A Baffling Poll

I’ve just seen a poll stating that if there were to be a General Election tomorrow, that the SNP would take 54 of the 59 seats in Westminster. Labour would shrink from 40 to just 4, and the LibDems from 11 to 1.

Of the three Unionist parties, the Tories became a minority party in Scotland with Thatcher, only Labour and the LibDems had a strong presence here. Now, all three Unionist parties are facing oblivion in Scotland, at least in the short term. Think about that for a second. The people of Scotland don’t want ANY of the Unionist parties in power.

If that’s the case, why did people vote No? Those same Unionist parties are the governing parties in Westminster. A No vote followed by this poll says “we still want to be ruled by Westminster, but we don’t want any of the Westminster parties governing us”.

That makes no sense. We can’t make a dent in Westminster politics. We’re 1/10th the size of England, yet somehow we expect to be able to oust the Unionist parties and replace them with humane parties? The only up and coming party outside of that comfy threesome are UKIP; hardly a welcome sign for a left of centre Scotland.

If we don’t want to be ruled by any of the Unionist parties, the only logical solution is independence from Westminster.

Of course you could say that political parties go through ups and downs all the time, and that this plummet in support could just be temporary. The Tories support in Scotland won’t change much, but it will always be at minority levels. The LibDems have been exposed by being in Coalition with the Tories as being excess to requirements, they have no function. Labour have betrayed Scotland with their decisions to lie to the people to get a No vote. When around 50% of the Scottish electorate now see your utter destruction as a lifestyle choice and goal, you’re not recovering from that. All you can do is try to slow the decline.

Since devolution, the Tories have been a minority party, as have the LibDems, now Labour are heading towards being a minority party. They’ll all fluctuate with events, but they won’t peak much beyond that for long. This is the beginning of the end of Unionist party support in Scotland.

An Easy Devo Solution

What powers Scotland has over it’s own future and how they’re funded are two things that have been linked, but they need not be. If we separate them, it becomes a lot easier. For that Scotland needs the ability to raise and spend all of it’s tax revenues. That includes VAT. Next we split the tax up, and send our portion down to Westminster to cover our share of the reserved powers.

On your pay slip your tax won’t be listed as one item, with one figure, but two; devolved and reserved. Hollyrood will be entirely responsible for setting the tax rates, including the fine detail to balance it out among different demographics for both devolved and reserved tax. Their only requirement is that the total per year for reserved UK policy is met by the Scottish taxpayers as an overall group.

That way we can see if one side raises taxes a lot, it will show on their side of the pay slip. People can see what areas are devolved and decide if it’s value for money or distributed fairly. It affects how they choose to vote. The same applies with the reserved side of the payslip. It shows a lot clearer the real costs of constant military adventurism, as it’s the major reserved power. It also ends the idea of a subsidy, as well as any reliance on the Barnett Formula, or block grants.

The idea that only English MPs can vote on the English NHS is perfectly fine. Whatever they do does not affect Scotland in any way, including the money sent to fund the Scottish NHS. It’s the answer to the West Lothian Question.

How much we pay as our share of the UK’s reserved powers should be per capita so we’d pay a bit more than Wales and Northern Ireland, but a lot less than England into that UK shared pot.

After that, deciding what powers to devolve is easy. It’s simply down to which side to the payslip it’s listed under.

Using Semantics To Break The Vow

In the final weeks before polling day, the Daily Record published “the vow” on it’s front page. The image they used had the words of an agreement between the current leaders of all three Westminster parties, in addition to their signatures and images. They even aged the paper so it looks more official. Since the No victory, various parts of all three parties have been back pedalling on any extra promise of new powers, claiming that the offer made no difference, and people would have voted No anyway. In that case, why zip around Scotland with the mainstream media in tow, repeating the offer over and over again? Of course it made a difference. Remember the difference is a tiny 400k votes. If only 201k switched sides, Yes would have won by 51%. It’s not decisive, I’m merely pointing out the small margin of victory, and the last minute impact of “vote No for new powers”.

Ed Miliband’s office have stated that there is no such document. I can believe that, but it’s playing semantics. I ask Dave Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and the Daily Record, if that agreement was real. If it was, then it’s binding in the eyes of the electorate. If not, then the Daily Record subverted democracy. The Daily Record informed it’s readers of a solemn vow made by politicians seeking votes, of something they never said. They invented quotes, invented an act, they lied, to help win a No vote. Newspapers are not meant to do that. Isn’t that illegal?

