By G.A.Ponsonby
2012 was a year like no other, the Edinburgh Agreement saw to that.
Lying in wait is the last full year before Scotland moves towards the biggest decision the nation will have made in three centuries.

But 2013 can wait, what of the year just past, what were the key moments of 2012?

The Edinburgh Agreement was the moment.  An historic agreement that ended any argument over the legitimacy of the forthcoming independence referendum.

The agreement recognised the democratic right of the Scottish people to determine their own future.

The meeting in Edinburgh between Salmond and Cameron was sandwiched between the usual politicking that has marked Scottish politics since the SNP’s majority win in 2011.

The Scottish Lib Dems set up yet another commission which ended up with the party repeating the blunder of 2007 when Tavish Scott spurned the opportunity to share power with the SNP. 

Incredibly, faced with the prospect of implementing the recommendations of the Steel Commission which had looked into Devolution in 2006 and achieving their century long aim of Federalism, the party refused to embrace devo-max.  The Menzies Campbell headed reincarnation of Steel’s Commission took the opportunity to ditched many of Steel’s recommendations.

The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has had a poor year, pockmarked by blunders and U-turns.  The line in the sand over more powers for Scotland disappeared when her boss David Cameron promptly kicked the sand in her face by suggesting more powers beyond the Scotland Bill was a distinct possibility.

Davidson’s description of the proposed referendum question as fair and decisive went the same way as her Unionist counterparts attacked it as biased.

However the attempt to hi-jack the referendum process by Unionists was booted into touch by the Electoral Commission who reminded their cobbled together group that only the Scottish government could submit questions for consideration.

In keeping with tradition, the Scottish media told us that 2012 has been a bad year for the SNP and Alex Salmond and that his Labour counterpart Johann Lamont had performed well.

One of Ms Lamont’s early successes was the Scottish Labour performance at the local council elections.  Glasgow did not succumb to the SNP who, despite gains, failed to prevent Labour from becoming the largest party again.

Nationally though the SNP triumphed with more councillors than Labour, more share of the national vote and more gains.  The media though homed in on the Glasgow result and Lamont basked in the ‘victory’.

The local elections were followed by pacts between Unionist parties that saw the SNP effectively lose out on seats in COSLA, the local authority umbrella body.  Watch out for attacks by COSLA on the Scottish government in 2013.

Lamont’s year has also been marked by boorish behaviour at Holyrood that saw the Scottish Labour leader reprimanded after several episodes of appalling language which threatened to bring the chamber into disrepute.

One particularly unsavoury incident saw one of her back benchers ape his leader’s own example which saw him barred from the chamber for insulting the Presiding Officer.  Michael McMahon was suspended from the chamber for a day after he shouted “You’re a disgrace” at the Presiding Officer.

On policy, Lamont has presided over a Scottish Labour U-turn on nuclear weapons, council tax freeze and tuition fees – calling free education “anti-Scottish”.

The SNP, despite the Edinburgh Agreement and the local election triumph, has experienced difficulties.  The NATO debate was narrowly won by the party leadership in their own U-turn moment, but not without collateral damage when two sitting MSPs resigned from the party to sit as independents.

There have also been uncomfortable moments over EU membership of an independent Scotland and whether advice was sought or not.  Alex Salmond’s interview by Andrew Neil was released by the BBC as ‘proof’ that Mr Salmond had been less than forthright in his replies over whether the Scottish government had sought legal advice on the issue of EU membership.

If they didn’t know then, the SNP know now, that allowing interruptions from BBC interviewers is fraught with danger.

Michael Russell’s very public spat with a college head added to unwelcome headlines.

However the year will probably be remembered for the apology Alex Salmond had to give to the chamber after reading out the wrong figures on college funding.  Normally sure footed, Salmond handed his opponents an open goal when he gave the wrong funding figure for year 2010-11.

The SNP leader’s popularity though remains strong with 43% of Scots believing he is still the best leader to stand up for Scotland, way ahead of his rivals including Lamont who can manage only a few percentage points between them.

Membership of the SNP also continues to soar with new figures released revealing a membership total of almost 25,000 people, a rise of nearly 23% on the 2011 figure.

Away from Holyrood, the most entertaining moments were provided by Labour MP Ian Davidson.  A gift to the independence movement, Davidson entered 2012 on the back of claims he had threatened a female nationalist MP with a doing if she spoke to the media.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford promptly left the Scottish Affairs Select Committee chaired by Davidson.  Davidson was already notorious after calling the SNP “fascists” whilst addressing the House of Commons.

However the Glasgow Labour MP caused further outrage this summer when he appeared on a Newsnight Scotland programme and attacked female presenter Isabel Fraser, accusing her of being biased against Unionist parties.

Dim lights
Embed Embed this video on your site

The implosion resulted in the National Union of Journalists expressing concern over what they termed “the increase in intimidation and bullying of journalists”.

