Saturday, 31 August 2013

Friday, 23 August 2013

Carry on Screaming: the Heady Heights of Hypocrisy in The Herald

I thought I'd be inured, having seen the heady heights of hypocrisy soared many a time in my 49 years. However, Project Fear beggars belief.

Here's essentially what happened:

1.  An independent academic constitutional expert, Dr Elliot Bulmer who is well known to support independence, wrote an excellent article for The Herald: A Scottish constitution to serve the common weal which was published on 13th July 2013.

2.  For that article, which must have taken some considerable hours to research and write, he was paid (at his request) a modest £100 by the Yes Scotland campaign. There is nothing remotely illegal or even untoward in that payment. The Yes Scotland campaign had no influence over the content of the article.

3.  A person or persons unknown (but obviously sympathetic to Better Together) allegedly illegally hacked into the Yes Scotland e-mail system, found out about the shock-horror payment of £100, and passed that information to The Herald.

4.  Blair McDougall & Better Together, the self-styled Project Fear, spent yesterday getting their sympathisers in the Herald and the Telegraph trying to stir up a stooshie and have the Scottish People Carry on Screaming about the payment of £100 for an article.



Let's think about this for a moment or two.

1.  Hacked Off. Have I been in an alternative universe for the last 2 years or so? Did the obscenely expensive Leveson Enquiry not happen? Was the News of The World not shut down?  Were not journalists and their private investigators not prosecuted and jailed?  Was the world's biggest press baron not humbled before a parliamentary committee and the Leveson Enquiry in an attempt to save himself?

2.  Cui Bono? Who benefits? All that for what some blindingly obvious Better Together sympathiser has apparently done to Yes Scotland. And yet the Unionist press was quite content to run with the illegally obtained story.

3.  Moral Relativism.  Do Project Fear really expect the people of Scotland to Carry on Screaming after an academic was paid a modest £100 for an article when Better Together were quite content to accept £500,000 from the financier of a Serbian War Criminal indicted at the ICTY for 68+ murders?

4. Academic Integrity.  At least Dr Bulmer's academic reputation was left intact, if not enhanced by his article. Let's not forget Better Together's favourite academic, Dr Gavin Bowd. Academics make money on the side in many ways. Be it the umpteen 'think tanks', which pay Unionist academics, retired civil servants and soldiers who then go on to write propaganda articles for Project Fear, or be it those like Dr Bowd, who get their benefits in kind. In Dr Bowd's case though, his attempt to boost his book sales left his academic reputation in tatters, him a national laughing stock and the finance director of Birlinn Books probably birling in rage.

For the record I was paid a very round figure by Yes Scotland for this article. A very round figure indeed: £0.

See also:

Wings Over Scotland
The Morality of Madland.
Despatches From Madland.
Last Night in Madland.

Newsnet Scotland
Hacking of Yes Scotland computers an 'Assault on Democracy' says Blair Jenkins
Yes Scotland hacking 'large scale' and may have been going on for months

Sunday, 11 August 2013

People Power - Two Crowdfunding Successes

There were two major Scottish successes this week for Crowdfunding. For the uninitiated, this is the process whereby someone decides to do something and appeals for funds on the internet.  It is the modern equivalent of the 'funding by public subscription' which achieved so much in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, including the establishment of my old school, Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, in 1908 as the living memorial to the Scots killed in the Boer Wars (sixpence each from just about everyone in Scotland).  The fundraising for both projects was spectacularly successful and they both far outstripped their monetary targets in short order.

However it is notable that the treatment of these success stories by the mainstream media has been markedly different.  The media has been all over the first story like a rash, despite the fact that they universally shunned rather than ignored its subject when he was alive.  Despite shining a fascinating light into Scottish public attitudes to the biggest Scottish story of the moment, the second story has been universally ignored by the mainstream media.

The first was the completion of the sale of the late Hamish Henderson's (from whom this blog derives its title) papers to the University of Edinburgh Library. Following Hamish's death, Katzel Henderson was left with the mountain of papers, letters and journals amassed by one of the greatest Scotsmen of the 20th Century. The Hamish Henderson Archive Trust was formed to catalogue the papers and prepare them for sale and managed to exceed its £2,000 target in just 48 hours, going on to raise £4,670, becoming a poster boy project for the Sponsume site.

