Why all of us should get to Glasgow on Saturday, February 23rd

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
I watched First Minister’s Questions this week, well most of it.  I kind of switched off when the angry faced Ruth Davidson started shouting something.
 
Ms Davidson shouts a lot, she was at it last week on a special Newsnight Scotland debate that centred on ethnic minorities in Scotland and their concerns.  It was quite a decent debate as these things go, with some very good points raised.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
I watched First Minister’s Questions this week, well most of it.  I kind of switched off when the angry faced Ruth Davidson started shouting something.
 
Ms Davidson shouts a lot, she was at it last week on a special Newsnight Scotland debate that centred on ethnic minorities in Scotland and their concerns.  It was quite a decent debate as these things go, with some very good points raised.

However Ms Davidson did her best to spoil things by interrupting and shouting, ably assisted by host Glenn Campbell who seemed not to mind too much. 

She was at it again on STV the following evening, but this time the producers were having none of her antics and her microphone was turned down – we’ll never know what she was about to shout.

On Brian Taylor’s Big Debate, someone called Michael Connarty did the shouting thing again.  Mr Connarty is a Labour MP and he is apparently bored with the referendum debate, calling the last year and a half “tedious”, this revelation was Mr Connarty’s answer to a question on the Electoral Commission recommendations.

This is the same Michael Connarty who, speaking one year ago in the House of Commons said:

“It is very important that we get it clear that this is not the end of the debate about the powers for Scotland; this is only about the referendum on being in or out, which I happen to think is 13 years too late, as it should have been on the ballot paper in the first devolution referendum.  Is it clear that we can continue with the debate, for some of us aspire to give more powers to Scotland within the United Kingdom?”

Mr Connarty’s new found boredom with a debate he wanted to continue with a year ago perhaps explains why he, and other Unionists, are currently trying to destroy any semblance of mature debate over Scotland’s future.  The pro-Union campaign wasn’t helped by this week’s report from the Electoral Commission asking both sides to work together to better inform the Scottish electorate on what happens after either a yes vote or a no vote.

One of those ares is of course the EU which has featured prominetly this week following remarks by Irish European Minister Lucinda Creighton.

Mr Connarty became the latest Unionist politician to attribute views to Ms Creighton that she absolutely has not expressed.  Along with Mr Connarty, we also have the chief of Better Together Blair McDougall now also falsely claiming that Ms Creighton has said that an independent Scotland would be out of the EU.

For the record, here is what Lucinda Creighton told Newsnet Scotland in her clarification of a BBC interview with Raymond Buchanan.

“I was asked about the future of negotiations with the EU in the event that Scotland votes for independence.   I thought that my reply was largely in line with that of the Scottish Government.  I certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could, should or would be thrown out of the EU.  Scottish people are citizens of Europe.”

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Mr Connarty or Mr McDougall.  They may well believe that their understanding of Ms Creighton’s view is indeed accurate, for save for a small paragraph in the Herald newspaper, the Irish Minister’s correspondence with Newsnet Scotland and the Deputy First Minister has not been reported – especially not by the BBC who we pay to report in a balanced and fair manner.

The Labour MP and the head of Better Together could well be innocent dupes of the one sided reporting of Ms Creighton’s statements.

What most people have failed to grasp is not that Lucinda Creighton was misquoted by BBC Scotland – she wasn’t.  The Irish Minister very clearly did say that an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership.

The story becomes an issue with the failure to report her subsequent clarification in which she not only states that Scotland would not be forced out of the EU, but that negotiations would indeed be conducted within the EU, during the period explicitly claimed by the SNP whilst Scotland remained a member.

The charge against the BBC is that they chose to highlight only one aspect of Lucinda Creighton’s statements on the issue of EU membership of an independent Scotland – and it favoured the anti-independence campaign.

It’s this lack of balance that has to be addressed, and quickly.

For that reason alone everyone concerned about the appallingly one sided coverage of the independence debate, especially by the BBC, needs to get themselves to central Glasgow at 4pm on Saturday February 23rd.

Details of meeting point and destination of a walk/march have yet to be confirmed by organisers, but the day is set and both Glasgow Central and Queen Street Train Stations will be within easy walking distance. 

It is vitally important that a well-attended and highly visible campaign begins in order to draw attention to the destruction of the Great Debate and the failure of our broadcasters to provide accurate and balanced coverage – and as the recipient of the licence fee, BBC Scotland is by far the biggest culprit.

BBC Scotland does not want to change, that is a given – former Labour party activist and now head of News and Current Affairs, John Boothman, made that clear in a recent, and reluctant, appearance at Holyrood.  However what people power can do through a highly visible campaign is to highlight some of the areas that need addressing and persuade ordinary people to start to scrutinise for themselves.

Last, Friday 1st February on Brian Taylor’s Big Debate on BBC Radio Scotland, we had two pro-Union politicians, one Unionist leaning journalist and one pro-Independence politician discussing the referendum. 

On Saturday 2nd February, the usually excellent Derek Bateman hosted GMS show on Radio Scotland presented listeners with no less than three pro-Union journalists and commentators to discuss aspects of the referendum and one apparently neutral journalist for ‘balance’.

These loaded discussions are not fair, such a setup isn’t balanced and cannot but damage any attempt at debate.  Ordinary people, when this is pointed out, will start to question why such imbalance is allowed.

My message to anyone who has concerns about the quality of debate being presented by our broadcasters is to get to Glasgow for this non-partisan rally – cleverly entitled “Illumunate the Debate”.

Newsnet Scotland will be attending this public rally … come and join us … we absolutely need to do something.

Illuminate The Debate: Saturday 23rd February, Central Glasgow at 4pm.