BBC presenter attacks ‘toxic anti-English’ SNP


  By G.A.Ponsonby
BBC Presenter Andrew Marr has caused anger after claiming anti-English sentiment is “entrenched” in the SNP and warning it may become toxic.
Marr, who was born in Glasgow but is now based in London, made the claims whilst in Edinburgh to promote an updated version of his own book – The Battle For Scotland.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Book Festival, the TV presenter said of Scotland: “There is a very strong anti-English feeling, everybody knows it, there always has been,” he said.

“If you go back to the origins of the SNP, the origins of home rule, Anglophobia was as well-entrenched then as it is now.

“I don’t think it is particularly serious most of the time, but it can become serious, it can become toxic.”

The broadcaster’s comments failed to impress the Scottish National Party with a spokesman expressing disappointment in the BBC man, who is recovering after a recent stroke.

An SNP spokesman said: “We are happy to see that Andrew Marr’s health is recovering, but we are disappointed by the picture of Scotland he has painted in his reported comments.

“It is simply wrong to suggest that aspirations for Scotland to make our own decisions are based on anything other than a desire to build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland.

“Intolerance of any kind has no place in Scotland and all of us have a duty to stand up to it where it occurs.”

In his book, A short history of British Journalism, Marr wrote about the need to remain impartial and “studiously neutral” whilst delivering news reports and “convey fact, and nothing more”.

In 2006 at a BBC seminar on impartiality, he claimed the BBC was itself not impartial: “The BBC is not impartial or neutral.  It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people.”

Marr’s attempt to link the SNP with anti-English sentiment is the latest in a series of accusations and claims against the SNP from BBC personnel.

In December last year, BBC Scotland presenter Kaye Adams (pictured) accused the SNP of presiding over “a rise of anti-English sentiment in Scotland; up fifty per cent apparently over the last seven years.”

Adams made the claim following the publication of statistics that showed attacks against “white British” had increased over the previous twelve month period.

However, despite a phone in programme dedicated to the apparent rise in anti-English sentiment, official figures published days later showed that anti-English attacks had in fact fallen by seventeen per cent.

Others to suggest intolerance within the SNP was BBC Scotland Business and Economy Editor Douglas Fraser who compared Alex Salmond’s party to a North Korean Dictatorship.

In January 2012, Jeremy Paxman caused outrage after the BBC presenter compared Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond to Robert Mugabe and Scotland to a “one party state”.

The BBC received over 150 complaints after the Newsnight host also compared Scotland to Zimbabwe and Mr Salmond to the African dictator.

When the SNP leader suggested to the BBC presenter that he wasn’t doing himself any favours by comparing Scotland to Zimbabwe Paxman replied: “No, I’m comparing you to Mugabe”.