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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
'The Freedom of the Press'.  It's a statement that's wheeled out whenever newspapers fear a curb on their more nefarious practices might be on the way.
 
Without freedom, says the fourth estate, we wouldn't be able to pursue those in power, we wouldn't be able to expose corruption.

What they really mean is that they want freedom to act as they see fit, to pursue their own agenda.  Indeed in many cases the newspaper itself was and still is a means through which the wealthy maintain their grip on power.

Newspapers allow the wealthy to weild power by influencing the readership.  They are, amongst other things, political weapons.

Newspapers of course are private businesses and should be free to pursue whichever political line they wish – or the owner wishes.  Indeed across the UK you will find newspapers which are vehemently right-wing, whilst others are solidly left-wing.  Occasionally some will take a relatively neutral view.

Such a situation is healthy as it allows everyone's views to be articulated.  There will of course be frustrations with fringe views marginalised, but by-and-large the whole population will see their opinions represented and headlined.

In Scotland though the term 'freedom of the press' has taken on a wholly different meaning.  North of the border this freedom is being abused.

Aside from a business decision take by the Sunday Herald, which announced in May it was backing a Yes vote, Scotland's newspaper industry is staunchly pro-Union … or more accurately it is rabidly anti-independence.

The referendum campaign has caused a veil to draw back that has exposed the ugly truth about Scotland's newspaper industry and the wider Scottish media.  It is a beast of the Union, owned and driven by pro-Union interests.

On Tuesday STV broadcast a debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together head Alistair Darling.  The head-to-head saw a subdued Salmond and an over-animated Darling.

A section of the programme allowed each to interrogate the other.  Darling chose to focus on one issue – that of currency.

That the No campaign leader chose this issue was not a surprise.  Unionists have concentrated on two areas since the turn of the year – the EU and the pound. 

However, last month new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his de-facto support for Scotland's continued membership of the EU.  His office publicly debunked claims from Better Together after the No campaign tried to claim he had backed their view.

It removed the issue of EU membership from the Better Together armoury and left them with one solitary line of attack, and that was precisely what Alistair Darling did.

The debate itself was close, neither man landed a knock-out blow.  Yes supporters were disappointed, expecting the wily Salmond to trounce the former Chancellor.

No backers were at first relieved, then ecstatic when a poll emerged apparently showing their man had 'won' the debate.  It later emerged that the poll had in fact been made up of more No backers than Yes and the result broke along partisan lines.

Winner

ICM's panel of 512 people who gave their instant verdict on the debate comprised 40 per cent Yes supporters, 46 per cent in favour of No with 14 per cent Undecided.  Asked who had won the debate, 47 per cent said Mr Darling won, 37 per cent felt Mr Salmond came out on top and 15 per cent were unsure.

Newspapers and broadcasters rushed out headlines proclaiming Darling the winner.

However, ignored amid the media hype was an interesting statistic.  Salmond had actually impressed those who were undecided.

When the Yes and No supporters were removed and only the undecided were asked, Salmond emerged the winner by almost three to one.  A snap survey carried out by the firm showed a four per cent swing to Yes.

That particular story was buried as newspapers and broadcasters began to promote and circulate the myth that voters had backed Darling.  Something I have referred to before began to happen - media outlets began to reinforce their own misreporting by referencing one another.

And so it began with STV and BBC broadcasting newspaper headlines.  TV and Radio programmes reviewed the same newspapers.  Pundits from the newspapers turned up on current affairs programmes spouting the same line.  On Scotland Tonight, Rona Dougall actually stated that the Darling win was "the verdict of the press".

The truth had been rewritten and the myth was being promoted.  Once the lie that Darling was the winner was established, the 'reason' for the defeat was presented.

For almost three days the Scottish public has been force fed the pro-Union line that a currency-union after a Yes vote is the only issue that matters.  So important is this issue, apparently, that it gave Darling a comprehensive victory.

The claim of course that currency is the pressing issue is false, as a poll for the BBC showed in February this year which put it fifth, behind welfare and Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK.  The issue is of course number one for the No campaign after Juncker's EU intervention.

Plan B

In almost every headline, news bulletin and interview; reporter after reporter, presenter after presenter is claiming that currency is the dominant issue of the referendum and that Salmond's lack of a Plan B has derailed the Yes campaign.  That this has been the Scottish Government's stance for months and has already been widely scrutinised and debated is not being allowed to get in the way of a concerted effort to help the No campaign.

The media has turned itself into a full-on campaign vehicle for Better Together.  Such has been the ferocity of the propaganda that I have to admit to being shocked.

And it's why I believe all Yes supporters should now consider their own role in helping to promote what are now de-facto Better Together campaign drives.

If newspapers want to contrive headlines and narratives in order to assist the Better Together campaign then they should know that such a primitive partisan stance will have repercussions.

From this weekend, and each and every day until the day of the referendum, every single Yes supporter and activist should stop buying these newspapers.  Cease funding this kind of journalism.  Money talks so let it speak for us from now on.

Don't buy the Daily Record – the newspaper that referred to readers of this site as "crackpots". 

Leave the Scotsman on the shelf, the newspaper whose sister paper superimposed a Nazi Swastika on the Scottish flag, and abandon the Herald, a newspaper that once attacked SNP supporters in an editorial and whose current political editor Magnus Gardham accused independence supporters of spreading "vile hatred and abuse".

Let them know what you think of their now routine attacks on the Yes campaign and independence and keep your money for other worthwhile ventures, like the newly launched online Referendum TV site, or even Newsnet Scotland.

See how they react when their margins are hit when Yes supporting readers say ‘enough’ and decide to keep their pounds away from newspaper coffers.

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter."

So said Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest Presidents the United States.  Jefferson of course never witnessed the rabid anti-independence shite that is currently masquerading as journalism in Scotland.  Don't fund it any more.

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