Posted in Scottish Politics

Unionist and Government Media Bias

I don’t want to use this piece to rehash old arguments about the Scottish media’s bias in favour of the NO campaign during Scotland’s independence referendum. Those arguments have been done to death elsewhere. I do want to share some thoughts on the subject however.

While browsing some of our old radio broadcasts I came across a piece where we were discussing the Smith Commission. In particular we noted how Inverclyde Council Leader Cllr McCabe was in the local press declaring his delight at the Smith Commission, and claiming that we now have one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. Cllr McCabe is of course rather famous in Inverclyde for his almost daily displays of political illiteracy. I think what he was displaying here is that he has no idea how many devolved parliaments there are in the world, and was effectively showing off about Scotland being more powerful than Greenland or Madeira. Not much of a boast! In fact, many of the American states actually enjoy significantly more powers than Scotland. You don’t have to be a supporter of full independence to agree that this is not good enough for Scotland and that we deserve better. But New Labour, totally consumed by their sectarian hatred of the SNP, were campaigning for less simply because the nationalists were campaigning for more. YES and NO voters together need to reject this tribal approach to politics. Scotland deserves more powers, not because the SNP says so but because that is what is in Scotland’s best interests. Cllr McCabe and the rest of New Labour need to put their deep rooted loathing of anything that reminds them of the SNP behind them and recognise this simple fact. Otherwise the people will vote to relieve ourselves of New Labour. Judging by Cllr McCabe’s obnoxious and insulting comments almost every day in the local paper, it appears he is actually enjoying New Labour’s decline and approaching political irrelevance.

Although, to get back on topic, one thing I have consistently argued for and would have liked to see included in the report is for BBC Scotland to be devolved to Holyrood. It takes a massive degree of generosity to describe the referendum campaign as “democratic”, given that the state broadcaster was totally anti-independence from the start and made no attempt to avoid bias, instead repeating lie after lie after lie to defeat the YES side and demonise any of us who thought that we could govern ourselves. A democracy can only function when we have a genuinely free press. What we have instead is a press that pushes the agenda of one side.

Many journalists and reporters have responded to this claim from the YES side by saying that they are not coerced into saying anything. We have a fair and free press, they say, because they are not told what to say by their bosses or have their words edited. This is colouring between the lines however.

They only get to say what they say because the bosses already agree with them. That’s how they got to where they are; that’s how they got their job. How many supporters of independence host politics shows on the BBC?, or report on their flagship news programs? None, because if you support independence you don’t get these jobs. These channels are wall to wall unionists because that’s what the bosses want broadcast. They don’t have to tell them what to say or edit their words because they have deliberately hired only people that already agree with them. The effect is a controlled and compliant media. A media that pushes only one agenda. And that is extremely undemocratic. To devolve responsibility for BBC Scotland to Holyrood would allow us to tackle this in built bias. In America they used to have a fairness law which ruled that the media had to give equal coverage to each side of an issue. It worked well, but was repealed at the insistence of the large media companies. We could have something similar in Scotland, but only if responsibility for the media in Scotland lies at Holyrood.

Of course what I propose would be the good kind of control, democratic control. There is another kind of control that we must resist, and that is censorship. The tactics of the BBC in only employing Unionists is a type of censorship, censorship by the back door. But there is a more direct form of censorship whereby the government actively shuts down and silences opposition opinions. On the show local SSP member John spoke at length about the ways the government, via their puppets in the main stream media, use fear to push their agenda.

One way they are doing that just now is using threats of impending financial doom to push their austerity agenda. We must resist austerity. Austerity has been a lie from the start, there is simply no need for it. The first round of austerity saw the bedroom tax. They said they needed to impose the bedroom tax to save the country money, yet the very same week the bedroom tax came into effect they gave the millionaires a tax cut that cost the country three times what the bedroom tax was supposed to save. Why did people accept it then? They accepted it because they were scared by stories of the country going bankrupt.

Now let me make this clear, this is a very wealthy country, which is richer now than it ever has been. So where is the money?, why are we being told we have to cut our public jobs and services? The money is being hoarded by a few rich people who are getting richer and richer, leaving us with less and less. We need a radical redistribution of wealth. Not the impotent policies offered by the politicians, but real change. To take the wealth of this country away from that handful of selfish people and share it out via public spending.

That is the essence of the street campaigning being conducted in Inverclyde by local Scottish Socialist Party activists. We know that austerity is a lie, an ideological attack on the working classes so that rich people can get a wee bit richer. We’re taking that message to every street in Inverclyde. We’re telling people they don’t need to accept the austerity driven cuts being inflicted on them by Cllr McCabe. Get involved, help us spread this message of resistance.

