Category Archives: Greater Glasgow

ScotGov Coronavirus Updates …. My Letter to the BBC

Marlene Halliday, of Glasgow Pensioners for Indy, writes:

A few weeks ago, BBC announced that they will no longer include live broadcasts of the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus updates. I submitted a complaint and received a response from BBC which I was not satisfied with. I have just submitted this second letter, called a Level2 complaint.

Dear BBC Scotland

During public health emergencies, World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines advise that people need accurate information, provided early, often, and in channels people understand, trust and use, to make choices that can protect them from health hazards threatening their lives and well-being.

WHO have praised ScotGov’s handing of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clear and repeated messaging is of the utmost importance in communicating public health info. By limiting live broadcasts you are decreasing the opportunities available to the Scottish public to have early, frequent and clear messaging about what they need to do in the current pandemic.

You are restricting access to info for those who don’t have ready access to internet. This will disproportionately effect the less well off, the elderly, and those with hearing difficulties who depend on the signing provided in the updates.

You say you will apply criteria based on “news value” and “editorial merit”.

I have some questions for you:
How do you define “news value” and “editorial merit” for public health info in the context of the needs of a global pandemic?

Who will make editorial decisions & what qualifications do they have for making them?

How will they know in advance of a live broadcast what might arise in it that will be of merit? You can’t know in advance what questions will be asked and therefore you can’t know in advance what comments and information may emerge.

You say you wish to achieve a consistent approach to coverage across the UK nations. But there is no consistent approach in government messaging across the four UK Governments. England has abandoned regular live updates. Since your own Charter instructs you to “meet the needs of the United Kingdom’s nations, regions and communities” please explain to me how looking for consistency is a possibility at all? Far less one which would provide a fair and equable result for Scotland as one the UK four nations?

And lastly, how do you interpret your obligations under the BBC Charter in the context of the WHO Guidelines for good practice in public health communication in an emergency?

I look forward to receiving your considered answers to my questions.

Is the BBC decision to end live broadcasting of the Coronavirus Briefings the result of political pressure?

I watch the daily updates and I know that the First Minister is scrupulous in avoiding any party political statements. This despite often being asked overtly party politic questions by journalists at the briefings.

But there has been a lot of surmise on social media that the BBC have given in to pressure from Labour and Conservative politicians in Scotland to axe the live broadcasts on the basis that they are giving the SNP/ Nicola Sturgeon an unfair political platform. It is true that such approaches have been made to BBC.

People have also surmised that the visit to BBC Scotland by Tim Davie, the new BBC Director General, in the week before these change were announced indicates that he was influential in the changes being imposed.

There is no evidence that either of these happenings have been instrumental in the BBC’s change in policy. No matter how much it may seem so, the fact that something happens after something else does not mean that the something else was the necessary cause.

So I made no reference in my letter to party politicking, or visits by the Director General. There are better points to be directed to BBC, ones which are much harder to be deflected.

What you can do

If you want to send in your own complaint and comments to BBC, use this link: BBC Complaints

There is a petition demanding that BBC reverse their decision. It has 55,000 signatures currently. If you want to add you name, you can do that here: Reverse BBC Decision to Stop Broadcasting ScotGov’s Updates

Execution & Beheading on Glasgow Green

Mary McCabe, of Greater Glasgow P4Indy, writes:

On 30th August 200 years ago James ‘Purlie’ Wilson was hanged and beheaded on Glasgow Green for High Treason. A rebellious crowd of 20,000, held back by soldiers, watched him die. He gave an impassioned speech on the gallows. Did the Press report on what he said? No.

By Elliott Simpson, CC BY-SA 2.0, WikiCommons

“Scotland Free or a Desart”

Wilson was a 63-year-old weaver. He had long been involved in organisations seeking such political reform as votes for all men and the independence of Scotland. 

He had taken part in non-violent demonstrations and carried a banner proclaiming “Scotland Free or a Desart” (sic). And his home in Strathaven was a rendezvous point for those who wished to debate topical issues such as the abolition of slavery.

In the April of 1820, Government undercover agents persuaded Wilson to lead twenty-five men towards Cathkin to join in an uprising. However long before they arrived they thought the better of it and returned home without striking a blow. But it was already too late. They had now been identified. Soldiers burst into their homes and arrested them. 

The Radical Wars involved thousands of people across Central Scotland. By the end eighty-eight men were charged with High Treason. Yet the events of those years are shrouded in secrecy to this day.

Bi-Centary Commemoration

Tomorrow (Sunday 30th August) from about 2.45 there will be a Commemoration on Glasgow Green beside the Arch near the High Court – attended physically, with social distancing – to mark the bicentenary of Wilson’s execution at that exact time and place, 200 years ago.

Postscript by Marlene Halliday:

I’m sure there are honourable exceptions, but for many of us who went to school in Scotland in the 50s and 60s, the 1820 Rebellion was likely never mentioned in any history class. I am currently reading an account of the Rebellion by Murray Armstrong entitled ” The Fight for Scottish Democracy: Rebellion & Reform in 1820“.

You can listen to Murray talking on the subject here:

And find out even more in these videos:

Alliance for Independence – Good Tactic or Risky One?

