Category Archives: TV

TV is good if you can find something to watch. Sounds easy but sometimes isn’t that straight forward.

General Election 2017 – Scottish Leaders’ Debate

Sunday night saw BBC Scotland hosting the first (not sure if only) debate featuring the Leaders of the main Scottish parties, and, err, UKIP. For those reading my blog who aren’t perhaps up to speed with Scottish politics, we essentially only have one wholly Scottish party, the SNP, who stand just in Scotland. The other party leaders could be looked upon as

(L to R) David Coburn (UKIP), Kezia Dugdale (Scottish Labour), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Ruth Davidson (Scottish Conservatives), Willie Rennie (Scottish Lib Dems), Patrick Harvie (Scottish Greens)

heads of their respective Scottish branches. Not meant in a disrespectful way, but you get the picture. Currently the 59 seats up for grabs are split as follows: SNP (56); Tories (1); Labour (1); LibDems (1). While it’s probably unlikely that the SNP will get as many seats this time, there is little doubt that they will win the election in Scotland, with anything from 45-50 seats being predicted. The Tories are expected to bite back in a few marginal seats as the Unionist parties continues to trade votes to lessen SNP numbers.

As for the debate it was along standard lines. An opening 40 second salvo from each of the panel followed by a Q/A with an invited audience. I won’t get into the “audience” in this piece, but suffice to say it was the usual array of interest groups, plants and those who clearly had no idea of the difference between a Scottish and UK election. What then followed was a rather confused broth of Devolved (ruled on by Scottish Parliament i.e. Health, Education) and non-Devolved (ruled on by Westminster i.e. Defence, Foreign Policy, Brexit) policy questions. For reasons unclear the BBC decided to allow effectively irrelevant questions on devolved policy for the reason that “those were the questions people asked”. My response to that would have been to find other people who were prepared to ask relevant questions i.e. ones meaningful to a UK election. However, it is what it is, and as really pretty much any forum involving Scottish Leaders inevitably ended up focusing on the Scottish Parliament and in particular the job done by the SNP government.

Scotland’s Woman Leaders – Kezia, Nicola and Ruth go at it

The expected “No to second referendum” line was trundled out early doors by all concerned. It’s something the Scottish FM has heard a million times before and dealt with it comfortably. Really Nicola had a fairly easy night, and it was her Conservative counterpart who posted one of her weakest performances on television. Fact is Ruth Davidson has been cosseted by the Scottish media but in the last couple of weeks the gloves have finally come off. Last night she was actually treated as a Tory and asked questions a Tory (the UK Govt) would be expected to be asked. Ruth isn’t at her best when being put under pressure and she quickly resorted to shouting and looking extremely angry. Kezia Dugdale didn’t input much. I sort of admire Kezia for taking on the challenge of Scottish Labour leader but she just doesn’t have the substance to match any potential style. Willie Rennie was placid by his usual standards and saved his most savage attacks for the Tories, a change from his usual tirades on the SNP. Green party man Patrick Harvie spoke well. Not perhaps the most riveting public speaker, but he is passionate and did a good job. Not going to comment on David Coburn. He simply shouldn’t be there as he and his party are utterly irrelevant.

My overall feeling when it finished was one of frustration. While I enjoy politicians having a tear-up there was just too many areas and questions not pertinent to the up coming vote. Bit of an opportunity lost – a feeling shared by some in the post-debate spin room section. The only real loser on the night was Ruth Davidson who crumbled under the unusual sensation of pressure. All the rest stood their ground and can be happy with their night’s work. Sadly for Ruth, her national leader has also just had a day to forget with an interview by Andrew Neil being particularly grim viewing for those of a Tory persuasion. Things are definitely beginning to get a bit more interesting.

Thanks for reading.

Hidden Jewel of Netflix – Documentaries

One of the downsides of rural living i.e. a 2500 population town in the middle of glorious Scottish countryside, is that not every house is connected to the web via fibre broadband. We are meant to be getting it soon, however, until then our television channel choice is fairly limited. As such we have tended to rely more and more on subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Both have their plus points, but overall I’d say Netflix has more programs we like to watch. Allied to that is that everything on Netflix is free once you’ve subscribed. To be fair there are other benefits to Amazon, such as Amazon Prime membership, but in general Netflix just has more to watch. As the title of this piece suggests, one of things I enjoy most on Netflix is the documentaries.