Posted in Inverclyde Politics

On Austerity, “Trickle-Up” economics and the ever lovely Cllr McCabe

Letters published in Inverclyde’s local paper often contain complaints about New Labour, and in particular about the behaviour of Council Leader Stephen McCabe. I was therefore disappointed, although not surprised, to find that Cllr McCabe was again embarrassing the people of Inverclyde through his online behaviour, this time taking to Twitter to boast about cutting local jobs and services. In common with many other people, I found out about his behaviour on Twitter from concerned locals as he has long since blocked those of us whose opinions don’t match his own, in an attempt to disguise the true extent of opposition to his decisions.

Let me just put his latest vile outburst in context. On the demands of the Tories in London, Cllr McCabe’s New Labour council had been planning to inflict almost £15 million of cuts to local jobs and services. The Inverclyde branch of the Scottish Socialist Party, in response, put in motion a “No Cuts” campaign where we demanded that the council refuse to take part in the Tory’s austerity agenda. Austerity is of course just the political term for “trickle up” economics, where money for public jobs and services is cut from the public purse and instead finds its way into the pockets of the wealthy.

The SSP campaign was well received by the people of Inverclyde. This is not surprising; every single opinion poll has shown that the public are overwhelmingly opposed to austerity. It has no place in a progressive society. Under pressure from the public, McCabe was forced to back down and only got to implement a fraction of the cuts that he was hoping to inflict on Inverclyde. The battle is not over; Cllr McCabe has made it clear that he intends to continue with the Tory austerity agenda in future budgets.

The only way to ensure he doesn’t get his wish is for all of us to make sure his party is utterly defeated, not only in May but also in the 2016 and 2017 elections as well. There is simply no place in Scotland for New Labour’s brand of Tory elitism masquerading as the party of the working class.

Certainly the polls are promising, and we appear to be at the end of a one-party state in Scotland, where New Labour has dominated for almost 50 years. In that time New Labour has become socially conservative, economically reactionary, corrupt and dishonest. In other words completely out of sync with the people of Scotland.

Their record in Inverclyde is hardly any different. In Inverclyde we have to suffer a New Labour controlled council, a New Labour MSP and a New Labour MP. They like to pretend they represent working class people, but their record in Inverclyde shows this isn’t true. Under New Labour there are at least 3,600 unemployed in Inverclyde, 20% of those who do have a job in Inverclyde earn less than £7 per hour, 10 thousand children in Inverclyde live in households that are dependent on out of work benefits or Child Tax Credits, 28% of primary school children in Inverclyde are eligible for free school meals, in Inverclyde schools there is a 16% gap in attainment levels between the poorest pupils and their classmates, 15% of the poorest young people in Inverclyde become unemployed immediately after leaving school and only 19% of Inverclyde’s poorest young people go onto university compared to a national average of 37%. Despite these appalling figures, New Labour is hell bent on cutting even more of the support and services to our working class communities.

With these appalling figures in mind it is worth asking them to explain what New Labour has done for Inverclyde, and apart from some non-specific waffle the thing every New Labour type always mentions is that they built and refurbished the local schools. There has obviously been a memo gone out about it because they have all been bringing it up (MP, MSP, councillors, spokespeople, and even party members writing to the Tele). There appears to be literally no other positive thing they can say about their record in Inverclyde.

Do they really have a right to boast about this? Certainly the schools are impressive. What is far from impressive is New Labour’s incompetence in funding these schools. Rather than pay for these in a responsible manner, New Labour instead opted to recklessly burden Inverclyde with a massive debt via PPI loans. It’s worth remembering here that Goldman Sachs, who are no friends of the anti-capitalists, have criticised these public-private schemes for costing twice as much as regular government borrowing. New Labour decided to go down this road any way, and are now cutting local jobs and services in Inverclyde in order to pay back this unnecessarily large debt. More to the point, they are paying it off at about £14 million per year, a number suspiciously close to how much Cllr McCabe is determined to cut from the local budget to balance his books! £14 million cut from the public purse each year to pay to wealthy people in the form of debt repayments and interest on that debt. Trickle up economics.

To fund their trickle up economics, they will likely in the future try to cut spending on education. I believe that schools should not just be impressive buildings to keep the youth in during the week. They should also be properly funded to ensure a suitable level of teachers and resources, and that is exactly what New Labour will be cutting to pay for their irresponsible borrowing. We can of course stop this, and it is as easy as voting New Labour out of Scotland in all upcoming elections.