The Event:

Greater Glasgow P4Indy Group invited Dave Thompson former MSP and now one of the founders of the Alliance for Independence (AFI) to contribute to a recent virtual meeting. Alan Logue, convenor of the group, stated at the outset that Pensioners for Indy are a non-party political organisation and do not endorse any party. The invitation to Dave is to better inform our members about the AFI initiative, its possible benefits and its possible risks.

Thirty nine people logged into the event. Dave spoke for about 20mins and there followed a lively Q&A sessions with points being made on both the pros and the cons of having List-Only Indy supporting parties.

The questions covered a lot of ground:

  • With SNP we know what we getting, they have a manifesto, same with the Greens. You say that AFI will not have a manifesto. That may be OK to get us to independence but those AFI MSPs will still be in Holyrood afterwards and we have no way of knowing what they would vote. Presumably individual MSPs will just vote according to their own views?
  • What are electoral Commission saying about accepting AFI
  • How likely is it that small parties are going to join in with you?
  • What if SNP don’t do as well as polls are saying, are we not in danger of making things worse rather than better?
  • If Greens don’t join AFI is it still viable?
  • How is it going to be funded? If people vote for you, won’t this be lauded by Unionists as SNP losing their power? And then be used it to make negotiations much more difficult?
  • Where SNP are likely to win a list seat, would you stand a candidate or step aside?
  • Coalitions are normal in a lot of countries, why on earth don’t you have a manifesto now that you can promote in phase two after independence?
  • D’Hondt system works well in producing a parliament which reflects how we vote. If this initiative ends up with a less proportional parliament is that really a good thing? Some people are concerned with the ethics of that. And wouldn’t a less proportional result it be used to argue against the legitimacy of the parliament?
  • There is no certainty that SNP will get the majority of the seats. As happened in 2016 when SNP got fewer votes. Why risk that again? Is it not a dangerous thing to do?

You can listen to the talk here:

Campaigning in the New Normal

It’s been four months since Glasgow P4Indy folk have done any street campaigning. We’ve had online meetings. We’ve had some really good speakers. And we’ve had more people coming to the line meetings than come to our usual monthly meetings in Glasgow city centre.

That all changed a day or so ago ….

Two of our group, Sheena Stephens and Mary McCabe, checked the coronavirus advice (and the weather forecast) and decided that it was OK to get outside and set up some of of our new banners. They tied them to the railings at Alexandra Park. And they set up a wee table with some leaflets. Mary and Sheena kept to the two metre distancing between themselves and any interested passers-by. But that still let them have some good conversations about where Scotland is now with respect to independence. Since then Sheena and Anna have taken a couple of the banners out to Milngavie and restarted our campaigning there – thanks, you two!

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I set up a zoom meeting with Mary and Sheena so that I could ask them more about where the banners came from and how the outing went. Val Gauld, another Glasgow P4Indy member, joined us.

You can listen here. Just a heads up, Mary’s audio was playing up. I had to edit some of it out and insert me saying what she’d said. 🥴 We’ll need to get that sorted for next time.

One of our group put the photos on Twitter and on the P4Indy Facebook page. Now we learn that over 14,000 people have seen the tweet. Good to know that people are picking up on P4Indy activism and also that there seems to be an appetite to get out on the streets again. In a safe way, of course.

You can find out more about Grassroots Oban’s Banner Library And here are some of the banner designs in their collection. Use the < and > arrows to move through the slides or click on the thumbnails:

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The Importance of Knowing Your Country’s History

Dr Elspeth King is a Scottish curator, writer and social historian. She is known for her role as curator of social history at the People’s Palace Museum in Glasgow, as Director the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, and for her scholarship on the Scottish Suffrage movement.

Taken at her final lecture as Director of Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum (2018)

She studied Medieval History at University of St Andrews. One of the reasons she chose that topic was because Scottish History was not a recognised topic which counted towards a degree. It was said to be too pariochial. You could only study it as a special subject in second year, there was no set eading list, you had to discover your own.

Recently she joined an online meeting of Glasgow P4Indy and talked about the importance of teaching and learning your country’s history. As she says in the talk:

It’s my belief those who know and write about the past can understand the present and shape the future.

And I  know myself that the Scottish cause of independence has been held back by failure to teach Scottish history, literature & language in our schools. We have long suffered from what is known as internal  colonialism and the well documented Scottish cringe whereby all our culture is regarded as  inferior to our bigger southern neighbour.

You can listen to her talk and the Q&A afterwards here:

In 1974, King joined the People’s Palace, in Glasgow as a curator, where she remained for the next 16 years. During her tenure exhibitions such as Scotland Sober and Free, the 150th anniversary of the Temperance Movement, and Michael Donnelly’s 1981 exhibition of stained glass, gained record attendances.[2] The People’s Palace won European Museum of the Year in 1981 and the British Museum of the Year award in 1983.[3]

King left Glasgow to take on the role of director of the Dunfermline Heritage Trust[5][7], where she helped to oversee the restoration as a heritage centre of Abbot House,[8] the oldest secular building in the town.[9] Then 1994, she joined the Smith Art Gallery Museum in Stirling as its first Director, where she remained until her retirement in August 2018.[7] 

Some years back the BBC interviewed Elspeth on Good Morning Scotland. You can listen to that here:

BBC Scotland, Good Morning Scotland.