I can certainly imagine a conference call between all four parties, where they hammer out the agreed text, and authorise the Daily Record to mock up a visual image of it, using Photoshopped signatures. The document would never have existed, but the agreement did, and does. The fact that the document never existed, meaning they never signed it, so therefore they’re not bound to it, even though they agreed is irrelevant.

Pay careful attention to the semantics used by all four parties about “the document” when the real question is “the agreement”. The document is simply a delivery mechanism for the agreement.

Setting The Record Straight

Some years back I watched a Dispatches documentary called “Inside New Labour”. It showed how slick the New Labour machine was, how obsessively they watched all media output, and how they’d manipulate it. It’s like mission control. They have whole teams of people monitoring everything, as it happens. The other main parties, if lacking before, now had an example of how to watch the media. Arguably, this era was the start of the 24hr news cycle with 24hr TV news channels. Now we can add the internet to that mix.

Let’s skip forward to the final few weeks of the referendum, when the three amigos were in Scotland, with lots of bewildered Westminster MPs in tow to promise us the earth for a No vote. If Scotland wasn’t the centre of the UK political world in the previous few months, it certainly was now. You couldn’t throw a stick without hitting some of the mainstream media interviewing or discussing all of these new promises of vast new powers, rushed through, all guaranteed.

During this time, the Daily Record published their now infamous Vow. They’d even used Photoshop to make the paper look like an ancient artefact. It was a guarantee signed off by all three Westminster party leaders. The mainstream media ran with it.

The 19th of September came, and we awoke to a No win. Immediately Dave Cameron started linking other things to these extra powers; such as English votes on English laws. On the face of it, that sounds fair. Of course, what England decide to do affects their budget. This in turn affects Scotland’s budget, so our MPs do actually have a stake in English only laws. All of that is beside the point of this post however.

For the last few weeks of the referendum, when all of these extra promises, super devo, the vow etc were being lauded by the mainstream media and Unionist political pundits, not one of those three men came out to say “I didn’t agree to the Vow the Daily Record published” or “those promises were not made in parliament, therefore they’re not legally binding”.

Reread the first paragraph if that didn’t sink in. They wanted those extra promises and pledges to convince people to vote No, knowing that they’d renege on it anyway. Not one of them made it clear before the vote. Why not?

Around three weeks before the vote, Yes had popped it’s nose into the lead. It had the momentum. All of the activity and passion on the ground, as well as social media was for Yes. It’d likely have kept increasing, finishing with a decisive Yes win if not for that flurry of last minute promises.

Imagine the scenario if the Daily Record published their vow, and all three Westminster party leaders denounced it by lunchtime the same day. They could do it personally, or via a spokesperson. What credibility would the Daily Record have to continue pretending to be neutral while campaigning for a No win? Imagine the scenario if the day Gordon Brown did a tour of the mainstream media promising something close to a federal system along a fast tracked time line, if by lunchtime, he was being contradicted in those same interviews by interviewers saying “but all three Westminster party leaders have ruled that out”.

What affect would that have had on those who switched to No at the last minute? Would they still have switched? We can assume there’s a decent number of people who were always going to vote No regardless, but how many only did so because they believed the cacophony of Westminster voices assure them that a No vote is a vote for substantial new powers, and quickly.

By knowing about all of these promises, pledges and vows, and not setting the record straight as soon as possible, the Westminster parties are consenting to them. It’s little wonder that people are reacting badly when the excuses start to come out.

The Real Reason Nobody Wants To Be Scottish Labour Leader

In the last few days Johann Lamont has stood down from leading Scottish Labour because she wants more autonomy from London. Irony alert. She led the party to campaign for a rejection of that autonomy from London rule in the referendum. While that’s sad in itself, something else has started to emerge; one after another, senior Labour people have been ruling themselves out of the contest to replace her. Why would any career politician want to turn down the possibility of leading their party? The answer is pretty simple.

Despite all the bravado in public, they’ve known for a while that their appeal is slipping rapidly in Scotland. They’ve watched helplessly as UK Labour’s “One Nation” policies are an increasingly hard sell in Scotland, and as a Scottish branch of a UK party, they can’t change it. In private they know they’ve pissed a lot of the electorate off over the fact that they backed London rule over Edinburgh, and that they lied and sided with the Tories to get that vote.

