Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A reply to the Times

The Times newspaper decided to write an article today covering yesterday's BBC bias demo using a photo of my three youngest children to illustrate it. So I feel, given they didn't ask me my permission to use my kids in their 'article', I feel I am quite justified in rewriting their article from my point of view. I'll add a photo of it so you don't need to waste your money on their paywall. Let's take in paragraph by paragraph.

Firstly, I have to say I think there's a slight exaggeration in the title. Yes, there were a number of people outside the office but I hardly call a few thousand people singing and giving talks for approximately two hours 'under siege'. Don't worry, no one starved to death waiting for supplies to get in, no large wooden horses were used and we would have allowed them to leave the building at the end of their shift, had anyone come out, which they didn't.

Now, moving on to the article itself. Anger didn't boil anywhere. People are indeed frustrated with the BBC (and the rest of the media) but there was definitely no boiling of anger. People met up at George square and walked to the BBC. They sang Flower of Scotland and Caledonia. They sang 'we're all voting Yes' to the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes'. We cheered the words 'Yes', and 'Scotland' but mostly we walked fairly quietly along the route being cheered and tooted at by passing cars with saltires and Yes stickers. We were clapped and cheered back and enjoyed the positive atmosphere that has been everywhere in Glasgow these last few sunny weekends while we await our fate full of hope and anticipation, positively buzzing with excitement.

The second paragraph tells me the police are scrutinizing the protest, juxtaposing this with a mention of violence, hinting the protest was violent. The protest, as you can see from my many, many photos consisted of many women, small children, babies, people in wheelchairs etc. I didn't photoshop all 125 of them in the past 24 hours, I have better things to do with my time! Ironically, I even mentioned to my husband after the event yesterday, (he'd been away on a different Yes mission) that in all the protest marches I've ever been on (and there were a good number when I was a student and recently for the Indy movement) that I had never, ever seen the police so cheerful, relaxed and joking on a march. They beamed at us and chatted away in a way I have never experienced on a march in 30 years. But the Times thinks all us mums, kids and couples are in need of scrutinizing!

The anti-BBC slogans in paragraph 3 were the ever so sinister and terrifying 'BBC Shame on you!' and 'You can shove you TV licence up your arse!' (Again to the coming round the mountain tune.) I looked round as they sang that one. It was started by a bloke with a deep voice, then it was taken up by the teenagers, giggling at their own naughtiness and finally on the fourth or fifth chorus I saw a wee old granny standing alone on my left looking like it was the most daring thing she had ever done, joining in and blushing slightly. I fell about laughing, and certainly didn't feel intimidated! It was done in good, childish humour. We did shout 'Booooo' about three times, maybe that's what scared then? Or perhaps when we sang 'Where's your cameras BBC?' after sitting there for an hour and not being reported, only to then be told they'd reported 350 of us were outside! (Yeah, and the rest! I thought they were under siege!?) Sounds well worth police scrutiny, if you ask me.

As for Nick Robinson... there was a banner going round but even if the BBC 'believe[s] that [their] coverage of the referendum has been fair and impartial' we are all at liberty to make our own decision on that, watching the Youtube clip. I actually made an official complaint about this item to the BBC, something I have only done three times in all my years of BBC watching. And it isn't an isolated slip.

And then we come to the inevitable paragraph... as always we start on 'Alex Salmond and his fellow Nationalists'. Are they ever going to change that boring, boring tune? No, of course not, because by pretending that only Alex and Nationalists are interested in this cause, you can demonize and marginalize it. But doing some scrutinizing of my own, I can honestly say I didn't see a single SNP-related banner (check all 125 photos, taken randomly in all directions). There was a CND presence, especially at George square and some Gaza protesters, there were many simple Yes banners, homemade banners, Socialist ones and Radical Independence ones. I saw a few rainbow LGBT ones. I saw a few Green ones. Women for Indy were there too. I saw jokey ones and ones full of hope but nothing connecting anyone to Alex or the SNP.


It's easy to dismiss us as 'the SNP'. I often meet that opinion when I say I'm YES. 'Here comes the Nat', they say, without even ascertaining whether or not I have indeed ever voted SNP in my life. Many of us have simply come to the conclusion that Independence is necessary with no party affiliation. We've read the hard facts, we like the idea of democracy and the ability to vote for change and have your vote count, not just this once but forever more. I am 46 years old. I have never once voted in an election where my vote changed the outcome. I am not a member of the SNP or any other party and never have been. I will vote at every election after having read the party manifestos on offer, not based on an idea that I 'always' vote one party or another. Sorry, if that doesn't fit in with the stereotype you want, but unlike patronizing BT lady, I do have time to sit down and spend more than 2 minutes on my political decisions, or rather I make time, because they matter and that is despite having five kids and a business to run.

'If they think you are against them they go on the attack'. No one was on the attack. Look at the photo above you used to illustrate it - an 8, 6 and 4 year old holding balloons!!!! What were they going to do? Bite someone's ankle? Balloons and flags were par for the course for the whole afternoon.

There were many, many children and young teenagers all sitting happily around. This was a singing, cheerful, family day out!

'...the Nationalists want a Salmond Broadcasting Service'. How dare he? No one mentioned Salmond. We don't want Nationalist propaganda on the TV because we are a movement, not a party. From Labour for Indy through Greens and everyone else, we want impartiality. Complaining about the issues I linked to above doesn't mean we want Alex Salmond or any other political person setting the TV schedule. Alex is quite frankly irrelevant to most of us. We want Independence so we can vote for our own futures not just during Alex's lifetime but for generations to come. It is simple to lump us all in together, but it's lies and you know it, Mr Ian Davidson. I actually, ironically, saw more Labour for Indy people yesterday than people affiliated to the SNP. It's underhand and lazy to assume to opposite.

On to the next paragraph I am told tempers were fraying yesterday. If they were, they weren't fraying at Pacific Quay. Would I have taken my babies to a place where people felt in any way intimidated? Look at the photos above! Babies on shoulders, in papooses and in buggies! And they are content-looking babies. Does the baby in the papoose above, look in any way distressed? Do my kids?

As for the rest of the article. I have no idea what the police have or have not been told to do after Thursday so I won't comment. But all in all this article does not in any way represent the march and rally I attended with four of my kids and my old friend from uni yesterday afternoon. Thanks, once again, to the mainstream media for letting us down. The description I put on my demo photos as I uploaded them to flickr before I saw your article sums things up quite nicely: One thing's for sure - win or lose on Thurs - the mainstream media will not be trusted by half the population ever again - not good.

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