By Jason Michael

UNIONISTS IN SCOTLAND WANT to convince us that the SNP has peaked, that the demand for independence is on the wane, and that the independence movement is in dire straits. The complete domination of the media by the Westminster agenda means that this narrative of the death of independence has been sold, repackaged and resold – wash, rinse, repeat – by the mainstream media in Scotland since even before the 2014 referendum. According to the news we shouldn’t be here. We should have dried up and ossified years ago.  As much as I really detest cliché, it has to be said: The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.

So long as the BBC ignores tens of thousands of independence supporters marching through Glasgow, Dundee, Dumfries, Inverness, wherever, the narrative is safe. Ordinary, politically ambivalent viewers won’t be unsettled in their default, media-programmed unionism by what would surely strike them as an apparent resurrection. Those relying only on the British media inhabit a news landscape in which establishment corruption is non-existent, Ruth Davidson is the bright shining star of politics north of the border, and the “SNP government” in Holyrood is an anti-democratic outfit hell-bent on reducing the population with austerity and incinerating babies in cardboard baby boxes.

When on campaign mode, when it cannot simply ignore, misrepresent, and under-report the activity of the National Party, the unionist establishment – aided by untold sums of dark money – unleashes hordes of social media trolls and bots to distort online political discussion. It funds fake news stories and plants anti-independence opinion columns and astroturfing letters in the most widely read broadsheets and tabloids. This is a public opinion-shaping game the media savvy strategists of the Westminster establishment have mastered, and they use it – as they have in the past – to devastating effect. This is a media propaganda machine that would put Pravda to shame.

All we have to combat this insidious beast are the tools at our own disposal. We have the internet; blogs and vlogs, social media platforms, video hosting sites, and so on. Behind these we have a small and growing army of dedicated writers, artists, content creators, and social media wizards. These are people with skills who are learning on their feet the tools needed to address the incessant propaganda of the unionist media and deliver effective and timely counterpunches. Many of these have become household names in the independence movement; Stu Campbell, Paul Kavanagh, Peter Bell, Brave, Sarah Mackie, James Kelly, PoliticsScot, and more. Without them and the work they do the independence movement – which requires much more than what is done by our politicians – would be lost.

The BBC and the entire unionist political and media establishment know the value of the pro-independence alternative media. They know the danger it poses to the union in a context where people are waking up to the lies, the distortion, and obvious propaganda of the mainstream. We are getting closer to the point at which our alternative can deliver a death blow to the hegemonic unionist narrative, and they know this.

It is because of the challenge we pose them that they have taken the next step. On the flimsy grounds of a copyright infraction – a few seconds of BBC footage featuring Wings Over Scotland author Stu Campbell – the BBC asked YouTube to close down Wings’ account. Forget free speech and intellectual freedom – YouTube complied with the BBC and closed Wings’ account on its platform, highlighting how vulnerable we are to the might of the media giants when they flex their muscles. If this can happen to Wings Over Scotland, the largest pro-independence site we have in the movement, this can happen to all of us. They can silence us on a whim. Think about that.

Our only chance of winning this media war is our will and ability to keep going. No matter the cost, we have to keep this media alive and growing. But there is a serious obstacle in the way – money. This is a subject I seldom discuss. It’s never pleasant talking about money and our need for it. It’s embarrassing. Okay [deep breathe], I need money – I need your money. All of the writers and producers behind the pro-independence alternative media need money and support. Yes, to some degree we can continue to work on for free. We do what we do because we are passionate about independence. We will continue to write and produce what we can with the money and support we have. This is us doing our bit for independence.

Still, a little can only take us so far. Journalism isn’t a simple matter of sitting at a keyboard thumping out words to inspire. It demands facts, it takes research, and it needs time – all of which costs money. In the face of a unionist media machine with near limitless resources, we still need to devote time to the work we do, we still need equipment, still need to make phone calls, travel, and we need to eat. The single greatest difference between them and us is that we aren’t funded. We aren’t paid a salary for what we do. Not having the luxury of time and money will – in the long-term – drive many of us out to find work elsewhere. We urgently need help if we are to stay in the game and produce quality material.

Here’s the big ask: Please support pro-independence media. Of course, I would like you to support me, but my request is not so blunt – not so self-serving. What I am asking is that – if you can afford it – you donate to support the bloggers and producers whose work you appreciate and consume. A few quid every month would make a massive difference. It will give us more free time, give us the resources we need to produce, and keep the pressure on the unionist establishment. Just a little bit from enough people will ensure we are able to do so much more. You have no idea how grateful we will be.

It’s because I don’t like asking for money – I hate it actually – that I have set up a Patreon account for donations. You can find it at the bottom of all my articles. This allows you to support my work for as little as $1 a month – that’s less than £1. This may seem small, but it’s $12 a year. A few of these will pay for the website. Other donations will go towards internet and phone bills, others will cover travel, and others still will give me the time I need to work. What I promise in return is a high quality daily article, podcasts, and regular informative YouTube videos. I’m doing this for independence. I know the others are doing the same. And we will always do our very best to deliver. So please help us. Please give what you can to the people whose work you enjoy and want to see continue.


“Shadow Power” by Phantom Power

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