My first LIVE STREAM… from Wales.

Media is changing and there is no better group that reflects that than Independence Live. I loved how raw and real live streaming could be. No editing, no filters just live feed from all around the country.

An opportunity arose where I could live stream an event from my country of Wales to show support and good luck to Scotland in its referendum. I was nervous as I had never live streamed before and we were borrowing the tablet device also! As soon as I opened the app, everything ran smoothly. I could even get feedback from the viewers as it was happening! It was a great experience to share such an event with thousands of others and one I am looking forward to doing again in future.

The guys at Independence Live are really friendly and helpful and talked me through everything. From what equipment I’d need to login details and Wi-Fi. I had a great time and made friends along the way. If you’re someone who wants to share an experience and like to be behind the camera, give it a go!

Click link to see live stream… Wales Supporting YES – Cymru’n Cefnogi IE

On the amateur status of a citizen journalist

This is a bit of a taking-stock post, brought on by a few live-stream related events this weekend. They are my personal thoughts about what Independence Live is and what it might become. I would value comments on the role of Independence Live in the new Scottish media, especially from regular viewers of our broadcasts.

We at Independence Live are actually busier now with live-streaming than we were during the referendum campaign. The group is getting bigger and we are all committed to continue broadcasting the type of political, social and cultural events, which the mainstream media are unlikely to cover. We want to improve the quality of what we do. We want more people to know about us and watch our live-streams. We want more people to get involved as citizen journalists.

Independence Live has run, so far, as a low-overhead operation. The bulk of the equipment used is supplied by the members themselves. We do this in our spare time and we never charge for our live-streaming services. Coordinating the group has become a full-time job for our founding member, Kevin, who draws a very small salary. Crowd-funding and voluntary viewer subscriptions cover this and any other unavoidable overheads: primarily the subscription and our mobile broadband data plans.

Today we saw thousands from the YES movement gather in Glasgow at two huge events: the Radical Independence Campaign conference and Nicola Sturgeon’s final “road-show” appearance on her national tour. Both events were live-streamed. The former by a team of volunteer Independence Live citizen journalists and the latter by a commercial company, hired by the SNP. I watched at home as a viewer rather than a delegate or part of the team at the RIC Conference.

As he wrapped up the opening session of the RIC Conference, Jonathon Shafi mentioned the importance of conducting the conference and all Radical Independence Campaign activities in a professional manner. It got me thinking about the nature of amateur versus professional status in the context of what we do at Independence Live. Essentially we are amateurs (we don’t get paid), though we strive to conduct our live broadcasts in a professional (competent, skilful or assured) manner.

We have an ongoing internal debate about the best way forward for sustaining the group and achieving our aims and it strikes me now that this boils down to a discussion about retaining our amateur status versus embarking on the road to professional status. In this case, I’m meaning the other definition of professional: engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur. The road to there is paved with the quest for substantial funding, revenue generation, better equipment and ultimately job creation. More about those later.

Tomorrow night I will be live-streaming an event hosted by the Leith Walk SNP branch, where Lesley Riddoch is on the bill to share her thoughts on the media during the referendum and whether an alternative media is possible.

I would argue that an alternative media is already here, but I suppose the question is whether the media adventures, which blossomed during the referendum and in its aftermath, will survive as sustainable ventures. Of particular interest are the following entities, which are only now making their first steps into the world:

These new media operations have ambitions to quickly become part of the mainstream media landscape in Scotland. They appear to be realistically costed enterprises and I wish them every success. I reckon there is space and a need for all of them.

But should Independence Live have similar ambitions? Personally, I don’t think so. We are an alternative media operation, but one, which I think should not aspire to directly compete with the mainstream media. We are doing something new and different. We demonstrate that it is relatively simple for citizens to use accessible technology to shine a light on what is happening in their community. We are no different to the citizens who organise and attend the events we broadcast. These broadcasts will attract quite a niche audience and rarely, if ever, a mass audience, but the content is highly valued by that niche audience. Retaining our amateur status will, in my opinion, preserve our position in that delicate dynamic.

The goals of better equipment, access to funding and job creation are of course laudable, but require an enormous amount of time and energy – approaching full-time commitment from a few people. As far as I know none of the group are in that position, but as an amateur I am happy to focus my spare time and energy on continued live-streaming and encouraging more citizen journalists.

There are hitherto neglected endeavours, which need our attention, such as presenting workshops on live-streaming to encourage other citizen journalists and doing straight-forward PR to increase awareness about what we do. In terms of sustainability, I think the voluntary viewer subscription model coupled with our existing low-overhead operation is a realistic approach.

A Loud Hello.

The last two years have been an amazing time in Scottish politics. So many people have found their voices and have powerful stories to tell three years ago I had never spoken in public but like many women have had the opportunity to share my vision of an Independent Scotland. This confidence will never be lost now it is part of our DNA. We can question politicians and disagree and demand we are not only consulted but are part of any political process. We are citizens now not subjects who will be patted on the head and get a chap on the door from those who consider themselves our betters at election time.

