Unionists may not agree but I’m not the only one who thinks that the Scottish media—including BBC Scotland, the Hootsmon and, on occasion, The Herald reflect the bias of their unionist ‘owners’. While I have no trouble with those who would keep Scotland in the UK arguing their case (indeed, I wish they would, instead of hankering for lost empires or spreading scare stories how even the women will go bald if we go it alone) there is only so much bias even open-minded people can thole.
Which is why I’m delighted that Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has started her own blog to try to counter some of this. While I don’t think even she pretends neutrality, at the very least it provides a well argued counter to some of the excesses of supposedly quality media in Scotland that should know better. The rest of today’s entry is an extract from today’s missive—straight from the top.
“Today we welcomed the findings in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Reading the papers you’d think it was bad news. However, the figures tell a different story. The fact is that when people are presented with a range of constitutional choices open to Scotland, independence emerges as the most popular.
Independence is supported by 35%, Devo max 32%, status quo 24% and no devolution 6% – you won’t read that in many papers, but it is what the survey says.
Here’s some other highlights from the survey, ideal for your conversations with the [as yet] undecided:
- 63% believe that the Scottish Government should have most influence over how Scotland is run
- 64% believe that Holyrood should make decisions about welfare benefits
- 56% believe that Holyrood should make decisions about the level of taxes.
Yesterday, of course, months after criticising the Scottish Government over the timing of the independence referendum, David Cameron tells us he wants his own referendum – on Europe – but not for another 4 years or so!
Alex Salmond summed this up nicely. The fact is that being independent within the EU will allow us to assert and protect our national interests much more effectively than we can as part of the UK.
Following a Yes vote in 2014, and in parallel to negotiations with the UK, there will be a negotiation with the EU on the terms of our continuing membership. Just like Sweden, we would not join the Euro. And just like Ireland, we would not enter Schengen but would instead co-operate with Ireland and the rest of the UK in the Common Travel Area.
Tomorrow I’m off to Dublin to give a speech to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference. One of the bonds we share with Ireland is our commitment to Europe and our appreciation of the benefits that the EU brings to our citizens.
The EU is easily our biggest international trading partner accounting for nearly half of Scotland’s exports. And membership of the EU is one of the major factors that make us attractive for inward investment.
Watch Reporting Scotland tomorrow night to see how I get on. But there is one thing I am fairly sure of, even before I go – there are not many people in Ireland who would agree with the view that being independent is the wrong choice in terms of European and international engagement. Not many at all.
Tomorrow also sees Yes Scotland launch the first in a series of major campaigns with a rallying call for Scots to put their hands up for a better Scotland. 2013 will see us move the debate from the how to the why of independence.
We want people to start thinking about what kind of country they want; what kind of country Scotland could be and to think about why being independent could be the best way to achieve our aspirations and goals.”