As you might expect, Newsnet Scotland’s look back at 2010 might be slightly different from the retrospective view offered up by Scotland’s ‘Mainstream Media’. Kenneth Roy has of course already questioned the suitability of the term ‘Mainstream Media’ when describing the Scottish newspaper industry given that it seems intent on running lemming like straight over the circulation cliff.
So, as we near the end of 2010 let’s have a look at some of the events and issues that made the news in Scotland – and let’s also remind ourselves of those stories that for whatever reason didn’t quite make it onto the pages and airwaves.
January – Scottish News Stories:
Freezing temperatures and Fife council asks the Scottish government for assistance after a supplier let them down and failed to deliver salt and grit. Within hours we have a national crisis and BBC Scotland is out in front with the headline Road grit levels ‘critically low’
The other headlines read:
•The Herald (Safety fears as drivers warned salt running out)
•The Scotsman (Scotland ‘risks running out of road salt’ amid Arctic fortnight)
•The Record (Scotland faces grit panic as cold weather supplies run low)
Labour attack the Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson and Charlie Gordon says: “The Scottish Government appears to be saying this morning that everything is under control but the evidence does not support that with many roads and pavements still covered by snow and ice.”
That same month Scottish Labour politicians call for Roseanna Cunningham to resign after it emerged that there had been a security leak over paths close to the Queen’s Balmoral estate. The story features prominently in all Scottish media outlets:
However later it emerges that the source of the leak was a former advisor to Labour MP Jim Murphy. Mr Murphy’s advisor, Tom Greatrex, is now the Labour MP for Rutherglen.
At the end of the month The Nuffield Trust produces a report that concludes the Scottish NHS does not do well when compared to the NHS in England. The report features prominently in all the usual Scottish news outlets before someone points out that the data used in compiling the figures is composed differently in Scotland than in England and the Scottish data the Trust used is also out of date. This is eventually admitted by the Nuffield.
The admission from the Nuffield does not feature as prominently as the earlier critical coverage – if at all.
The month also sees BBC Scotland bring us a piece of investigative journalism called ‘The Buckfast Code’. This particular broadcasting gem featured the infamous North Lanarkshire aperitif in all of its glory and was trailed by the BBC as though they had unearthed the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant. It was of course merely coincidence that the BBC had decided to focus on a beverage that Labour in Scotland had decided was the cause of Scotland’s alcoholic woes.
February – Scottish News Stories:
Holyrood approved the Scottish government’s budget.
Labour’s Andy Kerr comments: “The decision to scrap GARL has been motivated by party and not national interests.” CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan called the budget “inadequate” and said that he was disappointed that GARL had not been re-instated.
Days later Labour MP Jim Devine hit the headlines over his expenses. Well actually the story didn’t hit the headlines at all as the expenses story was quickly dropped in favour of an SNP fundraising event in a Glasgow Indian restaurant that had included a mock auction whereby bidders could ‘win’ a chance to have lunch with Alex Salmond in the Holyrood canteen. Labour’s Iain Gray calls it “systematic abuse” of the First Minister’s office despite numerous examples of Labour Ministers doing the same.
The Scottish media react like a rabid pack of wolves with headlines and broadcasts saturating the papers and airwaves. The Herald won the ‘over the top’ award as it produced no less than nine articles on the story. Including one by Tom Gordon entitled: ‘going, going, gone … inside the SNP’s ‘lunchgate’ auction.’ and another by the same journalist entitled ‘The week it all went wrong for the SNP’.
The Herald received considerable criticism over its handling of the story so much so that the paper took the quite incredible decision to address the criticisms in an editorial. Alex Salmond was later cleared of any wrongdoing – there were few, if any headlines of this.
In the same month the Labour party were hit by an expenses scandal at Strathclyde Passenger Transport after it emerged that Labour councillors and other officials have been splurging taxpayer’s cash on expensive foreign trips and that receipts had been shredded.
March – Scottish News Stories:
Labour high flyer Stephen Purcell resigns after allegations of cocaine use, police visits and warnings about gangsters. The allegations turn out to be true and the head of Glasgow Council flees the country in disgrace amidst further allegations of corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the Labour controlled council. It emerges that senior figures within Scottish newspapers had been having secret Friday lunch meetings with Purcell during his time in office.
