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Forget Brexit … My train was late! – Towards Indyref2…

Forget Brexit … My train was late!

bbc liesThe ‘Railway Crisis’ nonsense appears to have run its course.  The issue dominated First Minister’s Questions last Thursday but failed to make it onto that evening’s Reporting Scotland.  Someone at Pacific Quay clearly decided after eight days they could squeeze no more out of a train breakdown.  Humza has survived.

It was getting ridiculous.  So pathetic was ‘train-gate’ becoming that run-of-the-mill problems were being presented as national disasters. The hype had led to near hysteria.  Below is a tweet posted by GMS presenter Gary Robertson last Wednesday.  STV turned the same over-head signal problem into a major news item.


The media, having created the witch-hunt, was ultimately left looking ridiculous as it was forced to feed the beast.  If you’re telling people there’s a crisis then you damn well have to create one.

The diet of Labour inspired calls to sack Yousaf were supplemented with tales of a ‘catastrophic’ collapse in the reliability of Scotland’s rail network.  That the performance of ScotRail [just below 89%] was above the UK average and better than at any time under Scottish Labour, was simply ignored.  Indeed in terms of delays and cancellations, Arriva Trains Wales is worse than Abellio run ScotRail.  Somehow I can’t see Welsh Labour calling for the resignation of Ieuan Wyn Jones.

It didn’t suit the media agenda to educate and inform the Scottish public.  So much easier to create an illusion and let them ‘inform’ themselves.  I mean respected BBC presenters don’t press ministers to resign unless there’s a good reason to … do they?

It was all part of the sham.  Scotland’s Transport Minister was never meant to resign.  The media created the train-crisis myth in order to satisfy a need for a few anti-SNP headlines.  This was an attempt at applying indirect pressure onto the First Minister and divert from Brexit.  The Unionist parties are all over the place on the issue.

Few will recall, but the day before a train ground to a halt outside Waverly Station on November 17th, Kezia Dugdale had just announced a massive U-turn.  The Scottish Labour leader and her MSPs had refused to back a motion calling for Scotland’s Single Market status to be protected.  That afternoon Dugdale published a blog in which she confirmed she was now reversing her pledge to back the First Minister in a bid at seeking a special deal for Scotland.

Dugdale wrote:

“The SNP submitted a motion that seemed to admit defeat on keeping the whole UK in the EU single market and asked us to take a leap of blind faith in an alternative approach yet to be revealed.

“It set the bar so high that it was likely to fail, as Scotland-only membership is undoubtedly going to be difficult – if not impossible – to achieve. Expert after expert has said as much since summer.”

The blog by the Labour MSP contradicted previous statements in which she offered support for the Scottish Government’s bid to protect Scotland’s EU status.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon in September, the Scottish Labour leader wrote:

“We have repeatedly supported your efforts to meet with Governments around the world to not only seek to find a way to retain Scotland’s EU membership but also to make clear that Scotland is open for business.”

In June the Scottish Labour leader said:

“The decision to leave the EU will cause untold damage to Scotland’s economy and standing in the world. Every possible avenue must be explored to not just mitigate the impact. The majority of Scotland’s voters backed remaining in the EU and it is vital that our parliament gives voice to that position.”

But Dugdale’s Brexit U-turn was buried.  Instead the Scottish public was submitted to an eight day feeding-frenzy as the corporate media, led by the BBC, targeted Humza Yousaf.

The manufactured outrage, and it was manufactured, was based on nothing.  It had no foundation save for delays and cancellations that were already widely expected.  Weeks before the unfortunate train breakdown just outside Waverly Station, the company in charge of ScotRail had warned commuters to expect problems.

rail-warningAbellio had taken some trains out of service in order to upgrade them.  This temporary reduction in rolling-stock coincided with infrastructure modernisation works.  The media and opposition parties knew this.  Indeed BBC Scotland reported the warning from Abellio on the day it was announced.

The truth is that our media and opposition knew delays and cancellations were guaranteed to happen.  They were already poised to attack Humza Yousaf when they got an early Christmas present in the shape of the train breakdown outside Waverly Station that fateful morning.  They latched onto it.

The witchhunt endured by Humza Yousaf was the product of political and media corruption.  The media feasted on a myth of its own creation.  Unionist politicians too gorged themselves.  What of the railways and its passengers?  Mere pawns in a game.

These people don’t care about ScotRail.  They care only that they can manufacture a ‘crisis’ that will lend itself to the drafting of some easy anti-SNP copy.  Just so long as they all sing from the same hymn-sheet they all benefit.  It didn’t suit anybody to tell readers and licence payers that ScotRail was actually one of the best performing networks in the UK.  So they didn’t.

The ‘crisis’ will move on, as it always does.  Who is next?  Shona Robison is in the cross-hairs.  The media has been trying to shoehorn the MSP into the vacancy left by Yousaf.  A BBC Freedom of Information request last week put the issue of ‘avoidable deaths’ at one Scottish hospital into the spotlight.  Two right-wing pro-Union newspapers picked it up on Sunday.  Both featured on the Good Morning Scotland newspaper review on Sunday.