They know that around 30% of their own voters backed what they see as a nationalist cause. They know these voters will be very hard to win back, if they can win them back at all. They seem incapable of comprehending that the Yes support came from a wide variety of political hues, some with a party affiliation, and others, like me, of no party. By their own logic, 45% of the electorate are nationalists. Not only that, but the Yes parties have all seen a huge surge in their popularity and support since the 19th September. By their own logic, Labour would have to get at least 45% of the vote to win government in 2016.

Keep in mind that 45% and 45% is 90%. That means they need to rely on a huge turnout and taking lots of votes from the other UK parties to even have a hope of winning government. They know that a lot of the 45% who voted Yes have been awakened to the idea of change, they are motivated to come out and vote. Can they rely on that determination from No voters to back them? I suspect they know they can’t.

All major parties, organisations and companies have waves. There’s always a section of the public who hate them for one reason or another, just as there’s always a section of the public who agree with them. They play the long game. Blair’s Iraq War turned a great many people away from Labour, myself included. After a few years have passed and the party changed it’s leader, the leader picked their own team, it’s a new era. Some who did reject Labour then, will come back to it. I suspect that privately, they know this visceral hatred of Labour from a significant number of the electorate is not temporary. It will not blow over. It’s not just a protest vote, like a local election to punish the party in government. They know that they’ve created a significant number of the Scottish electorate who will pursue a lifestyle choice of punishing Labour at every turn no matter what they say or who they appoint as their leader.

This is a very long road back for Scottish Labour. They’re completely bereft of ideas, or people capable of turning it around. They’re also handcuffed to UK Labour.

Winning government in the near future isn’t even remotely on the Scottish Labour short term outlook. They’re looking to build on their current low position. They also know they’re going to reap the whirlwind. Nobody wants to be in the leaders chair on the morning after the 2015 General Election. Nobody wants to be the leader who led the party to lose a lot of safe seats, and made the party fall lower than the hated Tories in Scotland. Nobody wants that on their record. Senior Labour people want to be the Scottish Labour leader who comes in after that, to start a new era, and has the time to build something, anything, to win voters back.

Anti-Establishment Politics

UKIP are busy trying to market themselves as an anti establishment party, knowing there’s a lot of discontent among the electorate for the status quo. In one sense they are anti establishment.

If you look at what the establishment means, it’s the three main parties who have been there for decades and the combined decisions made by them. Each area has pockets of people who have voted Tory for generations, and will always vote Tory. That applies to all three parties. Look at moments in the UK’s history, and you have senior figures from Labour and Tory specifically, either in government or in opposition, have their impact on it.

By comparison, UKIP is a very new party. It was formed because right wingers felt their views on immigration and the EU weren’t being reflected in Westminster. The party you’d expect to champion those views didn’t go far enough for them. They formed to break into that comfy tripartite system. They’re tapping into the rather obvious conclusion that the status quo doesn’t work, and even if they’re right wing, they’re going to break that system. That’s appealing to many voters.

I should point out that while I don’t like UKIP, I don’t have a problem with them getting the airtime comparable to their support, to air their views. It’s also perfectly valid to criticise those views, and hold those views to scrutiny. This is the whole point of all political parties after all. The problem for me, is that there’s only one party doing this; it happens to be a far right one.

While UKIP are anti establishment from one angle, the majority of their senior figures have defected from other establishment parties. They’re a landing zone for disaffected Tories in particular. The people standing for UKIP seats, or donating the large sums of money to UKIP are therefore “establishment”. They’re not going to run anti-establishment policies. They’re only going to use that as a platform to help get votes.

UKIP are no more anti establishment, than UK Labour are socialist. Both parties are pretending they’re something they’re not to get people to vote for them. A strong left of centre UK party with a proper uncompromising alternative to the status quo could break both UKIP and Labour.

Balance

The rise of UKIP shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise to anyone, nor is it a problem in an of itself. It’s a problem when it happens without any counter balance. People who vote UKIP fall into two broad camps, as far as I can see. In one camp there are those on the right who believe in strong controlled immigration, and that the EU is a strait jacket around our system. There are those who are just sick of the same old Westminster career politicians and their parties, and want something different.

The problem is that UKIP are the only “different” option in terms of a major party, with a major presence standing in many seats. There is no counter balance to UKIP.

The UK, thanks to the majority population who take an interest in voting, has moved to the right. From the mainstream parties positions, the LibDems are arguably the closest to the left, standing as they are in the centre. To the right of them are Labour, who are desperately trying to conjure a spell to convince their voters they are still to the left. Standing proudly to the right of them are the Tories. On the far right hand side stand UKIP.

