lies browsing by tag


Yes Please, not No Thanks

Friday, September 12th, 2014

I’m feeling deeply ashamed of the British media. I’m worried because I’m reasonably well-informed and spending too much time on the whole Yes/No Scottish Referendum question, and what I’m reading, seeing and hearing makes me sad and slightly angry. I was trained in 1970-71 as a journalist, a ‘junior reporter’ at first, followed by three years on the staff of the Sheffield Star culminating in the 1974 NUJ lockout and the fist-fights witnessed in the newsroom between largely left-wing team on the evening paper and the right-wing staffers of the morning Sheffield Telegraph.

Despite these battles between individuals worse for the traditional journo’s liquid lunch, and extreme debate between the rest of us who stayed sober during working hours, standards of journalism in print never slipped. If you reported a speech or a conference, your words were limited to those spoken at the event. You did not, like the Daily Mail, editorialise in a news report by providing your own adjectives (‘petulant’ used to describe Alex Salmond’s perfectly calm, complete, measured and accurate response to BBC questions, in the Daily Mail).

Here is an analysis of how the BBC itself used heavy editorial biasing to spin a reverse of what actually happened when Salmond held a press conference for international media:

And this, now well-known via social media but probably ONLY to Yes supporters, is how the Daily Mail ‘reported’ the event:

I appreciate that UK newspapers have always been partisan, always been easily bought, and that falling sales make them extremely vulnerable to withdrawal of tenuous trading partnerships. This, between the BBC and the Mail, is something different. It seems that we have a government and media marching in step into an Orwellian future – not of course the future Orwell would have wanted to see, but the worst outcome of his satirical and cynical imaginings. Orwell wrote about a future deception of all people by all governments, the transition from the party line to the party lie, to the government lie, the continental lie and ultimately the global lie.

Some would argue that we already see the global lie at work, that there’s nothing but one great conspiracy orchestrating false flag attacks, provoking wars, engineering plagues and enslaving humanity. Personally I think we’re at least a generation away from that and it’s all nonsense. But these recent days of the Better Together campaign to apply blunt instruments with force to the will of Scotland’s people show that we have a United Kingdom government prepared to lie, to conceal, to misrepresent, to coerce, to bribe, to undermine. This is worse than disheartening. It’s not a country I want to live in. I need to be able to trust government, or to be armed with knowledge to deal with deceptions pragmatically – not to be duped myself, but to accept the need for duplicity.

When I became a journalist it was driven home to me that my job was to expose this, not to become a propaganda vehicle, and to base all reports on verifiable facts or literal quotations fully attributed. I might use an emotive word in a headline, as a sub-editor, but if you studied the story below you would find it was not MY word. It had been said by someone, noted down, quoted in the story and was legitimately borrowed (sometimes even with quotation marks) for headline impact.

I could only call someone angry if they were clearly angry, said they were angry, or were accused of being angry. I could not describe a measured and polite, quiet speech as a ‘rant’ let alone ‘extraordinary’. I could not make up ‘facts’ on one hand and call actual facts ‘lies’. We didn’t see this kind of thing even in the Winter of Discontent or in Thatcher’s assault on the economic power of industrial labour.

Something is terribly wrong here, standards have fallen. Time, then, to raise a new standard – a blue one with a white cross – in a new country with old values still at its heart. Scotland as an independent nation will have its mismanagement, its scandals, its financial predators, its successes and its failures but at least it will start on higher moral ground won by defeating this barrage of orchestrated mendacity.

One day England may be lucky enough to make a fresh start too. Please don’t oppose Scottish independence because you envy it, and should Scotland achieve it in the face of this assault, don’t feel guilty just because you live in a country which tried its utmost to avoid this tiresome change. Scotland won’t abandon you. We will leave footsteps in the snow, markers across the quicksands of the future, for the time when change is the only option for the rest of Britain. And there won’t be border guards or a Travelex branch at Carter Bar.

– David Kilpatrick