Anyone new to Netflix will probably quickly spin through all 10 episodes of Making a Murderer. It goes without saying that the story of Steven and Brendan Avery is absolutely essential viewing. However, dig deeper and there are so many outstanding pieces of documentary work on the channel. Here are three more I’d recommend:

The Tower – Gripping story of Charles Whitman and the events surrounding his shooting spree from the top of the Austin University tower. The format is a mix of animation, historical footage and present day interviews. Really was a fantastically well made piece of television art on a subject I knew nothing about. One of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched.

Foxcatcher – This was an odd one. One strange (rich) man’s fascination with the relatively obscure sports of Greco- Roman and Freestyle wrestling. It ends up in cold blooded murder. Beyond that I won’t reveal more.

The Keepers – This one has just started and is being played out over several hour long episodes. It starts with the murder of a young nun in Baltimore. Sexual Abuse and its cover-up are core to what seems to he happening.

At the heart of this program is a group of amateur sleuths who are all former colleagues, pupils, friends of Sister Kathy Cesnick. A truly mind-numbing tale is unfolding.

And yes, these all involve death. I hope that doesn’t say too much about my personality. It’s just that many dramatic documentaries are ones focused on tragic events. I will try to watch some on happier themes, and if worth watching I’ll be sure to recommend them.

Thanks for reading.

Truth Pulps Fiction

Just finished watching a documentary on Netflix about some bloke called Roger Stone. The programme was about this bloke, Roger, and another bloke he knew called Donald. They seemed to go back a long way. The lines between which one was running for President became blurred on a few occasions. Yes, Donald was front and centre but behind and centre (and quite often out front too) was the other bloke, Roger. They made for an interesting, if not overly likeable pair.

I’m not going to moan about American’s voting for Roger’s friend as their President. That was their own democratic choice to make, and they made it. What I would moan about was the cesspit of personal attacks, lies, allegation, counter allegation, media manipulation, distortion and obfuscation that turned the Presidential race into something from your worst nightmares.

The world does seem to be becoming an angrier place.  A more extreme place. A less likeable place. The battle for the moral low ground is in full flight.

Thanks for reading.

Leader’s Debates – A Scottish Double Header

ge15As the credits rolled on BBC Scotland’s Leader’s Debate it’s probably fair to say that those of us who watched all three recent debates are in need of a timeout. Five hours of televised political jousting over just a few days has certainly left me drained. That’s not to say I’m not up for some more, but let’s have a wee break to recharge the batteries. In the meantime here are my thoughts on the two debates held in Scotland.

Rather than look at each of the debates separately, I’m instead going to give my views on the contributions of the candidates involved. I’ll start with the two party representatives who only featured on the Aberdeen panel:

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Aberdeen Debate Line Up: Top Row (L-R) Patrick Harvie, Ruth Davidson, Jim Murphy; Bottom Row (L-R) Nicola Sturgeon, Willie Rennie. David Coburn

Patrick Harvie (Scottish Greens)

Despite colleague Natalie Bennett being part of the UK wide Leader’s Debate, Patrick Harvie, was omitted from the first Scottish debate held in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Have to be honest and confess I haven’t heard Patrick speak as often as some of the others gathered in Aberdeen. His contributions were passionate but perhaps a bit rough and ready. In an understandable eagerness to make his voice heard some of his comments felt a bit rushed, even slightly flustered. That said he’s clearly a politician of substance, whether you agree with his policies or not.

A solid contribution, but not one that would have blown anyone away.

David Coburn (UKIP)

Lived down to expectations. Had nothing to say aside from the usual UKIP rhetoric. Thankfully he was by and large sidelined during the hour long debate. I have no problem with UKIP being on election panels; however, they would have been better served with a Scottish representative more in control of their subject matter, and perhaps less excitable, than David Coburn. Does such a person exist? I doubt it, as most people now see UKIP for what they are – an extension of Nigel Farage’s ego. He likely despairs of his followers as much as the rest of us do.

…and now onto the four representatives who appeared on both nights

Scottish Party Leaders Participate In A Live STV Debate

Edinburgh Debate Line-Up: (L-R) Willie Rennie, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Jim Murphy

Willie Rennie (Lib Dems)

Softly spoken lad. Seemed nice enough, if a bit lightweight. Unfortunately on both nights he became extremely repetitive and predictable. His stock response contained a reference to the referendum as well as lauding the economic revival his party, in cahoots with the Tories, had begun. In fact he rarely answered a question without reminding us that Scotland voted NO in the referendum – he does seem particularly proud of that. To listen to him speak you’d think the result was 99/1 and not 55/45, with a vote today likely to achieve a different outcome. Scotland is moving on while Willie and the Unionists want us to remain forever locked into 2014. Not sure that’s a winning philosophy.

