By a Newsnet reporter
BBC Scotland presenter Douglas Fraser has compared SNP party leaders to the dictatorial regime ruling North Korea.
Speaking immediately after the Perth conference, BBC Scotland’s Business and Economy Editor claimed that an “iron discipline” ruled the party which he suggested had a “North Korean tendency”.
Speaking to BBC Scotland colleague Brian Taylor, Mr Fraser (pictured) claimed that the Perth conference lacked any real debate outside the NATO debate, and said: “There wasn’t much heated debate elsewhere, there was one very passionate debate but not much elsewhere, iron discipline in the MSP ranks at Holyrood.
“Is that a risk in the way that the SNP is perceived by the electorate that there’s not enough open debate, that they appear to be agreeing on everything but in fact they also appear to have a sort of North Korean tendency?”
The remarks from the BBC presenter, who was Political Editor at the Herald before joining BBC Scotland, followed an interview in which he put his claims of “iron discipline” to SNP MSP Sandra White. Ms White had been against the party’s change in the policy on NATO and had given an impassioned speech in the debate on Friday.
The Glasgow MSP dismissed Mr Fraser’s claims that backbench MSPs were effectively silenced, and said that she had never once been told what she could and couldn’t say by the SNP leadership.
Mr Fraser’s claims of a lack of debate, other than the debate on NATO, will come as a surprise to many who watched BBC Scotland’s limited coverage of the SNP conference, which managed to give significant airtime to the party’s debate on same sex marriage.
The ‘North Korea’ remark by Mr Fraser echo similar attacks on the Scottish Government by its Unionist opponents. Several politicians and media commentators have mounted similar attacks on Alex Salmond’s party by comparing the Scottish First Minister to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.
Exactly one month ago, Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed that Mr Salmond was running Scotland “like North Korea”.
In January this year, Mr Fraser’s BBC colleague Jeremy Paxman compared Mr Salmond to African Dictator Robert Mugabe.
Mr Paxman had remarked on comments by the First Minister who said an independent Scotland would be a “beacon of progressiveness”, the BBC presenter told the First Minister that Robert Mugabe had said the same thing about Zimbabwe.
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”.
Mr Paxman’s remarks resulted in over 150 complaints being made to the BBC.