Closely behind Davidson was fellow Labour MP Tom Harris who, in January, was forced to walk away from his new role as Labour’s media advisor after posting a video on youtube that compared Alex Salmond to Hitler.

Away from the parties it wasn’t a good year for the media, with Scottish newspaper circulation figures in freefall.  The Herald group decided they no longer wished to be considered national papers, and opted for a regional category – the move ensures that the Herald and Sunday Herald circulation figures will be reported only once every six months instead of once a month.

The BBC in Scotland continues to cause concern with its handling of political news.  The Savile scandal left a dent in trust UK wide, but there are growing concerns regarding the corporation’s commitment to quality coverage of the referendum debate – job losses are already leading to fears over a loss of quality.

Newsnet Scotland has enjoyed a year of growth with October seeing total unique visitors to the site crash through the 90,000 barrier.  An interview on BBC Scotland ended a very good year and witnessed team member Lynda Williamson answer questions from BBC Scotland’s Derek Bateman.

Embed Embed this video on your site

Happy New Year everyone



2013-01-01 05:31

Happy New Year to all at NewsnetScotland  . More power to your elbow for 2013. The momentum towards normality starts here. Keep up the good work everyone.
2013-01-01 07:04

Hi there,

Happy New Year to you all.

Great interview Lynda.

What a car crash of an interview for Angus McLeod. How does that man manage to get onto the BBC with such regularity when he is proud to trumpet his bias in the way he does? Totally disgraceful.

That is the BBC problem in a nutshell. If you’re a Unionist you can spout any old rubbish on a regular basis. If you’re a “Yeser” you have to be content with the crumbs. It has to stop and stop now!

Would have thought Derek Bateman’s jacket must now be hanging on an awfully shoogly peg after that.


ps The Herald moving to six-monthly circulation figures will only make the decline look even more dramatic when they eventually come out.

Hell mend them!
Jim Johnston
2013-01-01 08:04

God is in his heaven and all is well on Scotlands road to Independence.

Happy New Year.

It’s His will that sheep were always meant to bleet, so we can expect nothing else from anti-Independence in 2013. It’s such a pity that it seems beyond them to “Look up and see”, or as Oscar Wilde put it, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
2013-01-01 08:10

The main problem with the media as i see it is there is not enough research into the article’s that are published. This is also a great problem for Lamont Davidson and Rennie, for they read this and believe it is the facts, for they don’t research it either. but the sad bit is when they are found out it cannot be reported as this would make the m.s.m look very inept at their job, which of course they are. Happy new year everyone, lets hope it is a great one.
Big Eye
2013-01-01 09:26

Thought I would start the New Year with a true and funny story. My brother in law who lives in Canada, have emigrated there from Edinburgh in the 1960’s contracted Legionella in Greece while on holiday. He was seriously ill and was in a coma for several days.

We wre sitting with a group of American and Canadian friends when his wife was explaining to all what had happened. She said ” the one thing that confuses me was that he had the strongest Scottish accent when he came out of the coma”

I got a great laugh when I said ” oh that is easily explained. He had been nearer to God and was just ensuring he was fully understood!”

Happy New Year to all.
2013-01-01 12:06

A point the pundits appeared to either gloss over or miss altogether when espousing their views on editorial line; their approach seems to be resulting in a loss of readership. Could it be that they are simply not paying attention when readers are voting with their feet? Seems to me that when people are quite loudly declaring that ‘we disagree with your stance and we don’t like the way you go about your business’, that mibbies they’re dropping you a hint. That mibbies you should drop editorial bias in favour of balanced reportage. That mibbies your own pride is the cause of your downfall.

Anyhoo a good new year all and all the best for 2013.
2013-01-01 21:21

It’s not going to happen. The very rich people who own newspapers have got more to consider than whether or not a newspaper is experiencing a decline in readership or even is in danger of going under. Such as whether or not their British state, which has the fourth biggest gap between rich and poor in the developed world and which has served them and their ilk extremely well to date, is going to survive a grave threat to its very existence, in the form of the 2014 independence referendum.

Normalising Scotland’s constitution arrangements would usher in a fundamentally different country – one in which their continued hegemony would be by no means certain. Their newspapers will, if necessary, go to the wall arguing against a change to the status quo. For the owners of the mainstream Scottish media, in other words, the medium is not the end in itself but rather a means to the end.
2013-01-02 08:15

All very true Proadge and its a point I’ve made myself on more than one occasion. The publishers and politically active commentators on staff really don’t give a monkey’s about the devastating effects their blind/bought loyalties will wreak on production staff, paper and ink suppliers, press manufacturers and hundreds of support businesses. They’ll simply move their stance online and watch as literally thousands of jobs are affected by their actions. As you say, these people are part of the establishment and they’d rather see their titles die than print a balanced argument.

