2007 - 2021

New Media Futures

indiemedia1A Media Free of ‘The Axis of Corruption: Westminster, The City and the Media Establishment’: Scotland’s Independent Future Will Depend on It by John O’Dowd.

The Radical Independence Conference (Glasgow 1st October) featured a fascinating session on the relationships between Money-Power, politics and the media. Entitled ‘The Axis of Corruption: Westminster, The City and the Media Establishment’, Adam Ramsey (Open Democracy) Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), Mike Small (Bella Caledonia) and Angela Haggerty (Common Space), along with interesting contributions from the floor, explored the nature of the current interactions between these elements of a corrupt and corrupting nexus.

The Pre-eminence of the City

Key to understanding the British State, explained Adam Ramsay, is to appreciate that in its present hollowed-out form, its only residual role is to host the ‘City’ as the world epicentre of finance capital, including the most extensive money laundering, and tax avoiding rackets in the world, most of it operated off-shore, with the City of London as the centre of its neural network. This has been crucial to maintain British imperialism by non-territorial means.

The Monarchy, Westminster and Labour

The discussion then explored, led by Hilary Wainwright, how this financial racket utilises the arrested pseudo-democratic, early modern re-casting of the archaic medieval English Parliament (as Walter Bagehot revealingly describes the UK Parliament in his book The English (sic) Constitution), via the constitutional devices of the ‘Crown in Parliament’ and ‘Royal Prerogative’, which reverse the Scottish doctrine of the sovereignty of the people, to impose Executive power, pass laws and implement policies that privilege Money Power, and hence undermine truly democratic structures and principles. These latter have never existed in the British state.

This discussion touched upon areas more than adequately covered by Tom Nairn in his classic works on the British state – and crucially Scotland’s place in it: The Enchanted Glass: Britain and its Monarchy (1989) and After Britain: New Labour and the Return of Scotland (2000).

As Nairn has argued in the Enchanted Glass, this ‘Ukanian’ constitution, represents an arrested development whereby the Glorious Revolution and the Hanoverian settlement maintained and perpetuated early modern oligarchical forms and elements of monarchical Absolutism bound up with religious millenarism to ensure than an:

“Elite-citizen hegemony would endure for over three centuries… Hence no other ruling class with this early modern equipment entered upon a similar longue durée of development. It is the distinctive political coordinates of the early modern that provides a definable historical location explaining both half-modern and the unmistakably archaic aspects of 20th (and now 21st) century Britain. (My words in parenthesis).

In describing what he calls Her Majesty’s Labour Party’s persistent enchantment with this regressive creed, Nairn continues:

“That location helps explain at once the indelible Whig-Labour faith in the system’s capacity for progress and the pathetic failures now so inescapable to all outside observers and critics…..What it (the Anglo-British national identity) really connects with is one circumscribed era in early modern development reaching from 1688 up to the middle of the 18th century : the founding period in which England’s patrician Revolution was consolidated and rendered ‘British’ by the assimilation of the Scottish state in 1707.”

Nairn’s perspicacity and genius never disappoint and reward re-reading even almost thirty years after the first publication of The Enchanted Glass (a 2011 edition is still in print).

The Present Role and Future of the Media

The role of the mainstream media in maintaining this situation was explored, and in discussions led by Mike Small and Angela Haggerty, the challenges facing alterative media were outlined and discussed. A truly democratic media was needed, both leading to the successful breakup of the imperial UK, and in ensuring the success of a post-neoliberal Scotland. In order to chart a way forward, it is necessary to understand how the present construct uses the media to maintain neoliberalism and undermine democracy.

The Nature of Neoliberalism

In its current phase the hegemonic power of global ruling elites, including the British franchise, is expressed in a discourse broadly identified as ‘neoliberalism’. This is rendered as political-economic practices that broadly identify private property rights, individual liberty (only for the rich), unencumbered markets, and free trade (so called), along with maximum, unfettered entrepreneurial sovereignty, as the best, or indeed only, means of advancing human well-being (See: A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey, 2005). It is a political discourse that limits the role of the state to maintaining its own integrity (defence, police and security forces), legal and judicial functions, particularly those civil and criminal processes that support and protect businesses, securing private property, maintaining the quality and integrity of money and the support of (so-called) free markets. Where markets do not exist, for example, in what used to be known as public and social services, including health, social security and education, the state must establish these markets – and then retreat, leaving them to work their ‘magic’. Beyond these matters, the state has no role.