Far left and far right are both equally bad in different ways. For any functioning society, we do need both left and right wing parties offering different solutions to problems, not only during elections as they seek votes, but within their parties to create policies, and in debate chambers to affect legislation as it’s debated.

We need strong left and centre left parties comparable in size to offer a different vision for the UK. Right now they’re all invested in a system of greed for the rich. They all shuffle the deck around the edges to find ways not to offend the 1%, while appealing enough to the normal person that they’re trying to govern for the 99%.

In Scotland we have strong left and centre left parties in the SSP and Greens. Both of whom are minority parties, but a PR system means that minority parties can make a big difference. The SNP are more split. In some areas they are right wing; in others left wing. To the right of all of them are the three Scottish departments of the Westminster parties, the LibDems, Labour and the Tories.

We are pretty well balanced in Scotland, albeit that the three Westminster parties are not governing in Scotland’s best interests. People from all political hues have some party to vote for in Scotland, no matter which constituency they live in.
Unfortunately for us, Westminster is elected by those in marginal seats in England in a FPTP system. In that race, there’s right, further right, even further right and far right. This is not balance.

The West Lothian Conundrum

When the three Amigos swooped into Scotland to offer substantial new powers delivered through a fast tracked timetable if there was a No vote, I said at the time it’d be a Pandora’s box for Westminster. Thanks to David Cameron’s opportunism in smacking Labour over the West Lothian Question at the same time, he’s just thrown another one into the hat.

Since Scotland got it’s devolved parliament in 1999, the idea that Scottish MPs shouldn’t be allowed to debate or vote on purely English matters should have been part of the deal. It’s a really basic principle. Labour rely on Scottish MPs in Westminster to give them an advantage in passing legislation. Labour gave us that devolved parliament. The SNP have a principle of not taking part in debates or votes on non Scottish matters.

There’s a problem however. Parliament not only decides what policies to adopt, it also decides the funding required to achieve them. These are interconnected. Westminster couldn’t for example introduce policies to build a new NHS super hospital in every major city, the budget wouldn’t cope with it. If England decide for example to entirely privatise the NHS in English constituencies, this reduces the English NHS budget to nothing. The amount Scotland gets to fund it’s NHS is reduced proportionally, forcing Holyrood to do the same.

Obviously that full privatisation is not going to happen, I’m making it extreme to illustrate a point. Even though the policies themselves don’t affect Scottish constituencies, the knock on effects for the budget will. While Westminster control the funding for any devolved powers, it affects us. From this viewpoint, I can see the Labour self interest in maintaining that anomaly, however undemocratic it is. There is no solution to this in a devolved situation. Independence, on the other hand, would have solved it.

Is Being A NewsHub Contributor Worth It?

I should begin this article with a disclaimer. I am writing this from my own perspective. I have in no way been solicited to write it from anyone at HewsHub. These are my views alone. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get on with the article.

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been writing on the Scottish Independence Referendum on the NewsHub. The result has been announced. Although we lost, there are issues there, this is neither the time or place to go into any of them. I last contributed an article around a 3 weeks ago. It wasn’t because I had nothing left to write about, it was because I started to think about the deal on offer from the NewsHub for contributors. This isn’t unique to the NewsHub, it’s a general issue. I’m just looking at the NewsHub’s formula.

There used to be just one way services were funded. You do a job, you get paid money for that job. There’s some jobs where it’s paid in terms of revenue share, like actors getting a share of the profits. There’s some jobs where money is paid in shares in the company. This means that you’re invested in the company doing well, since your shares will go up. Let’s take this first currency, money.

The NewsHub is a start up. All start ups will haemorrhage cash for a while until they grow enough to break even, then start to show a profit. Owners usually take as little out as they can, to grow the company faster. The NewsHub is offering contributors $10USD per article in the top 10% of each category. Even if this was $10USD per article regardless of where it ranked, that’s a low figure. It takes me around an hour to write an article I deem worthy of earning money. At that rate, it’s $10USD per hour. Factor in the exchange rate, and it’s minimum wage.

It’s not minimum wage however. It’s only the top 10% in each category that are granted payment. That’s 1 in 10. The other 9 in 10 won’t get a bean for their work. Let’s assume that everyone contributing to the NewsHub is reasonably eloquent, original and can express themselves in an engaging way with the subjects they write about. It means that for every 10 articles we take time to write, with our knowledge, passion and understanding, only 1 of them will be paid. That $10USD is for all 10 articles. That’s $1USD per hour.

