Beyond argument: taking back ‘The Agenda’

British politics is framed and guided by an “Agenda”. We will frequently observe reference to the term whenever we attempt to find out what is going on in our political system, catch up on the ‘news’ or access our political information from conventional media sources, whether newspapers, journals or broadcast. The public may appear to participate in political debate, albeit at some distance from the major decisions; but there is no doubt that the public does not set the Agenda. The “Agenda” is set for us; we dip into a political dialogue the terms of which have already been fixed by an established political and communications order.

Over time the public has come to take this “Agenda” and its recondite creation for granted; the influence of the BBC, for example, has encouraged the broad public acceptance of the terms of political debate subtly being set for us through ninety years of persistently asserted explicatory impartiality; and as citizens we have in consequence too easily, and too often, set aside our natural skepticism, or failed to exercise our critical faculties, only casually to accept views or policies that may be inimical both to our interests or even to the public interest, in order to serve what we take to be a Common Good that, on closer inspection of our phoney-adversarial political system, we would otherwise observe is little more than a Political Cartel serving predominantly established, well connected Vested Interests.

There is even an ITV news/current affairs programme (fronted by Tom Bradby) that titles itself the “Agenda”; it discusses political issues that it presents pre-formed, and which the public has neither initiated nor had any real influence in framing. All of this remote, manipulative political-psychological activity can only have the purpose or effect of subliminally reconciling a politically passive public with otherwise irreconcilable policies or oppressive political dogma. I shall call this overarching, established political framework, that provides us with the pre-formed nature, tone and content of virtually all political debate that is, quite erroneously, offered to the British public as fully-fledged participatory democracy; the “Official Agenda”.

Westminster is central to setting the “Official Agenda” because Parliament provides the only credible assurance the Official Agenda can offer that it possesses the confidence of the wider public it purports to serve, or any claim that the Official Agenda represents the public interest. The power of other formidable institutions that also influence the Official Agenda is parasitic upon the democratic authority of Westminster and its elected politicians.

The mainstream print and broadcast media may also claim authority in setting the Official Agenda either through the reach of their circulations (print), or their approved regulatory access to the spectrum (typically broadcasters, led by the BBC). Other powerful, mainly corporate institutions exercise their influence on the Official Agenda through less direct or open means than either the public pronouncements of media or politicians, and are therefore more insidious in their effects. The methods these institutions use include, but are not restricted to, the lobbying of politicians (or parties) at Westminster, operating a revolving door of career patronage between Westminster and the corporate world, the use of economic or financial power; or the application of extensive, professional, Public Relations machinery, which may in turn be indirect and insidious: hence the disproportionate influence of the banking sector and the City on the Official Agenda.

At the same time the Official Agenda is slowly relying less on politicians or media to influence the public, principally because it is fairly obvious even to politicians and media that neither agency has been able to sustain public trust in the face of recent, persistent, obvious and damaging failures. We are thus now frequently persuaded to follow orthodox, conventional opinion on political policy, not through the direct appeal of politicians (with whom we may not agree), or the editorialising of the media (which we may believe are biased), but by the routine appeal to the support of “expert opinion”: commentators, critics, analysts, to whom both media and politicians frequently resort. These experts typically represent a wide variety of ‘Think-Tanks’, ‘Research Organisations’, ‘Industry Specialists’ that we, the public, know nothing about (and which may be funded by Vested Interests), but we are invited to believe are the only people who understand “the facts”; experts who are scrupulously “impartial”, and of course experts who are never wrong. Their credentials are rarely debated. It has become commonplace for politicians to attempt to de-politicise highly political issues by quoting so-called independent experts, whose assertions are not themselves challenged, thoroughly analysed or de-constructed in detail; but whose conclusions are invariably in harmony with the Official Agenda. We rarely hear from a dissenting “expert” whose thinking is not in harmony with the Official Agenda, but their absence from the debate only serves to feed the general impression supplied, the implicit acknowledgement that there are no dissenters among ‘real’ experts; dissent from the Official Agenda is thus rendered absurd. Dissent is the prerogative of cranks.

Everything debated publicly and widely disseminated in British politics is framed within terms and contexts established and guided by the Official Agenda. There is therefore no alternative narrative to the Official Agenda. It should be noted however that the Official Agenda relies on the conduct of political debate being first established, then expressed, reported and disseminated through a very narrow range of interconnected interests: Westminster, politicians, the mainstream print and broadcast media, or skilled public relations through a wide variety of outlets.