There is nothing fundamentally new about neoliberalism, ruling class exploitation is as old as settled society – what varies is its form, and the specific means, methods and justifications of its actors. In particular, every ruling class throughout history has required a justifying discourse or narrative –whether invoking the gods, or God, or divine right – reasons and reason are brought forth to defend the ‘rights’ and privileges of rulers over the ruled. The ascendency of the dominant discourse demands the promulgation, normalisation and acceptance of its articles of faith, such that these become so deeply embedded in the general common assumptions of society that they are put beyond question. This requires a propaganda system. It is no coincidence that the word itself is derived from, Propaganda Fidi the Congregation for propagating the Catholic faith, because unquestioning, unthinking faith is the best means of maintaining any power structure.

The Supportive Role of the Media: The Media as Propaganda

In our present culture, the mass media, along with the public relations racket, fulfill the role of communicating the messages and symbols that support the ruling discourse to the general population. This is done by amusing, entertaining and informing the public in a manner that inculcates values, beliefs and norms that accord with the views and class interests of concentrated wealth (Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, p2). It is hardly a coincidence therefore, that the owners of these media, whether Murdoch, Berlusconi, or Rothermere, are members of the ruling class, that their media form part of their corporate interests, and that the content of their organs simultaneously betray and support their corporate and class interests. As Edward Herman has pointed out:

“The crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or their companies); they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit seeking entities, who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media are also dependent on the government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and frequently overlapping interests cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media and other corporate businesses.” – Edward Herman, The Propaganda Model Revisited, Monthly Review, July 1996

Nor is it any surprise, therefore, that where the media are in the hands of a state bureaucracy, state interference on behalf of its dominant interests dictate content, and what is censored. Censorship is fairly obvious and at its most crude in dictatorships; in the so-called liberal democracies it is less crass, but more subtly successful since it relies on its most effective form – self-censorship, whilst simultaneously braying platitudes about the media being, free, fair open and even-handed. The people in media organisations know the boundaries of what it is permitted to say, and take an editorial line that will not displease the owners – or governments that overwhelmingly represent ruling class interests. This is fairly well-understood in the corporate media. See what former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil wrote of his ex-boss:

‘Rupert (Murdoch) expects his papers to stand broadly for whatever he believes: a combination of right-wing Republicanism from America mixed with undiluted Thatcherism from Britain. (Quoted, Alan Rusbridger, ‘Sour Times – The Only Good Editor is and Oberdient Editor if you are Rupert Murdoch, Guardian, October 24, 1996). In: Edwards, D and Cromwell, D, 2006, Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media, Pluto Press London, p. 6.

Moreover, even the newspaper owners themselves have occasionally made public their true intentions. Kathryn Graham, who once achieved a substantial reputation as ‘courageous publisher’, as the owner of the Washington Post in its ‘finest hour’ of investigative reporting, when it uncovered Watergate and published the Pentagon Papers, publicly traced the limits of such endeavours, as noted by Alexander Cockburn:

“ ‘We may have acquired some tendencies about over-involvement that we had better overcome. We had better not yield to the temptation to go on refighting the next war and see conspiracy and cover-up where they do not exist…Journalists should stop trying to be sleuths’. In other words, the party’s over boys and girls! It’s not our business to rock the boat. Did Mrs. Graham privately strong-arm her staff to follow her line? But editors and reporters are not slow to pick up clues as to the disposition of the persons who pay the wages, and Mrs. Graham sent out plenty of those.”
Alexander Cockburn , A Colossal Wreck 2013, Verso, pp199-200: including an original article in The Nation, July 27, 2001

None of this should be surprising given the ownership and business models governing the commercial media. Whether in newspapers or broadcasting, most of their income comes from advertising, therefore they tend not to print or broadcast anything that might upset their business paymasters. Contrary to common perception, the readership and audiences are not the customers of commercial news media; the customers are the advertisers – the readership or audiences are the product served up to the advertisers as potential purchasers of their goods. Content is designed to please enough of the target audience to make the advertising costs worthwhile to those who pay for it. Audiences, mainly because of the propaganda effect, largely lack the critical capacity to challenge this content.