There is still decent journalism in Scotland.  Of course there is.  It’s just that it rarely makes it beyond a page or two of the newspaper it appears in.

north-lan-corruptionFor instance you won’t find the allegations of a multi-million pound corruption scam, currently engulfing North Lanarkshire Labour, being the lead item on Reporting Scotland.

Nor will you hear any mention of the Labour expense attack on the SNP [that backfired spectacularly] on GMS news bulletins.  These stories are genuine news.  Alas they don’t fit the #SNPBad agenda.


Meanwhile whilst the Scottish media has been engrossed in how late our trains are, the spectre of Brexit is still looming.  Ach, what’s billions lost to the Scottish economy and tens of thousands of jobs disappearing?


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10 thoughts on “Forget Brexit … My train was late!

  1. Andy McKirdy

    Brilliant article just confirming all the things we on this site already know, but as always if we don’t let everyone know then we are talking to our selves again.
    The SG/SNP should be setting the agenda not reacting to it.
    Call news conferences and state the sort of stuff we see on this site and others all the time, be loud, be bold, be controversial and be very very public about it. The media will have to cover it.
    As has been said many times by many people since 2014, the media is the opposition in Scotland not the blue, red or yellow Tories.
    Know your enemy, don’t be distracted and fight on ground of our choosing, not theirs!!!!

  2. bjsalba

    The media don’t have to cover anything they don’t want to. Neither the SNP nor the Scottish Government can force them to, press conferences or not.

    Don’t you remember how the Nick Robinson lied about a Press Conference during the first referendum campaign where the world’s press was present? And was the grudging half-hearted apology given the same prominence as the original reporting?

    Don’t make me laugh.

  3. Geejay

    The privately (i.e. by billionaires) owned media can report what they like and when they don’t like it they can make it up, or at least make up misleading headlines and the initial paras beyond which many don’t read.

    The BBC, on the other hand, are supposed to be impartial, but their culture has gone so far down the road of “unofficial opposition to everything SNP” that they wouldn’t know impartiality if it kicked their teeth out. Even the one Radio Scotland journo I quite respect, Isobel Fraser, falls into the trap (or maybe the trap set by others) when the invited guest is one of the usual suspects who toes the Unionist/neoliberal line and isn’t pressed on an alternative viewpoint.

    A book out this month may be worth a read – The BBC: Myth of a Public Service by Tom Mills. I don’t know if it deals with Scotland though.

  4. Andy McKirdy

    Ok bjsalba, so we just continue to talk to ourselves in our own wee on line world and allow the media to continue to set the agenda??
    Call a weekly press conference and don’t allow Q&A from the media, it’s a debunking session of the week’s latest crap and it’s our agenda, but it has to be done by a profile figure from the SNP government or it will be ignored.
    We need to do do things differently from the way the opposition operate.
    It’s surely worth a try, no one accepts that this independence thing is ever going to be easy, it’s the might of empire we are up against!!

  5. Philip Maughan

    GAP; you consistently highlight some very important points about the BBC. However, as I write this, your latest blog has had a paltry 1158 views. To persuade more people to vote Yes next time your analyses really need to get to a much bigger audience. You could do this by posting on Wings. I note that Peter Bell, writing also on Indyref2 is urging folk to get behind the SNP as the only political party that has the heft to achieve independence. I think Wings falls into that category – it is easily the most read pro-independence blog and I would have thought, is the best vehicle for your work.

    1. GA Ponsonby

      Paltry? How dare you!

      I hear you Philip. If Stu, or indeed anybody, wants to reproduce my articles they are free to do so. I have always operated a ‘free-source’ kind of approach to my work. Whoever reproduces need only reproduce in full. They don’t even need to link to the site.

  6. millie

    Due to technical reasons BBC Reporting Scotland could not report on Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to Dublin.

    Yes, Really!!

  7. Clydebuilt

    O/t (appologies)….. BBC’s Phil Goodlad pushing a FIFA PRO survey of world footballers, that finds Scotland’s footballers have received more threats of violence from supporters than any other country……. However, England and Old Firm players did not take part…….. Find this very hard to believe……

  8. millie

    re: Phil Verster moving to a new job in England.

    I really don’t blame him for getting out of Scotland. He was being hounded almost daily by labour and the BBC.

    The transport correspondent for the Scotsman (Alastair Dalton) tends to give fair reporting on Scotrail – in Scotsman article (today) it quotes Verster as saying that ‘train punctuality in Scotland is very strongly moving in the right direction- while performance south of the border has deteriorated’.

    As an aside, has anyone noticed the amount of ‘catastrophic’ events to hit Scotrail recently- It is uncanny- the arson attack on the Bathgate- Airdrie line yesterday caused near chaos. The ‘breakdown’ in the Haymarket tunnel that paralysed the central belt of Scotland- (happened on the day Nicola Sturgeon was making a rail statement).

    The Lines being pulled down at Hyndland on the day Humza Yousaf was making a statement to Holyrood.

    It would be good to see the ‘timeline’ of ‘events’ since the beginning October 2016.

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