The defence may be offered that while the Official Agenda may be largely pre-packaged, it nevertheless offers alternative solutions; there is a political choice. The choice offered by the Official Agenda however, you will invariably and inevitably find will turn out to be singular; it is Hobson’s Choice. The Official Agenda simplifies and bifurcates debate into two simple options: the preferred and ‘sensible’ option, and the ‘cranks’ option: thus Government and political parties (whether Conservative, Labour or Coalition), media, the City, and other major institutions coalesce around a stock, consensus, orthodox conventional wisdom, typically a hard-line, impermeable neo-liberal economic (or neo-conservative political) ideology, which is presented in very simple terms as responsible, common-sense and obviously representative of virtue, and as the only honest representation of real and permanent human values: an exemplar and a consensus. This consensus claims to be tough-minded, but it typically prefers the anodyne and the anecdotal to thorough evidence, rigorous analysis, hard facts or a candid exposition of recent political history, as it must do if it is to avoid controversy or quickly unravel. It is the principal purpose of the Official Agenda therefore to compare the ‘consensus’ in contrast with a single and alarmingly dysfunctional alternative (there is no complexity, no multiple options); loopy sentiment and irresponsibility is the supposed foundation of any challenge to the consensus. A mere distortion is manufactured in opposition to conventional wisdom, a “straw-man” argument that is set-up only to be struck-down. It is not sufficient that this alternative possesses flaws; it is presented as being obviously irrational and irresponsible. The conclusion is obvious; there is no alternative.

Let us examine one example of what the effects of the operation of the Official Agenda actually means. The rescued banks have not only had their losses underwritten by the taxpayer, but were granted an open-ended guarantee of central bank support, effectively no matter what they do (the ‘too big to fail’ [TBTF] escape clause that Mark Carney said in June 2014 that the Bank of England was “seeking” to end; seven years after the Crash); RBS shares currently held by the state will be returned to the private sector at a low-point (at a loss to the state, but with all the future upside reserved for the private sector); while the Vickers Report’s regulatory regime, designed to control bank excesses, was amended to meet the objections of the banks that had failed the country, before implementation and in spite of Vickers himself warning that the Report should only be implemented in its entirety, or not at all. The banks have in consequence of all these confused and contradictory policies, effectively come out of the Credit Crunch more powerfully placed than they were before the crash, but little chastened: they have successfully passed their losses on to the public sector, survived almost unscathed the consequences of their own folly, effectively continued to consolidate their reach and range of influence, and now have almost succeeded in dominating the whole economy; while they have largely avoided material restrictions on their continued freedom to take whatever risks they choose. According to the Official Agenda this is a triumph of good government.

The sobering context to illustrate the scale of the problems we have not been prepared to face is found in comparison with the US: in 2010 the assets of only six major banks was equivalent to 60% of US GDP (Johnson & Kwak; ’13 Bankers’): a situation bad enough to concern wise Americans who may at least be reassured that however flawed the banking system, their country is protected by the scale of the greatest economy in the world. In the UK however, RBS total assets in 2008 were alone over 100% of UK GDP; in 2014 they were still circa 60% of UK GDP, accounted by a single bank; and there are a number of other very large UK banks operating on an international scale. The UK compared to the US however, has a relatively small economy that is effectively now the prisoner of a financial behemoth of a financial sector that it does not regulate adequately, manage or control. The elephant has squashed the room.

This is allowed to happen because the Official Agenda asserts that the financial sector, the City, is effectively the principal driving force of the UK economy; and the City’s success effectively funds government expenditure and provides Britain with the standard of living it enjoys (or for the many who are overlooked, the standard of living they ‘survive’). Any attempt to challenge the power of the City and the Banks is met by arguments that “over” regulating them (which appears to mean all attempts to introduce any effective regulation or control at all) would destroy business confidence, lead the banks to move their key activities abroad and ruin the UK economy.

Why do I say this? The banks already protest at the level of fines, the constant criticism (as if it was undeserved), while at least one major bank has been reported to be considering moving its headquarters out of London. At the same time the banking sector apologists argue that the more we attempt to make a bank safe “the less likely it is to take risk …” (Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph 12th June); as if what we really require in the UK, even after the catastrophic Crash, is risk-taking banks: but this is how the Official Agenda works; the preposterous becomes conventional.

The Official Agenda account survives in spite of the fact that the distortions caused by the City, and the unbalanced nature of the British economy are well understood to require radical reform. The Official Agenda survives in spite of the fact that it is not the banks but the taxpayer (represented by the Bank of England as ‘lender of last resort’) who carries all the risks of the TBTF regime. The real criticism, the real indictment of the way the Official Agenda has ridden rough-shod over wisdom or basic judgement, however is found in the fact that eight years after the Credit Crunch Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, in his Mansionhouse speech (10th June) was reduced to threatening (some might think not before time) that serious actions would at last follow the appalling activities within the sector that have continued long after the Crash, and some three years after the new tripartite semi-Vickers regulatory regime was implemented to change the banking culture. After £3Bn of FCA fines for failures in the financial sector have so obviously failed to stop persistent misconduct, the Governor was nevertheless prompted to claim, somewhat prematurely we may surmise, that: “The Age of Irresponsibility is over”.

For the avoidance of doubt, the age of irresponsibility should have been over long before 2007, and after that catastrophe it should certainly not have been allowed to fester until 2015. What can be said of a Coalition Government (which included the current Conservative Prime Minister and Chancellor) which presided 2010-15 over a banking sector that the Governor has now described in the following terms?:

“The Bank of England’s general approach [to regulation] was consistent with the attitude of FICC markets, which historically relied heavily on informal codes and understandings. That informality was well suited to an earlier age. But as markets innovated and grew, it proved wanting.

