By a Newsnet reporter
A BBC presenter has claimed that the rest of the UK would be unlikely to award shipbuilding contracts to the Clyde if Scots vote Yes in September’s independence referendum.
James Naughtie, who presents BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland radio show made the claim during an interview with a representative of pro-Yes organisation Business for Scotland.
In the exchange which touched on defence contracts, Naughtie said: “If there were two separate countries then it would be unlikely the Royal Navy would place contracts outside the rest of the UK … for major warship contracts.”
The BBC presenter had been responding to comments from Anne Rendall who had said there was no evidence to suggest, as Mr Naughtie had appeared to, that the Scottish Government was threatening businesses who opposed independence.
Ms Rendall pointed out that the only threat to jobs had come from Westminster in the shape of threats to shipbuilding on the Clyde.
“In terms of defence contracts … [if we vote Yes] they are saying there will be no contracts in Scotland for defence work,”
Claims that businesses were being bullied by the Scottish Government had been made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron during exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons the previous day. Mr Cameron had called for a so-called “silent majority” to speak out in favour of No.
The comment from Mr Naughtie, who appeared to present his own view as fact, runs counter to the BBC’s own guidelines which forbid presenters from expressing their own political opinions in such a manner.
Naughtie’s shipbuilding claim follows a similar episode in March this year when another BBC presenter, Andrew Marr, faced criticism after he appeared to voice his own opinion over the EU membership status of a newly independent Scotland.
In an interview with First Minister Alex Salmond, Marr ended an exchange with Mr Salmond on EU membership by saying he believed a Yes vote would see Scotland forced out of the EU and finding it hard to get back in.
“I think it will be quite hard to get back in, I have to say”
Mr Marr’s personal view is expressed at 2 mins 21 secs into the clip
As the referendum nears, there is mounting concern over the BBC’s pro-Union stance and the apparent pro-Union sentiment being expressed by some presenters, including Mr Naughtie.
Last Sunday a large crowd gathered outside the broadcaster’s Glasgow HQ in order to protest at what they believe to be pro-Union bias in the BBC’s referendum coverage. Another demonstration is already earmarked for next month.