We have been given an insight into the SNP (and West Dunbartonshire Council) thinking on their ban and boycott of The Democrat.
It seems that in my capacity as editor, I come across as someone who is bitter about this boycott and as a consequence my “reasonable filter” has all but disappeared.
Rather than producing objective journalism, I am perceived as a one man crusader against anything the SNP/Tory/Independent Council administration do.
The Democrat is seen by the administration to support the trade unions “who are wedded to the past,” and Community Party Cllr Jim Bollan “whose view of the world is similarly wedded to the past and his own survival agenda.”
I was asked if Cllr Bollan would be afforded similar praise for all the work he does – particularly in relation to the recent graft and corruption inquiry – if it were a Labour administration in power.
The Council, I am told, exists to provide local services and as a consequence it employs people – “All too often it’s considered by [trade] unions to be an employer first and foremost.”
While I am grateful for this information from inside the SNP, I have to ask who wouldn’t be angry and upset if they were unjustly banned and boycotted from receiving the services the rest of the media are accorded by tradition and custom and practice by the Council?
Especially when their reasons are that The Dumbarton Democrat is not a member of IPSO, the regulatory organisation which succeeded the Press Council after that organisation was found to be a lame duck.
Reason number two appears to be an allegation that I interrupted a Council meeting. This is untrue.
The facts are that I spoke to Provost William Hendrie during a tea break about the fact that I could neither hear the meeting nor see the participants in order to identify them in my reports of the meetings.
I was quickly surrounded by a Communications Officer, a solicitor, the Chief Executive and another person from the management team.
They told me I was behaving inappropriately and that my behaviour would have a deleterious affect on my health – “You had better watch yourself,” I was told.
I was then ushered out of the chamber on to a stair landing before being told later that I was never to be allowed into the chamber again, or to sit with other journalists on the “press bench”.
It’s a fact that the Council chamber in the newly refurbished Burgh Hall – at a cost of £15 million – is not fit for purpose as an auditorium.
The press and public have great difficulty in hearing the proceedings or taking notes of what is being done in their name.
This is supposed to be a public forum after all.
Like mostly everyone else I have been watching and writing about D-Day and how thousands of brave men and women died so that the rest of us might be free to live in a democracy which treasured freedom of speech and a free press.
These freedoms have been undermined here in West Dunbartonshire by the Council’s ongoing refusal to have the sound equipment brought up to a standard, which allows people to hear the proceedings.
The SNP administration and the Chief Executive of the Council should also be examining the boycott and ban on The Democrat to see if their reasons (which have never been officially conveyed to me, the editor of this digital platform) stand up to public scrutiny.