With citizenship comes responsibility too. Westminster may have decided the petulant Scots have been quelled once again but we know that the desire for Independence carries on with polls suggesting 55% of Scots would now vote for Independence. To get 45% of the vote was a major achievement but now we have to keep the spirit of the 45 alive. That is why I am proud to be part of a movement of citizen journalists. Thanks to Independence Live for asking me. I hope to report on the cuts which are impacting on the most vulnerable. Cameron may have promised to protect the most vulnerable but his words are like those of Toom Tabard empty promises. I will be reporting on the cuts especially in relation to people with disabilities and those who are unpaid carers. Of course I have a few other ideas. So let’s gather round the fire, keep the flame of Independence going and most importantly allow our stories to be heard as we know they will probably not even be covered by the mainstream media. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Scottish Independence and the “Freeman Movement”

Reporting for IndependenceLive!
DelBoy – Reporting as ever for IndependenceLive!

Hi Guys (and Gals)!

Derek McLean here, reporting as ever for! You may or may not have heard of “The Freeman movement”. It’s something that I’ve had a passing interest in, but only today has it become relevant. Let me explain.

Since the referendum has been and gone, apart from the disappointment we have all been through, I have felt a twang of something much worse – boredom. After a years worth of campaigning and involvement in a movement with incredible momentum, to find yourself back in the same system of injustice and drudgery and just being asked to accept it and move on, has left me with something of a void to fill.

After the referendum on the 19th, I awoke (grumpily) to a future that most likely isn’t Better Together. I was leaving for my holiday in Spain on the 20th, and I hadn’t packed my bags. So what did I do?

I built a website. And I had the idea of recruiting 2 million odd voters and taking on the establishment! “Say Yes to a Better Britain”. Lol. What can I say, I was upset, and thought well, we just have to play by the rules! And we’re still part of the UK!

However upon my return I came home to find tens of thousands of people had joined the SNP! There was a ’45’ movement, and that Alex Salmond had hinted at the possibility of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence ( My idea (good intentioned though it was) was the wrong one.

Having said that, I also read about the number of people crying foul of the referendum. I have since seen various video clips and photos claiming to prove that there was some funny business at hand. Now I can’t say one way or the other whether or not everything was above board, but I can say with certainty that there was scope for foul play.

A variety of Youtube videos claiming foul play at work in the referendum

Anyway, since coming home from my holiday, my friends brought me up to speed with the events which had been going on. One thing I had noticed, was that there was a number of groups trying to organise and collect signed declarations, culminating in a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

My first thought was, that they are good hearted people who are just attempting to keep the momentum going by campaigning for UDI.  My second thought was that it seemed like an almost impossible task, given that many of those who weren’t as involved as some of us will have resigned themselves to a future ruled by Westminster once again due to the no vote.

So in order to combat my boredom, and combine it with my geeky love of technology, I decided to remove all of the Yes Party website content, and relaunch it as a site dedicated to gathering everyones Declarations in one place. If this idea is genuine and is going to work, then it needs to be in one place.

I launched it this morning (9am) , with one signatory (me). Already (11pm) the site has 792 people on it. And thats just based upon my limited outreach through my Facebook and Twitter!

The YesParty Website

Since finishing my work and coming home, I have received a mixture of appreciation and skepticism.

Before I launched the site, I looked up the Yes Scotland Declaration for guidance. They stipulated that you must be registered to vote for the online signature to count, and they asked for a name, postcode, and an email if you wanted kept up to date. So I added name and address with postcode to my sites form, ignoring the email, not so concerned for mass mailing everyone.

The Yes Scotland Declaration
The Yes Scotland Declaration

I then signed up for a Twitter account for YesParty (@yespartyscot), and started searching for #UDI and #indyref. Pretty quickly it became apparent that Pat Lee, the SNP councillor involved in the organisation of the BBC Bias protests, was receiving some flak on there over his plans regarding collecting the signatures for UDI. As you know, I myself covered through the BBC Bias protests, and have met Pat personally and have found him to be genuine and a nice guy in general.  If these trolls on Twitter believe what they tweet, then they don’t believe that he can complete this admittedly huge task of gathering 2 million signatures in order for the people of Scotland to unilaterally declare their independence.

Like I mentioned, I have received praise alongside criticism for the website. But I take criticism as constructive criticism. I was attacked over some facts which upon first inspection seemed valid. The Yes Party website declaration I built takes a name and postcode, but no signature. Yet many of the separate UDI Facebook groups I have seen have a PDF document which you print, write your name on, and sign, yet with no address or postcode. So I got to thinking.

A printed version of a declaration of independence
A printed version of a declaration of independence

Collecting 2 million plus signatures is a gargantuan task, however the Yes movement pre-referendum were fully mobilised across the length and breadth of Scotland, and managed to collaborate, organise, get together, and move forward as one coherent unit! Since then the talk of UDI, and the talk of Yes Alliances, seemed to me like great ideas, but ones that were split and missing an organising hub.

