I think the hardest thing about what is now being referred to in the media as the Monklands McMafia affair/crisis/saga has been getting other voices heard. I have felt that this has been easily deflected by Nicola Sturgeon and her staff at HQ as it could be put down to one or two disaffected individuals.
That has all changed.
Patterns of behaviour are emerging and people are talking about this openly on social media and in the comments section of the Herald and The National. They are certainly worth reading, it’s eye opening stuff to see just how far this stretches and for how long it has been going on.
It’s worth noting that some of the comments backing the local party are on the face of it from vague, generic and unimaginative names, while those speaking out are real verifiable people. It’s also worth noting that these one or two individuals are making what appear to be very personal references to some individuals, about their jobs, their families, their history. Given that none of the people referred to know the accuser(s) it appears that a sock-puppet account is in play here. All very mysterious but par for the course in this affair.
To say I was disappointed in The Sunday Herald’s coverage of pro-independence rally Hope over Fear last week is something of an understatement. On the face of it, it would appear that the Sunday Herald has taken a strop at being denied access to the free tea and biscuits and have thrown a hissy fit. I had a peek at the backstage area and it was pretty small, not a great deal of room at all. The press were all invited onstage around lunchtime so they could get a crowd shot, then they had the run of the square to speak to people there. Sadly the Sunday Herald took to social media with claims of being banned from the event, yet other national and international media were wandering around unfettered. My recollection of your previous Hope over Fear coverage has been that it has been fairly negative: playing down the crowd numbers, suggestions of backstage shenanigans, an obligatory mention of Tommy’s colourful past, with a side helping of vitriol courtesy of Rosie Kane. It’s no surprise then that there was no red carpet laid out, but a ban? Nonsense! What could and indeed should have been positive coverage of thousands of independence supporters from all ages and backgrounds gathering to show that they are as committed to Yes now as they were a year ago instead became a negative hatchet job aimed at Mr Sheridan. The coverage contained no photos, as photos would have put paid to the assertations that there were only 1500 attending and that the Herald was denied access to the event. Anyone who was there knows that at its busiest there were around four to five thousand in the Square, yet the Herald choose to run with the BBC figure of 1500. You have to be desperate to quote the BBC as source material, as they probably get their figures from Labour’s Chief Statistician Kezia Dugdale, whose maths skills leave a lot to be desired.
In a wider context it is also disappointing that Yes Scotland has not continued in some form or other, as there are clearly thousands of people out there looking for collective outlets to express their desire for independence. Having built networks and friendships there is a desire to keep the momentum of street activism going, and this is not being met by the SNP, indeed it cannot be left to the SNP. Yes drew support from across a wide spectrum and requires a focus point, which at present Hope Over Fear is providing. Few of the people I have spoken to at these events intend to vote for Tommy Sheridan but they are grateful for his efforts in providing a chance to gather and to celebrate the positive energy of the Yes campaign.
Perhaps this latest vindictive attack says more about the SNP’s fears about losing second votes to Solidarity in 2016, but this dig was badly judged and will no doubt leave a sour taste in the mouth of many of us who have returned to buying print journalism after boycotting an openly biased unionist press. The Sunday Herald is living well at the moment on succulent lamb, and pet journalists who dance specifically to an SNP tune are as worrying to me as having a unionist biased media lined up against us, as without a fair and critical eye the SNP will be drawn into the bad practices that Labour were, and in the long run that can only damage the fight for independence.
I was one of the thousands who attended the pro-independence Hope Over Fear rally in Glasgow last Saturday. Channel 4 reported that there were thousands in attendance, and I think that this can charitably be described as both vague and accurate as one batch of a thousand people looks very much like another. The BBC was rumoured to have commented that 100 people were in attendance but this also appears charitable, as there actually appears to be no coverage at all of the event by the BBC, although it did manage to cover the Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh which was happening at the same time. Perhaps BBC Scotland is terribly underfunded and couldn’t commit resources to covering two events at one time. The cynic within me says otherwise…
This is the kind of thing that we have long come to expect from the UK media. Ignore it if you can, deride it if you cannot. As a supporter of independence I have spent a long time now examining not only what is said, but who is saying it and what their motivation is for telling me in the manner that they do. Which is why I was very surprised to find that both the National and its sister paper the Sunday Herald appeared to be playing down the attendance of the Hope Over Fear rally with the “over a 1000” line used in both papers, suggesting a smaller attendance than was in attendance. After all, 1001 is “over a 1000”. I also found it strange that the Sunday Herald appeared to concentrate on the alleged backstage divisions and Tommy Sheridan’s perjury conviction, rather than the positive message which was generated by the event. Fear over hope you might say. I hope that this is not a sign of both papers positioning themselves against other pro-independence parties ahead of the Holyrood elections in 2016. The cynic within me says otherwise…