2013-01-01 12:23

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr.
Happy New Year.
Fae Stonehaven

2013 is the big build up to:
“Referendum Year”

We are going to have to work for every YES vote. We really need to set the tone, stick to the positive message for a return to independence and avoid foolish slip-ups and errors of judgement. There will be little forgiveness available and no support from the media.

Remember Scotland achieved a fantastic
74.3% to 25.7% in favour of Devolution. It is there to work for.
Online Editor
2013-01-01 12:30

We appreciate the messages saying ‘Happy New Year’, however we have removed such ‘singular’ posts in order to ensure the messages beneath the article continue to be informative and thought provoking.
2013-01-01 13:30

I hope 2013 will see the debate move on to what opportunities Independence can provide for different types of services and employment. Would it be possible to invite contributions from a postal worker on how a Scottish postal service could operate given the challenge of the Internet? and a property professional on how mortgages and the house purchase and sale system could be improved with Independence?
2013-01-01 14:04

DO LISTEN to Alistair Darling’s New Year message to the troops. His alternative to the union is “division and conflict”, “turning against each other”. And do make sure you listen right to the end…well?…/…

Currency, jobs, representation in the world, shipyard jobs are the issues he wants answers to, offering none himself.
Will we keep the BBC as it is? – that’s a humdinger, Alistair.

Alistair doesn’t realise that he is speaking to the Scottish constituency that voted for the one party that offered us this referendum.
2013-01-01 15:48

That’s a classic Farrochie!!

A new year message from Alistair Darling which doesn’t actually wish anybody a good new year. Oooops.

2013-01-01 14:07

Tae me, A see the Scottish? media comin ower as treatin Scotland mair liker a colony o the UK(England) nor a pairtner o it/thaim. Ther nane sae blinn as thaim that winnae see an yin day aw thair doos will shairly come hame tae roost.
A guid N’eer tae yin an aw an monie o thaim.
2013-01-01 15:28

‘The BBC is not capable of bias’ .. Absolute twaddle from Derek Bateman. The BBC is jam packed with angry Labourites who hate that their party is no longer in power.

For the love of a long dead political party Labourites are content to see the people of Scotland controlled by a malign British state whose interests lie in keeping Scots down so that the revenues, the power, remains in London.

Here’s how it works .. the British nationalist editor gives more time over to David Cameron’s words, and does not even allow the voice of Alex Salmond to be heard unless it’s wrapped in a negative context.

Anything positive about Scotland is played down or not reported.

Then, who writes the words of the presenters? and who decides that the counterpoint, the strong case for independence is completely ignored 100 percent of the time?

Who invites only British nationalists to talk in the studio on the majority of occasions.
2013-01-01 15:42

The built-in 3 unionist parties v 1 independence party (unjustly ignoring the Greens and Margo) gives the BBC all the excuse it needs to balance its political coverage in favour of the British view of Scotland. I am looking forward (with not much hope or expectation) to a time when such blatant 3:1 bias will be unacceptable in the referendum years. Yes and No sides should be given equal air time.
2013-01-01 15:56

SNP should refuse to appear on any indy debates. It should be YesScotland only, and they must insist on equal representation and air-time.

2013-01-01 20:19

Totally agree. The Scottish Government really need to be a bit more savvy when they are lined up to appear on the BBC. Perhaps a more robust Msp such as Alex Niel to front the bias of the BBC when the 3 unionist representative(  s) appear on Newsnight Scotland.
2013-01-01 23:57

A referendum is coming that is for sure part of the process. My issue is who do I vote for and why.It’s the same at every election so what do I want? well, simply to be able to put my X next to the best person who will be interested to work for my country and it’s people for generations to come. So how will I be able to know who that person is, not by percentages or legal jargon griping or sniping. If you want my trust they must show me they can be trusted and how they do that is the nub of it all. I await in hope.
2013-01-02 09:22

I hear what you’re saying Nchanter, but you illustrate perfectly the dangers which our skewed media represents.

There are compelling arguments which back the concept of Independence, you can take your pick from the history scandalous injustices; from the McCrone Report, Thatcher, Rosyth ’93; you can look at the present day abuses, with GERS figures, 1 in 5 Scots kids raised in poverty, North/South divide; or you can look to the future with a Scotland rebuilding it’s industrial capacity and investing in renewable energies for the good of it’s people.

All the information is out there Nchanter, but the Unionist media won’t dare to set it out for all to see & judge.

If you want to find the truth, don’t wait to be shown it, you need to actively look for it. The mainstream media is backing the Union, and they have no intention of delivering the fair and balanced reporting which you seek.

The revolution will not be televised.
2013-01-02 13:14

Breeks,My very point is that some if not many do need to be shown. You know there are those who are of the Arkansaw mule type who’s motto is “Show me” you also know that to teach , demonstration is the more successful method. What you say is spot on but the question of what makes the undecided undecided? simple, It is lack of understanding and fear of change. The what’s in it for me mob are a minority, (the courts can deal with them later.)

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.