Wednesday, November 8, 2017

No, Nicola Sturgeon does not need to apologise for someone else's personal opinions

Good Morning Scotland presenter Gary Robertson raised a few eyebrows last night by taking a clear stance on an issue of party political controversy -




Now, first things first - there's nothing wrong in principle with a BBC journalist expressing a political opinion on Twitter.  That's what the standard disclaimer "my views, not my employer's" is there to cover - he wasn't tweeting with his BBC hat on.  Nevertheless, there presumably is a line that has to be drawn somewhere - it would, for example, be a problem if Brian Taylor was constantly telling us which party he votes for in general elections, because we would inevitably view all of his political reporting through that prism.  What troubles me is not so much that we now know Gary Robertson thinks the SNP should have declined large game-changing donations in 2007 and 2011, but rather that he believes he's merely stating the obvious and is evidently offended by the idea that any right-thinking person would not dutifully fall in behind him.

Let's be absolutely clear what it would have meant for the SNP to turn down Souter's donations.  In 2007, the odds were - as since the dawn of time - stacked against them.  They were up against much wealthier opponents who could tap into UK-wide funds, and the media were relentlessly hostile.  The Souter donation helped level a hopelessly skewed playing-field, and there was simply no other way that was going to happen.  In a nutshell, Gary Robertson thinks the SNP should have opted out of the chance to properly compete for power on something approaching a fair basis, just so they could look as pure as the driven snow.  That would have been a betrayal of anyone who had pounded the streets for the SNP since 1934 on the assumption that the party was not playing a futile game of cricket, but was instead engaged in a serious attempt to overcome the dirty war fought against them by the media and London establishment, to attain power, and ultimately to win maximum self-government for Scotland.  The 2007 election was so desperately close that it's entirely plausible to say that without the Souter donation there would have been no independence referendum (because the 2011 overall majority was only possible due to the success of the 2007-11 government), meaning that we wouldn't now have a more powerful Scottish Parliament and an enormous contingent of pro-independence MPs at Westminster.  And what noble point of principle would the SNP have been sacrificing their raison d'être for?  None at all.  The donation came without strings.

Maybe once we have public funding of political parties, and once the media has put its own house in order, the SNP will have the luxury of turning down unconditional donations of £500,000.  But not until then.

I'm also slightly baffled as to why Robertson thinks Brian Souter has "policies".  Politicians have policies, but private citizens - no matter how wealthy - merely have opinions.  Perhaps Robertson thought it was only by indulging in the pretence that Souter is the equivalent of an SNP government minister that he could justify the otherwise incredibly silly notion that Nicola Sturgeon should be "apologising" for someone else's personal views.

As for Robertson's question about whether Souter's donations took place within the historical period Sturgeon apologised for in her statement, he should have known the answer to that, because she gave a pretty strong hint that she regarded 2001 as the watershed - that being the year in which the age of consent was equalised at 16.  The vast bulk of what she was apologising for took place on Westminster's watch - most notably, it was UK-wide Labour and Tory governments that eccentrically kept sex between men a criminal offence in Scotland for well over a decade after it had been legalised in England and Wales.  The short post-devolution period covered by the apology was during the Labour-Lib Dem coalition government at Holyrood, and ended six years before Souter's first donation to the SNP.

24 comments:

  1. Are the religiously orthodox to be excluded from politics?
    Which other minority would Gary like to see excluded from political activity?

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  2. Roberson is an out and out Unionist , you just have to listen to him interview any SNP Politian to realise that . As a gay man you would think he would be pleased , but no , it was Nicola Sturgeon delivering the apology not Ruth Davidson so as usual he is going to his default position , SNP Baaad .

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  3. Does Mr. Robertson rail against all parties and demand they apologise for their dodgy donors, or is the SNP getting special treatment?

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  4. There is a big difference between accepting money from someone who campaigned to keep Section 28, and people going to jail for homosexuality. For all Section 28's injustices, it never criminalised anyone - in fact, there was no provision for it in the law, so no one COULD be criminalised for it.

    It's crass and offensive of Gary Robinson to use this as a stick to beat the SNP with.

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    1. You are an idiot. Section 28 was intended to bury reality, stop discussion and you Jock fascists are Catholic but hopefully not all. Up yer kilts bum bhoys.