Despite being banned from the BBC while he was alive, now safely dead the story was covered by BBC 1 Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland,  The Scotsman and The Evening News.

The second crowdfunding success story was the Panelbase Poll commissioned by Wings Over Scotland whose fundraising effort exceeded its £1,500 target raising over £6,000 in 72 hours through fundraising site indiegogo.  Despite being by far the most interesting survey of public attitudes since the independence referendum campaign started, it has been wholeheartedy ignored by the mainstream media.

Because it can be devilishly difficult to find things on Wings Over Scotland once they disappear from the front page index, as a public service here are direct links to the Rev's dissections of the poll results:

We did a thing. The background stats on the people surveyed.

In, out and shaking it all about. What Jam Tomorrow would you like to see and the startling revelation that only 18% of Scots would vote to join the UK today. 110 bribed MPs to 18% of Scots in 306 years. There'll be a 51% unionist majority in 4833 AD at that rate.

Looking for someone to trust. 3 of the 1015 Scots polled believe what Blair McDougall says all of the time.

The Fourth & Fifth Estates.  How do Scots view the service they receive from the media?

Looking Ahead. Party affiliations and voting intentions.

The War of the Worlds. Scots more terrified by Tories than Terrorists and by Space Monsters that the Russians or Chinese.

Bullet Points.  The Rev has kindly added a summary of the main points of the poll. [Added 12 Aug 13].

The Last Home International.  Interestingly even dyed in the wool Britnats on Twitter have agreed that the poll questions were fair and not leading. With this bit of fun the Rev explores how leading questions can affect the outcome. [Added 12 Aug 13].

Data Mining. Some interesting snippets:

UNDECIDED WHICH WAY THEY’LL VOTE IN THE REFERENDUM:  Men: 22% Women: 38%

VOTERS MOST AFRAID OF TERRORIST ATTACKS:  Conservative: 55% Lib Dem: 42% Labour: 32% SNP: 26%

VOTERS MOST AFRAID OF SPACE MONSTERS:  Conservative: 6% Labour: 5% SNP: 4% Lib Dem:  <1%

VOTERS WHO THINK ALISTAIR DARLING ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH:  Lib Dems: 9% Conservatives: 6% Labour: 4% SNP: <1% 

VOTERS WHO HAVE HEARD OF THE WEBSITE “LABOUR HAME” SNP: 6% Conservative: 4% Labour: 4% Lib Dem: 2% 

VOTERS WHO HAVE HEARD OF THE WEBSITE “LABOUR FOR INDEPENDENCE” Labour: 12% SNP: 12% Conservative: 10% Lib Dem: 6% 

VOTERS WHO EXPRESS ANY OPINION ON MEDIA BIAS Men: 60% Women: 37%

The full data tables from Panelbase can be found here (pdf).

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Adult Entertainment

I apologise to readers for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks or so but I've been on a music-filled holiday. Firstly, a guest ticket to Cambridge Folk Festival thanks to Ross Couper & Tom Oakes' need for a driver. The Scots and the Irish stole the show, and a complete surprise for this uber-traditional Duke of Dreich was to find myself rocking my bits off in company with around three and a half thousand mainly English people of all ages to Sketch, whose line-up included the amazing Ross Ainslie on pipes and Techno-Trad Rock Godess wee Hannah Beaton on vocals. It's not the kind of thing I'd listen to in the house, but jings it's great for a party.  Orcadian band The Chair closed the show in grand style and was joined on stage by the delightful Bella Hardy, for whom I traded Ross Couper for the journey home.

It was one helluva drive from Cambridge to Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Skye last Monday, largely fuelled by obscene amounts of nuclear coffee, Irn Bru, laughs with Bella and Tom (as far as Edinburgh) and the achingly beautiful Pipes & Strings Suite for Alan CD.  If you don't own a copy, click the link and part with £12 +P&P. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

So I arrived a day late for Margaret Stewart's Gaelic Songs of Drink and Revelry course. Catching up was an experience as I was finding it difficult to function as a human being and in my first language of English, having had barely 3 hours of sleep a night camping at Cambridge.  There's something wonderfully Scottish that in this country for a few hundred quid, a pub chanter like me can spend a week in one of the most beautiful parts of the country being coached by one of the top traditional Gaelic singers, indeed one of the top singers in the world in any language.  If you're a Gaelic learner like me, there's no better way to learn the pronunciation and rhythms of this essentially musical language.  Even if you're just a music lover without the time or inclination to learn Gaelic, you'd still find the week great value.