It could of course be that some of us will manage to get 2 in 10 paid, or 3 in 10. It could just as easily be that some of us get 0 in 10, or even a few months in a row at 0 in 10. It’s not because they’re not good articles, it’s just that they missed the cut. From a pure money perspective, it doesn’t sound like a great deal does it?

Of course, money for services is only one way the internet works. Kevin Smith and Ralf Garman do a weekly comedy gig in LA called Hollywood Babble-On. It’s a paying gig. They record each of those gigs and put them out as a free audio podcast download. Why? It’s free advertising. The more people who download the podcast, the more people will think “hey, we’re in LA next month, let’s make a point to go see them.” It’s also a marketing platform, where Kevin and Ralf can talk about their other projects, such as Kevin’s new movie Tusk.

This is about building your profile. The problem is that it only works with scale. Like online advertising, a tiny number of people who see an advert will click on it. This isn’t a problem when you have a huge number of people visiting the site. If 1 in 1,000 who hear Hollywood Babble-On buy a ticket to see it, that up scales when the download figures are in the millions.

On a site like NewsHub, our profile value comes from people who are drawn in by one article, read it, then decide they like us as a contributor, to then up the engagement with us. If 1 in 100 decides to follow us on Twitter, or comment on the article, that’s great, but when the site is just starting out, that 1 in 100 is about 1. I get 5 or 6x the hits on my blog for the same article as I do when I post it to the NewsHub. That 1 new Twitter follower a day doesn’t get noticed among the 20 or so others who follow me because of how I use Twitter.

If you’re a site like the Guardian, you have millions of hits per day. Of those millions, a decent number of them are have accounts are are logged in because they have a passion for at least one of the genres the Guardian do. You are going to get the benefit of that flood of people. In that 1 in 1,000 ratio, you’ll get comments very quickly developing into conversations. You’ll get your article shared across social networks within minutes of posting it, without you having to power it. You’ll get that same ratio of people comment to you about it on Twitter, some of whom will follow you. With scale, this is a great currency, without it, it’s worthless.

Scale is of course relative. If you have a platform where you regularly get a handful of readers, and the NewsHub gets you an average of 30, then it’s a good thing for you. If you have no platform or audience right now, then anything is an improvement. For me, I’m taking a substantial hit in terms of reach if I keep writing for the NewsHub. I’ll lay out some stats to demonstrate that. First I should explain how I write.

Previously I’d write a post for my blog, publish, then jump onto Twitter to post a link to that blog post. That’s it. I do no further promotion at all, anywhere. Since I joined NewsHub, I’d write that same post as usual, publish it on NewsHub and my blog at the same time, then jump onto Twitter and Google+ to post a link to the NewsHub version only. I don’t promote the version on my blog. These are the page view stats for the previous 5 articles I put on both NewsHub and my blog.

  • Was the Scottish Independence Referendum rigged? (Blog = 262, 8 comments) (NewsHub = 45 views, 0 comments)
  • What happens to conservative voters in the event of a Yes win? (Blog = 170 views, 4 comments) (NewsHub = 47 views, 0 comments)
  • Yes Scotland TV advert: a missed opportunity? (Blog = 213 views, 1 comment) (NewsHub = 44 views, 0 comments)
  • Scottish independence: The threat of independence (Blog = 295 views, 0 comments) (NewsHub = 30 views, 0 comments)
  • Scottish independence: the myth of being the world’s policemen (Blog = 232 views, 0 comments) (NewsHub = 27 views, 0 comments)

I get an average of 5x the views to the version on my blog, than the one on HewsHub. You could of course say that it’s a different audience, however, how many of those people arriving at the NewsHub version get there because they follow the link I give them on Twitter or Google+? They’d arrive at the version on my blog if I tweeted that instead. There may be a handful surfing NewsHub and see an interesting sounding article, but the effect is negligible. Remember that I don’t promote both versions of these articles. I only promoted the NewsHub versions. To give you an idea of what kinds of numbers I got before I joined NewsHub, when I only published in one place, and gave the link on Twitter and Google+ to my blog; here’s the last 5 articles I wrote before I started doubling up on NewsHub.

