for instance.
    No, for our colonial media there is only ONE border—an invisible one, but one where one side totally dominates the other, NO MATTER WHAT!

    It is also suggested by folk, (pretendy journalists) who are lucky if they can count on their fingers, that the UK, being able to BORROW money and “hose” it round, is somehow unique in the world and that Scotland MUST remain in subjugation to the UK because of this.
    But…unluckily for them, we can see Denmark, Austria, Norway, Ireland and other small, nimble countries—all very able to borrow money on their ownsome, and “hose” it round their economies.

    But of course, it wont be mentioned on BBC Scotland—-more chance “Union” Jack would be asked on to sing the ScoTory, one big hit, Bullingdon Song—“Down on your knees, shut up, and know your place”.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I too noted Mr Jack getting a profile this morning for his ‘borders’ guff. I’d like to think only the most blinkered, unchangeable Unionist diehards believe this stuff now but I do wonder how aware folk are of realities elsewhere.

      On Nordic Co-operation, just one insight: https://www.norden.org/en/news/ministers-nordic-co-operation-discuss-coronavirus

      “Led by Denmark’s Mogens Jensen, the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation met by video link on Wednesday to share information on their efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.

      Much of the discussion addressed the importance of co-ordinating measures to limit the negative impact on CROSS-BORDER COMMUTERS and trade between the Nordic countries.”

      And then there is this on European co-operation at local levels across nation-state boundaries:

      Brigitte Klinkert, head of the local government of the Haut-Rhin administrative district in France asked for help in responding to the pandemic from local politicians in Germany and Switzerland. Following their positive response she said this (cracking quote!):

      “”Of course we work very closely together and are great friends with many connections, but this was an incredible demonstration of cross-border cooperation — of European solidarity. In more normal times, our regions are completely interconnected. It’s really emotional for us to see this chain of solidarity with Germany, Switzerland and the rest of France.”

      Co-operation and solidarity across nation-state borders? Surely something not true here – Mr Jack and his Unionist associate Ian (‘mr solidarity’) Murray tell us we cannot have these AND independence!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t agree at all – the BBC in Scotland is so completely wedded to the British establishment that it will not in any way change its stance on Independence until it has actually been won! Carlaw is just miffed that he cannot get his ugly face on the TV, or his weasel words on the radio, and this is his warped way of doing it.

    The idea that Independence will arrive by Sturgeon toadying up to the Scottish cringe media darlings with a mixture of admiration for Clinton and women’s rights, is just complete nonsense. The war will not be won on the BBC or the MSM – they are now becoming more and more irrelevant to peoples views. This and other blogs will become more important to gaining independence, so please don’t think we will get any help from the BBC, the discredited former Scottish Labour leaders or their off-spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t suggest for one minute that this was a FM strategy or that any of this would help us get independence. I’m merely commenting on what seems to be happening there at this special time and which Carlaw has correctly spotted.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In your pretty accurate and succinct precis of the ‘post-war consensus’, you omitted a grave miscarriage of justice played on married women, by a malign combination of employers, trade unions and politicians, who re-instituted the notorious ‘marriage bar’ almost as soon as hostilities were over. This forbade married women from being employed in a number of occupations. The ‘bar’ had been scrapped at the start of the war as many male workers were ‘called up’. Many women, including married women, filled the ‘skills gap’ and did the former ‘male-only’ jobs very well. Many, including my mother, became managers and supervisors. But once ‘the officer class and squaddies’ came home, their hard won ‘solidarity’ conspired to move these women out of the jobs they had done with distinction.

    Many of these women, of course, had daughters, and most of these women were determined their daughters were not going to suffer the injustices they had. With the development of the contraceptive pill, their daughters could also control their own fertility and not be forced out of employment or denied appropriate to their education because they became pregnant.

    People like Nicola Sturgeon, Jeanne Freemen, Kate Forbes are the daughters and grand-daughters of these redoubtable wartime women as are Kirsty Wark, Sarah Smith, Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, and some of the women who hold senior positions in the BBC in Scotland.

