Business as usual at the Beeb


By Alex Robertson
My return to Scotland brought two pieces of news: one terrific and one depressingly familiar.  The really exciting news is that of Labour pro-independence members finally breaking cover and led by Mr Allen Grogan, a Labour Party member, the ‘outing’ has attracted a lot of attention and opened a whole new chapter in the political story of the road to Scottish independence.

Some like me have long predicted and expected such a move.  It is inconceivable that the Labour Party that produced champions for Scotland like Willie Ross, to name but one of the most recent, could credibly support the Westminster and Tory leviathan that now roars around the political arena.

Profoundly anti-Scottish in philosophy, that creature sees Scotland as a region of England, a troublesome place where nationalists are disturbing the peace, but if ignored and starved of publicity, will perish away in time.
That was never a view that members of the Labour Party in Scotland could support, and it was only a matter of time until ranks were broken and voices raised in public.  I wish the movement well, since I believe that it is a sign of the Party moving back to its proper place in the spectrum of political opinion and philosophy.

Scottish Labour supporters never took to the Third Way politics of Blair and his spin doctors, it simply was not in their genes to abandon the left wing stance that had given birth to and nourished the infant party, and indeed brought it to power in Westminster in the first place.

But this is just the beginning.  Whilst I expect the pro-independence Labourites to flourish in Scotland as the rump of the party uneasily take on the harness of being in tandem with the Tories. History tells us that, outside wartime, political coalitions always lead to a period of loss and even virtual extinction for leftish parties tying themselves to the Tories. Liberals under Lloyd George are the best example.

The same fate awaits their latest manifestation in the Tory/LibDem coalition more than likely.  And the acid test question has always been: what will the pro-union Scottish parties do on the day after the referendum gives the green light to independence? What are they going to do?

This goes even wider.  Murdo Fraser in the last leadership election for the Scottish Tories spoke the truth when he identified the Tory brand as being toxic in Scotland.  That is not going to change overnight. 

What he may have been thinking about was a new right of centre grouping which would allow the right-ish people in Scotland who do favour independence to have a natural home.  Of course that would mean the new party having either a neutral stance towards independence or even a stance in favour.

The second acid test question has always been: what about the people of left of right of centre political views who are already in favour of an independent Scotland. They want their voice to be relevant in political debate and they want their views to be reflected in their mainstream parties’ manifestos. Or else what?

It is entirely possible that we are seeing a radical reshaping of our political landscape unfolding before our very eyes.  Just imagine if the new pro-independence Labour group, the Groganites, are repelled by the political leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland.  They will not be short of support for all that.

Think of people like Dennis Canavan, long time Labour loyalists who felt compelled to speak out.  And on the right of centre wing, if you doubt Tory members would flee the Toxic Tories, look at the SDA, which is making a fine fist of forming a new right of centre pro-independence movement, with ambitions for a lot more than just being the successful think-tank it is at present.

I for one welcome these moves.  I think they are positive and mark the refusal of people to blindly follow party lines anymore.  I welcome their support for independence and their commitment to fighting their political corner in an independent Scotland.  They tick all the acid test boxes and they represent the future.

And the Beeb?  I looked in vain for even a whisper of this story, which made it into the Scotsman and the Herald front pages.  But the BBC just ignored it.

It set me thinking and wondering why that should be so.  It might be that the BBC Newsroom is full of either dyed in the wool Labourites or dyed in the wool Tories or Libdems.  I doubt that is all the answer although there may well be political bias in their reporting.

I think personally the real answer lies in clue of their name.  They are unrepentantly British, and regard Scotland and its affairs as minor, and of a level of a small town flowershow.  That is a third rate service to their customers, Scots licence payers, a flagrant disgrace and utterly unacceptable.

Scotland deserves a Public Service Broadcaster which is committed to Scotland and Scots, reporting news from around the world to Scottish eyes and ears, its output geared to Scottish interests before all else except the truth.

Time for some to break ranks there as well perhaps?