May and the Mainstream Misreporting

Will Theresa May reject the Scottish government’s request for a Section 30 order?  Probably is the best guess.  It’s a guess because, as yet, May hasn’t confirmed whether she will or won’t.

The Prime Minister gave an interview to Robert Peston on Thursday.  It was being touted that she was going to announce she’d block any request from the Scottish government to hold a second referendum within the timescale laid down by the First Minister.

When the time came to deliver, May failed.

The best the Prime Minister could do was to utter “Now is not the time”.  It was weak.  It was unconvincing.  It wasn’t what the assembled hacks were led to believe she would say.

It reminded me of Gordon Brown’s famous loss of nerve when, with momentum behind him and the media waiting in expectation, he failed to go to the country.  Bottle Brown was savaged by the media.  Having lost his nerve he went on to lose his premiership.

But something odd began to happen.  Rather than report the actuality of May’s weasel words, the media began embellishing them into something they weren’t.

I first noticed something afoot when a tweet from Glenn Campbell appeared.  Campbell had initially posted an accurate but brief summary of Theresa May’s interview.

The prime minister @theresa_may has said that “now is not the time” for another indyref but is no more definitive than that.

However within moments there appeared an altogether different ‘interpretation’ of Theresa May’s interview.  Campbell tweeted the following:

I’m told that “now is not the time” means no referendum before #Brexit, a rejection of @NicolaSturgeon autumn 2018/spring 2019 window.

Asked who had told him this, Campbell replied he had been told “by a UK government source”.

Who was this ‘source’?  Well suspicion immediately fell on David Mundell, who within minutes of May’s disappointing interview tweeted the following.

It wasn’t long before the entire media machine kicked in and began reporting, not what Theresa May had actually said, but the embellishment of the interview by the unnamed source.  Whether it was David Mundell who gave the media the narrative they started running with is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that reporting of May’s interview quickly turned into misreporting.

The BBC Scotland website initially reported accurately what May had said, and boy did it look limp.  Within an hour the headline was altered to fit the spin.  The timid words were replaced by a more authoritative headline.  Now not the time for independence vote became Referendum demand ‘will be rejected’.

The misreporting was everywhere.  This wasn’t a Prime Minister weakened by uncertainty.  Instead what emerged was a leader throwing down the gauntlet.  It was as though journalists, having been primed for a big announcement, simply went along with the lie for fear of being the only ones left with no story at all.

The thing is they had a story.  Somebody had touted what May was going to say.  She didn’t deliver.  Had they been misled?  Had May bottled out?  Who had strung them along?  Instead of reporting accurately, they took the lazy route and took the spin fed them by an unnamed source.

Theresa May hasn’t yet confirmed she’ll reject a request from the Scottish government for a section 30 order.  What she has done is to give a reason for rejecting such a request if it comes to it.

When May told Robert Peston “Now is not the time”, what she was saying was that a second independence referendum would clash with any ongoing Brexit negotiations.  That it would be prudent to wait until these are out of the way and everything is signed, sealed and delivered.  That’s a whole lot different from confirming you’ll actually block any request to hold a referendum.

But why alter the news narrative and present a harder line than May was prepared to present?  Some reports suggest that it is in fact Ruth Davidson and David Mundell who are behind the ‘reject’ message.  If true then it suggests Theresa May didn’t want to confirm outright that she would indeed block a referendum request from the Scottish government but that it was her Scottish lieutenants who wanted a hard line message.

Within hours of May’s interview, Mundell and Davidson were holding a set-piece press conference where each attacked the idea of a second independence referendum.

Both appeared that evening – in statesmanlike shots – on Reporting Scotland.

And that was the story complete.

Theresa May hasn’t said she’ll reject a referendum, she’s merely said now isn’t the time.  The media has instead run with unattributed words from some unnamed source.  A source has provided the meaning of an interview after it has been given and that doesn’t match what was said.  That’s journalism folks.

The story wasn’t about Theresa May.  It was about Ruth Davidson and David Mundell.  They needed something, anything, in order to hit back at Nicola Sturgeon.  May’s interview was merely the hook on which they hung their wee stunt.