    The debate about whether the FM and the current SNP are ‘betraying’ independence is one which is being pursued on many sites and will continue once ‘lockdown’ is over, especially after Mr Salmond publishes his book of the recent criminal charges.

    Judging by the increasingly panicky anti-independence stuff in the unionist media, I think it is clear that the unionists ARE worried that there is a significant drift of public opinion towards independence. That ‘drift’ will comprise many who were switherers and sincerely concerned about the the maintenance of their standards of living as was being persistently broadcast by Project Fear. Many ‘switherers’ were/are women for a variety of reasons, and a majority of them are the post-war consensus women. Perhaps, the stance adopted by the women in the SG has reassured them.

    An independent Scotland will be a pluralist country and, a fair chunk of the population will be on the right of the political spectrum. Being on the right of the spectrum does NOT mean that there is no sense of community and the common good. Many of the officer class of whom you referred, who at the end of the war became Tory MPs and Councillors were one-nation and redistributive. They were as strong as Labour, for example in establishing comprehensive schools.

    I am no Tory, and never will be, but I have known many who were compassionate and community disposed.

    PS By ‘swither’ I imply no criticism. I simply mean people who sincerely find difficulty in balancing the complexity of the arguments. There are few decisions I have taken which did not have downsides.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Only one omission? Phew! Thanks for reminding us. I agree it’s important.

    I didn’t suggest the FM was betraying independence merely that the BBC elite, bereft of a competent leader for the Union, are being a little seduced by her, due to Brexit and CV19, for the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you with regard to the FM. I am concerned that a couple – and it is only that – of the writers on some of the pro-independence sites have a tendency to willy-wave and are attacking the SG with equal venom as they are giving to the UK Government chancers, who make used car salespersons (with one obvious exception) appear like models of social and financial probity.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. You are so right John. I think it’s a good thing because if we are to get to independence then these people will have to become less fearful for their own wee world. I remember their response to your work was to try to attack you personally. They are like trapped animals. But they also represent the circa 50% who still don’t understand independence. Setting aside the bawheids, the apathetic and the narcissistic who probably account for a huge chunk of that 50% and who will likely never change, we only have to bring about 10-20% on board to make independence a reality. So Nicola and Jeane Freeman are great for independence. But what about their handling of the pandemic? They are calm and professional but what advice are they following? WHy didn’t they listen to Devi Sridhar? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2OXbVaLeE8

    Liked by 2 people

  7. John,

    A small quibble. The long run statistics of poverty in the UK show that in 1961 the percentage of the population in poverty after housing costs was 13%. Under Thatcher this increased markedly and quickly to 25% and subsided gently under New Labour to about 22% where it remains.


    Health inequalities increased in Scotland under Thatcher and our health inequalities remain among the worst in Europe.It is not that that life expectancy has not increased (until recently) it is that other nations have addressed their health inequalities better while the neoliberal policies of successive governments since Thatcher continue to throw many more people into the “upstream” or fundamental causes of health inequalities.

    The fundamental causes of health inequalities are the unfair, unequal distributions of power, income and wealth. I have never understood why, post 2014, the Scottish government did not campaign for independence on the grounds that UK policy harmed Scots while devolution failed to give the powers to remedy that.

    I was very interested to see and hear Nicola S say the exit from covid19 provided an opportunity to change Scotland’s economy (reserved power) and inequality (mostly reserved powers). I see that Professor Sally Tannahill has joined the government from GCPH to give advice on the economy as lockin is exited. I guess the new CMO, male or female, might also come from GCPH.

    At long last there looks to be a move away from the slow conservatism of the SNP. I will be particularly interested to see the Scottish government’s behaviour over UBI which NS is said to be considering. If introduced it would need to be bold, that is at a decent level. Rishi Sunak has already said no to UBI. I want to see a Scotland that will stand up for its poor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sam – I saw the FM’s tweet re UBI. She said she was interested in it but it was something which could only be implemented with Westminster’s consent. It left me thinking but what about implementation in an independent Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What pro SNP bias… ? Off the back of Jackass, comes GovGen Jackatory and now this… Smells of a Cummings Plan, wonder what’s next…


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