Reflections on the EU, the BBC, and voting for both while holding your nose


Commentary by Derek Bateman

And I thought the Holyrood elections would take precedence over Europe…no sooner do I write it than the First Minister does exactly the opposite, proving how out of touch with the Sturgeon leadership I am.

Derek Bateman
Derek Bateman

Off she goes to the enemy capital to encourage raging English Kippers to embrace refugees and whistle Ode to Joy. What about the council tax? I hear you call. What about the fiscal framework? Well, she’s not listening to that claptrap, not when there’s a chance to grandstand to the loony Unionists and get on the 10 o clock news as Tartan Nicola, somewhere between Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc.

Holyrood is the cooncil election by comparison with a joust with Boris and Dave to earn the admiration of liberal England. The positive case for EU membership she was laying out with emphasis on workers’ right, welfare with dignity and permissive values is so off the Brit agenda that lefties were tweeting how novel and refreshing it sounded. Which I suppose means she probably does know what she’s talking about.

Maybe too she realises that the support for Holyrood is rock solid and she can afford to gallivant on European business without losing votes. I had wondered for a while if all this Labour talk of the SNP being guaranteed to win was a ploy to undermine their vote because I don’t ever remember a party conceding victory weeks in advance and writing off their own chances to publicly. Back in the 80’s George Younger announced that the Tories were going to win in, I think the regional elections. The following day – after their slaughter – I reminded him of what he’d said to which he replied: Well, I was wrong….Labour aren’t bothering to maintain such fiction.

(I had a similar moment with John Nott at the Ministry of Defence just after the invasion of the Falklands. I said: You told us the defences of the islands were secure despite your budget cuts. What do you say today? He replied: Well, they obviously weren’t.)

On Europe, I’m with Yanis.

I’m going to hold my nose and vote Yes because I believe in the project and can’t see it reforming unless we stay in, once the neo cons are out of Downing Street or the Scots are out of the Union. Then we can campaign from the inside. I don’t buy the fear-mongering, just as I didn’t buy it during the indyref and find it spooky how the language today mirrors some of the daft stuff we had to put up with. An organised and educated population has nothing to fear from political change. Whatever happens we will make it work. I just don’t see the need for withdrawal from a club of nations designed to be self-supporting (except for Greece, of course) while continuing in membership – at huge cost – of the single market and exposing ourselves to the risk of ever more attritional market-based policies. The move for withdrawal is just the inevitable consequence of an internal right-wing Tory Party struggle and a Westminster failure to plan and co-ordinate immigration.

Sturgeon: Euro-ref balancing act
Sturgeon: Euro-ref balancing act

I see an article today suggesting London might be granted special status as a newly-defined city state in the EU if the UK votes for Out as it is hugely pro-EU and so rich that Brussels won’t want to lose it. Hmm. I understand the dynamic of that argument but suggest Brussels would find it easier dealing with a rebelling existing country with its own government appealing for help to remain than it would devising a whole new form of membership for a city without state infrastructure. Imagine how worrying a special London status would be for France/Paris or Germany/Frankfurt. Mind you, they’d give a leery eye to an EU region too, I dare say.

I’m sure Brexit will play a large part in the pilot programmes being made at Pacific Quay to pave the way for the famous Scottish Six which has kicked off one of those wondrous arguments that could happen in our benighted wee branch office of UK Ltd. An entire nation is actually discussing whether it should have its own news service. Five million people, 15 universities, the best-educated school leavers in the world, a self-governing state-let – unsure if it can handle its own news service. Nothing could sum up timorous, querulous, retiring, embarrassed Scotland better than: We’re not good enough to reflect the world to our own people. Could somebody else do it for us? Please.


It strikes me that there is some aspect of nationalism or independence which so discombobulates some people that they lose all sense of proportion. It’s like a 19th century kirk elder reacting to witchcraft. Fear and dread drives them to extreme reactions which at times are comical. To see an experienced, well-schooled hack of the old tradition like Alan Cochrane raging about the BBC giving in to the Nats is unintentionally funny. Wouldn’t reflecting modern Scotland be a better phrase? Have you read Cochrane bemoaning the lack of democracy in a single MP holding all executive power over the entire country?

Does anyone who  knows how the country works really imagine that the BBC will broadcast live the Golden Spurtle Porridge Championships and At Home with Nicola in order to appease the SNP? If that were to be possible, wouldn’t it be the biggest own goal in broadcast history and damaging to the SNP? Even the usually intelligent Ken Macintosh, a former BBC producer, sounds unsure that this is the right move because he won’t hear Laura Kuennsberg. Actually, I’m pretty sure he will. But isn’t it a sign of the London dependency – the parochial fear – that so afflicts them?

That, rather than any Glasgow-based news service, is what is really embarrassing.

That’s not to say our friends at Pacific Quay won’t bugger it up. It isn’t so much the journalists as the executives who lack opposable thumbs at BBC Scotland.

If they’d come up with this idea a year before the indyref and demanded the money to pay for it, it would have been very difficult for London to turn it down. Instead the management said there was no need for extra resources – it was business as usual. Except of course they were simultaneously undergoing a ruthless clear-out of staff, excising so many of those with the nous to run the service they now seem to want.