Owners share the class and political interests of the advertisers. Otherwise, newspapers and other media are the playthings or propaganda vehicles of their owners, who need to be rich either to own them in first place, or to maintain them if advertising and readership revenues do not pay for publication, or if audience numbers and customer subscriptions fail to match advertising targets and output costs. Such a model is not designed to present the unbiased, unalloyed truth. Moreover, concentrations of publishing and broadcasting in the hands of large conglomerates pose obvious questions of media power that western ‘democracies’ seem unwilling or unable to address. But at least we have public broadcasting to provide the counterbalance to the commercial media that act in interests of their super-rich owners – that at least is the theory.

In recent times, it has become ever more clear that the role of media, public and private is identical – in for example, the BBC, a state broadcaster which had nevertheless always tried to portray itself as ‘above these things’, particularly in its continuing post-Gilligan capitulation to government pressure.
In May 2003, BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan made a broadcast in which he claimed that the British Government had “sexed up” a report in order to exaggerate the WMD capabilities of Sadam Husein. Gilligan resigned from the BBC in 2004 following the Hutton Enquiry after Lord Hutton questioned the reliability of Gilligan’s evidence. The BBC have subsequently become increasingly overtly ‘non-controversial’, particularly on foreign affairs, especially where it involves the middle-east and Israel, USA, all security matters, and in politics and economics where their editorial line is essentially indistinguishable from government spokesmen.

Gilligan resulted in the taking of major BBC scalps, from which the corporation has never recovered. As David Edwards and David Cornwell reported:

In the summer of 2003 the British government launched an awesome flak campaign against the BBC. A year later, BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, chairman Gavyn Davies and director general Greg Dyke had all resigned or were sacked. The BBCs director of news, Richard Sambrook was moved sideways to a different post. All of this happened despite the fact that those opposing the war have been overwhelmingly vindicated by events in Iraq.
Edwards, D and Cromwell, D, 2006, ibid. p 8.

Clearly, the BBC has learned its lesson. Again David Cromwell:

“We (have previously) pointed to an edition of BBC Newsnight that was devoted to UK ‘defence’ spending and policy. The BBC’s Gavin Esler introduced and presented the programme from the perspective of government; namely, that: ‘National security is the first duty of government. We will remain a first-rate military power.’ Reflecting, and indeed boosting, state priorities is the default mode of BBC News. The flagship News at Ten on BBC1 demonstrated this perfectly when celebrity news presenter Fiona Bruce, began with the ominous words: ‘A warning from MI5: Britain’s security is threatened on more fronts, in more ways than ever before’. Bruce continued: ‘recent leaks about the extent of Britain’s global surveillance is damaging efforts to stop attacks on the UK. Despite MI5’s warnings, some critics say the public has a right to know if it’s being spied on.’ Bruce then introduced BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera who was standing besuited outside MI5 headquarters, ready to repeat the secret service’s key messages in a simulacrum of journalistic authority. He began on the approved note: ‘Yes, the job of people here at MI5 is to keep the country safe from national security threats, particularly terrorist attacks.’ As ever, the professed upholding of BBC ‘impartiality’ translates in practice to providing the propaganda version of reality.” – David Cromwell: Where Journalism Collides With State ‘Security’: BBC News, MI5 and The Mantra Of ‘Keeping People Safe’

This approach to the uncritical echoing of the words of Power, without question or dissent has been summed up admirably by Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor (2005 -2016), having previously served in a similar post for ITV News (2002-5), in which capacity he wrote about the Iraq war in Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper:

“In the run-up to the conflict, I and many of my colleagues were bombarded with complaints that we were acting as mouthpieces for Mr. Blair. Why, the complainants demanded to know, did we report without question his warning that Saddam was a threat? Hadn’t we read what Scott Ritter had said or Hans Blix? I always replied the same way. It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking…That is all someone in my sort of job can do. (Remember the Last Time You Shouted Like That? I Asked the Spin Doctor, Times, July 16, 2004).” -Cited by Edwards, D and Cromwell, D, 2006, ibid. p 11.

Such articles and attitudes will have burnished the professional reputation that saw his appointment to the BBC a year later. He maintained his professional standards throughout his period as political editor, as those of us in the YES movement have cause to recall in his now infamous mis-reporting of Alex Salmond during the referendum campaign

The Mainstream Media and Public Relations in Support of the Neoliberal Finance State

Related to the mass media is the public relations ‘industry’, invented by corporations in order to impose business interests on public policy, and simultaneously to limit the responsiveness of the political system to the preferences and opinions of ordinary people (See: Miller and Dinan, A Century of Spin, 2008 ). The overall role of public relations and the media is to construct a conceptual apparatus that appeals, seemingly naturally, but contributing subliminally, to apparent intuitions, instincts, values and desires, as well as to the potentialities that seem to accord with what is ‘normal’ in our present social habitat.

