Why ‘Cybernats’ are important for ‘Online Democracy’

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By Ewen McPherson, aka Chiefy1724

If you remember, last time I wrote a brief piece for this site I was going on about how much time we seem to spend talking to ourselves.

We still talk to ourselves. However what I must say is that the quality as well as the quantity of submission and discourse on Newsnet Scotland has shown an immense improvement.

Newsnet Scotland is now developing a reputation as a source of unbiased opinion where those of a pro-independence mind will receive the same courtesies extended to those who do not share our views.

We’re still talking to ourselves, but we are talking now with a determined voice and a feeling that we are no longer just a few individuals in the wilderness.  We are not yet bringing down the national behemoth that is the BBC, but we are scrutinising and challenging and offering an alternative view backed by facts.

The same can not be said for “other places”, such as Blether with Brian (BwB) the supposedly flagship BBC political blog offered by Brian Taylor.  (Although some would unkindly comment that the overtly pro-Dundee United stance adopted by the author has in fact turned it into something that should be residing on the Sportscene pages.)

BwB has been going downhill since the BBC started to close entries for comments after a few hours.  This policy began at the start of the 2010 UK General Election campaign.  Several respected posters were banned for no apparent reason.  Many of you will know who I am talking about.

At that time a lot of us started posting on Betsan’s Blog, the BBC’s Welsh equivalent to BwB.  We kept it open, simple, and drew parallels between our experience with the devolved settlement and the Welsh experience.  We were received with courtesy and open debate, welcomed even by the owner, Betsan Powys, who made it clear that unlike Mr Taylor, she read, responded and welcomed our input in the spirit that it was offered.

Until the BBC suddenly closed Betsan’s Blog as well.  I cannot help but suspect that Betsan was invited to report to Room 101 in Cardiff for a spell of “re-education” as the flavour of her postings seems in the view of this humble observer to be almost clinically vanilla these days.

Due to these unexplained actions on the part of whoever manages the BBC’s blogs, the nature of their political blogs has changed for the worse.  What was once an open forum for debate and examination has turned into a poor pastiche of cyber-democracy, driven by an agenda that if not openly anti-nationalist, can at best be described to be actively promoting the interests of parties supporting the status quo. 

It’s difficult to argue against views that something is not right when examining the evidence; see here, here or even here.

The final nail in the coffin came with Brian’s first blog of the New Year, which had 38% of its comments either removed by the moderators without explanation or apparently “reported as abuse”.

It is fairly clear from here and other places that the majority of those comments referred to Iain Gray, leader of the Labour contingent in the Scottish Parliament (also known as the leader of the non-existent political party “Scottish Labour”) and his disgraceful slanders on the newly-independent nation of Montenegro.  It was also clear that most of these posts also mentioned the failure of our friends at BBC Northern Britain to report on the outrage that this has caused nationally and internationally.

I’ve just been modded off again, this time for a humorous and harmless exchange with another regular poster.  Annoyed?  Damned right.  Laugh, I nearly paid my licence fee.

And here’s my point.  Most of us have been modded off, referred or even in extreme circumstances banned from BwB.  Should we give up posting?  No.

Let them mod us off or refer us every time we post.  Let them ban us and we will simply return under other identities.  Let us show the world the agenda behind Blether with Brian.  Let us have people asking why 30, 40, 50% of the posts have been banned.  Let us tell people that 30% or more of the posts have been banned, and let us tell them what these banned posts referred to.  If the BBC won’t tell the truth, we need to.

So, keep posting on BwB and other blogs.  Don’t be intimidated or simply bored away.  Let’s have huge amounts of white space that cause people to ask, ”What is it that the BBC doesn’t want us to read?”

2011 will be one of the most important years in our history.  Scotland will have the opportunity to march forward or to sink back to a slough of despond driven by the Unionist parties.  The concept of Iain Gray in Bute House gives one, to quote the vernacular, the dry boak. Especially if he is propped up by the remaining handful of Liberal Democrats who will sell their souls and their principles for ministerial Mondeos.

So, forward the cybernats, ultranats, ultra-cybernats, cyber-ultranats or whatever they want to call us in their fantasies of having a shadowy Dr Evil figure (like a special advisor to the former SoS for Scotland just as an example) sitting like a giant octopus organising us from a secret underground lair.

Keep posting.  Keep shouting.  Keep the independence colours flying in every forum you can, national and international, despite everything that they throw at us.

To quote Brian Taylor himself, “Toodle-oo the noo!”