  • The UK Labour Con Trick (Blog = 952 views, 1 comments)
  • I’ve Noticed A Pattern (Blog = 461 views, 0 comments)
  • I’ve Never Felt Ashamed To Be British Before (Blog = 1480 views, 5 comments)
  • First Impressions Last (Blog = 364 views, 0 comments)
  • Sewing The Seeds (Blog = 375 views, 0 comments)

This is only the last 5 from each comparison, my average on my blog is around 600. As I said, everything is relative. Some contributors will look at my stats with envy, others with contempt. My point was to illustrate that in my case, I lose substantially by continuing to post to both.

The obvious caveat to those numbers is that the longer the article has been published, the more people will stumble onto it, so the higher it’s page view stats will be. If I return to posting only on my blog, I get substantially more views and more engagement than if I post to both. Page views aren’t everything however, that way lies clickbait.

I admire the attitude of the NewsHub, in aiming for proper, thought out, intelligent articles from unusual viewpoints. If you’re just judging by the stats, you have the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail don’t care why you click on their articles, they only care that you do click on them. If they write an explosive article that insults, offends and antagonises, plenty people who disagree with it will share it on social media just as much as those who agree and people will pile into the comments for a flame war. Those advert impressions count. They don’t care why you’re there. If you’re drawn into an argument with other commenters, you return over and over and over to respond. The advert impressions keep racking up. This is not quality journalism, it’s populist journalism that most people with sense don’t like.

Anything decided by stats alone can be manipulated. If you judge articles based on page views, plus or minus ones, comments etc that leads to Daily Mail style articles. If you write an algorithm to parse all of those stats in some way to determine which articles get paid, it leaves it open to the same thing search engines have to fight; SEO optimisation. If you do just decide by stats, those results can be scripted and delivered as soon as the calendar month ticks over. By waiting until the middle of the following month, it allows for more engagement in the comments. All of this leads back to the fact that it’s someone or a group of someones who decides whether an article deserves payment or not. This unwittingly introduces bias.

With the best will in the world, and while trying to be as fair as possible, if your role is to read every article on a subject you have no interest in, you don’t see the nuance. You can only judge it’s merits on a superficial way. You don’t know if you’re reading real insight, or if it’s rehashed from a number of other people before them. If you’re reading all of the articles on a subject that you are interested in, you’re going to be drawn more to those which broadly agree with your own views. This is natural. If you’re a contributor who happens to write on a subject or from a perspective that’s not shared by those reviewing, you may never see any of your articles deemed worthy of payment. I don’t for a second think this would be a conscious thing, I think it would be a subconscious one. Being aware of that, and trying to counter it, brings us into tokenism, where you get paid for an article because it’s been a few months since you last got paid, and if you continue to get nothing, you’ll likely stop contributing.

Even looking at the stats themselves as the starting point, all sites with votes have the issue of tribalism. The NewsHub is no different, it’s just smaller. If you write on a contentious issue, or take a position on something that others disagree with, they can easily down vote your article not on the article itself, but purely from the fact that they disagree with you. The same can happen in reverse too, where people who do agree with you can up vote you not on the quality of the article, but to back their team.

While I return to the point of only 10% of articles winning a $10USD payment, remember that every single article helps the NewsHub grow. Contributors only get value from 1 on 10, while NewsHub itself gets value from 10 in 10.

Another aspect that may be of value is being a founding contributor. If you’re there near the start, helping to build this new site and helping it become something, you’re a little snowball at the top of the mountain, gathering the sparse snowflakes there. You build some sort of brand recognition as one of the elders, new people will follow you quicker, they’ll see you have a large archive of content etc. The logic being that this is a delayed pay off. It will eventually start to pay off, but it won’t be for a while. For that to be of value, you have to assume that the NewsHub will grow into something substantial, and that you will be rewarded down the line. Even then, the articles we’re contributing are about events happening “now”. They have a shelf life before other news and events make them obsolete, so that archive of content won’t count for much. I’m very dubious that it will grow into anything substantial for one reason; the target path is mainstream.

When you start off as a little indie content producer, you want to be really niche to succeed. It’s completely realistic to aim to become the worldwide goto hub for fans of Swedish Death Metal. When you target the mainstream, you’re going up against the BBC, MSN, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Guardian and many, many more. These are billion pound FTSE100 corporations with many decades of loyal readers, listeners, viewers and subscribers. These outlets have TV, radio and newspaper distributions around the country, their audience have habits long engrained as to their goto place to find mainstream news about their interests.