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    2. You are a sectarian bigot and a pathetic little coward trolling anything to do with Indy/Yes/Scotland. I suggest you read Race Discrimination Act 2010 because not only are you a sectarian bigot, you are a racist against Scots and under Police Scotland you can be charged with the tone in how you call us "Jocks" which is deemed racist if said in a tine by someone who hates Scots and is a racist. Our law is different and our Police investigate comments such as yours because you are being racist against Scottish "Nationality" and Scotland being our "National" origin, both which are included in Race Discrimination Act 2010. Police Scotland can get your IP server address and thus be able to track you down vile racist and bigoted comment!

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  5. Arkan,Ian Taylor and BetterTogether.....

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  6. I hardly think it's worth bothering about what Gary Robertson or any other state broadcaster thinks and tweets. He works for a radio station with an increasingly dwindling listenership.

    Ignoring these people is the best tactic. I know it's sickening that we all have to pay their wages, but not engaging with them causes them much more hurt than responding to their trolling.

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  7. He is operating an anti-SNP agenda, it is clear from the broadcasts, and he is using BBC in his hashtag. If he wants to speak as an individual he should have another account.
    And his tweet was nonsensical. Why wasn't he asking Mundell to apologise for a real action of voting to keep Clause 28? Or Labour and the Tories for maintaining the prosecution of homosexual acts when that had been removed in England and Wales.
    There is more than a whiff of desperate 'can't let the SNP be seen to do something right' about his tweets.

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  8. I'm afraid that Gary just appears petty.

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  9. Yes, that's him showing his partisanship again - turn any good news story into SNP Baad. There's a 101 other issues he could have highlighted re the UK Govt & gays, or donations to the Tories, Labour or Libdems. Or, like Brian says, some real negative actions like Mundell's or why the law wasn't changed in Scotland after it had been changed in England.

    Or he could have celebrated that in Scotland nobody will have to apply to have their record struck off, unlike in England - but that would have been SNP Good.

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  10. i mean he has worked for BBC a long time according to his wiki, so he worked for an organization that actively helped its employees rape children...has he apologized for that??more importantly , they almost fired him in 2014 during cutbacks...i am sure they used the opportunity to use his income to get him to toe-the-line. but you would think working for a station with dwindling listenership that he would at least show SOME respect for the 33-48-?? percent of potential listeners who support the SNP and-or independence.

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  11. Why hasn't he come out against Lord Ashcroft, who has donated millions to the Tories, but as the paradise papers have revealed he has retained his non-dom status, despite promising to revoke it, and that he has manipulated his transactions from his Bermudan offshore trust with his membership of the house of Lords. Nothing illegal, just millions of pounds in tax avoidance. Tax avoidance that has found its way into the Tory coffers!

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  12. Does Brian Souter not have the right to hold any opinion he likes on an issue?

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  13. Kim Yung Eck the great socialist actually took the money from the great capitalist who got the buses and the bus station property from the Torie 1986 . The Nat sis are low level scum at least the Tories are honest scum.

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    1. How the agent provocateur loves its Tory overlords...

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  14. Brian Souter does, in a way, have policies. A christian evangelical group came to our school in a converted Stagecoach double decker and basically they were anti gay, anti abortion and not very keen on Catholics. He financed them so I'd say his views were more than privately held. That said, these views are held by many christians and while they are illiberal they are not illegal. In contrast many donors to other parties have been actual criminals.

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    1. Tapping on the vulnerability of humans who think they have an afterlife while making a profit.. The Borgias were ahead of the game before buses.

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    2. Agent provocateur

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  15. James, if I may quibble slightly...

    You state that he was tweeting personally. I would contend that anyone who tweets with the handle @BBCGaryR is clearly representing the BBC.

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  16. Obviously the Souter stuff is a load of crap, but aren't we getting sick of governments apologising for stuff their predecessors did? I recall Tony Blair apologising for slavery or some such pish, while his own hands dripped with children's entrails.

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    1. If people who are still alive need an apology for closure (which may not be the case with slavery but certainly was with Bloody Sunday, for example) it's hard to see who else can do it but the government of the day. It's a bit late to wheel out Willie Ross or whoever, and if he was still around he probably wouldn't accept he has something to apologise for anyway.

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    2. Tony Blair was a great bloke who took on the Islamic fascists. In a hunner years time when the jock nat sis are forgotten Blair will be a hero. Help Ma Boab.

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