But what will it bring them?  Neither Davidson or Mundell are political strategists.  Both are uber-Unionists.  They’ll feel they’ve spiked the start of the SNP conference this week.  They’ve received some help from a media that has long since forgotten what journalism means.

I suspect their chuckling will be short lived.  It’s long been accepted wisdom that the blocking of the democratic will of the Scottish parliament by a Westminster government with respect to an indyref would only increase support for Yes.  We’re about to find out if that wisdom is accurate.

In the meantime watch the media push the line that the SNP is on the backfoot, that an indyref campaign before we leave the EU will hamper the Brexit negotiations, that the Scottish people deserve better.

Finally, listen to this wee clip of BBC Scotland reporter Andrew Kerr and marvel at his ability to promote the required narrative.


There’s more of this nonsense to come folks.  Batten down the hatches.


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8 thoughts on “May and the Mainstream Misreporting

  1. David Mooney

    The next fortnight will tell. The debate regarding Indyref2 will be an academic exercise. Hollyrood will vote for a second independence referendum.

    The SG will submit a request for a section 30 order for Indeyref2 to be legally ratified. Only then will we see if the Westminster/Tory government are stupid enough to say no or try to delay it until after Brexit has been concluded (which is to late) and the UK is out of the EU.

    If they do refuse then it’s game over for the union.

    There are several options available including a Hollyrood election in autumn 2018 or – my particular favourite – all 56 Westminster MPs resign their seats and provoke 56 Scottish bye elections with a specific electoral mandate of Independence for Scottish independence.

    If we got a substancial majority of seats (likely). It would have the advantage of using the unfair FPTP electoral system against the UK government. They would be unable to criticise the result because they themselves are elected using that undemocratic system.

    It’s time to play dirty folks. They have no qualms of doing it to us so we should do the same. Any and every little trick will do. As long as we win our self determination.

    1. Muscleguy

      The best thing about that is that there is British constitutional precedence for it. It’s the Sinn Féin 1919 option and it can be presented to the Spanish govt on that basis. They are fairly tight with the Irish govt and may well just accept it as valid.

      Also remember back in the GE the SNP got pretty much bang on 50% of the vote.

      The problem with it is that our European Scots will not be allowed to vote in a GE vote.

      We need 250,000 people to change their votes from last time, there are 190,000 EU Scots and out of naked self interest they will vote Yes in huge numbers. We may well need them so while the MP route is a good one it has flaws.

  2. Angus Skye

    The lack of tactical awareness from Davidson and Mundell is clearly shown up here as “blocking” a referendum will rebound on them and May in so many ways. It smacks of colonialism, of the days of the Raj, of gunboat diplomacy and that is not a good look to other countries, especially those who were on the receiving end in the past.

    If it weren’t so serious we’d be laughing at May’s “we all need to work together for Brexit” line – if she had shown the slightest inclination to “work together” we would probably be in a different place. She obviously didn’t listen to NC’s speech on Monday.

    And finally – I don’t need to see the results of the Brexit negotiations. I don’t want Brexit and I have all the information I need to make “an informed choice” and that choice is an independent Scotland.

  3. Abulhaq

    Whatever May intended, ought we to care? A referendum will be at a time that suits us not at a time, if ever, that suits the rheumy eyed Brits. As for the flabby Unionist rump in our country, kick it out!

  4. manandboy

    Mundell, Davidson and Theresa May are running the UK? With help from the BBC.


    This is Government by farce.

  5. bringiton

    “Not Fair” coming from a bunch of opportunistic chancers (Tories) is incredible.
    Being “not fair” as well as lying is how they do their business.
    What is “not fair” is their insistence on implementing a constitutional change rejected overwhelmingly by Scottish voters.
    Don’t hear much about that in the Rule Britannia press.
    Of course,since we are regarded as a colony/possession it’s all right to simply ignore our wishes.
    We don’t count.

  6. Bibbit

    So grateful for your articles. You are seriously helping me to stay sane in order to endure the MSM’s dystopia.

  7. Greigor

    Public warning! I’ve just been sanctioned from the BBC public complaints process for apparently making too many complaints to the BBC since the first Scottish independence referendum. The BBC clearly doesn’t accept public criticism. This is what the Independence movement (and general public) is up against. Unbelievably corrupt behavior by a ‘so called’ national service provider.

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