Most troubling have been the numerous incidents of misconduct that exploited such informality, undercutting public trust and threatening systemic stability.

This has had direct economic consequences. Mistrust between market participants has raised borrowing costs and reduced credit availability. Falling confidence in market resilience has meant companies have held back productive investments. And uncertainty has meant people have hesitated to move job or home. These effects are not trivial, and they have reduced the dynamism of our economy in the post-crisis years.

Widespread mistrust has also had deeper, indirect costs. Markets are not ends in themselves, but powerful means for prosperity and security for all. As such they need to retain the consent of society – a social licence – to be allowed to operate, innovate and grow. Repeated episodes of misconduct have called that social licence into question.

We have all been let down by these developments. And we all share responsibility for fixing them”.

The Governor went on to say that: “common standards, cast in clear language” were now required; this would be laughable if such an expression of need for something so basic that has failed to be provided was not already teetering on the edge of utter intolerability. The fact is, such “standards” are not difficult to assert. What has been lacking is the will to implement them, and that is an indictment of the whole culture, not just of banking, or the City, or of regulators, but of government and Westminster. Furthermore, the regulatory “informality” to which Carney refers was quite obviously never well-suited to the post-Big Bang era (1986), when the respected and stable banking culture, especially that which had been built in Scotland, was callously and systematically destroyed. The failings of the new orthodoxy were never addressed by the Official Agenda, in spite of the fact that it did not require hindsight to perceive the folly. Thirty years of inappropriate “informality” is not an oversight, but at best a form of regulatory and legislative cowardice: I am being kind for the failures have been gross. Similarly, the “social licence’” has not been questioned, it has been torn up by the banks without raising a moment’s dissent in Westminster.

Similar observations could be made about the shallow, duplicitous nature of the Official Agenda when it is called-up to defend or obfuscate inconsistent, unedifying, failed Government policies across the spectrum. For example, over “austerity”, where the Government’s front-bench backwoodsmen now proudly display their economic illiteracy as a badge of neo-liberal honour; or on “immigration” where the current anti-immigration stance is inconsistent with a UK economic policy for ‘growth’ that relies so heavily on immigration-driven population growth, which in turn is used by the Government to consolidate a low wage environment which exploits the opportunities for zero-hour contracts. The major flaw cannot be hidden however, as the policy inevitably produces the critical economic tell-tale that goes with such shoddy policy manipulation; endemic, low UK productivity: a very British disease.

Foreign policy also provides numerous examples of Official Agenda distortion: our Libyan adventures first promoted policies that cultivated the Gaddafi regime, then actively sought regime change. Bad judgement and erratic politics fed irresponsible interventions to change the regime, which has now produced the worst of all possible outcomes: Libya is a failed state and a power vacuum that has managed to destabilise the whole Mediterranean coastline. We are all paying the price of British Government folly, but an account of the deplorable mess that Britain did so much to induce will not be found in the British Foreign Policy Official Agenda; save only quietly to sacrifice the Foreign Secretary, William Hague who vigorously prosecuted regime change in Libya, and celebrated the achievement: presumably a sacrifice made by the Conservatives to avoid culpability falling on the Eden-esque figure of David Cameron. Britain’s profoundly failed foreign policy agenda in this sphere has not wavered or changed, no matter the scale of the catastrophe or defeat.

You may have your own example of the Official Agenda’s failings. There is virtually no area of government that would not provide similar evidence of a cynical, counter-rational, Official Agenda that was solely constructed to present systematic government policy failure as informed wisdom.

It is noteworthy that social media does not follow this mainstream ‘Official Agenda’, often in subject matter, invariably in content, even if a social media dialogue is sparked by an ‘Official Agenda’ issue or event. Social media allows, indeed asserts an agenda that is set principally, if not wholly, by the large number of participants communicating through direct interaction with websites, or through such media as Facebook or Twitter: in short, the public sets the agenda. I shall term this public communication space provided by social media, the “Public Agenda”; not because it is fully representative of the public, but rather because it is the only genuine space in which public opinion may not only be heard, but initiates for itself the terms of debate. It is also the only substantive alternative to the Official Agenda.

The Public Agenda undermines the credibility of the Official Agenda. The current discomfort of the British political system through the sudden, radical changes to the nature of Scottish politics over the last year, and the required terms of debate about the future of a quasi-federal Britain, is a function of the inability of mainstream British politics to communicate with the public openly, or even with itself outside the framework of an Official Agenda that does not recognise any terms of debate that it does not first (and exclusively) set.

The Public Agenda has liberated the public in Scotland; two years of referendum debate opened politics to a new dynamic of public political engagement and participation; largely through alternative media, websites and social media. It was empowering, and through both the referendum and the 2015 General Election, the Scottish people discovered that they could take control of the political agenda, and both the direction and pace of political change. In Scotland it is now the public, not the politicians who are in charge of the Agenda: for only a political Agenda set by the public, and not by politicians, parties or media could produce a ‘No’ vote in the referendum in September, only for the same public, systematically and ruthlessly, all but destroy everything ‘above ground’ in all three Unionist parties in Scotland (Better Together), in the General Election the following May. The Scottish people have taken the political lead for themselves (perhaps from the point they realised neither David Cameron nor Better Together were going to offer the second referendum question the Scottish electorate clearly desired and expected) in a new climate of change and reform. This would not have been possible without social media, and it is striking that successful politics in Scotland over the last two-three years is less a function of the (apparent) leadership of the SNP, than the swift adaptive capacity of the SNP to follow the lead provided by the public mood, and to use social media adroitly to serve the public demand. The SNP leads cleverly, but only by following the lead provided by the Scottish people.

