Colonial and Corrupt – Time’s up for BBC Scotland


  By G.A.Ponsonby
President Obama has spoken; the USA made a tragic mistake when it fought off colonial rule over 200 years ago.  America wants to rejoin the self-styled ‘greatest Union on earth’.
OK, not quite, but what an interesting question it would have been to the US President – why did they leave the UK when it was (then) a 100 year old success story?

  By G.A.Ponsonby
President Obama has spoken; the USA made a tragic mistake when it fought off colonial rule over 200 years ago.  America wants to rejoin the self-styled ‘greatest Union on earth’.
OK, not quite, but what an interesting question it would have been to the US President – why did they leave the UK when it was (then) a 100 year old success story?

Obama’s intervention (that’s what pundits call it) was Reporting Scotland’s top story last night.  His short oblique statement on the referendum was just enough for him to deny he had backed one side over the other.

But it was seized on by our broadcaster and pushed to the top of the news agenda.  ‘Barack backs No’ was the message.

Never has so few words received such massive coverage.  Never has a foreign politician been subjected to so little scrutiny.  Well not since Jose Manuel Barroso told the BBC it would be near impossible for Scotland to keep its EU membership if it chose Yes in the referendum.

Few will appreciate that Obama’s comment was prepared after a request from Downing Street.  The BBC were briefed to ask, because Downing Street knew they would be in receipt of an answer they could spin into another anti-independence story.

There was a wonderful moment on Reporting Scotland when the political editor Brian Taylor flourished a Better Together campaign leaflet in front of camera.  It depicted Barack Obama with the word ‘NOPE’ emblazoned beneath – a corruption of Obama’s famous campaign slogan ‘HOPE’.  The metaphor, lost on Taylor and the Better Together campaign, was that a No vote kills hope.

With so few foot-soldiers able to deliver its leaflets, Taylor’s leaflet stunt was probably worth a million quid in free promotion to the Better Together campaign.

We shouldn’t be surprised anymore at the antics of the presenters and reporters at the BBC.  The corporation’s stock is now at rock bottom in Scotland.

It’s still a member of a pro-Union lobbying group and pays the CBI over £22,000 every month in fees.  In return the BBC gets to broadcast all of the CBI’s press releases, including attacks on independence.

BBC Scotland also appears to enjoy a similar relationship with the Labour party in Scotland. 

In May 2013 it reported on the launch of Labour’s anti-independence campaign ‘United with Labour’ which would be headed by former PM Gordon Brown.  It earned Brown top billing on Reporting Scotland that evening as the Labour MP took the opportunity to bash the SNP and independence.

How shocked then was I when the BBC reported this week that Labour was to launch its anti-independence campaign … ‘United with Labour’ headed by … Gordon Brown.  It was the same campaign, with the same name and the same logo that BBC Scotland had reported on over a year previous!

As it had over a year earlier, the BBC gave Brown a high profile spot on that evening’s Reporting Scotland where he … yep … bashed the SNP and independence.

Labour is of course the most popular pro-Union party by a country mile in Scotland which is why it receives such favourable coverage.  If this coverage can be lonked to a pro-Union message, with no response from the pro-Independence side, then all the better as the following news clip demonstrates.

How can a broadcaster behave in such a fashion?

In BBC Scotland’s case the answer is simple.  It is a colonial organisation controlled by London which has become so corrupt that it is no longer capable of adhering to even the most basic ethical guidelines. 

It breaks its own charter almost daily.  The Better Together campaign is not doing well and the state broadcaster is pulling out the stops to ensure London’s message is delivered.

  • It’s why Alistair Darling’s jaw-droppingly offensive interview with the New Statesman was nowhere to be seen on last night’s Reporting Scotland. 
  • It’s why Johann Lamont’s description of the Scottish electorate as “daft” was airbrushed out of BBC Scotland’s report of First Minister’s Questions.
  • It’s why BBC Scotland continues to rubbish the NHS in Scotland in an attempt at portraying it as one ‘in crisis’, when the real NHS crisis is across the border.

BBC Scotland is not a devolved institution.  The BBC never evolved in line with Scotland and thus it remains firmly stuck in the past where London rules.

