BBC’s back to front news and why we should be worried

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Yesterday the world according to BBC Scotland turned upside down.  I tuned in to Good Morning Scotland to be regaled with the news that Scotland was set to deprive the north of England of jobs.
 
One of the poorest regions of the UK, said a concerned BBC reporter, stood to lose a significant number jobs due to a controversial policy being pursued by the SNP.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Yesterday the world according to BBC Scotland turned upside down.  I tuned in to Good Morning Scotland to be regaled with the news that Scotland was set to deprive the north of England of jobs.
 
One of the poorest regions of the UK, said a concerned BBC reporter, stood to lose a significant number jobs due to a controversial policy being pursued by the SNP.

The news dominated bulletins, was a top story online – Airport fears over Scots ‘Yes’ vote – and even made it onto Reporting Scotland.  The story was centred on claims that Newscastle Airport would be hit if Air Passenger Duty was devolved to Holyrood.

It was a bizarre choice of main story and an even more bizarre presentation by a BBC in Scotland that is behaving more and more like a broadcaster with no-one at the helm.

The morning contained an interview, with Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown facing accusatory questions from BBC Scotland presenter Bill Whiteford.  Such was the presentation of the story by BBC Scotland and the subsequent radio inquisition, that one would have believed that the Scottish Government’s proposal was not beneficial to Scotland.

One had to remove oneself from the flurry of negative BBC sound-bites and pause for thought before it became apparent that the SNP was under attack for a proposal that would actually benefit Scotland.

The Scottish Government has, for some considerable time, argued that the tax on air travel was harming Scottish Airports and the wider Scottish economy.  The levy imposed on air travel across the UK hits Scotland disproportionately as many Scots forced to travel hundreds of miles south in order to travel abroad, will testify to.

Here we had a proposal the SNP and Scottish business had long argued for, that competitors south of the border were predicting would be successful.

Thousands of jobs, cheaper travel for Scots, more direct flights and a tourism boost – and an estimated boost to the Scottish economy of £200 million per year.
Yet BBC Scotland contrived to turn it into a negative story.

Gordon Dewar the Chief executive of Edinburgh Airport told the BBC:

“We’re very keen to get rid of APD because most of our European competitors don’t have it or have a very much reduced rate – in fact the closest to us is less than half the current rate of the UK. Fundamentally it’s a stupid tax. All the analysis shows that in Scotland alone we’re missing 2 million passengers as a result of this – airlines that could be operating out of Scotland and out of the UK are simply not here because they can’t make the economics stack up. And while that might be a short term loss to the exchequer, all of the evidence shows that after a bit of time when these missing passengers show up, the overall tax take would actually be larger through VAT and income tax.”

He also said that while Edinburgh Airport was currently investing, with the abolition of APD it could be doing even more:

“We could be doing more. The forecasts are that we are missing a million passengers already from this and that continues as this tax continues to increase and has done for many other years. If you look around Europe, Ireland recently abolished it, Spain abolished it, people understand that this is a massive break on our economy; just because Edinburgh is surviving that and doing reasonably well in the background doesn’t mean we couldn’t do better.”

“Does it make you a supporter of independence” asked Bill Whiteford, in response to Dewar’s comments.  Whiteford appeared oblivious of the fact that the Scottish Conservatives supported the devolution of APD as does the Northern Irish Assembly.

Labour’s stance was mired in confusion, and it became even more inpenetrable when the inimitable James Kelly appeared on Radio Scotland apparently arguing against extra jobs in Scotland.  Job losses in Newscastle and Sunderland, according to the Labour MSP was “regrettable”.

But why did BBC Scotland turn the story on its head?  They presented it as I would have expected a BBC North East England station would have, from the perspective of their area.

Can you imagine a Dutch broadcaster attacking a Dutch minister for a decision which wins business for Holland at the expense of say Germany?  What would people in Northern Ireland say if the BBC over there suddenly attacked their transport minister for proposing a policy which would win back business from Dublin airport?

Of course the real story should have been the fact that APD is unlikely to be devolved by a Westminster Government which is against such an idea anyway.  Any airport south of the border, faced with the prospect of losing business to a thriving Scotland, would lobby a London based Government to help protect its advantage.

The only explanation for the odd promotion of the story by BBC Scotland is that the broadcaster was deliberately trying to foster a sense that the SNP were ‘insensitively’ ignoring the ‘plight’ of ‘poor’ people across the rest of the UK.  However there is another more worrying possibility and that is that the BBC is now playing the ‘divide’ card that has been introduced by Better Together.

That the state broadcaster appears to be prepared, in Scotland at least, to take good economic policy and turn it on its head in order to foster division, should be of concern to everyone in the independence debate.

[Newsnet Comment – There can be little doubt that the BBC in Scotland is not broadcasting with the best interests of Scotland at heart.  A recent article By G.A.Ponsonby ‘Colonial and Corrupt – Time’s up for BBC Scotland’ listed perfectly some of the issues at the heart of the BBC problem in Scotland.

This morning it continued with its relentless atack on the Scottish NHS and appears once again to be ignoring a huge story in the shape of Alistair Darling’s apparent linking of the SNP to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.  Incredibly, on the day the audio of Darling’s interview with the New Statesman indicated he had indeed linked the phrase ‘Blood and Soil’ to the SNP, the BBC carried a bizarre promotion piece on a new Better Together slogan.

We also learn that the NUJ is to ballot for strike action due, in part, to the BBC’s refusal to end its membership of an organisation that openly backs the Union.  Many will welcome this strike threat, but few will realise that it might hit coverage of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – an event that will almost certainly boost Scottish confidence in itself cut from the BBC airwaves.

On Sunday June 29th there will be a protest at the BBC’s Pacific Quay HQ against the colonial attitude of the BBC and its very clear manipulation of news in Scotland.  We hope as many people as possible will join this peaceful protest.  This is NOT our broadcaster.]