For neoliberalism, this social mythology is constructed around the supposed ideals of individual liberty and freedom which are portrayed as the central values of civilization. But these are very limited concepts of freedom in an increasingly savage ‘civilisation’. Our social values, as neoliberal proponents constantly inform us, are threatened by all forms of dictatorship, fascism, and communism – and now Islamism, but also – so goes the discourse – by the state itself, and particularly by any form of state intervention, especially in the economic sphere – now widened to include social services, health and education. This is very clever, completely dishonest – and entirely premeditated and planned.

Scotland Independent: The Media and the Post-Neoliberal Future

The discussion concluded with the panellists inviting the audience to think about the future shape and funding mechanisms of alternative media – not in thrall and at the service of regressive forces and monied interests. The panel pointed up the limitations in areas such as news gathering, investigative reporting, and fact-checking that are highly labour intensive, expensive, and yet a crucial part of the professional journalistic skills that are difficult to replicate in the non-commercial arena. It is clear that if we want to see a successful and thriving alternative to the captive media described above, we will need to find a way to pay for journalist livelihoods that are not dependent on advertisers, the state, or the whims and fancies of rich individuals. The future of an independent Scotland that serves all of her people as equal citizens will depend on it.

Comments (20)

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  1. Mike Edwards says:

    The session referred to in the article above, The Axis of Corruption: Westminster, The City and the Media Establishment, was live streamed at the time by IndependenceLive.net and is available for free catch-up on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLn02mwm8pc

  2. Josef O Luain says:

    An eloquent and incisive exposition of the nature of the beast. Hugely appreciated, thankyou.

  3. John O'Dowd says:

    I am very grateful for your kind words.

  4. Alf Baird says:

    Fascinating article, thanks. I very much doubt the British propaganda machine would work quite so effectively in the Scots language. Scots ‘No’ voters sense of Britishness would be diminished somewhat, while their sense of Scottishness would be enhanced. Which is no doubt why our colonial overseers have always been against (i.e. willing to haud doon) the formal teaching of Scots in Scotland – it might give us ideas above our station, like nationhood. A wee bit cultural oppression helps oil the British propaganda machinery.

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      I hae nae doot that the daith o the Scots lead wis nae hinnermaist i the thochts o thaim that wad gie us grief. Richt days or thereby efter it wis determinet tae mak us subsidarie tae their pouther it wis determit that heize thrists abiun aa in Scotia – the leid wiz doomit. In Embro, tho, the chiels didnae hae tae be bocht. Thay selt thirsels wi glednes i their herts. Aa the ways tae hecklebirnie!

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Mibbe so, but wha in Holyrood (apairt fi unionists/’prood Scots’) wid vote agin a Scots Language Act noo?

        1. John O'Dowd says:

          Nane at aa – we maun hope!

  5. Gavin Taylor says:

    Event Livestream:https://youtu.be/sLn02mwm8pc
    Mike Small Talk: https://youtu.be/h3VxJ8SK_tY
    Adam Ramsay Talk: https://youtu.be/cFh7vo4ygbA
    Reach & Authority: https://youtu.be/BrlMsaScJbU
    Hello Cheltenham: https://youtu.be/bnJl4hwlchs
    Cost or News & Ecommony of comment : https://youtu.be/k3vFWWzZfzI

  6. c rober says:

    One has to ask then why the SNP , nay Holyrood , have not taken the media to task via more punitive legislation and the creation of a complaints commission outwith self regulation? But then again its easier to appear the victim , than to prevent it.

  7. Ex Pat says:

    It was a great pleasure to read someone quoting key points of Tom Nairn, having read After Britain (2000) and The Breakup of Britain (1977) this summer. Discovered after the briefest mention by Peter Arnott –


    As John Bull’s other island celebrates nearly a hundred years of independence and commemorates Easter 1916, Tom Nairn’s belief that Scottish independence can and will be peaceful is, well, surprising. But as the events he foretold in the 1970s suddenly occur before our eyes, and as the English flail around like a blind giant at the edge of a cliff, here’s hoping he’s right. With a bit of luck the self-imposed implosion of the UK by the Tory party – and the resulting English constitutional crisis – will give them enough to worry about that Scottish independence will be the least of their worries. Hehe! ; )

    And Tom Nairn _has_ explained to this reader the ‘peculiar’ events of UK politics after 1979, from the rise of the ‘leaderene’, to the deliberate de-industrialization of the UK and now the great possibilities for an independent Scotland through globalization. Not to mention the peculiarities of the survival of the late-medieval UK parliament and the laughably unaccountable UK constitution with its Grand Fenwick Duke and Duchess ceremonial rulers.

