At long last, after having his innocence upheld in the Scottish courts, Alex Salmond, the former leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, gets his day in parliament. Here at the Random Public Journal we will be following the events in Holyrood live and reporting things as they happen. This promises to be an exciting day in Scottish politics, and – as some commenters have suggested – what is revealed today might just be the game changer we have been looking for.
Our Freedom is Compromised
Who exactly gives Mark Zuckerberg the right to say what we can and cannot express online? Sure, clear cases of hate speech and incitement to violence should – by law – be removed and offenders brought to book, but we already have laws for that. It’s upsetting that Facebook can remove content it arbitrarily finds unpleasant or distasteful. But it is a private company; it’s Facebook’s platform and Facebook’s rules. But what’s really concerning – even worrying – is that governments appear to have a say in what and what can’t be shared on the site.
Brexit and the End of the World
When The Guardian breaks from its usual sedate and hipster fare to inform us the government is considering calling in the Ministry of Defence to transport food and that the bosses of big business are predicting “civil unrest,” I think we should wake up. Suddenly the world of the ordinary and everyday is behaving like the worlds of familiar disaster fantasy, and – what’s more – we know where it all ends. We’ve read this book and watched this film a thousand times before. We know the rules.
Deconstructing a BBC Bad News Story
The headline, given that most people seeing it don’t read further, has already misguided the public. Fraser will no doubt say he wasn’t responsible for it, but its use of a headcount of “5,000” more seeking work in Scotland inaccurately describes the reality of the figures. In fairness, Fraser does explain that “the rise appeared to be due to more women seeking work, while male unemployment remained the same,” but the damage has been done. Readers have already been misled into believing that the economy is worsening – which is not true.
Dark Money and the BBC’s Sleight of Hand
Yesterday, at long last, the directors at the BBC caved in to public pressure and called David Duguid – the Scottish Conservative and Unionist MP for Banff & Buchan – onto the show to answer some not-so tough questions. Considering the charges currently being laid against his party; that he and others received potentially illegal donations from a network of political associations set up and used so as to obfuscate the sources of the money, this was a brilliant opportunity for Gary Robertson to grill Mr Duguid and shed some much-needed light on this growing political scandal.
We Cannot Trust the Media
The British Broadcasting Corporation is great at what it does. Our problem was that for so long very many of us didn’t know what its true purpose was. It was never intended to inform us – it is there to form us, and the same can be said for the overwhelming majority of the rest of the Scottish media. When we have news programmes, newspapers, and journalists insinuating that the former leader of the party in government in Holyrood is working for the Kremlin...
An Agent of Influence: David Leask’s Job
David Leask’s job isn’t to spot lies. He may want to convince himself that this is what he does for a living, but he’s deluding himself. Mr Leask can’t even spot the lies in his own paper. He hasn’t commented on the astronomical number of retractions The Herald has had to publish in relation to its coverage of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Scottish government (see the pattern?). Retractions on page 12 a week later, as The Herald knows, don’t correct the damage done by a lie published in bold on the front page – and that’s how it works.
Scaremongering Scotland: The Shadow of Grenfell
There’s a four day old report on the BBC website that’s refusing to go away. On the 22 February the BBC published a video report covering the cost of recladding a private apartment complex at Glasgow Harbour found to have “similar” cladding to that believed to have accelerated the spread of the fire on Grenfell Tower in June last year. As a result of that tragedy building inspections were carried out on local authority high rises throughout the United Kingdom, finding that of the 173 structures tested in England and Wales 165 were clad with the hazardous material.