As an everyday person equal to each and every one of you, I am no expert on legalities. And neither are the people campaigning for UDI. However I can say that I’m good at web development, and I have knowledge in that field which can be applied.

I spoke to Pat earlier after having seen the flaming he received on Twitter. People were arguing that his declaration, although it had a signature, did not have a registered address. At the same time I was being attacked for collecting addresses, and not having a signature! The complete opposite!

That’s when it dawned on me.

The Freeman movement (yes, I take ages getting to the point) are a movement of people throughout the UK who have on their own declared independence from the state! This of course comes at a cost, because although as a sovereign you are not liable for things like parking or speeding tickets, it also means you don’t have a passport and can’t go on holiday. Also, as a fringe movement, the majority of people know nothing of it and so act accordingly. That includes police officers. And so when a police officer comes to do his job and someone doesn’t play ball with him, that guy probably gets arrested. And so that’s what happens with a lot of these ‘Freemen’. They get arrested, get jailed overnight, have to go to court, but once they get to court many of them cannot be prosecuted, as it is out of the court’s jurisdiction!

This is because a “free man of the land” is only bound by the Common Law, or Law of the Land, and not the administrative commercial law (Maritime Law) that the courts run on. Time to explain.

You (as a man or woman), are “representing” a “legal fiction” that came about through your registration of live birth, and your birth certificate!

Now i’m no expert, but the Freeman Movement explain to us how a man or a woman are not the same thing as a PERSON, and they tell us how we are “sold into slavery” at birth, by our parents, who unwittingly sign us over to the state when we are born!

A video on Maritime Law
John son of David, free man of the land
John son of David, free man of the land

Do you remember that guy ‘John son of David’ who got off on a speeding offence? He’s one of these ‘free men of the land’. He called himself that to the police because if he said he was ‘MR JOHN SMITH’ then he would suddenly find himself legally in the position of a PERSON, and not a man or a woman.

The difference is the jurisdiction.

Men and women live under the Common Law, and things like government are created to benefit man/womankind. A PERSON (all in capitals, look at any bill you have) is bound under Commercial Law (or Maritime Admiralty law).

Our parents, on signing the registration of birth, actually legally sign us over to the government, have relegated our status from a Man or a Woman, to the lowly status of a PERSON (words in capitals are LEGALESE), bound by the restrictions of the aforementioned CONTRACT.

A certificate certifies you, and a birth certificate certifies you to work for the UK PLC. Yes the UK is indeed a company. Please look all of this up, It’s all there!

The Freemen movement have their foundations of the Magna Carta 1215. Check it out. It is upon this basis in which they bravely choose (alone) to declare their independence. Guys like this John son of David (and others all over the UK, not just Scotland) have sent affidavits to Westminster reclaiming their rights as a man or woman under the common law, and rejecting their status as subjects of the oppressive UK.

In the Magna Carta it is what is referred to as ‘Lawful Rebellion’. They literally become “Free Men” or “Free Women” of the land, and as it is lawful, this is why John son of David was able to get away with speeding when the cops pulled him up. There are many other examples of this on Youtube.

My point is, it actually worked for these individuals! And they were unable to be prosecuted in court when it came down to it, because they stayed in the jurisdiction of Common Law, and did not submit to representing the legal fiction MR JOHN SMITH (or whomever) recorded on the birth certificate.

So this can actually work! When the Freemen lawfully claimed their sovereign rights back, the one thing they most certainly pointed out in their affidavit they sent to Westminster was the legal fiction they were choosing to abandon and cease representing. Like your name on a bill is all in capitals, so too is a town or postcode in your address. That’s why collecting the address seemed important.

Since “interviewing” Pat earlier (an informal phone call to be honest), I can also see the importance of a signature, but some people started telling Pat today that his signed declarations were no good without an address also! The opposite of what I was being told!

Whether or not the idea of the UDI is appealing to you, it does no harm (especially if you voted Yes) in adding your name to the list in order to get a mandate for independence  for the people of Scotland.

So the idea is now this. Register your name and address on, and (soon) you’ll be able to print off and sign a declaration too. And you’ll agree to keep your printed and signed Declaration of Independence in your house. At home, promising to surrender it upon demand.

This way, we get a real idea of the numbers involved, and if the magic figure of 2 million declarations are reached,  then the entire Yes movement will remobilise all by itself to collect the signatures. No one will have to run around all over Scotland picking up declarations where there is no need!

Sign up and declare your independence. If the numbers don’t reach the magic figure, then you’ll have lost a minute of your time. But when they do…

George (Freedom) Square, Glasgow
George (Freedom) Square, Glasgow

BBC News favoured the No Campaign by a ratio of more than 2 to 1

BBC News favours the No Campaign by a ratio of more than 2 to 1

Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland
Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland

By Professor John Robertson (12/09/2014)

Last night (Thursday 11th September) I watched BBC 1’s coverage of the events around the visit to Scotland of the three Westminster leaders and the press conference with First Minister, Alex Salmond. As the thirty-minute programme proceeded I became increasingly uneasy and decided that I would apply the same research methods I had used before to measure objectively how fair it had been that night.