An ashcloud from an Icelandic eruption disrupts air travel in Europe and closes Scottish airports.
April – Scottish News Stories:
The BBC Trust announces that it has not upheld a joint appeal from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru on the BBC’s Prime Ministerial debate scheduled to be broadcast on 29 April.
The democracy of the UK is not as ‘all inclusive’ as we thought as the party that forms the government of the Welsh Assembly and Holyrood are denied the chance to air their views to Welsh people and Scottish people – respectively.
Catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes. Crude oil is pumped into the gulf causing an environmental disaster. Americans are looking for someone to blame and BP are in the firing line – BP’s involvement and the politicking that follows will have ramifications for the Scottish government.
May – Scottish News Stories:
Labour triumph in general election.
Well according to the Scottish media Labour won the Scottish election, sadly the Tories won the English election so we get the Tories.
Jim Murphy tells all that Scots ‘hate’ the Tories, but a last minute offer of a ‘rainbow coalition’ from the SNP and Plaid is refused by Labour proving that Scottish Labour MP’s hate the SNP even more – Cameron is ‘bounced’ on Scotland, but not before the LibDems decide to join them in government. The parties that finished third and fourth in Scotland’s general election are now in charge.
Later that month Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray accuses Skills Development Scotland of planning to “waste” £555,000 on a name change and £1.68 million on marketing for the re-brand. Gray also accuses Salmond of failing to “get a grip” of the agency.
It subsequently emerges that Skills Development Scotland had decided against any name change almost two months previously on 30th March. BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor tells everyone that Labour published a document backing their claims – no such document was ever published.
June – Scottish News Stories:
The Labour leadership contest is underway. It doesn’t matter really because David Miliband has it sewn up …….. hasn’t he?
At Holyrood the Unionists refuse to back the SNP’s minimum price for alcohol policy. There will be one last chance in September to save the proposal.
July – Scottish News Stories:
July proves to be Scotland’s wettest month of the year.
It emerges that a number of US Senators have written a letter to the UK’s ambassador with concerns over the release of the Lockerbie bomber. The ambassador informs the senators that much of what they understand is actually based on inaccurate UK newspaper reports. Only lazy journalists, fools and those with an agenda would run the senator’s claims without properly scrutinising them.
So it proves as the story is picked up by the UK media and BBC Scotland in particular and a long running campaign of misinformation begins.
August – Scottish News Stories:
BBC Scotland reports that ‘US lawmakers’ are unhappy with the decision to release Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. No the lawmakers aren’t Wyatt and Earl Earp, it is the same poorly informed US Senators from July and the BBC are keen to headline anything and everything they say, regardless of accuracy.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien defends the decision to release Megrahi and questions the appropriateness of US politicians attacking a decision that was based on compassion, something lacking in US penal institutions says the Cardinal.
Labour MSP Duncan McNeil is reported to the Scottish Parliament over alleged inappropriate and discriminatory comments he made following the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children. The story is reported in The Sunday Post but ignored by the rest of the Scottish media.
Politicians and members of the public react with fury after a BBC Radio 4 broadcast heard commentators describe Scots as living off of benefits provided by the English. The broadcast backlash is not reported by any main stream media outlet in Scotland save for Joan McAlpine who covers it in her Scotsman column.
September – Scottish News Stories:
The Pope visits Scotland and people line the streets to welcome the pontiff. The visit is a spectacular success with a backdrop of glorious blue skies.
Scottish athletes head out to Delhi amidst claims that Commonwealth Games facilities are not ready. First Minister Alex Salmond picks hat for Games visit and almost loses leadership of SNP as a result.
Ed Miliband becomes leader of Labour – brother David, and it seems the whole of the Labour party, are left in shock.
BBC Scotland continues to treat commentary from poorly informed American Senators over the Megrahi issue as though it had merit. Raymond Buchanan tells us that relations have been ‘harmed’ over what he calls a ‘senate Lockerbie investigation’.