Like most LibDem’s he seeks credit for their part in the Coalition, while at the same time attacking their Coalition partners. That said ‘attacking’ is probably over playing it as there was very little antagonism between Ruth Davidson and Willie on either night. If anything, Willie gave the impression he’d happily have another five years in Government with the Tories. His main target on both nights was not surprisingly Nicola Sturgeon. He wasn’t alone in that strategy. In summary he was competent enough, but largely irrelevant to the main debate.

Ruth Davidson (Conservatives)

Every time I see Ruth I can’t help but picture a young Tory student speaking at a party conference. It’s not that she’s particularly young, she just has that wide-eyed, innocent, and ready to convert the world to Conservatism look, whether it wants it or not. Thatcher is nothing to do with her, as she reminds us. Ruth can’t be held accountable for that. Handy. Like her partner in the Coalition she obsesses on the Referendum. The Union is her ‘red-line’ coalition issue, despite the fact that her only likely partners in Govt (Lib Dem and UKIP) agree with her on that subject. If at any point she started to struggle, a quick return to the referendum guaranteed a burst of applause from the loud-clapping Unionists in both venues. Policy wise I thought she struggled. Yet nonsense like bringing back prescription charges, even though it would cost as much to administer as it would bring in, went largely unchallenged.

In fairness I think Ruth has the potential to be a decent politician – she is a fairly skilled debater. Just don’t think she will ever do much in Scotland where a career as an also-ran List MSP in perpetual opposition awaits. I think she should head South and aim for an English Tory seat at Westminster. She needs to know what it’s like to have constituents i.e. be a real MP. Until then I’ll always view her as a rather empty shell who only represents herself and a Tory party almost extinct in Scotland.

Jim Murphy (Labour)

Jim started on Tuesday with a tale about a woman who couldn’t afford any shoes. He ended with some strange waffle about mental health being about broken spirits. In between we had football puns, Messi, horse-racing and an impression of Kenny Dalglish. This was all delivered in a calm, relatively composed, almost hypnotic manner. He sounded extremely rehearsed – as you would expect. Throughout it all though it didn’t feel natural or comfortable to me. He didn’t look at home on this sort of stage. His habit of shouting over the top of people suggested someone used to having his own way. As with Davidson and Rennie his ire was reserved almost exclusively for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Considering Labour are battling Conservatives for 10 Downing Street, he spent very little time grilling Ruth Davidson. In some ways not surprising as the main challenge for Jim in Scotland is the SNP, not Tories.

The ‘Largest Party forms the Government’/’Vote SNP Get Tory’ mantras featured heavily, as expected. However, Jim point blank refused to answer the question which is rapidly turning into Labour’s very own “Plan B” debacle i.e. what happens if Ed Miliband has less MPs than the Tories, but Lab and SNP combined can lock the Tories out? He insists Labour are aiming to win, just as Alex was planning on a Currency Union. What happens if Labour don’t win remains foggy in the extreme. Of course the likelihood is some of deal with the SNP, but as this would play into Tory hands he can’t admit it. In summary, Jim was Jim. I for one remain unconvinced that Jim being Jim is where Labour needs to be in Scotland at this time.

Nicola Sturgeon (SNP)

In the UK wide Leader’s debate last week Nicola was largely able to smack down the opposition with barely a glove being landed on her own chin. This was undoubtedly because her fellow debaters knew decidedly less about Scotland than she did of the UK. Wasn’t quite a freebie, but it was an excellent chance to impress, and she didn’t disappoint. The two debates in Scotland were totally different. Firstly it very quickly became a three-on-one rerun of the BetterTogether campaign. Nicola was the target for Tory, Labour and Lib-Dem froth alike. Secondly in Scotland, SNP are the party of power, so she has a record which can rightly be challenged. When you factor in that both nights became bogged down in Holyrood politics and the referendum, instead of focusing on Westminster, it became an even tougher ride. However, she was up for the fight and more than held her ground.