The highlight for me was not the trip to the Talisker Distillery, ticketyboo though that was.  Nor indeed was it the frequent drinking and revelry practicals throughout the week, fun though they were.  I'd asked Margaret to include An Clàrsair Dall's Oran Mòr MhicLeòid and she saved it up for the Friday. The beauty of her magisterial rendition had this hard-bitten (though admittedly big, soft) auld shyte welling up. It's now over 60 years since Marietta MacLeod was recorded giving the Oran Mòr MhicLeòid (excerpt) by Hamish Henderson at the Edinburgh People's Ceilidh, so we're long overdue a fresh and less "hands clenched tightly under the bosom" operatic recording. 

I'm also hoping Margaret can reconcile her reservations regarding sacred music on a secular CD with her duty for the preservation of her mesmerising solo interpretations of the Psalms by recording The Royal Wedding Psalm and The Victory Psalm. As she was telling us the singing of Gaelic Psalms is even declining in Back Free Church on Lewis, I pray that preservation wins out.  I first heard her sing The Victory Psalm around 15 years ago in the Reid Concert Hall in Edinburgh accompanied by Allan MacDonald on the small pipes.  The audience was stunned into enraptured silence and it was nigh on a full minute before a tentative ripple of applause brought everyone out of their rapture to raise the roof in appreciation.

So after a week and a half of some of the finest music and culture these islands and beyond have to offer, imagine my reaction on being sent a link to the BBC's latest prime-time Saturday entertainment: I Love My Country. Imagine my further reaction to finding that this Z-list Sleb-filled, Cockney Chavtastic, Engfest pretending to be a Britfest of an excrescence onto the airwaves is apparently produced by BBC Scotland. 

Given that I work in the health service I feel duty bound to issue a cerebral advisory health warning before you click on the link.  Watching that has the same effect as shoving a liquidiser up your nose and feeling your brains dribbling from your ears. Jeez, Frank Skinner must have lost out big time in the financial crisis to be reduced to this.

For those who daren't risk exposure to this electromagnetic excrement, take the map game for example. The Slebs are invited to place a Yorkshire pudding on a map of the UK as close as possible to a nominated place, and what a map it is:


Shetland and the Northern part of Orkney are a new archipelago off the East coast of Scotland, the Channel Islands have migrated North and who knows what the hell is going on on the Western Seaboard of Scotland? Mull appears to have merged with the mainland and I'm not sure if the appendage below it is meant to be Islay and Jura or if that longstanding BBC measure of televisual penile decency, the Mull of Kintyre has got excited and acquired some epididymal cysts.

The Irish Sea appears to be depicted (possibly accurately) as some white nuclear contamination zone emanating from Sellafield and the disproportionately large 6 counties of Northern Ireland appear to be balanced by the fact that some putative Trident nuclear accident has wiped most of Co Donegal from the map.

At first I thought this dumbed-down, puerile crap was aired after closing time à la OTT, but it may as well be aired at prime time as there's not enough alcohol in the world to make this programme remotely funny or entertaining. 

I'm biting the bullet now and changing to watching catch-up services only, for which you don't need a TV licence as I'm not prepared to fund crap, relentless unionist propaganda or indeed hordes of BBC Executives paying each other telephone number salaries.  The £145.50 will be far better spent on one of next Summer's courses at Sabhal Mor Ostaig.

Viewing "I Love My Country" has however removed any vestige of a reservation I might have had about going to see The Boy and The Bunnet again, despite not having a kiddie in tow. Billed as being suitable for folk of age 3 upwards, Scotland's take on the basic idea of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, with some of our finest players and their traditional instruments taking the part of characters in the endearing story is far more adult, cerebral and enjoyable that the previously discussed BBC prime time alleged family entertainment. I would highly recommend it for the music alone, but the whole package is a fine way to escape the lunacy of Edinburgh at Festival time for an hour.