    Would Bella Caledonia consider adding a sentence to the foot of each article describing the author? It would be very useful for those of us new to BellaCaledonia and wondering “Is this a Unionist fake Scottish Independence shill or a real independence supporter?” Given that Tom Nairn seems to be ‘disappeared’ entirely from the Unionist world view, it’s highly unlikely that an accurate quoter would be, but post the last fifteen years some of us are now the, er, ‘careful’ types, who believe little that we read without a reference. ; )

    >John O’Dowd 3 days ago

    > I hae nae doot that the daith o the Scots lead wis nae hinnermaist i the thochts o thaim that wad gie us grief. Richt days or thereby efter it wis determinet tae mak us subsidarie tae their pouther it wis determit that heize thrists abiun aa in Scotia – the leid wiz doomit. In Embro, tho, the chiels didnae hae tae be bocht. Thay selt thirsels wi glednes i their herts. Aa the ways tae hecklebirnie!

    Yes, well, that was clear as mud for non-Scenglish speakers and google translate doesn’t help, though identifying it ‘English’ should probably count as an insult.

    1. Hi Ex Pat, go to our contributors section for details on each of the writers, here: https://dev.bellacaledonia.org.uk/contributors/

      PS we’re not in the business of publishing “Unionist fake Scottish Independence shills”

      1. Ex Pat says:

        Thanks for that.

        >PS we’re not in the business of publishing “Unionist fake Scottish Independence shills”
        I don’t mean to imply that you are. I’m suggesting that a sentence on each writer would make it easier to identify them, perhaps by their web site or by their other contributions in order to assess their contributions – Noam Chomsky / Not Noam Chomsky. Peter Dale Scott / Not Peter Dale Scott. etc.

        I did check the contributors page. No John O’Dowd. Google finds an apparently very able ex-Irish government civil servant and lawyer who did write a paper on the Irish constitution, but I was looking for a Scot … And am still looking for a Scottish John O’Dowd. With or without a PhD.

        Irish John O’Dowd – “Has been a lecturer in the Faculty (and subsequently the School) of Law at UCD since 1991, where he has taught Contract Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Media Law, a course in Current Issues in Law and Politics, International Human Rights Law and the Law of the European Convention on Human Rights. From 2002 to 2004 he held the NUI Travelling Studentship in Law and he is currently completing a DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford (Wolfson College) comparing the role of directive principles and justiciable social rights in Indian and Irish constitutional law.”


        A sentence on each writer would avoid every so-minded reader having to trawl the internet hoping to find a random link to the correct writer.

      2. Ex Pat says:

        I liked John O’Dowd’s article and particularly liked his Tom Nairn quotes which are all too rare on all Scottish Independence issues.

        I (finally) answered most of my own ‘Who is John O’Dowd?’ question by doing a google search for “John O’Dowd” at BellaCaledonia, fwiw.

        1. > The backdrop to the position described here by John O’Dowd (a retired Glasgow Uni science research contract administrator)
        2. > and lest it be thought I am anti-SNP – I’ve been a member for over quarter of a century
        3. > Alf, having worked in Edinburgh University – and having struggled (in vain) to detect more than an odd one or two Scottish voices (some very odd) I know exactly the issues to which you refer. After Robbins the Scottish Universities were expanded rapidly, and were quickly colonised by Oxbridge refugees. These types tend to recruit people like themselves and so a couple of generations on they have completely taken over in some institutions.
        4. > When I used to attend scientific meetings at Oxbridge colleges or UCL/Imperial etc, it was amusing to see old chums (some of whom I count as personal friends) being greeted by ‘how are things in the frozen north?’ – and the cringing creeping apologetics from the failures who hadn’t quite made the grade by having to leave the luxuriant south. At some level they all regard themselves as failures in ‘having’ work here – and that comes across in their approach to the natives.


        1. John O'Dowd says:

          Well hello Ex-Pat,

          I am indeed Dr John O’Dowd BSc PhD MBA C Biol MI Biol. I was born in Scotland – as were both of my parents, both grandfathers though, were Irish. My father was a Lanarkshire steelworker. I still live in Lanarkshire.