Meanwhile, we should remain vigilantly aware that the Official Agenda is not there to explore the critical issues of the day, but to ensure that they are not aired. The Official Agenda is intended to close debate, not open it; its purpose is not to inform, but misinform. The Official Agenda is not the servant of reason, but its enemy. The Official Agenda is there not to celebrate democracy, but to defeat it.

The public response should not be to rise to the faux-challenge presented by the Official Agenda, but to override or discard it altogether; in order to establish political aspirations and debate through the creation and maintenance of a Public Agenda set by the Scottish people. This is hard, most of all to sustain over time; but it is the price of democracy in the 21st century.

Comments (16)

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  1. bringiton says:

    The one word which can effectively sum up the London establishment is incompetence.
    This runs through every aspect of their governance and probably has done so for a very long time but the effects of which were mitigated by control and access to the colonies of the empire.
    Continuing to draw it’s political elite from the public schools of England produces a narrow political agenda detached from the realities of life outside the bubble and inevitably doomed to failure.
    However,they cannot plead poverty through their austerity agenda and continue to squander billions of tax payers’ money on “defence” and foreign adventures.
    The penny will eventually drop with Joe Public that the Westminster establishment places more importance in bombing Johnny Foreigner into submission than caring for it’s own people.
    However,as we saw during our referendum,the Westminster establishment try to control
    public opinion through HM press and broadcasters and until that link is broken,it is going to be difficult to expose the truth.

    1. SteveT says:

      I think it’s dangerous to let the Westminster establishment off the hook as ‘incompetent’. It’s like taking Boris Johnson’s bumbling posh boy persona at face value. Don’t underestimate them. Beneath their public school foppishness, this is a rich and powerful political/media/finance industry cartel who can see the writing of change on the wall & are determined to do everything they can to remain in control of the cultural narrative in order to ensure lucrative ‘business as usual’ for as long as possible – and sod the needs and dreams of the rest of us annoying plebs.
      It’s hard to know – because as the piece above rather brilliantly sets out the official agenda doesn’t want to tell us – what the true motivations for their frequent and hideous foreign adventures are. But I wonder if the Establishment gang see them as failures in private? Or as a rather successful piece of willy-waggling to show the Americans that the UK is still a tough and well-armed little post-Imperial poodle to keep close by as the US works hard and violently to secure oil and resource access in a climate-changed world?

      1. maxi kerr says:

        Education,..thats what we need for our people.A chance to understand in full what these vile human beings are doing to eveyone who is not a member of their club.

  2. John B Dick says:

    The SNP did not win the 2015 election. The Westminster parties lost it.

    People tell pollsters that they vote SNP for the Scottish Parliament for ‘Competence’ but that’s relative competence, and the benchmark is Westminster and abysmally low. Thus they rejected the SNPs vision for independence.

    The surge in SNPs support is none of their doing, and even the SNP can’t offer an adequate explanation for it.

    Anti-Con voters are the largest voting bloc in Scotland. Many of them in the Highlands voted Liberal where Labour’s rhetoric to address the urban working class was irrelevant. With the insouciance of WW1 generals, the London leadership made no attempt to avoid Highland anti-con losses and trashed generations of hard won growth in community politics.

    Labour is split between NewLab triangulation to Middle England, and those who do not realise that the large unionised male workforce which identifies as ‘Working Class’ no longer exists. As Jesus said, the poor you have with you always. Class war rhetoric is a language even the poor and marginalised no longer understand.

    What is the anti-Con Scottish voter, (not least those among the 55% NO voters) to do? SGP and SSP are unelectable in FPTP.

    The answer is they have no choice but to use the SNP or not vote. The SNP never complain about being used in this way.

    It is foolish for the Unionist parties to comfort themselves by dismissing this as a ‘protest vote’ relying on their natural voters to come home eventually. Just as likely people will get used to voting for the SNP – and independence.

    50 years ago there was no chance of an SNP candidate getting elected under FPTP. Now the opposite is almost true.

    It is an issue of Competence after all. The Westminster ‘elite’ not only are not fit to manage The ‘Agenda’ or the banking system, or the economy. They do not have what it takes to manage a successful political party.

  3. Greg Scollin says:

    Great article exposing the continuance of the self serving corruption that exemplifies the UK state. With all rewards being channelled to the few and detriment to the many Scotland must break free from this unjustifiable mire before the resulting consequences and problems become even more deeply embedded in this endless diminishing of our society.

  4. arthur thomson says:

    Thank you for this post John. It is the best I have read in a very long time and hits the nail square on the head.

