A failed defence

I don’t usually bother reading David Torrance’s articles these days. I can’t recall him ever saying anything particularly insightful or even witty. If I was to choose a word to describe his writing it would probably be ‘insipid’. He is, of course, a British nationalist. But he doesn’t even manage to achieve the offensiveness – the puerile nastiness – that makes other British nationalist scribblers stand out from the crowd.

In this instance, my customary aversion to the by-line was overcome by mention of the media – a topic which has been increasingly contentious and which seems likely to continue in that vein. Not that I was expecting any surprises from Torrance. We don’t look to him for any questioning of the cosy consensus. This is a man utterly convinced that professional, mainstream, establishment journalists are a special breed. Those outside this exclusive club are mere impertinent upstarts. Those who presume to challenge the pontifications of ‘proper’ journalists are totally beyond the pale. Those who actually do question the cosy consensus are condemned by their non-conformity to be held in profound contempt.

Not that Torrance troubles to make any kind of case. He offers no examples of what he dismisses as, at best, pseudo-journalism. With an arrogance which is all too typical, he simply assumes that we will accept his word that the bias of the mainstream media is only “perceived” while the alternative media is “stridently partisan”. He provides no evidence for the latter. And he blithely ignores all evidence contradicting the former.

Rather than try to make his case with facts and reasoned argument, Torrance resorts to argumentum ad absurdum. Regarding criticism of the BBC in particular, he reduces the debate to two camps – those who “want to make the BBC better resourced and more impartial” and a quite ludicrous caricature which portrays anyone who questions the BBC’s impartiality as some kind of nutjob with a head full of conspiracy theories who wants the BBC to be the broadcasting arm of Scottish nationalism.

To be fair, there is probably no way Torrance might be able to appreciate that critics of the BBC merely want it to stop being the broadcasting arm of British nationalism. Within the cosy consensus of the mainstream media, favouring and promoting the British establishment cannot be ‘bias’. The British state is, from this perspective, as much part of the natural order as the tides. The structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state are no more to be questioned than the cycle of day and night.

Torrance is correct about one thing. There are people who want to destroy the BBC. But he fails to ask the essential question. He doesn’t bother to ask why people in Scotland feel that way about the BBC. He doesn’t ask because he has already decided the answer is that these people are crazy. As they must be. Because they want to destroy the BBC. The circle of his argument is complete. No further thinking required. No deeper analysis.

Not for Mr Torrance the complicating facts and details. Facts such as the documented proof of what can only be called the bias of the BBC during (and since) the first independence referendum campaign. Details such as the many people on the pro-independence side of the constitutional debate who, while being fiercely critical of its conduct, do not wish to see the BBC destroyed but, rather, want to see it restored to its status as a trusted public service broadcaster. A status that has been squandered by the corporation’s management.

Bias is not disproved simply by sneering comments about people referring to instances of bias. Nor is an ethos of partiality discounted simply by labelling accounts of it ‘conspiracy theories’.

I’m pretty sure David Torrance intended his piece to be a stout defence of the British journalist clique he’s part of. It quickly and effortlessly descended into bitter, groundless railing against those he considers unworthy outsiders. It is telling that the only members of this out-group who qualify for some measure of grudging acceptance are individuals who can be relied upon to take their cues from the mainstream media and adopt the narrative of the cosy consensus.

Personally, I am heartened by the whole thing. So long as the likes of David Torrance are attacking the alternative media – however ineffectually – I reckon it is doing its job.

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15 thoughts on “A failed defence

  1. Philip Maughan

    ‘He doesn’t bother to ask why people in Scotland feel that way about the BBC’
    I recently read Bill Bryson’s latest offering ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ in which his only reference to Scottish independence was that he ‘…was glad they decided to stay in the Union’ I find it troubling that someone as intelligent and curious as Bryson should be so incurious concerning why so many people in Scotland favour independence.

  2. Andy McKirdy

    Well said again Peter. Torrance as an analyst, writer and commentator is, in the absence of a better word, crap!!!
    The sad thing is that if the BBC and the MSM weren’t so against Scottish independence then arses like Torrance wouldn’t be employed at all. Thousands of people in the alternative media world are much more interesting to listen to than Torrance and others like him will ever be.
    As I’ve offered before, if the Herald wants to pay me a fraction of what they pay Torrance, I’ll write articles for them.