At times it felt to me that because YES/SNP had lost the referendum, Nicola wasn’t allowed to have opinions any more. Are Lab/Con/Lib expecting the SNP to drop their founding principles and simply become a left of centre party who exist only in Scotland? It feels that way. The reality is though very clear. This election is about getting the maximum powers from the Smith Commission/Vow/Vow Plus etc. The majority of Scots want more powers. Whether they want full independence is something we’ll find out, if and when, the Scottish electorate have the appetite for another referendum i.e. vote for a party who will offer one. As the FM said, people will decide Scotland’s future, not politicians.

Overall the First Minister more than held her own, despite the unionist bullying on display from her opponents. The problem the other leaders have is that Nicola Sturgeon is better at her job than them. While the rest rabble on incessantly about Westminster, the Union etc, she sticks to her guns on Scotland, and Scottish issues and concerns i.e. Trident. Whether you agree with her or not you can’t help but admire her for that.

As for Jim, he had two chances to make a dent in the SNP lead. At best he treaded water, at worst people who didn’t really know him will have been turned off. In my view there isn’t going to be much change in the polls between now and May 7th, and the debates so far haven’t altered my view on that.

Couple of last points. Have to be honest and say I enjoyed the UK Leader’s Debate more than the Scottish two. Manchester was more controlled, less ranting over other speakers, more polished. The crowds in Scotland were more involved but at times to my ears didn’t really represent what the polls tell is the mood of the country. Also feel audiences are duped too easily by untruths, but this isn’t a problem exclusive to a Scottish crowd!

Thanks for reading.

Leader’s Debate – A Review

MAIN-Election-2015Anyone with even the remotest interest in UK politics was likely tuned it. That said, viewing figures of barely over 7 million perhaps points towards a disenfranchisement of people from politics, and politicians. In days of yore a program like this would have easily pulled in twice that audience. However, I freely admit that I sat glued to it for the entire two hours, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The lack of audience reaction jarred slightly, against the lively action on the debate floor, but it would seem that was intentional to avoid a sense of bias in favour of one candidate or another. Just the one heckler, shame, but in these santised times, perhaps not surprising. Like a lot of other people, I want to see Ed Miliband and David Cameron in a real ‘head to head’, alas it would appear that particular delight has been denied us by Cameron’s refusal to take part. Pity.

Like others who watched, I had my favourites before it started. I don’t pretend that I’m not a Scottish Nationalist, but I was willing to give everyone a chance. Here therefore is my placings for each of the debaters. Before I start I would add that none of the candidates ‘bombed’. Each was probably happy that they connected with those they felt the need to connect to. Saying that, some did better than others.

7th. Nigel Farage (UKIP)

Don’t like the man or his politics. UKIP in Scotland barely register in opinion polls. Yes, we unfortunately have one UKIP MEP, but we all have our crosses to bear. Nigel did what he does i.e. pretends to be different, blames everything on immigration, acts as the people’s voice. He is of course no such thing. His nose is as deep in the trough as any of the Euro politicians he continually ridicules. His ‘jack the lad’/’Arthur Daly’ wide-boy impression has never worked on me. However, it seemingly does work on a certain strand of English/Welsh opinion. His supporters will be pleased with his showing. The rest of us cringed, and at times just got plain angry at the things he said. Nope, not for me I’m afraid.

6th. Nick Clegg (LibDem)

His job on the night appeared to be to put clear blue water between himself and his coalition partners, the Conservatives. Fairly obvious strategy, and to an extent it was successful. Problem for Nick and the Lib Dem’s is that the electorate won’t forget his party’s role in the last five years as easily as they would like. That said, Nick himself does seem happy with what his party has achieved. Must admit to being confused by his ‘let us finish the job we’ve started‘ mantra. Is he suggesting the ConDem coalition get another five years? Is he suggesting we vote Tory? Surely he can’t be seriously suggesting a Lib Dem majority. In fairness there was the odd spark of the old Nick Clegg in there which flashed at what might have been. For me though his ship has sailed. He had made his bed and needs to lie in it. His thoughts should quickly turn to somehow saving his own seat, and with it his career.

5th. David Cameron (Con)

Dave clearly doesn’t like this sort of platform. He looked the most uncomfortable of the seven. A sweaty top lip in the opening statements suggested he was feeling the heat, in more ways than one. His plan was, unsurprisingly, to attempt to engage directly with Ed Miliband as much as possible. Seems he’s ok tackling Ed if there are other’s around – Head to Head he’s not so keen. I’ve always viewed Cameron as a poor man’s Tony Blair i.e. style and soundbytes over substance. Tends to prattle on about the past, his children and make vague future pledges which mean almost nothing. He is the classic empty suit of a politician. On the night he held his own, although he clearly dodged any questions with tough answers. In his defence it was a bit of ‘six on one’, but as PM that’s the way it should be, so he can’t really complain. Didn’t do terribly, didn’t to overly well. Treaded water but that’s what he does.

