Scrolling down on this page you will find the following articles and background information:
- The Think Again campaign update – details of developments with the campaign
- Keith Howell – an ordinary man? Background on the publisher of the Think Again adverts and videos
- FAQs – various questions that have been asked about the Think Again campaign, including how it has been funded
- Electoral Commission requirements – including details of spend and ‘imprint’ (details of publisher and promoter)
- What is nupateer.com? – explanation of the longer term purpose of this website
THINK AGAIN CAMPAIGN UPDATE
The ‘Think Again’ campaign was triggered by Keith Howell’s belief that the SNP Government has tried to mislead the people of Scotland through its publically funded White Paper that is really a nationalist manifesto, and its general tactics in the Independence Referendum campaign.
November 2013 to February 2014 – Keith Howell considering how best to respond to the SNP Government’s misleading White Paper, and the misuse of public funds and resources in its production. Drafted adverts to publicise his views but encountered some trepidation amongst potential advisers and press outlets in being seen to take sides against the SNP Government. Keith therefore decided to proceed alone, developing a website to host a series of adverts and a video explaining his view.
New website launched
6th March – the nupateer.com website was launched and on the same day Keith Howell stepped down from his role as a Board member with a Scottish non departmental public body, to enable him to speak out freely. The website carried a series of Adverts and a video under the theme of ‘Think Again’, in particular highlighting the way the SNP Government has set out to mislead the people of Scotland.
Evidence submitted to Select Committee inquiry
16th March 2014 – evidence submitted to the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry into Civil Service impartiality and referendums – the following link takes you to that evidence on the PASC website: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-administration-select-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/civil-service-impartiality-and-referendums/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter
7th March – 25th March 2014 – despite wide circulation of a press release on its launch, www.nupateer.com initially attracted just few hundred visitors, so Keith decided to again try to place an advert in a national paper. This time it was successful, with the Scottish edition of Metro agreeing to take the ad.
26th March 2014 – ‘A Different View’ advert published in the Scottish editions of Metro, creating a spike of interest in the site and its content, particularly the ‘Think Again’ video. Visitors to the site and viewers of the video on line rose from a few hundred to a few thousand over the coming few weeks. While a great deal of the interest was very positive and supportive, the publishing of the advert did also trigger a few days of abuse and intimidation from on-line ‘cybernats’, but this faded away as they turned their attention to other individuals and organisations that chose to make their views known.
Complaint submitted to Scottish Government
16th April 2014 – a formal complaint submitted to the head of the Scottish Civil Service in relation to the preparation and presentation of the ‘Scotland’s future’ White Paper, also copied in to (amongst others) the Auditor General for Scotland, The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Electoral Commission.
21st May 2014 – reply received from Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government dismissing the complaint.
23rd May 2014 – complaint regarding the ‘White Paper’ raised again with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman following completion of the complaints procedure of the Scottish Government, also copied in to the Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee.
21st June 2014 – revised complaint detailing specific breaches of Ministerial and Civil Service Codes submitted to the Office of the First Minister, with rejection received 19th August with no response to any specific elements of complaint, and no decision to refer the First Minister to the Independent Panel for consideration of potential breaches of the Ministerial Code.
21st August 2014 – submission to Scottish Public Services Ombudsman following completion of the complaints procedure through the Office of the First Minister.
30th May 2014 – new material launched on www.nupateer.com, including two new videos on the theme of ‘5 Reasons why I will vote ‘No’’
22nd July 2014 – new article entitled ‘Scottish Independence Referendum – ‘exemplar’ or unfolding tragedy?’ published
11th August 2014 – new article entitled ‘The 2 Elephants in the Room’ published
24th August 2014 – talk given at ‘If Scotland’ conference at University of Stirling
31st August 2014 – new article entitled ’30 second pitch’
5th September 2014 – new article entitled ’Offer of help’
10th September 2014 – new article entitled ‘Referendum Reflections’
28th September 2014 – two new articles entitled ‘No Thanks for a Generation’ and ‘The Scottish Referendum Result: So what do we know, and what do we think we know?’
