Martin Hannan: Voting against political bias

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With just over three weeks to go to the referendum, I detect no let up in the Scottish people’s interest in the subject. If anything, more and more people are getting seriously involved, either attending public meetings or checking out the facts for themselves.

Therein lies the problem. As an SNP member, I am well aware that no party has the prerogative on facts, as plenty of people twist them to their own advantage – that’s politics, after all.

Facts should be “chiels that winna ding,” but they are only that in the eye of a truly impartial observer, and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of them about in this debate.

I make no apology for telling you about my SNP membership every time I write about politics. I am an out-and-out Yes voter and proud of it.

I only wish that every other journalist involved in this story, especially those who give their ‘expert’ and supposedly ‘factual’ opinion, would state their allegiances. I believe that when writing about politics and the referendum it is the fundamental duty of newspaper pundits to state any party membership or connection and even which way they intend to vote – bloggers do not need to front up, because they are on the internet, as I often am, but when you openly write for a newspaper or newspaper website, you MUST tell people your party connections.

Very few political editors go through their career exhibiting no bias. I couldn’t tell you how Brian Taylor of the BBC votes, for instance, but I’m pretty certain how a few other political pundits will vote on September 18 because they tend to show their allegiances all too easily.

Yet unless they actually state those allegiances, I believe they are doing their readers, viewers and listeners an injustice.

The News has heroically tried to cover all strands of the debate, and allows both shades of opinion to state their case, but this newspaper is something of an exception. I am very deeply concerned, for instance, that English-based newspapers in particular are being so totally biased in their coverage that they are effectively lying to the Scottish people.

It is a sad fact that, with just over three weeks to go, only one newspaper, the Sunday Herald, has declared for Yes. Usually at this stage in a general election, the tabloids would have issued ringing exhortations to vote for this or that party, but so far that has not happened with the referendum.

Newspapers and broadcasters will not decide the outcome, it will be the people of Scotland who will do so, and thankfully they show every sign of being fed up at being patronised by the English-based media in particular.

All those editors and political editors who have shown their bias, or who are going to recommend a No vote to their readers, should think about this – what if the vote on September 18 is for Yes?

Their proprietors will look at falling sales figures and rightly conclude that their editors made the worst call in Scottish newspaper history – the principled ones will have already fallen on their swords before the big bosses fire them.

They still have time to redress the bias balance, but I won’t hold my breath.

We’re flaming marvellous . .

With the Fringe already over and the Festival nearing its close, there should be great pride in this city that once again the world’s greatest arts event has taken place in Edinburgh.

There was a bit wrong in the last few weeks, such as the failure of the International Festival to deal with the referendum properly, while the mistreatment of our Israeli guests was reprehensible, but yet again Edinburgh proved that this festival city can be a shining beacon for the arts in a world that has never needed them more.

No city does it better, so let’s make sure we keep doing so.

CLIVE & KICKING

My own favourite Fringe line was this from a one-time English barrister: “I’m Clive Anderson, in case you were thinking ‘so that’s what happened to William Hague these past years’.”

City should stay out of Israel crisis

One day after Edinburgh City Council had taken the ludicrous decision to fly the Palestinian flag over the City Chambers in solidarity with the people of Gaza, Hamas announced that it had killed 18 suspected “informers” without trial in blood-thirsty makeshift executions.

How stupid does that make Edinburgh look? And what are you going to do now, councillors – fly a black flag in sympathy with the 18?

Stick to running the city and stay out of international politics, as you are a bunch of amateurs – all of you – who don’t have a clue about the Middle East.

Keep out of this faraway mess, because you will get it wrong. Fly your flags and look stupid, but not in my name.

Jokers are not a patch on Chic

One thing I did notice about the Fringe, though. On the list of best jokes, won by Tim Vine, very few – if any – were Scottish jokes, japes or jests. Oh for a Chic Murray to walk on and blow us all away with his best one-liners – “What use is happiness? It can’t buy you money!” for a start.