4th. Natalie Bennett (Green)

Have to be honest and say I had no idea who she was until very recently. She looked the most nervous at the start and was the only one who appeared to have to read her opening remarks from her notes – everyone else looked straight out, presumably at an autocue. After her nervy start she warmed into it. Her Australian accent took me unawares, but it gave a slightly different tone to what she had to say. In my view her performance wilted a bit through the two hours. Towards the end she became too stuck on big green issues. Nothing wrong it that per se, but the point of this debate was to appeal to the voters on a wide range of issues – especially as another coalition could be on the cards. By the end she had reverted to a cliche of what you might think a Green candidate would be. Bit of shame, but this must have been a tough assignment for her. Overall she did fine but could have done better, and may well do with more experience of the big stage.

ld2

…and now onto the top 3!

3rd. Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru)

Along with Natalie Bennett, I thought Leanne was the most nervous, perhaps even more so at times. The Welsh Nationalists aren’t anywhere like on the same scale as their cousins up here in Scotland. As such Leanne simply won’t have had exposure like this before. However, for taking on Farage when the Tories, Labour and Lib Dem’s seemed afraid to, earned her kudos in my book. She should have addressed more UK issues, and where her party could fit in with them. Yes, she is the leader of PC and Welsh politics is her area; however, as I’ve mentioned before a hung parliament is in the offing and as such all parties need to think outwith the box, and their comfort zone. She didn’t stumble or get figures wrong at any point. It was a competent performance, even if I think she could have pushed herself more onto the UK agenda.

2nd. Ed Miliband (Lab)

Ok. Tory press say he did badly; Labour press say he did well. I’m not a Labour or Ed fan, but I thought he did well. There appears to be low expectations of Ed Miliband in debate, and at times it was a bit forced/fake i.e. appeals directly into the camera, cow eyes etc. For all that I thought he showed a good grasp of his subject and was able to score some direct hits on Cameron and Farage. Main negative for me was that he almost ignored the three women. His focus was on the camera and Cameron. I’d say he ‘appears’ much more genuine than David Cameron. He admits mistakes, too many in truth, but that makes him feel more human. Less soundbytes too which is a bonus. He didn’t win the election with this performance, but I seriously doubt he lost ground either. In truth I was surprised at how well he did.

ns21st. Nicola Sturgeon (SNP)

Ho hum. I’m an SNP member so I would say that. Fine, I don’t deny it. However, the fact that the YouGov poll of over 1,000 viewers gave her the win, as did most of the serious political pundits, I think I am justified in my selection. It would seem watching viewers in Scotland were particularly impressed as nearly 2,000 of them joined the SNP during, and after the debate. Nicola’s task was two fold. Firstly to appeal to Scottish voters ahead of the vote on May 7th. Secondly she had to appease voters elsewhere in the UK that she was not the tartan devil the mainstream media painted her to be. Instead she made it clear that the SNP, if elected in good numbers, would be good for other parts of the UK too i.e. seeking to protect the NHS from privatisation in England, Wales and NI.

Nicola is just an outstanding politician, and no matter the colour of your rosette it’s hard to deny her qualities. Oh, and one last thing she nailed was that she, Nicola Sturgeon, and not Alex Salmond is the leader of the SNP.

Thanks for reading.

A Second Helping of Broadchurch

bc1Got to be honest and say that I totally missed the first season of ITV’s seaside detective drama, Broadchurch, when it first aired. Instead it took a seven hour flight back from a holiday in Dubai for me to finally catch up. Unfortunately, as our plane was only 15 minutes from touching down in Glasgow, I didn’t have time to watch the 8th and last episode of that first season. It wasn’t until several months later, with Season Two set to start, that I eventually got round to witnessing the season finale of the previous season – and a great episode it was. As I type, I have just watched the season finale of the second season, and I have to say I enjoyed the second batch of eight episodes just as much as the first.