Labour join with the Tories and LibDems to block legislation that would tackle Scotland’s alcohol culture – minimum pricing is finally defeated.
October – Scottish News Stories:
The Union dividend? There is none – it’s going to be a bumpy ride as the Tory/LibDem coalition announces it is to cut the Scottish block grant by £1.3 billion next year.
David Cameron claims that he is ready to argue for the Union in an independence referendum, then backs off a day later when pressured.
Iain Gray signals a rise in council tax bills if Labour win the next Holyrood election.
A poll later that month indicates that Scots blame Labour for the need for cuts. The poll also shows that Scots do not want to see a rise in the council tax.
November – Scottish News Stories:
The Irish bailout causes BBC Radio Scotland to go weak at the knees as the station morphs into Radio Ireland and broadcasts what appear to be the final days of the Irish nation.
John Swinney apologises for not fully informing the parliament about the lapsing of the so called ‘tartan tax’. It emerges that the tax lapsed under the last Labour administration who had ‘mothballed’ it when in power.
It emerges that in July this year an advisor to Labour MP Jim Murphy sent an email to three Scottish journalists in an attempt at smearing a member of the public who was involved in a Freedom of Information request over Wendy Alexander’s illegal donation scandal. The advisor’s name is Rami Okasha and the revelation calls into question the relationship between the Labour party in Scotland and some Scottish journalists. The story is ignored by the whole of the Scottish main stream media.
December – Scottish News Stories:
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson is forced to resign after allowing snow to bring the M8 to a halt. When Stevenson suggested that the amount of snow that fell had not been forecast nobody agreed with him ……… save for the head of Cosla, the head of Road engineering, the Chief of police, the Met office and pretty much everybody who heard the BBC’s weather forecasts prior to the freak whiteout that hit the central belt.
SNP confirm that Scottish students will not pay tuition fees. Those outwith Scotland will face a bill of up to £6,000 to study at our Universities. The BBC decide to present the story from a non Scottish perspective. The debate takes on uncomfortable xenophobic connotations as the Scottish government is attacked by opponents.
Wikileaks documents exonerate the SNP over its handling of the Megrahi release process. The documents highlight the hypocrisy of the Labour party who were secretly trying to facilitate the return of Megrahi to Libya then publicly denounced the Scottish government’s decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds. BBC Scotland further tarnished its reputation by ignoring the revelations that damaged Labour and instead focussed on comments from Jack Straw they said called into question MacAskill’s claim that he alone took the final decision.
A new opinion poll conducted by TNS shows that less than half of Scots now support Scotland remaining inside the union. The poll, conducted over St Andrews Day and surveying a large sample of almost 1000 people, shows that only 44% of those questioned are against the Scottish Parliament “having the powers and responsibilities to enable independence” 40% are for and 16% don’t know.
Tommy Sheridan is convicted of lying in court after £5 million and years of police resources were spent in pursuit of Scotland’s charismatic socialist.
Iain McMillan launches another attack on the SNP.
So, there we have it. The news stories that stopped us in our tracks, well ‘White Monday’ did. What will 2011 bring I hear you cry? Probably more of the same as newspapers struggle to address falling circulation whilst trying to bolster the failing union. The BBC will persist with its manipulation of Scottish news and it’s descent into becoming a broadcast version of a tabloid newspaper north of the border. Scots will remain relatively politically uninformed.
May 5th 2011 is now where the attention lies and it will be up to Scots themselves to try to wrest the political narrative from vested interests and institutions. This site will do what it can in order to redress the balance and present news and opinion in a mature fashion.
In the meantime the Newsnet Scotland team would like to thank everyone who visited the site, posted a comment, gave a donation or sent messages of encouragement and articles this year. We could not respond to everyone nor publish everything but be assured your views and support continue to be very much appreciated by all of us.
Oh, please take note that we now have a facility that allows the sending in of letters to the editor. Just click on the ‘Contact Us’ link beneath the Speakers Corner section and follow the links. The views of the readership are absolutely vital to us – and we will publish once a week in Speakers Corner the best of the letters, so get writing !!
Good luck to all of Scotland in 2011 !!