In February of this year, BBC Scotland reported me to my employer, the University of the West of Scotland, for allegedly bringing both them and the University into ‘corporate disrepute’. Luckily I kept my job. What had caused their venomous reaction? I had carried out research which revealed bias in their coverage of the Scottish Referendum campaigns. Most offensive to them, given their proud claim to impartiality, had been my finding that they had favoured the No campaign by a 3 to 2 ratio.

Looking first at the total number of statements by presenters, politicians, business people and citizens, I counted 33 supportive of the No Campaign or attacking the Yes Campaign. By contrast only 16 statements supported the Yes Campaign or attacked the No Campaign.

This ratio of slightly more than 2 to 1 is more biased in favour of No than I had found in February. In February I had also found a tendency for anti-Yes statements to precede pro-Yes statements forcing the latter onto the defensive. This time in only one of six identifiable blocks of discourse did pro-Yes statements precede pro-No statements. This clearly presents the No argument as somehow ‘normal’ and requires the Yes argument to justify itself.

Again, in February, I had drawn attention a regular tendency for the Yes Campaign to be conflated with the personal wishes of Alex Salmond. Through a process, mainly used by opposition politicians then adopted uncritically by many presenters, the First Minister was demonised and the Yes Campaign was, by association with him only, undermined. In the year-long study published in February this had only happened 35 times in total. In 30 minutes, on 11thSalmond ‘accusing’, ‘launching’, ‘knowing’ and so on. The Yes campaign was mentioned only once by a student 23 minutes into the broadcast. Ed Miliband was mentioned only once, ‘being drowned out’ and the other leaders not at all. The effect is surely to portray the Yes Campaign as a one-man band despite a signed up support of over 1 million.

In February, I reported a 22 to 4 ratio of evidence favouring allegedly impartial sources attacking the Yes Campaign over a period, again, of a complete year. On Thursday 11ththere were 7 cases of evidence being used inaccurately to support the No campaign with none supporting the Yes Campaign. In every case criticism of the Yes position was answered by a quote from Alex Salmond simply rejecting the evidence without offering counter-evidence. Sometimes the inaccurate use of evidence was by politicians and left unquestioned by reporters and presenters. Sometimes it was made by the latter. For example, Alistair Darling appeared twice suggesting that ‘every’ Scottish bank would move ‘business’ south of the border and was not contradicted despite the fact that only three banks had talked of moving their registered office and that none had suggested loss of jobs or business in Scotland. Also Darling stated inaccurately that ASDA stores had announced that prices would go up after independence when they had only suggested they might go up or down depending on arrangements. Most notable, however, was September, BBC 1 made 15 references to Alex reporter Nick Robinson’s assertion that Salmond had not answered his question at the press conference. Salmond’s extended corrections and put-down of the reporter had already been circulated around the Internet and can be found on Youtube.

Later, reporter Kemal Ahmed warned of banks moving to England yet failed to remind us that none of these banks are, in any meaningful way, Scottish banks, but are already owned by UK (Lloyds, TSB) and Australian (Clydesdale) companies or by the UK government in the case of RBS. Kemal then goes on to introduce Owen Kelly of Scottish Financial Enterprise as ‘the man who speaks for the industry north of the border’ and who worries about our reputation as a ‘stable place to do business’ if large companies do not register here. Yet minutes later, Ahmed introduces Martin Gilbert, of Aberdeen Asset Management, flatly contradicting this view.

Bias by omission is difficult to demonstrate as objectively as bias by insertion and distortion.

With the latter, the evidence is before your eyes while with the former you can be accused of cherry-picking to suit your argument. So, with some reservation, here is evidence that the BBC 1 broadcast omitted and which would have helped with balance. First and most important for the viewers and the subsequent referendum voting, is the evidence that the ‘additional powers’ being offered by Gordon Brown, encouraged by the three unionist parties, seem unlikely to be offered after a No vote. Not only did the Calman Commission reject additional taxation powers as unworkable and the Edinburgh Agreement make the offer, at this stage, illegal, but only one day before the broadcast, House of Commons Leader, William Hague, made clear, in the Herald, that the offer of additional powers was ‘not government policy’ and only ‘akin to a statement in a general election campaign’ ie breakable. The widespread hostility, evidenced in opinion polls, to any preferential treatment for Scotland is apparent from a quick browse of the Daily Mail or Telegraph. That a No vote is more likely to lead to punishment rather than to reward is completely absent from BBC reporting.

With regard to threats of increased prices from supermarkets with HQs in England, BBC reporters missed the rather obvious question. How do Aldi and Lidl operate so successfully and cheaply so far from their HQs in Germany? These stores are currently eating into the markets of the bigger chains. Will the latter impose higher prices than in the rest of the UK, or compete as we understand companies typically do.

So, as we approach the vote, we can clearly count on our public broadcaster, funded as much by Yes as by No voters, to betray its charter on impartiality even more so.