          I am a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Graduate Business School. I hold first degrees in Zoology( Developmental Biology) and Biochemistry. My PhD is in Molecular Pathology (of Leukaemia) Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow. I have an MBA from Strathclyde Graduate Business School – a degree I took for much the same reason that US Republican right-wingers used to do Masters degrees in Soviet Studies – to know and combat the enemy.

          I have worked as a research scientist (Institute of Cancer Research, London in areas of carcinogen interaction with oncogenes – and in cardiovascular research – on novel imidazole peptides (first characterised by me) at the Institute of Physiology University of Glasgow) before becoming a lecturer then senior lecture in Biochemistry and Physiology. I continued my research in cardiovascular molecular physiology.

          I subsequently worked in research management in the Chief Scientist Office in the (then) Scottish Office, and thereafter at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, where I was Head of Research Grants until my (early) retirement two years ago (I’d had enough!).

          I’ve been a member of the SNP for around a quarter of a century (long before it became fashionable). I joined in disgust having been in the Labour Party for seventeen years, around the time Kinnock hung the miners out to dry – and the lurch to the right was quite obvious.

          I am proud to say that I am a socialist and a republican. I am currently writing a book 0n The Corporate Takeover of the Universities – extracts of which have recently appeared in Bella.

          I paint in oils, acrylic and watercolour. I am not now, nor have I ever been a f****g Unionist.

          Hope this helps.

          1. Ex Pat says:

            Thanks for that.

            > both grandfathers though, were Irish.

            Ha. ‘Sorry for your trouble’ etc. Though it may give one insight not given to one’s fellows. That, and multiple higher degrees. ; )

            “After 911 I gave interviews everywhere. Except here. And on Irish TV and BBC back to back. I said this much (holds hands a foot apart) on Irish TV – ok, discussion over, everyone understands what I’m talking about. Try to say it on BBC you have to go on for like about an hour. The Irish Sea is a Chasm (of understanding) and it just depends who has been holding the whip for eight hundred years and who has been under it for eight hundred years.” – HA! –

            Noam Chomsky on why some countries, and some groups, ‘get it’ and others have a much harder time.

            – Noam Chomsky – @ Minute 50:00 – ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ –


          2. John O'DowdI says:

            > I hae nae doot that the daith o the Scots lead wis nae hinnermaist i the thochts o thaim that wad gie us grief. Richt days or thereby efter it wis determinet tae mak us subsidarie tae their pouther it wis determit that heize thrists abiun aa in Scotia – the leid wiz doomit. In Embro, tho, the chiels didnae hae tae be bocht. Thay selt thirsels wi glednes i their herts. Aa the ways tae hecklebirnie!

            I have no doubt that the death of the Scots language wasn’t far from the thoughts of those who sought our (national) demise. Shortly after it was decided to subject us to their power it would have been determined to haul down (national/linguistic/cultural) thirsts before anything else in Scotland- the language was doomed. In Edinburgh, however, smart fellows didn’t have to be bought. The sold themselves willingly – and with glee – All the way to hell!

          3. Ex Pat says:

            So that quote was an entirely adequate reference all in itself, except that it was disguised to be understood only by Scots vernacular speakers. Clever… if ironic!

            Your article is a great summary of a very interesting talk.

            It’s a tremendous breath of fresh air to this reader to discover that there are entire organizations not buying the UK MSM blizzard of disinformation – Radical Independence, openDemocracy, Bella – after spending decades as a lone – and lonely – ‘atom’ not buying the ridiculous MSM consensus reality. If you think the UK is bad, you should experience the US. If the UK’s Reality Distortion Field (™ Steve Jobs) is aimed at the reading age of The Times reader – twelve – you can subtract five years for the US. ‘Moronic’ doesn’t cover the imbecility.

            Outside Tom Nairn very recently, had not seen any reference to the primacy of the UK money-stealing centre, the City.

            Except for Lobster UK. Lobster UK which appeared to be reliable when reporting Northern Ireland whistleblowers nearly thirty years ago, but a lot less so recently when the self-announced daughter of an Iraqi agent of MI6 was given space… to sing the praises of the present head of MI6. “How stupid to they think we are? Wait. Don’t answer that!” etc.