Isn’t it one reason executives are paid so well – they’re meant to plan properly for foreseeable changes and unexpected contingencies. This episode hasn’t shone a kindly light on the new Head of News Gary Smith who appears to have conspired to keep his own staff in the dark – a classic piece of BBC chicanery that will go a long way to defining how he is judged. It drops him into the bracket I forecast – that of London placeman conniving with the bosses rather than putting himself on the side of the staff.

There are conspiracies now that this is set up to fail which sounds far too tricky for the BBC management to organise. And imagine if it was to crash and end in embarrassment, it would be a major fail for the existing board. Far more likely is that they are bungling their way into new territory and will require the staff to rescue them.

And have you heard the BBC Trust agitating on this? The people’s watchdog is another institutional failure stuffed with worthies who just love being ‘part of the Beeb.’ Is careerist Bill Matthews still there? Who knows, such is the subliminal profile he keeps. The only thing the BBC could do with is a dose of what the loony Unionists fear – some interference to make sure the people’s broadcaster at least attempts to get it right.


  1. The problem is, the so-called “People’s Broadcaster” does not want anything to do with us Scottish plebs – it’s still the Johann Lamontable branch office mentality, this news just in, the cat has been let out off the bag so to speak, and London-shire will have a real tough time trying to placate those bothersome, pesky Scots – for now I’m on Nicola’s side, until persuaded otherwise by our Colonial Masters, so, it’s up to you Westminster – you control us at the moment, have stolen, wasted and squandered our resources, and even raped our Sheep:)

    “Point of order, Mr. Chairman, there are still some damn attractive sheep out there”, and just like the Scots, they have a mind of their own 😉

  2. Brexit .. will Engerlad bottle it? Will it stop short and be saved by the extra Scottish percentage?

    We get independence, oh how I want Scotland to be free, and we make sure we have a Europe re-vote clause in the constitution that confirms a referendum every 20 years – we can decide when we leave the UK and and 20 years thereafter. For now, we need to get away from the utter lies of Westminster. Don’t forget, the SNP will have to change on independence.

    As for the BBC (LBC) .. we can see the idiots of BBC Scotland complaining .. because more money is more jobs – WTF! It needs a total rip out (as I have said) – put Shelley Jofre in charge, she is at least balanced when talking to both sides now. Perhaps someone more ferocious for deeper attacks on governments of the future.

  3. I think I’d like to see the pilot Scottish Six… Not the new one, the one(s) produced the last time this discussion ‘was had’. Ian Macwhirter claims he’s “one of the few to have seen them/it’. Were you sitting alongside him at the viewing Derek..?

  4. What’s the first action of Dictators who want to seize control of a country? They take over the Radio/TV stations then the airports. BBC London control BBC Scotland and have done so for all of my eighty years. To retain control, they are loathe to give over that control to the “restless Natives!. Run a sham Radio Scotland but ensure it is staffed with their henchmen/women. Isn’t that what is actually happening right now? Nothing was more evident prior to and after the Independence bias many objected to. The bias is still there and probably more so with the EU and Holyrood elections on their way. Let’s fight tooth and nail to have BBC Scotland run by Scottish journalists and directors and not by place men and women from London.

  5. You are too kind to McIntosh, Derek!

    McIntosh generally appears confused and woried, it’s his demeanour. What he is telling Scots is that they are too stupid to have an alternative view from London, and we should not rock the boat.

    His and labour’s main worry is that if the bias is taken out of bbc in Scotland by removing London control and that cat can never be put back in the bag.

    I think he has a point from his and labour’s perspective. Imagine if the objective of our bbc in Scotland regards news was to inform Scots what the news means for them, be it brexit, refugee ciisis, trident or performance of our government.

    Imagine the day when the bbc refer to the government as our government without having to prefix it with Scottish?

    Imagine how the reporting of the financial framework negotiations would have differed?

    We will still be here in 309 years time waiting for a Scottish Six if labour had their way!

  6. Nicola was front page headline in Daily Telegraph today – thats got to be worth it in terms of keeping the Scottish agenda in Westminster consciousness… ( no of course I didn’t buy it – saw it on WH Smith newstand..!)

  7. I didn’t know there was a six o’clock news. Who watches it? Children? Surely everyone else is too busy.

  8. If rUK votes Brexit then surely the Scottish people will have a new referendum and vote to leave the UK, therefore it would be in the interest of Scotland to vote Brexit and then apply for EU inclusion.

  9. Love to know where the idea that Europe won’t reform unless we’re in it came from. ‘Fog in the Channel, Europe cut off’.

  10. Europe cannot reform because it is comprised of 27 states and each has the power of veto. In the case of the Eastern Europen countries then the export of labour is an industry. One they leave their Eastern boundary, they come off of the unemployment statistics back home, they ease the housing crises back home. They accrue pensions abroad and when they retire back to their homeland these pensions help the economy of their homeland, then if they leave family in their country they can remit child benefit back to them, plus money . It is win win for the Eastern European states so they have no interest in restricting the right to travel and reside in other countries . Why should they ( and they wont) agree to changes to the Treat of Rome that are working very well for them ?


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