The flags of Catalunya

Flags in Freedom Square, Glasgow, 12 Oct 2014
Freedom Square, Glasgow, 12 Oct 2014

This morning the Catalan First Minister, Artur Mas, announced that an unofficial consultation about independence would be held on 9 Nov 2014. A more binding official independence referendum planned for the same date has been blocked by legal moves from Spain. Our attention will be focused on developments there over the next few weeks.

Watching the massive Catalan rallies on the news, I’ve been curious about the different flags on view. Pro-independence rallies here in Scotland are now an incredibly colourful spectacle with fifty shades of saltire and a multitude of international flags expressing our solidarity with independence movements throughout the world. Catalan flags are undoubtedly the most numerous in this category and I was curious to figure out what the different flags from Catalunya mean.

The Senyera

Senyera, flag of Catalunya

The Senyera, meaning simply ensign, banner or flag in Catalan, is the official flag of the autonomous community of Catalunya and one of the oldest flags still in use in Europe. Its origins are disputed between Aragon and Barcelona, but date back to the 11th or 12th centuries. Its simple design comprises 4 horizontal bars of red on a yellow or gold background and is the basis for the other Catalan flags below.

The Blue Estelada

The Senyera Estelada, meaning “starred flag” in Catalan, has become the unofficial flag of the Catalan independence movement. This is invariably the Catalan flag we see at rallies in Scotland. It dates from 1918 and features the Senyera red and gold with a lone white star on a triangle of blue. The lone star symbolises independence and appears on many other flags such as Aragon, Galicia, Asturias and Andalusia.

The Red Estelada

The Senyera Estelada with red star
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the (blue) Senyera Estelada was adopted by Catalans in the struggle against the Franco dictatorship. Some socialist and marxist groups adjusted the flag to incorporate a lone red star, either on a white or yellow triangle. The latter design (pictured) has survived as the emblem of socialist and communist pro-independence groups.

Independence Live in Barcelona

Alistair Spearing discusses Catalan independence with Kevin Gibney in Barcelona on Sun 12 Oct 2014.

The Scotsman’s Trolls Savage the Professor

The Scotsman’s Trolls Savage the Professor

In January, Doctor Robertson of the University of the Best of Scotland, published research on TV News coverage of the Scottish Referendum debate. It showed bias against the Yes campaign. The BBC responded quickly to rubbish the research and report the researcher to his boss, the Principal. None of the mainstream media reported the research after the BBC attack but did and within days it had gone viral, as the young folks say.


Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland
Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland

In March, the now Professor Robertson was called to Holyrood to defend the research and was followed in by four heavily suited BBC chiefs who had shared the carriage with him, but not the class of travel, from Glasgow. Soon after, comedian Frankie Boyle re-tweets the link to the research to his 1.5 million followers – only 1 million, 499 thousand and 990 more readers than Robertson’s research normally attracts. Next, Noam Chomsky writes a kindly email before he comes out in favour of Scottish independence – no mention of Robertson after he taught him all about it! And then, amazingly, Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist tells Robertson, in faux Scots, that he is a ‘fatuous nationalist dupe’ and that he can ‘stick his research on bias up his airse’ (sic).

Best of all for those who embrace Boyle’s Theory of Political Communication, the Scotsman reports on the visit to Holyrood and allows its trolls to feed on the First Minister and Professor Robertson. No apparent moderation takes place, unlike in the Herald. Unwise to the maxim ‘Don’t Feed the Trolls’, Professor Robertson jumps straight in jabbing wittily, he thinks, to left and right. A selection is offered below for the not fainthearted.

Snobbery about UBS and its professors leads off and dominates but then these are Edinburgh Trolls.

  1. HAGGIS SALMOND: Prof Brigadoon Robertson sounds like the perfect person to be trapped in a lift with. Typical gnat: Professor Robertson: That’s how my current wife got pregnant! Sure you want to go ahead?
  2. one world: Professor John Robertson -what’s his real job? What’s his qualifications? Another self styled expert in my view – a nobody. Professor Robertson: It was lot of work one world. A nobody? I’m the best known academic in Scotland – tens o thoosans o tweets and posts. What’s your job? Qualies? Any?
  3. one world: What a joke this guy is -clearly not REAL professor. Is West of Scotland a real or pretend university? Professor Robertson: I know, I failed one of your essays, didn’t I?
  4. Robmb: University of West of Scotland – that says it all. Just a long shot at getting himself some PR as career at this CFE isn’t happening. Professor Robertson UWS -Says what robmb? You’re a snob with 3rd class honours?
  5. Skiboangus: Marga, thanks for the clarification. When I was young, Professors were very far and few between and were generally extremely prestigious people. These days it seems that every tom, kim and Jane at a higher seat of learning (Paisley Tech included) seems to be a Professor. I must be just getting old. Professor Robertson: Skibo. Why so nasty? Strathclyde and Robert Gordon and Napier used to be techies before. But you’re right about one thing – I used to be working class. Zetland Primary, Grangemouth. Only professor in the scheme. You must feel sick
  6. Drumtochty: The University of the West of Scotland. I rest my case. Professor Robertson: Don’t leave your case there young man. The halls of residence are next door, by the pool, indoor bowling and the sexual health labs. Have a good time with us.
  7. Indigenous Minority: A prof from the University of the West of Scotland accusing others of being a figure of fun. Oh,the irony. Professor Robertson: Same salary as profs elsewhere. What’s your status other than indigenous (since the post ice age repopulation or later?) minority (church goer?) – now that’s ironic
  8. Vexed: Poor wee Alex 🙁 bullied again so he wheels out a tame Academic to stand up for him. What a wee cry baby he is, ‘Gees me ma poond, gee me ma poond!’. Professor Robertson: listen noo, I’m opposed to NATO, Royal Family, Trump, lowering Corporation Tax. SNP have never not once contacted me. I’ll thank you to style me ‘rogue academic’
  9. pfm58: Does Prof Robertson still do the Woodwork and Arts & Crafts classes at Paisley College of FE? Professor Robertson: I wish. I’m haunless. Are you really happy to insult the great folk that teach such classes? You come across as a bit nasty by contrast.