KEITH HOWELL – AN ORDINARY MAN?
The series of ‘Think Again’ adverts were originally intended to be published in the Scottish press in late February 2014, but eventually were published on the website nupateer.com when it launched on the 6th March, and then subsequently just one of the ads was published in the Scottish editions of ‘Metro’ on the 26th March. All the ads were ‘signed off’ as an ‘Ordinary Man’ to emphasize that the author is not important in any way. But there was never any intention of hiding behind anonymity, with this site carrying full details of its author Keith Howell, from the start.
As a result of one of the adverts being published, I did receive some abuse and intimidation on the internet from ‘cybernats’. It was not very pleasant and focused on some quite odd things. It was perhaps to be expected that some would ridicule my English accent or tell me to go back to where I came from if I was not prepared to ‘back Scotland’, but they also seemed to view the fact that I owned my own house and had company directorships as signs that there was something bad or suspicious about me. As they circulated my address and details of how to find my home online, it was indeed a cause for some concern for a few days.
Stranger still, some of these people who have never met me seemed determined to infer the worst from everything I said. It is perhaps fair enough for some to consider me a little odd or eccentric in speaking out in the way that I have, but why are so many bothered about me referring to myself as an ‘ordinary man’? It is not a trick or a tactic – I really am ordinary, that is to say I do not consider myself better than anyone else and indeed know there are many a lot better than me in so many ways. Pointing out that I am an ordinary man was intended to emphasise that my voice or vote does not count for any more than anyone else’s. In much of this debate about Scottish Independence there is something to be said for all of us retaining a proper sense of perspective, of humility. Everyone is entitled to a view, indeed everyone should try to form their own view, and feel they can express it without fear of ridicule or abuse. We should all try to remember that those we do not agree with might well hold their opinions with just as much passion and certainty as we do!
Keith Howell has lived in Scotland for nearly 25 years, near Edinburgh in the north of the Scottish Borders . He has made his home in Scotland with his family, and he now has grandchildren here too. Over that time he has been active across the private, public and voluntary sectors, latterly as a non-executive Director or Chairman of various organisations.
He also owns Ordinary Man Productions a small company that is developing ‘thinking’ apps and websites.
You can contact Keith Howell on firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently asked questions
Is your campaign backed or funded by others?
All of the ‘Think Again’ campaign – the nupateer.com website, the adverts and videos – is purely a personal campaign on the part of myself, Keith Howell. I am not backed or supported by any other individuals or organisations. I am not a member of any political party.
How have you funded your campaign? Why are you not registered as a campaigner with the Electoral Commission?
The funding for my campaign has come from my savings. I have children and grandchildren in Scotland who I hope will be living happily in Scotland long after I have gone and so feel this is a good way to spend some of my savings for the future.
Why during the Referendum did you not just make your points through the established campaign groups or the political parties that supported the Better Together campaign?
I would probably not have become actively involved in the debate at all if the SNP Government had not set out to actively mislead the people of Scotland. I believe they have acted improperly in the production and presentation of the White Paper and their related campaigning, and this has been the main driver for my campaign. I wanted to emphasise this when I decided to speak out and putting together my own ‘campaign’ seemed the best way to retain that focus.
Electoral Commission requirements
During the Referendum and General Elections I was not registered with the Electoral Commission as a Registered Campaigner as I spent well under the trigger amounts. I did submit an expenditure account to the Electoral Commission during the Referendum to detail what I did spend.
The Electoral Commission require all publishers of material relating to a Referendum or General Election to include an Imprint. The Imprint for this site and all the material published here is as follows:
Published by Ordinary Man Productions Limited, White Moss, West Linton, Peeblesshire.
Promoted by Keith Howell, White Moss, West Linton, Peeblesshire.