However, it appears if some TV critics are to be believed Season Two was a disappointing flop, as viewing figures dropped. Not sure why this was the case. All the key elements remained: David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy, Olivia Colman as his sidekick Ellie Miller, the haunting music of Olafur Arnalds and the stunning blue skies and green seas of the mythical Broadchurch. The bugbear of the critics I read was that the season heavily featured a case mentioned, although never in great detail, in the first season – the Sandbrook killings. This was the case whose unsatisfactory conclusion tortured Alec Hardy to the marrow. It was the very reason he ended up in Broadchurch. One particular critic has been especially apoplectic in her insistence that “nobody” (i.e. her) is interested in the Sandbrook case because it was only an obsession of Hardy’s. Well, surely something which is an obsession of a main character should be of interest to people who watch the programme? Hardy’s “obsession” related to an unsolved case in which two young girls were abducted, assumed murdered. Struggling to understand why focusing on an unsolved crime should be seen as anything other than worthwhile.

In general terms I thought Season Two went where it should have gone i.e. trial of Joe Miller and closure on Sandbrook. To have another murder in this small, quiet seaside town would have been wrong. The whole point was that this sort of thing didn’t happen in that sort of place. No. I think they should leave it as is, with one murder which forever haunts the town.

Before it was announced there would be a Season Three, I perhaps thought that it might have been the end for Broadchurch. Just felt that the very name itself limited the future scope of the programme. Maybe an immediate spin-off based around the exploits of Alec  Hardy and Ellie Miller would ensue. They could both still live in Broadchurch but the cases they investigate are spread over a much larger area. However, I’m happy that it is returning – the central two characters created deserve to continue, only hope their not stifled by over familiar surroundings.

Thanks for reading.

New Politics, New Media

holy1It was once famously stated that Devolution would kill nationalism in Scotland. That was in 1995 before the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1997. Since then the Scottish National Party has become the party of Government in Scotland as their rivals in the Labour Party struggle to come to terms with the ever changing political landscape. Yes, there are undoubtedly those who vote SNP yet wouldn’t describe themselves as ‘Scottish Nationalists’, but simply prefer the SNP’s brand of left-of-centre politics to the increasingly centralist, Westminster driven agenda offered by Labour. However, there is equally no doubt that many who support, and continue to move towards the SNP, are indeed doing so from a platform of civic nationalism.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, after Lord Geordie Robertson’s quote from 1995 it was likely once more decreed that a defeat for ‘YES’ in the referendum of September the 18th would quell the cry of independence for a generation or more. One startling statistic says that is not going to be the case:

  • SNP Members on September 18th, 2014 – 25,642
  • SNP Members at 7pm on September 27th, 2014 – 68,231

joinsnpIn the space of barely over a week membership of the seemingly ‘defeated’ SNP has increased by nearly 43,000. They are now the third biggest party, by membership, in the United Kingdom. Some will say this is simply a reaction, an admittedly huge reaction, to the defeat i.e. join the party which drove the fight for independence to show solidarity. However, for so many to pay to join a political party needs to be taken seriously, no matter your allegiances. How many of these will remain members beyond a year, who knows. However, it shows the political lion has well and truly woken in Scotland and isn’t going to doze off again any time soon.

One last thing. Several commentators tell us that these on-going YES gatherings, rallies, people joining the SNP etc is a continuing denial of the result on 18/09. I couldn’t disagree more. What they show is that people want change. Let’s not forget, not only did the 45% who voted ‘YES’ want change, but so did a sizeable percentage of those who voted ‘NO’ – just that they wanted it within the UK framework. To this end the SNP and FM elect, Nicola Sturgeon, has made it clear the priority, for what was the YES movement, is to focus on the powers promised by the Unionist parties during the final weeks. They must be held accountable for these promises; they must deliver these promises. If not 1.6 million voters and rising will be demanding to know the reasons why.

n.b. It would be remiss of me to point out that the Scottish Greens have also seen a surge in membership. As the only other mainstream party to back the YES campaign they too seem to be receiving a commendable show of support from the voters of Scotland.

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As well as entering a new chapter in Scottish politics, the eyes and ears through which many of us view the political arena, the Scottish Media, is also set to undergo a revolution. Is revolution too dramatic a description? Probably. However, as this new media is initially likely to be aimed at a target audience of 1.6 million (YES voters) there is every chance it has the potential to become something the mainstream channels will need to keep an eye on.

So why do we need this new media and who is it?