    The basis for achieving Scotland’s independence is for Scots – wherever they have originated from – to be of independent mind. I am reminded of the woman who said, in response to a Channel 4 reporter’s offer of an election leaflet, ‘if it’s from Labour you can stick it up your ****.’ This fitted with the complaints of Slab politicians that people were refusing to listen to them. I think the GE result was evidence that increasing numbers of people in Scotland are aware that they are being sold lies. It was inconceivable until very recently that the Scots would reject Labour propaganda. I can see no reason to believe that people, once they have understood, will go back to being systematically misled.

    I think a key lesson that we have to take from the GE result is that people will act on their new level of understanding. I think that when people realise that they have been deliberately conned it opens up a whole Pandora’s box. Armed with a significantly greater awareness, I anticipate that their improved critical faculties will be generalised. Significant for me, as a lifelong advocate of Scottish independence, is that I believe they will come to understand the magnitude of the task that faces the SNP and will not have the unreasonable expectation that it can be perfect or that it should be able to ‘magic’ a perfect country.

    Events of the past few months have made me so much more optimistic that Scotland is becoming genuinely enlightened and that our children and grandchildren have real hope for a better life.

    Your post has greatly added to that optimism. You have been able to articulate what more and more people understand but can’t quite put into words. Thank you for setting it out it so clearly.

  5. jcd says:

    Great article, nails the truth about the “official agenda” nicely, though perhaps a bit too long and deep for the average no-voting dimwit, very few of whom would be on here to read it in the first place.

    We live in a bubble of indyness, albeit a fairly large and hopefully growing one, but there’s still so much ground to cover and msm lies to debunk before any chance of reaching a really critical mass.

    Having said that, there’s no going back.

  6. C Rober says:

    Bag of nails , one hammer named John , all heads hit.

    One thing drives the electorate , the pocket , it is the same whether its someone in Social or bought housing , whether working , retired or unemployed , or in the Mearns pontificating that they are working class .

    While the working classes are fooled into believing they are middle class , the benefit claimant has replaced them as a new (un)working class to be looked down upon , and for benefit claimant they have the immigrant in the same manner.

    Even with the Agenda being a consensus , it has to be enabled.

    Fear not only played an important role in the indy but afterwards in the General Election itself.The BT campaign showed the electorate what SLAB had to offer , and that SLAB was not working for Scotland voters – but their bosses south of the border.

    Fear is driven by the media , dictated to them by those that own it …. in the Case of the BBC -Westminster choose the people that run it for them , to control it , from the top tier that always seem to come from the same schools and backgrounds as those in power of the time.

    The Snp and Hollyrood has at their powers limited levers to hold responsible the media for their actions , thats one particular item that can be argued , it already has control for in principle , but not powers to use when it comes to aired broadcasts. Radio waves will always be held by Westminster. It can though use the law making powers it has to return fairness in the print media.

    SNP can stop letting newspapers be self governing , where they are found to be wrong punish them financially in court , through fast tracking. Punish with one week suspensions of sales or website hosting , front page retractions for inside content errors etc.Force the media to pay for the Judges to sit as their independent body through taxes , not direct wages.

    Until the media fear for their income , like those they helped to mindfxxk the 55 during indy , then they too will follow the consensus or dictate it.

    But it will always be argued that state should have no control over media to prevent not being objective , however one must highlight that the wealthy must also be prevented from holding a monopoly on media too , or they simply control the state unelected , either for themselves or their masters.

    There is a reason why Murdoch is called the King Maker , kings are not democratically elected , so perhaps that’s a fitting title , no choice given means a dictatorship.

    But print media is dying , television is dying , we are told. So is their power diminishing?

    America had its public broadcast cable system for decades , a bit like an analog netflix , something that could have been used to fight back.

    Long before the internet they had viewer made content , pre twitter and facebook , yet PB failed to make any difference. It too was deemed a medium for the nutters and extremists , was outside advertising , was outside corporate news , yet never made any difference.

    Can one presume the legislation drive , under terrorism laws or anti trolling , is about switches for USA and UK Govts also has a hidden agenda to keep their true agenda in power?

    After the London riots Cameron wanted and got a cell tower/internet off switch , this but a few months after berating Egypt for doing the same – and while he praised an undemocratic Arab spring.

    The UK isn’t late to the game with programming the masses with content programming , the BEEB used to be told , perhaps still does , what content to air and when to do so by HMG. With Eastenders especially , it was/is a mandate for state control of the masses.

    Whomever said tv was “chewing gum for the eyes” was wrong , its the viewers “heroin of choice” . This might be little off track , or is it , but why has British soaps always Cast the Scots in murderous rapist gansgster roles?

    One of my biggest bug bears of the BBC is the licence fee , where almost a third of what is collected is all that is returned to Scotland to make programming.

    It should be devolved to Scotland , all fees returned.Nearly half of that which is returned is used to make one social programming tv show River City , continuing the state control through Soaps. Brain wash , soaps , coincidence?

    The BEEB should be made less powerful by Hollyrood.

    Using its few law making powers , simply make it impossible to convict for a failure to have a TV licence , until every penny raised in Scotland stays in Scotland. Until then those within the BEEB Scotland fear their English paymasters , not their Scottish customers , and will always follow not lead.