    1. David

      That is what scares him, he knows his position is only held because of his unionist views. He has nailed his colours to the mast. The wrong mast

  3. Dan Huil

    I think 2017 will be a crucial year for the bbc in Scotland. Torrance’s effort is just the latest in puerile britnat defensiveness concerning the bbc – britnats’ bestest friend. With the evidence of bbc bias – as expertly proven by sites like this – gaining publicity and the upcoming billboard campaign about to impact we can expect more britnat excuses on behalf of the bbc. The more the britnat press defends the bbc means the more impact the bbc bias campaign will be seen as having. A real measure of that impact will be reached when other television news companies report it. If the bbc itself ever reports it then we’ll know we’ve got them.

  4. bedelsten

    Torrents of Torrance is to journalism what sausage making is to butchery (which can be misread on various levels and please free to do so) in that a handle is cranked and output is produced. ‘Would you like some bile with that? No problem, in it goes. And some whinging? How about some dross, there is a special deal on dross this week. How many words, one thousand, two thousand? No problem.’ With practice it is not difficult to cranks out a thousand or two words, less than hour if no references of corroborating evidence is required to support arguments or whingy contained within the text.

    Better, more interesting, sometimes funny, often corroborated, writings are available on the Internet and some of the authors make some money producing it. And it is that which causes the outbreak of whinging for which I feel no sympathy. Choosing to whinge about criticism of the meeja is just a displacement from an overall hurt that the world is changing. Well tough. Get used to it. Torrance should feel thankful he is not some poor scribe stuck in a cold stone cell with an ink pot and the skin of a dead calf looking out to find someone nailing the printed word to a church door – though that is what it may feel like.

  5. Lochside

    Torrance, like his beloved BBC, is tenth rate, a ‘journalist’ in his own lunch-time, and a c- intellect. He wouldn’t last two minutes elsewhere other than in the flatulent world of Scot/Brit Unionist media. His voice is the sound of an inprisoned fart with about as much resonance and as much meaning. The max headroom of Scottish media with the same two dimensional insight and reality.

  6. Scott Cameron

    Quite simply, he’s an narcissitic, intellectual snob who takes great delight in being over-verbose for the sole purpose of forcing his readers to reach for the nearest Thesauraus, in order to ascertain the undelying meaning behind his diatribe, which is usually a regurgitation of a previous article.

    1. Breastplate

      C’mon now Scott,
      in all the articles he’s produced, it has never occurred to me once to describe a person with no vision, a closed mind and extremely poor arguments stabbing at a keypad with all his might as an intellectual.

      I don’t know about you but I’m still waiting for “The complete works of Shakespeare”

      More bananas should do it

  7. Andy McKirdy

    Scott, you nailed it!!!
    Torrance is a prick of a snob!!
    I’m in the wilds of Argyll for the new year, sitting by a very warm log fire, a bit pished and very cosy trying to think of something clever to say about Torrance and his like but I’m sorry, traitorous snob is the best I can do!!!!!
    Please, please, please MSM, employ much more interesting people for 2017!!!!!

  8. Geoff Huijer

    I wouldn’t read anything by him if you paid me so thanks for doing that for us.

    The guy is a mealy-mouthed Thatcher lover who epitomises the Scottish cringe and thus a ‘go-to’ source for right-wing BritNat media outlets.

    It is this self-important delusion which is to be pitied. He is only too happy to be used by the media provided it keeps his name in the papers & puts some cash in his account.

    To paraphrase the late, great Christopher Hitchens ‘he should be standing on a street corner shouting at passers by & selling pencils from a cup.’

  9. Thomas

    What bothers me is how does this guy get so much TV air time. The guys an eejit, for use of a better word. He doesn’t even try to hide unionist bias one bit, he has zero credibility and no idea of what the majority of Scottish people want. All we cry out for is one decent journalist just one guy or woman who has an impartial view on Scottish politics. Not the shower of Westminster arse kissing morons we have at the moment.

  10. Geejay

    For a devastating critique of the BBC (apart from GAP’s demolition of the BBC in Scotland over Indy) have a look at Tom Mills’ “The BBC: Myth of a Public Service”. It never was impartial, but was always the creature of the Establishment.

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