Some comments are just nasty but then these are Trolls.

  1. one world: Dr Robertson said: “I’ve been personally hurt by the combination of threat from a powerful institution, although there has been no horse’s head in my bed yet, abandonment by the mainstream media and by academia other than my own immediate colleagues”. Oh dear – another wee wimp complains he is bullied because we don’t agree with him. Professor Robertson:One world – wee wimp? I’m (nearly) 200lbs of heavenly joy! And I’ve been to boxing classes quite recently in 1964. ‘We don’t agree…’ So, ‘we’ includes you, all the BBC staff and university staff? Next time you stand up for yourself against a national institution with comparable resources to the BBC, let me know.
  2. Sparts: From this brief article I’ve concluded that Dr Roberston has an agenda, and is a [email protected] Basically he made the report up as he went along, when asked to substantiate his claims he refused. A liar if ever there was one. Utterly ridiculous human being. Caught out and rightly paraded in front of all his peers to see. Professor Robertson: ‘From this brief article…’. You haven’t read the report have you. If you haven’t read next week’s reading, you’re off the course…[email protected]? [email protected] doesn’t sound right. Utterly ridiculous human being? Wow, that’s a bit venomous. Is it safe to tease you? Maybe not. I’ll withdraw.

A rare fair question lies amongst the bones, flesh and slaver.

  1. Duke Flipside: “He also criticised…other academics over a lack of support.” In academia there’s this little thing called “peer review”; what it essentially means is that, if other academics don’t support the research, then the “research” is probably a load of rubbish… Professor Robertson: Great name Duke. Peer review can be ideological too. Scottish Affairs offered no criticism but would not publish till after the referendum. The superannuated career profs who have the time to referee research papers are often quite conservative in their views and act as an establishment filter

There is only one friend:

  1. John Lambies Doos: I salute you Prof Robertson. You are fighting against a machine here, one centre to the core of this corrupt British state. One that will stop at nothing to discredit you.

Professor Robertson did worry about death threats after his comments. None came but then again these are Edinburgh Trolls.

The BBC’s Even Hand? One Egg-thrower and a Many Fascists Charge

Thanks to Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland for contributing this article.

Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland
Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland

The BBC’s Even Hand? One Egg-thrower and a Many Fascists Charge. BBC Scotland Monitor: Report 21/9/14
Reporting Scotland 19th September 2014: The George Square ‘Scuffles’

Remember the egg-thrower? Remember, the ‘vile’ Yes supporter who egged one BT speaker and forced him to cancel his talking tour…..well for one day anyway? Remember the Daily Record headline?

Labour MP Jim Murphy and cancer patient hit by eggs as …

The BBC then allowed Murphy to characterise one egg-throwing incident as:

“In the past 10 days or so, the Yes Scotland campaign has organised mobs to turn up at every meeting that I’m taking part in to try and silence undecided voters and to try and intimidate me.”

Now contrast the coverage of an egg-throwing threat to democracy with that of the George Square ‘scuffles’. Here are images from the event described, by Reporting Scotland, as ‘scuffles’ between Yes and No supporters in George Square on the evening of 19th September, None of these images made the BBC coverage which huddled in the middle of the police bubble.

mages: BT’s unavoidable bedfellows: See the Better Together badges and banners, the Labour for No rosettes.
Images: BT’s unavoidable bedfellows: See the Better Together badges and banners, the Labour for No rosettes.

Reporting Scotland 19th September, from 6.30pm:

20 mins 15 sec in – ‘News is coming in of some disruption and scuffles’

What was reported in social media, as it happened, as a coordinated attack by Better Together supporters on Yes supporters, from both sides of the square and filmed timidly from a distance by BBC to reveal a dominance of Union Flags and the presence of aggressive adult and teenage males, is presented as scuffles involving both sides.

The reporter talks of a change of atmosphere twice but does not explain how this came about. He talks briefly of more union flags and a loyalist element as if this disconnects them from the continuum of Better Together support (see the images above). Was the same courtesy extended to the Yes campaign when the latter was accused of turning ugly after a few eggs were thrown?