    But have hope , the younger generation that has grown up with hot and cold internet is choosing to get their media differently , but they will still be a minority , the demographics will shift towards an increased retired majority.

    But be warned , the media is also attacking this form of media , complaining that this is what is driving the creation of IsIL , Isis , or whatever they are being called on the news this week.Can this political drive be to demonise and remove the power of Social media?

    Hopefully its one generation that can therefore be more informative than the media are today for their parents and grandparents….but for that they have to remain politicized.

    The SNP can help with keeping the young politicized , simply giving tem an early voting age inst enough.

    By teaching political history in school and removing from education something else that is perhaps less useful , say R.E and foreign language or even non Scottish based history. But if they must continue to keep a foreign language then it should be either latin or Gaelic , we already teach a language that is foreign thanks , its called English.

    The recent anti immigration policy that you mention is spot on , driving down wages is a goal not a warning.

    The UK is needing people to pay the future pension bills and to increase housing demand…. bought housing demand that is , not social , the Banks don’t make money from Social housing

    HPI is directly linked to the banks , as they supply the mortgages , the same faceless corporations that have broke the banking system that were rewarded rather than punished for it , through their sub prime mortgages.As long as this continues it will be allowed to happen again.

    The austerity drive to benefits , making lower wages , was/is not to decrease the national debt , it too is a Elitist goal , its to provide a blamehound , other than the wealthy themselves – for the subsidized middle class electorate.

    Unsurprisingly the media is behind it by supplying programming policy , banking news has been usurped.

    I can see the editors sitting there asking “whom is more hated than the bankers” ….. and someone in the conference room replies , “pedos” , to which the editor replies “that’s it” , “illegal immigrant ISIS pedos , on 100k a year benefits , in high rent private housing in SW1 creates housing shortage , run with it” , ” while your at it Photoshop Sturgeon to look like Jimmy Krankie then drop it on the same page for a psychological association”.

    Kyle , Express , Mail etc are all for it , or with their unrelated unacheivable aspirational programming , aiding their masters magician misdirections , through shows like “Idol this” and “Strictly come dancing bake off on ice” that. Keep those sheep in flock mode.

    Sure the Tories can argue that they supply at Westminster what the people want , the were still elected by majority.

    The Tories changed tack in order to take votes away from the UkIP mob , but UKIP are nothing more than BNP without the haircut , and like all the other political parties they remain controlled from the Oxbridge graduates. Politics , its democracy for the few to remain rich , but are still elected to power by the many.

    The argument from the Tories is thus negated about being parallel to Ukip policies in order to defeat Ukip. However has the SNP not also became more Labour than Labour , in promised policy at least , and then since devolved , pun intended , to a non single policy party?

    Your bang on about the Straw man , about biased or deliberately nobbled tv debate shows and Hobson.

    The previous G.E showed exactly that , when wee Eck was prevented being on that TV debate , they weren’t worried about the Scots vote , they were worried about middle and Northern England vote.

    Eck was a political powerhouse , and could not easily be shown as a tin foil hatter , or someone that could be browbeaten to silence through highlighting his argumental ineptitude.

    It was preventive damage limitation by not allowing him a soapbox , even though the SNP wasn’t polling in England.

    He could back then still throw a spanner in the works for the then more numerous in Westminster seats , through highlighting National failures , not just on the Scottish from the Tories , Libdem and Labour , but also for anyone north of L.A.S.E.

    Today however being the third party at Westminster means they cannot be refused in such a manner again a place at the debate. So rather than move the goalposts in their favour , the media will simply take away the playing field altogether.Even more so , by Eck honorably falling on his sword for the party to move foward , his replacement , Nicola , well she scores really good with the electorate dan sawf , especially women , this without them even knowing policy.

    Ironically the English media in its hatred of the Scots helped to create Nicolas rise , something I like to call the Goodie effect , after Jade Goodie.

    The principle of the effect is , If a woman is slagged off often enough , then other women began to like her.

    In calling NS “hated” , by calling her “Krankie” , women voters gravitated towards her , women that perhaps have seen the same treatment from others during their lifetime , either at work or in schools etc. They somehow began to read about this underdog and liked what she said. Its not often that the media war machine directive backfires , nor as spectacularly , thus its the Goodie effect in action.

    Supply only one policy , and a nutter to argue the opposite view is and always will be the dictat.

    Morons need to be educated to stop being morons , but they just want to watch the tv or read daily copy to be educated , one choice , or two with a hint of tribalism always remains.

    Its a catch 22 or a hauf of Hobsons , with a Schrodinger chaser .

    Its something that the Srizia party is doing to their electorate today , its like a devils own “Deal or No deal” , but every box will still have debt replacing the cat instead of cash.

    Result for Syrizia = The Local rich remain in power – at the electorates cost , not supplying their “elected on mandate” , instead passing the buck back to the electorate to say , just like the SNP do , “its someone elses fault”.

    Tribalism and astigmatism is used in political thought , a variation on the Colonial British empire of “divide is to conquer”.When your right , but against the grain , your labelled a cynic or a nazi , one is always wrong , that is if one is not of the majority mindset.