It comes down to why you write, and what you want to achieve by it. For me, it was an insight into the Scottish Independence Referendum, and to campaign for those reading it to vote Yes. I held no illusions that anything I wrote would tip them over, but it’d simply be one drop in the bucket that made the difference. That meant reach. In that area, I’m substantially diminished if I write for the NewsHub. While the referendum is over, the fight for independence is not.

It’s worth pointing out that the internet being a platform that gives content away for free, means it limits the variety of ways to make money for content. If you can’t make much money, you can’t pay that to those who create the content. News organisations the world over have been struggling with this for years now.

I’ll finish by pointing out what you’ve no doubt spotted. It was an inevitable byproduct of this article, not the intent of it. By writing an article targeting all NewsHub contributors, it stimulates this article’s stats on the NewsHub, marking it one that will shoot through the rankings. It might simultaneously be the 1st article I get paid for, and the last one I contribute. This is an entirely personal view, but from where I sit, factoring in all of the above, I don’t see it as being worth contributing to the NewsHub. Do you?

Was The Scottish Independence Referendum Rigged?

As a Yes campaigner, I saw the impact of the 51% poll, in how it gave lots of people hope that we could actually do this. We saw a surge in Yes people on the streets, and in social media. The bias in the MSM ramped up to something akin to North Korean TV levels. The polls had to be wrong. They don’t match what we see on the ground. There was a huge surge in registrations from people who had disconnected with politics for years, or even decades. Logic dictated that they wouldn’t do that, just to vote for more of the same. This was why we were confident that we’d be in for a great night.

I saw the first two results come in, both going for No, before I went to bed. I awoke and checked the results to find that we’d lost. So what went wrong? I’m still processing what happened in my head now. MI5 exist to thwart threats to the UK state. Scottish independence, however peaceful and democratic would be a threat to the British state. They had to have rigged it somehow right? I then saw a video retweeted into my timeline showing that the vote had been rigged. At the time I agreed with those conclusions, but I think that was me still in the denial phase. Was it rigged? It may have been around the edges, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. We played an honest game and were beaten by an opponent willing to lie and deceive to win. Let’s take a look at the video to examine this evidence of vote rigging. It involves three clips.

The first clip shows a woman counting ballots, and moving votes from the Yes pile to the No pile. That could be exactly as claimed. It could also be that counting votes is a very repetitive task. Any time you do a repetitive task, your concentration does dip, leading to mistakes. She could easily have put a No vote on the Yes pile a few seconds before, then noticed it and corrected it. We’re all human.

The second clip is the one that raises the biggest question. It’s a Sky News screenshot of a bunch of ballot papers in piles on a table marked No. If you look closely you can see a couple of those ballots on top are Yes votes. We have no idea if that’s a pile of Yes votes, or just the ones visible on the top. It could also be a table full of uncounted votes and they had nowhere else to put them. It could also be a human error like the first clip, they are in the wrong pile and just happen to be on top of the piles and easily visible. It could of course be exactly as it’s claimed, that a pile of Yes votes have been counted as No’s.

The third clip shows a man appearing to mark ballot papers. I couldn’t make out if they were actually ballot papers, or if they were, what he was marking them as. Again that could be exactly as claimed and he was marking lots of No votes to add to the count, presumably having removed the same number of Yes votes so the totals tally up.

I’ve heard that several people did try to challenge these types of things at the time, and the officials ignored the complaints. That of course helps play into the conspiracy that it was rigged. I did watch the Better Together campaign break all sorts of rules during the campaign, and the Electoral Commission do nothing about it. Many people noted that Labour had “If you don’t know, vote No” leaflets with the design of the ballot on them scattered around the polling stations. This is against the rules, but again, no action from the officials.

It’s also worth noting that this is three short clips only. We have no idea how long the woman from the first clip was switching papers from one pile to the other, or if it was also in reverse too. We have no idea how long the man was marking what appeared to be ballot papers. We also have no idea if it’s just isolated to one polling station, or more widespread.

For me, I initially thought it was rigged, but if it was, it was around the edges and wouldn’t have made any difference. I’d back calls for a recount, but I don’t think it’d change the result. Westminster wanted a thumping win to shut the SNP up for good, and kill the idea of independence. They got a narrow win after a last minute scramble, and had to promise the Earth. They’ve exploded a Pandora’s box to get a conditional win. When they don’t deliver, we’ll see round two. This is merely the calm between the storms.