The reporter mentions ‘people’ leaving after the ‘loyalist element’ came into the square. might these have been referred to more accurately as ‘peaceable Yes supporters’? When they (the ‘loyalists’) charged straight into the ‘crowd’, might that have been more accurately reported as ‘BT supporting fascists charge straight into formerly peaceful Yes supporters’?.

When we hear ‘the flares went off” wasn’t it clear these were red, white and blue flares?

The reporter finishes with ‘you get the sense it was almost well-planned’. Really? No, surely not? (irony).

In the studio we hear from Jackie Bird and two unionist politicians that ‘we don’t want that on our streets’ but no acknowledgement of where the blame lies for the attack.

The next day (Saturday 20th), the BBC website persisted with ‘Scottish referendum: Police separate rival groups in Glasgow’ ( politics-29288249), suggesting comparable violence by both sides’ quite contrary to the evidence. Those attacking Yes supporters are characterised as ‘people waving union jacks’ or ‘Union supporters’ despite the widespread wearing and carrying of Better Together symbols evident in the images above. Further, in the same report, we are told unambiguously that ‘Reports that the disturbance had led to a fire at the Glasgow Herald offices were also inaccurate.’ The Independence-supporting Sunday Herald, contradicts this the next day.

What’s missing? The BT elephant in the room is somehow missed. If egg-throwing is part of the behavioural continuum of the Yes campaign’s ideology, a yobbish element, then why are the fascist salutes and the charges not part of the behavioural continuum of the Better together campaign’s ideology? The so-called ‘loyalists’ wore Better Together and Labour for No badges/rosettes and stood below large BT banners as the made Nazi salutes. They clearly think they’re part of ‘Britishness’ with good reason because they are. They know the words of Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen. They’re the ugly face of British imperial ideology reminding us, in words and action, of what the Empire was, a protection racket based on bullying weaker people. Watch only the BBC News and you’d know nothing of this. Better Together’s image would be untarnished by contrast with those yobbish egg-throwing Yes supporters. Even the Sunday Herald, carrying images like these and with harsh words for the yobs involved, hold back from criticising BBC coverage. Attacking friends, former colleagues and school-chums cannot be allowed in the closed world of broadsheet journalism.

Professor John Robertson with massive help from friends on his Facebook page. Special thanks to Ann Browning, Lucy Noble, Karen Fisher and Murdo Macdonald for ideas and to John Carey, Calum Craig, and Col McGillveray for the incriminating Twitter pics. Who says Facebook friends are not real friends?

Footnote: After resigning, former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, speaks out, though in very restrained (too subtle) manner: ‘Alex Salmond criticises the BBC for its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum, saying the organisation does not know the difference between being a “public service broadcaster” and a “state broadcaster”.’ Channel 4, Published on Sep 21, 2014,

Anthony Barnett on Carswell and UKIP

Anthony Barnett, founder of Open Democracy

On 15th September 2014, just 3 days before Scotland’s independence referendum, we broadcast a Tom Nairn book launch live from Edinburgh. It was a venue packed tight with intellectuals of the left, who shared a solid, but in hindsight misplaced, confidence that we were on the brink of a YES victory. Anthony Barnett, founder of Open Democracy, put forward his analysis of how things looked likely to go with the defection of Carswell and the probable electoral success of UKIP. Here is a transcript of what he said:

And the most important thing about UKIP now – it’s an odd thing that it was taking place in parallel with this movement here – is that when Carswell resigned from the Tory party, he said what happened was he went along to a private meeting and he talked to Cameron’s advisers and the mandarins and he discovered that Cameron didn’t mean a word he said.

That they absolutely regarded the referendum on Europe as a device, as a trick, that they were going to fix it. And he just said you know, he’s an odd figure because the Tories call him a “maverick” and that is to say (A) he means what he says and (B) he is a democrat and he’s a modern democrat.

He said in the speech when he resigned that he was a feminist, he talked about his daughter, he talked about the importance of political correctness, he talked about the importance of (people with) disabilities and his book “The Plan” is about how you implement internet democracy.

So he is actally quite a peculiar – we talked about atavism – he is a peculiar English anti-European free-market nationalist. But he’s also in internet terms a democratic modern figure. And that break will give UKIP real place. It ceases to be just Farage’s instrument.

He will win this by-election. And if they win this by-election, they will have an MP. That MP will not be Farage. And if the UKIP vote holds up, the Tories lose the election. So the entire Tory strategy was to scoop up the UKIP vote on the grounds that we are offering you the referendum and Miliband isn’t. 80% of UKIP votes Tory and they can beat Labour.

So this defection..behind this defection is the view of Carswell and obviously Farage that they want the Tories to lose. That they think that a Labour victory is the only way to gain a Tory party that will hold an authentic referendum to take England (as it will be) out of the EU. And that is the end of contemporary Conservatism as we know it.

So it’s a kind of revolution … I say this through gritted teeth and eyes yellow with jealousy … is taking place in England, not of the kind that I would like, but that is already happening on the ground.

