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Showing posts with label Eddie Barnes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eddie Barnes. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Independence – Newsnight Scotland

The UK Supreme Court will make a ruling at 10 0’clock this morning. The outcome will be significant, and it will say a lot about the UK’s relationship to Scotland and the ultimate fate of the Union.

Cadder – UK Supreme Court overrules Scots Law and Scottish judges

Fraser – UK Supreme Court overrules Scots Law and Scottish judges

Pleural Plaques – ?

If the UK Supreme Court does overrule Scots Law again – we hope it won’t - it will be a victory for cynical commercial interest over human values and the rights of vulnerable Scots whose lives have been threatened by forces beyond their control.

After the ruling is known, the Scottish Government will speak for Scots, either welcoming the decision of Scottish Judges being upheld, or against a decision that upholds the interests of big companies and profit against common humanity. In the latter case, the pseudo-Scots who call themselves the Unionist Opposition, with dreary predictability, will call this principled stance ‘Alex Salmond making mischief against the Union’.


The programme was one of those occasions when Newsnight Scotland rose to the issue and to the moment. This, however, was true only of the programme makers, and of Gordon Brewer, Eddie Barnes and Stewart Hosie. I never expect Scottish Labour, least of all Willie Bain, to rise to any occasion, but I had expected more of George Kerevan.

The programme was in three parts – a piece by Catriona Renton on the history of Labour’s negative campaigning against the aspirations of Scots to secure the independence of their nation, which was well-constructed, highly professional and crucially,  informative, in the way these scene-setting Newsnight Scotland pieces almost invariably are.

The second part was a debate between Willie Bain, one of the new Team Scotland group of Labour MPs set up to prevent their countrymen and women from gaining their freedom (I am entirely free of bias on the matter) and Stewart Hosie MP, one of the most economical and effective SNP spokespersons, with the ability to reduce a discussion to its essentials while remaining in command of the detail, a quality that is not universally displayed by SNP spokespersons, as George Kerevan later made evident.

Willie Bain was weak in argument – what little he had – and obscure on just what was new in the new Team Scotland, managing to sound like a bad Iain Gray tribute act.

Stewart Hosie was a model of clarity, as he patiently answered the questions that Gordon Brewer was obliged to ask about the exact meaning of independence, but clearly already knew the answers to.

The third part was Eddie Barnes of the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, who also displayed great clarity and insight into what was meant by independence and exactly where we were at, and where we might be at, come the referendum.

And then we had George Kerevan, journalist, commentator, former SNP candidate, and SNP supporter. I shot from the hip on Twitter exchanges last night on this, and thought the cold light of today might dispel my reservations about his input. They haven’t, but here are the clips – judge for yourself.

I will be back gnawing at the bone either later today or tomorrow …

I close with a reprise of Stewart Hosie’s definition of what the independence of a nation means, which is exactly what I hope the independence of my nation, Scotland, will mean.

Friday, 9 September 2011

PMQs: Oh Gypsy Amalia – did you foresee your own celebrity?

I found the first PMQs of the new session yesterday good value for taxes, if not for my BBC licence fee (I don’t pay it anymore), with an informative and entertaining mix ranging form low comedy to high seriousness on matters of fundamental interest to the people of Scotland, and in the Megrahi case, far beyond Scotland.

But I clearly watched a different programme to Eddie Barnes of The Scotsman, who has a piece today entitled Luck be a lady for Dundee for gypsy king Alex. The piece is under the category New parliament Sketch. Sketch is a word journalists use to justify abandonment of objectivity and a descent into leaden humour and rampant bias, and Eddie Barnes doesn’t disappoint. (I hold the view that political editors and reporters should stick to objective reporting and telling the truth to power, leaving comment to journalists who specialise in that, and to editorials.

I won’t waste space quoting Eddie Barnes’s pejorative comments and biased analysis of the proceedings, because, thanks to alternative media, Scots can read, listen and view the real things without the distorting prism of The Scotsman. Here are a couple of clips – judge for yourselves. If you can be bothered, the Eddie Barnes piece is here .