    Only in the political divide can one be a Schrodinger’s cat , be both right and simultaneously wrong in the same parallel universe of majority consensus , the psuedo democracy of today that is the Hobsons based psychological programming will always keep it that way.

    Here’s a simple test to confirm or deny whether its just a media bias , or like some 3rd world dictatorship a controlled media instead , not just during elections , but round the clock and all year.

    1.Watch STV news at 6.
    2.Watch BBC news Scotland afterwards.

    Ask yourself has both the Two Scottish News programs shown the same Scottish News content?

    If so then how can two separate stations , with two separate editorial teams , one with a non bias mandate , yet both of them still be following the same mediocre stories?

    Was the majority of news really fluff content?

    Was there any other Scottish related news buried the same day?

    How much news was taken up by sport?

    Scotland is served by a total only 14 mins of news a day , repeated through out the day , 14 minutes of sport news fills up the half hour of programming along with weather.

    Result , even the redacted and sanctioned news is deliberately limited at every opportunity.

  7. John Page says:

    Thank you, John. A brilliant piece.
    Two things:
    1. When the next IndyRef. Campaign starts I would actively support a campaign for a widespread boycott of TV, cancellation of BBC subs and increased funding for the alternative media.
    2. Is there scope for Small, Bateman, Wightman et al to agree a set of common topics to establish a basic monthly Real Scottish “Agenda”…..to capture the initiative?

    Thanks
    John Page

  8. John Craig says:

    Congratulations to John Dick on his input and the accurate addendum by Arthur Thomson. For myself, a lapsed Nationalist for some years finding myself quite bemused and appalled at the swing away from older core values. This swing however I have to grudgingly admit, has been effective although I believe much of our recent legislation and governance is still to my mind, being driven by old fashioned class lines. On the broad front though, with social media, everyone’s got a trumpet and you would think that would imbue us with a new egalitarianism, but Joe Public can be as fickle as a finicky Finnock and the political divides won’t disappear overnight.
    The SNP’s task now, before all others, is to bring this country to independence, not by a 51/49 vote, but by a resounding majority. To do that they have the massive task of welding over the cracks in society brought about by centuries of inequality. How they accomplish that is beyond me when they themselves are to a great extent as hidebound in their political rhetoric and thinking as those they are ousting. The recent events in Westminster will give them another welcome boost in the ratings and I feel that Independence is now guaranteed. Now is the time for open and honest admissions from Holyrood. This is no bumpy ride to embark on, Westminster has shown contempt for Scotland but will not let the rains go willingly. This may well be a struggle with our nearest neighbours happy to drive us into the ground and as such will require a resolve from Scots to show the world we are worth backing. We need friends, we need finance, we need an informed and disciplined electorate who will thole it. Do we have these people? We live in a society which for many of us offers a standard of living well above that of a vast slice of mankind and still look for better. When your first tax bill comes in, or fuel/ car fuel goes up a few pence, when all the things we get at today’s prices cost more. When businesses across the new border suddenly don’t supply us and close down existing presences, when our new neighbour legislates against our currency and enters into any other petty and disruptive act. That’s Arthur Thomson’s unreasonable expectations and the simple question is are we up for it? If you said to the Scottish electorate at this time that “blood will be spilled”, you’d probably get a positive response, but risking their standard of living is a totally different story for people who have no real grasp of “austerity”.
    Despite the foregoing I now find myself firmly back in the Nationalist fold, preferring to be crapped on by my own rather than a race of people who have proved themselves alien to the concept of democracy.

  9. John S Warren says:

    Thank you for your response, and question. The BBC has already acknowledged it has lost £150m of licence fee income (hence the announced possible 1,000 [?] redundancies). It would be interesting to know where in the UK these fee losses have arisen; for example, the proportion lost in Scotland over the last twelve months? At the same time the BBC is under greater political pressure regarding licence fee renewal than ever before, even within the Official Agenda. Thus the BBC model is now under serious criticism beyond Scotland, albeit for slightly different but very challenging reasons that will drastically affect its future. The losses of the Olympics and the Open Championship within weeks strike more deeply at the BBC’s “raison d’etre” than is currently formally acknowledged. It has not been helped by its own failures on a number of fronts over years and indeed decades (I shall not rake over the miserable embers here).

    Given that I believe the Scottish public provides the political dynamic for change, I would wish to see as much ‘open-ness’ as possible in any changed media arrangements. This is easy to demand, and hard to deliver against the arrays of Vested Interests of all kinds. One of the key problems of the past has been the narrowness of both control of the media and access to new entrants, and I would not wish to see an attempt to over-manage the most powerful tool the ordinary public now possesses to shape the Agenda.

    This narrowing of control is not only financial, but cultural, and we have much to do in Scotland to let some fresh air into our own often too complacent assumptions that govern the many cultural institutions to be found in Scotland. Scotland itself is too often ‘managed’ by cosy, complacent (and too often mediocre) cliques. The couthy, clubby cliquishness, though not the mediocrity, goes back to certain traits (not all bad) to be found even among the ‘literati’ of the Scottish Enlightenment. It has a history, and it recurs.