And a Scottish YES feeding into that is absolutely explosive.

Watch the video here. Anthony Barnett’s comments transcribed above occur near the end at 1h15m25s.

The Outsourcing of Scotland’s Sovereignty

After having witnessed the Glasgow count on the night of September 18th, certain things didn’t feel right in retrospect. The Emirates Arena was huge, and the count could have been effectively completed in a much smaller area. Monitors like myself were able to watch the volunteer counters count he ballots, yet observing where the ballots were coming from and what happened to them after they were counted was off limits.

A question I began asking myself was who employed the election officials, and what one entity was overseeing the entire operation. As to the latter, my internet search led me to The Electoral Management Board for Scotland, led by OBE Mary Pithcaithly. Seeking to establish who they hired to conduct the logistics of the referendum in the 32 constituencies, I came across this page, which includes a document ‘Checklist for Managing Contractors and Suppliers’.

What I read was frankly frightening, as it essentially establishes unaccountable corporate control over the Scottish referendum vote. While you can download it and read it for yourself, I found these excerpts particularly ominous for democracy in Scotland.

– Which [contractor] offers the best value for money? (..)
– Obtain a statement from the supplier confirming whether they will be using sub-contractors and, if so, seek assurances that the sub-contractor will be
capable of delivering the work and that appropriate quality assurance processes are in place.
– Even though Counting Officers are not subject to FOI, in the interests of transparency, consideration should be given to agreeing to some disclosure in the event of an FOI request. (…)

Data protection and secure storage
– Neither you nor the supplier can divulge any confidential information relating to the terms of the contract.
– The supplier and any sub-contractors must ensure the secure destruction of all electoral registration data and related materials at an agreed point
– The supplier must ensure the safe/secure storage of all live ballot papers.
Requirements for secrecy
– You must provide suppliers with a copy of the requirements for secrecy

So, in essence, the services of determining the collective will of the Scottish people were privatized and outsourced to the lowest bidder. How much of it? We can’t know because all of the contracts and their terms are secret. Under the terms of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act (SIRA), the ballots and documents must be kept for one year, or is it all must be destroyed within one year? The legislation is contradictory. In any case, the contracts apparently stipulate that the data must be destroyed at a given point.

So we don’t even know what private company or companies are in possession of the ballots, and when they are to be destroyed. Confidence inspiring, non?

The second aspect concerns the use of so-called blank ballots, that is those without the self-identifying number on the back. The proper ballots were to appear as such.

However, the Daily Record unwittingly included a photo of a blank ballot at an Edinburgh polling station. Look carefully at the back of the first ballot rolled over, where the barcode should be.

This puts to bed the idea that the thousands of voters who claimed to have received a blank ballot are delusional, as the Deputy Counting Officer for the city of Edinburgh maintained.

What is also revealing are the powerpoint instructions given to the polling station inspectors and poll staff workers available here and how they deal with blank ballots. One Orwellian ‘key aim’ is that “The referendum will produce results which are accepted as accurate”, and another to “provide excellent customer care”. “The collective will of the Scottish Citizenry” was not on their radar.

There is nothing in the powerpoint presentation for dealing with votes without a identification number, so the poll staff may not have been aware that they existed. Voters were certainly not informed beforehand what the ballots were to include. At the close of the polls “agents can put their own seals on the ballot box”.

Finally, the instructions on ‘After the Declaration of the Result’ demonstrate how the result of the referendum was wired to be unverifiable.

2. Documents not open to inspection
2.1 The undernoted documents are not open for inspection other than by order of the Court of Session or a sheriff principal

a) the packets of the ballot papers in the proper officer’s possession
b) the packets of the completed corresponding number lists
c) the packets of the certificates of employment.

So, only under a judge’s order can a single ballot be inspected, but it is legally impossible to inspect the totality of the ballots even in one constituency, let alone the totality of the ballots in Scotland to determine systematic irregularities. We don’t know where they are, what private company is in possession, or whether they have already been destroyed as stipulated under contract.

These are just a few examples of the potential scope for systemic fraud within the Scottish referendum vote. While I am not easily given to conspiracy theories, these lax rules, in addition to the secret use of private contractors, leave plenty of possible avenues for mass electoral fraud, and little scope for redress, by design. Collectively, these factors facilitate the legal subversion of the will of the Scottish people. You can explore the Elections Scotland website and read the SIRA legislation and reach your own conclusions.

Whether a sufficient legal challenge to the result can be mounted to at least delay certification and / or overturn the result if mass fraud is found within the next few weeks has yet to be seen. Ironically, it may have taken independence to have the necessary powers assure a free and fair referendum. As it is, Scotland is still at the mercy of the Westminster government to decide what is democratic and what is not.

In any case, the way this referendum was designed and conducted can give us no confidence that it truly reflects the will of the Scottish people to remain in the UK. The only way now is to hold a revote, with a process designed and monitored by the OSCE and transparently implemented by strictly monitored volunteers. If not, Scots will rightly suspect that their will was subverted by a deliberately privatized and potentially fraudulent referendum process.