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Scotsman and journalistic standards

Before I get to the papers, a word about the BBC. What master programme planner decides that we all put our brains into neutral on a bank holiday, and demand, instead of regular news and current affairs programmes, a fractured schedule comprising truncated news broadcasts with the time filled with trivial re-runs and repeat entertainments programming?

Are we supposed to lose our interest in current affairs, politics and major events so that we may frolic in the garden or on the beach, occasionally watching the crap that has replaced the news on a portable?

Back to the papers and that strange species called Scottish journalists and political commentators. (I won’t list my usual exceptions, those whom I recognise as fine examples of the honourable Scottish journalistic tradition, because some have fallen off the plinths I erected for them in the last week or so, destabilised from their bases by the terrifying spectre of imminent Scottish independence, a wraith visible to everyone except the SNP, nationalists supporters, and apparently the majority of the electorate, who have more practical concerns.)

I ask three baseline things of a journalist, accurate facts, a reasonable command of English, and a little sensitivity. The Scotsman, in an otherwise excellent Election 2011 supplement today, manage to fall at the first two hurdles on page 5.

Andrew Whitaker fails the English test on this  paragraph -

You can count on a close-run election race (para 10)

Should Ms Boyack, an ever-present in the Scottish Parliament since 1999, be defeated and the swing against her is repeated across Scotland, then we may be set for a fairly comfortable SNP win.

I’m sure you can see what’s wrong here, Andrew. If not, things are worse than I thought …

Eddie Barnes fails the factual accuracy test on his 3rd paragraph here, on the arithmetical process applied to the constituency vote -

How the voting system works

The constituency votes are counted first. Once these results are in, election officers tally up the votes in each region and then divide that sum by the number of seats each party has won within that region. The party with the largest figure gets a regional seat. That seat is added to their tally and the process is repeated until a total of seven regional MSPs are elected. The effect is to give more seats to parties which have failed to win constituency seats, but have secured a significant chunk of votes.

The method adopted for proportional representation in the Scottish Parliament is the d’Hondt method, Eddie, not the Barnes method. The votes in each region are divided by 1 + number of seat won, not by the number of seat won as you say.

An example should suffice to demonstrate what would happen if the Barnes method were used rather than the d’Hondt method.

Barnes method

Party gets 100,000 votes and wins one seat - 100,000 divided by 1 + 100,000. Party’s vote unchanged.

d’Hondt method

Party gets 100,00 votes and wins one seat - 100,000 divided by 1+1 = 2. Party’s vote is now 50,000, and it is re-ranked on the list.

At a time when there is, inconveniently, a UK-wide ballot on a different method, and the Scottish system may not be at all clear to many voters in the Holyrood election on Thursday, this is not a trivial error for one of Scotland’s two main newspapers to make.

I think in the interest of democracy and accuracy, an immediate correction and apology should be published prominently tomorrow in The Scotsman.

N.B. If I have got this wrong, Eddie, I will immediately apologise and retract my error.


On page 33 of the main paper, Hugh Reilly, in a piece entitled Cross purposes over how to cast a vote, has the following sentence in a paragraph (para 6, second column) -

Having hurdled the constituency vote with as much grace as a one-legged amputee, …

I cannot believe I’ve just read that in a quality newspaper, Hugh.

Many ‘one-legged amputees’ compete with considerable grace in sports of all kinds, and the main factor that has produced ‘one-legged amputees’ in recent years has been the tide of horrific injuries sustained by servicemen and women serving their regiment and the country in two wars.

Their grace is of a kind that few can display - it is the grace of loyalty to comrades and to their profession, and it is all the greater because it has been displayed in misconceived conflicts that have been entered into by politicians who are not in harm’s way, almost never place their adult children in harm’s way, and who totally lack anything that resembles grace.

I think Hugh Reilly owes an apology to Scotsman readers and to those he treats so casually in his cheap, throwaway remark.