    On ‘broadcasting’ I can certainly see a powerful argument for a radical reform or even replacement of the BBC in Scotland. Nevertheless the problem is actually larger than it may seem. The old “terrestrial duopoly” model of financing (in television) in the UK is now clearly redundant, and finding a well enough financed structure for a quasi-SBC that is genuinely open, and not merely the replacement of one Official Agenda, with another – one clerisy simply replaced by a Scottish clone – wil be a major challenge. There is much to be debated and thought through; ‘reform’ should not merely be a matter of changing the signage (SBC for BBC or some such; or a new ‘mission statement’ [!]), replacing a few well chosen ‘suits’ at the top for one or more we may whimsically prefer, and hoping for the best.

  10. Darien says:

    Thanks for a thought provoking read. A key issue seems to be the largely self-regulation of the financial sector by key actors in the ‘business’, doing things in their own interest. This we know. What you forgot to mention however is that similar forms of self-regulation occur throughout almost all economic sectors in Britain today, including transport, energy, the legal establishment, pensions, and even universities. This light touch approach to regulation (mostly industry and monopoly self regulation) of almost all key sectors of the economy (esp. utilities) has resulted in immense interception of economic rents by vested interests in the private (offshore) sector at the expense of the general public. Meanwhile, linked to this self-regulation there has been a severe lack of investment in new assets – which in turn helps explain Britain’s lack of productivity and hence lack of international competitiveness, and the ever worsening trade balance. The key role of government should be to prevent interception of rents; successive UK government’s have done precisely the opposite, and still do so. Politicians and Senior civil servants (in Scotland too) seem to have wholly bought into this self regulation ‘agenda’ – many retired politicians and civil servants now happily sit on the boards of self-regulating monopolies – the chair of Edinburgh Airport (offshore private equity owned) being a useful example. So I am afraid that most if not all sectors of the UK economy require ‘regulating’ properly, but even at Holyrood never mind Westminster few seem to have grasped this. Our economy will always be knackered unless this fundamental issue is properly dealt with.

  11. Jan Cowan says:

    My word, that article of yours is brilliant! Greatly appreciated. Thank you, John.

  12. Broadbield says:

    Another perceptive analysis. Can I suggest that the “Agenda” is a symptom of rule by the 1%? From warlords, to kings, to the aristocracy the UK has been governed by a very small elite and that is continuing today, with a resurgence of public school, oxbridge educated “aristocrats” in charge (and not just in parliament, but in most professions too). The public schools are the mechanism by which this elite replicates itself, aided and abetted by a monarchy – the ultimate symbol of privilege and nepotism and that anti-democratic institution the HoL.

    Our dysfunctional political system, FPTP, ensures that the elite stay in charge, since most votes are worthless as only a handful of seats determine the colour of the government.

    The “Agenda” is the public face of the elite and works to maintain their ascendancy. I can’t see any change happening in the UK for hundreds of years, but if we can get an Independent Scotland we have a chance to change things, by getting rid of the monarchy, the HoL, the Public schools and consolidating the Public Agenda.

    (if I have read the article correctly you seem to say that it was a public agenda that produced a No vote. I can’t agree with that. To me it was an overwhelmingly Establishment agenda that produced the No vote.)

  13. Mike Fenwick says:

    These three extracts hit home for me most:

    John Warren’s … “The public response should not be to rise to the faux-challenge presented by the Official Agenda, but to override or discard it altogether; in order to establish political aspirations and debate through the creation and maintenance of a Public Agenda set by the Scottish people. This is hard, most of all to sustain over time; but it is the price of democracy in the 21st century.”

    JCD’s … “ … “bubble of indyness”.

    John Craig’s “ … This may well be a struggle with our nearest neighbours happy to drive us into the ground and as such will require a resolve from Scots to show the world we are worth backing. We need friends, we need finance, we need an informed and disciplined electorate who will thole it. Do we have these people? We live in a society which for many of us offers a standard of living well above that of a vast slice of mankind and still look for better. When your first tax bill comes in, or fuel/ car fuel goes up a few pence, when all the things we get at today’s prices cost more. When businesses across the new border suddenly don’t supply us and close down existing presences, when our new neighbour legislates against our currency and enters into any other petty and disruptive act. That’s Arthur Thomson’s unreasonable expectations and the simple question is are we up for it? If you said to the Scottish electorate at this time that “blood will be spilled”, you’d probably get a positive response, but risking their standard of living is a totally different story for people who have no real grasp of “austerity”.”

    John Warren cannot be other than correct. The evidence, both current and historical, abounds for the need for a “Public Agenda”.

    However any perception, or reality, that it is exclusive to those within an “indy bubble” (whilst that may prove, and is proving, to be its founding source) harbours a danger. A “Public Agenda”, which purports democratic values, must be open, and indeed open to robust challenge from the very forces that may wish to end its existence.

    Such challenges provide the essential antidote to self delusion, they also ensure that there is an honesty, and realistic assessment, involved when attempting to answer the questions posed by John Craig, and the many others that require answers.

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