            Having witnessed the war in Northern Ireland for forty years via the press, the questioner in ‘Hello Cheltenham!’ has a great deal of credibility for this reader. Though others should probably provide a lot more considered answers than the panel –

            It is said – in interviews – that Wikileaks personnel have been reading about the French Resistance in World War 2. What might they learn? That there was almost none, except for the Communist party, until very late, after Colonel Fabien opened his own front in Paris on 21st August 1941. There were monstrous German reprisals. When De Gaulle heard about it he is quoted as saying ‘At least now collaboration will become impossible’. Or words to that effect. –

            – Colonel Fabien launches the French Resistance ‘active measures’ – youtube


            There is an amusing article from ‘The War Nerd’ that by-the-way explains how to persuade the British government that they need to negotiate with you. Hint – it involves hitting them where it _really_ hurts. – ”RA VS AL Qaeda: I Was Wrong’, by Gary Brecher aka ‘The War Nerd’ – 27th, April 2011 – The Exiled –


            The ‘RA persuade the the UK elite – Margaret Thatcher, John Major, the City ? – that ‘negotiating with terrorists’ is not only inevitable, but essential – Canary Wharf – youtube


            Best wishes for Scottish Independence from John Bull’s other island (posing as an unsinkable aircraft carrier for the US empire’s tax-evading corporations pillaging the EU. But we digress). ; )

  8. John O'DowdI says:

    Hi ExPat,

    I was writing in Scots in response to a gentle tease from Alf Baird about the subjugation of Scots in schools (etc) – see above. Professor Alfred Baird (if it is he) has a substantial reputation as a ‘nationalist’ nationalist who challenges the cultural imperialism in e.g. our universities – which have a substantial number of non-Scottish staff and in some cases (St Andrews and Edinburgh) damn few (a minority?) of Scottish students and staff. But he is right about imperialism – it attacks indigenous culture – none more so than languages. Gaelic still struggles and Scots was literally beaten out of children in School. Both, thankfully persist – but need help.

    My own ‘nationalism’ is more civic and less ethnic (I am a socialist and republican with persistent anarchist tendencies) perhaps, than that – although Scottish ‘ethnicity’ is a somewhat contingent concept, given that the gaels were Irish mixing with Scandinavian (galgaels) somewhat freely for the last millennium and more – and the real natives – Picts – were likely of brythonic (Welsh) stock – and indeed Brythonic/Brittonic place names abound in Scotland (e.g. Lanark – Cumbric-Brittonic) anything with a Pitt (e.g Pittenweem) prefix – and numerous others. The Angles (English) settled Northumbria – right up to present Edinburgh and East Coast Fife – where the Flemish also abound. Vikings in the far north – and later were introduced to the north-east by David I in order to shore up his gaelic/norman crown.

    In other words there is no Scots ethnicity other than those that have arrived on these shores – and feel that they belong here – some have been here longer than others. My own ‘Scottish’ ancestry include Dales (English) Morrisons, McGills (Gaels) Bracks (Lothians).

    I think in some quarters my Irish surname invites a little – shall we say surprise – the more recent Irish arrivals in Scotland (in my case the late 19th century) came from a country that was still part of Britain -along with others from Ulster who believed in a (British) supremacist creed. Irish catholics tended to stick together and with Labour – and until fairly recently would have been very cautious about Scottish independence. There has been a revolution in my lifetime.

    Mosts Scots – real Scots – are open, friendly, pragmatic and broadly internationalist in outlook. The UK no longer feels like ‘home’. I, like many, share your interesting and accurate appraisal of Anglo-American imperialism in its continuing guise as Finance Capital. Plunder and War.

  9. Marcia Blaine says:

    I love the expression ‘real Scots’ but what does that mean? No one – other that right wingnuts – refer to real Americans. Affinity Scots may be a better term. Hope this helps.

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      I know what you mean Marcia – trying to express the ineffable in words. Affinity Scots is a good term – what I was trying to express is adherence to a certain sprit of the country, its people and the land we share – at its best and most generous.

      It is difficult – but essential – to avoid atavistic sentiments when speaking of nationhood – the crude ethnic supremacist jingoistic nonsense that is not difficult to find in this archipelago. – But as soon as we say this we can sail close to ‘wha’s like us’ mode – although that bubble self-bursts with the ‘no money – an they’re all deid’ deflator.

      Being Scottish is an idea – and we want it to be a good and humane idea. This will be very important to us in the testing months and years ahead as try to create something better and distinctive in this place.

      Thanks for your response. Best wishes.

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