SundayHeraldYesWhy? Well, most of us in the YES camp would say there was a nigh-on systematic failure of the media in Scotland over the last two years. The newspapers, in the main controlled outwith our borders, were almost without exception in favour of the Union – two of them The Sun and Daily Record played the pro-Union fiddle all campaign only to back nobody in their final editions. This to me is having their cake and eating it i.e. back one side all the way only to claim some form of unearned impartiality at the death. Nope, their positions were clear and along with every other daily newspaper in Scotland they were hostile to independence. The only printed offering which openly campaigned for a YES was the Sunday Herald.

The other part of the media is of course the spoken variety: TV and Radio. Here we come up against the controversial, thorny subject of the BBC. Were they truly biased or simply incompetent? For my part I think they set out to play the role of a ‘concerned undecided’ voter i.e. someone who was looking for answers before making an important decision. As YES was campaigning for a change then this was I suppose fair enough. However, on too many occasions I felt this role morphed from ‘concerned undecided’ to ‘frantic, terrified’ NO. This led to some openly hostile and downright disrespectful interviews with the First Minister and others. Despite having questions of their own to answer (clarification of more powers, their own preferred options on currency etc) the NO interviewees rarely appeared to meet the same hostility.

Another example of the state broadcaster’s questionable role broke last week. Post-referendum the BBC published a story about new technology which would allow more oil than previously anticipated to be extracted from the North Sea. Pre-referendum the BBC and NO made continual play on ludicrous scares that oil was in fact running out. Now here is the kicker. The story the BBC eventually published post-referendum regarding new oil extraction technology was in fact not new – it had been widely available to anyone (and tweeted endlessly) since early August. So why was a story likely to favour YES not reported until after the vote? I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Now onto the what: what is this new media. Well, you won’t be surprised to hear it is web based. In the main it’s a stream of existing www outlets who have decided to up their game, increase their output and offer genuine independent alternatives to the likes of the BBC and the establishment mediums. To name check a few:

Bella Caledonia

Newsnet

Derek Bateman

Yes, these are all essentially pro-Independence channels. Yet, as support for some form of change in this country is now undeniable, these outlets will surely campaign to ensure change, even if it’s not independence for now, comes to our country. If for no other reason than balance it is vital such places exist. I hope you will find time to check them out.

Thanks for reading.

What I’m Watching and What I’m Not Watching – Part 1

In our household the prime TV watching slot is when we are eating our tea in the evening. Yes, we are slobs who eat in the living room and not at a table. For that I don’t apologise. We use trays and even though some dinner ends up on our clothes most finds it’s destination. Anyway, I digress. Of more importance than how we eat is what we watch when we are doing it. Most programmes will either be on DVD or something we have recorded on our SKY+ HD box. The current hot and not so hots in our house are:

Hot

Lost (DVD) – Silly story about plane crash victims on a creepy island inhabited by Polar bears and other unlikely creatures. Love it. There are six seasons and we are nearing the end of season one. Good range of characters, each with plenty of back story. Think it will probably get increasingly silly in the seasons to come but nothing wrong with silly TV as long as it’s also interesting and fun.

Friday Night Lights (SKY Atlantic HD) – Currently on season three. Probably one of my favourite programmes of the last couple of years. Story focuses on a Texan high school football team called the Dillon Panthers. Core two characters are the team’s coach and his wife, who also happens to be the schools principal. Not actually a lot of football scenes in it but the ones they do have are usually fairly well done and not always as predictable as you may think. If you have never seen this you should watch it.

Not Hot

Blue Bloods (Sky Atlantic HD) – Struggled through the first couple of seasons of this New York based cop show. Centres around a family of policemen, ex-policemen and a lawyer. Feels like the Waltons meets Hill Street Blues. That said both of these aforementioned programmes were infinitely better than the resulting merger. Our household is currently a bit divided. I have given up completely on it whereas the good lady Doctor is willing to give it more time. For me it’s too heavy on paper thin plots, weak characters, religious overtones and it’s attempt to moralise leaves me cold. Some people probably love it and Tom Selleck does his best but I can’t help feeling if he wasn’t in it this show wouldn’t have got past the pilot.

Looking Forward To More of These

Breaking Bad (Season 5)
Mad Men (Season 6)
Dexter (Season 7)
True Blood (Season 6)
Boardwalk Empire (Season 4)

Last word for now. Anyone interested in reading reviews of the current crop of TV programmes, films and cinema releases could do worse than check out this site:

http://www.tvandfilmreview.com/