Like most of Scotland’s media, it’s IN Scotland but not of OF Scotland.  It does not reflect the views of Scotland but instead lectures Scotland. 

The BBC is an institution that cannot change in order to meet the needs of Scots, but one that tries to force Scots to adapt to the needs of the British state.

This is why BBC Scotland manipulates news.  It isn’t informing the Scottish public, rather it is trying to influence us.

A case in point is the way in which the BBC in Scotland acts as a conduit to outsiders who wish to express opinions that are helpful to those who wish to prolong the Union, even if it damages elements of Scottish culture or society.  Their words are reported but, like Obama, they are rarely if ever questioned.

Ask yourself what other country in the world would provide uncritical headlines to politicians who express views that suggest Scots are violent, intolerant extremists who would resort to ethnic cleansing if freed from the protective guardianship of Westminster?

But that’s precisely what the BBC did when the Swedish Foreign Minister claimed a Yes vote would lead to the Balkanisation of Britain.

This isn’t the first foreign official to be invited onto the BBC platform to express views that could be interpreted as less than complimentary to Scotland and her people.  From the issue of the EU to the compassionate release of Megrahi, BBC Scotland has bent over backwards in order to provide a platform to anyone wanting to have a go at Scotland.

It’s a colonial mindset that leaves it impervious to criticism from within the colony.  That’s why the words of critics like Lesley Riddoch and Gerry Hassan, or even former BBC Scotland reporters like Derek Bateman, will fall on deaf ears.

It requires of its presenters that they too conform to this pro-Union mindset.  Some, like Glenn Campbell, appear to require little by way of persuading.  Others we are told are being bullied and coerced by management.

The mindset of course may already be in place as demonstrated by the likes of James Naughtie.  In some ways the arrival of Naughtie has exposed the BBC in Scotland for what they really are.  Naughtie doesn’t know how to camouflage his pro-Union bias. 

His years in London mean he is unaware of the subtleties that are required in order to appear as though you are scrutinising equally.  BBC Scotland management allow him to pursue a personal agenda that would have been frowned upon south of the border.

The most recent addition to BBC Scotland’s referendum team, Sarah Smith, displayed her own metropolitan conditioning when appearing in a trailer for the widely panned Scotland 2014.

Smith personalised the independence movement by describing it as Alex Salmond’s.  Ironically this was one of the findings of the study into TV news reporting of the referendum by Professor John Robertson who noted the continual habit of presenters to describe the Yes campaign in this manner.  Something the BBC denied.

Another study, published in full by Newsnet Scotland, confirmed Robertson’s findings.  A week-long look at Radio Scotland found the biggest culprits in favouring the No campaign were BBC presenters themselves.

Some commentators have criticised the BBC this week over its decision not to renew the contract of one of these presenters, Gary Robertson.  I have to be honest and admit that Robertson’s predicament is not too high on my BBC priority list.

I’d have kept him over BBC Scotland management, but that’s about it.  Robertson’s hectoring of SNP interviewees personified the one sided anti-independence agenda that has brought the BBC to a position where hundreds of ordinary people are now prepared to give up part of their weekend in order to protest outside the Glasgow HQ.

You can basically predict how BBC Scotland will report any and all referendum issues.  They rely heavily on reports from established organisations, which is why the IFS, CPPR, OBR et al will slot into headlines with ease.

BBC Scotland also requires establishment figures to reinforce these studies which is why you’ll see Professors John McLaren, Jo Armstrong, David Bell and John Curtice regularly wheeled out.

Did you know that the day after Danny Alexander’s claims on the start-up costs of a newly independent Scotland were exposed as bogus, McLaren and Bell appeared on Good Morning Scotland to discuss just this issue.

Listen to both academics as they completely ignore the story which is the misrepresentation of another academic’s work.  McLaren especially again reveals his own agenda by attacking the Scottish Government almost exclusively.

The final nail in the coffin of the BBC is the news that a serving Labour MSP is to front a current affairs radio show. 

That Kezia Dugdale will be joined by a former SNP MSP in the shape of Andrew Wilson is not the point.  Dugdale is an elected official who will benefit from the kind of media exposure others can only dream of.

The pitting of a female Labour MSP against a male former SNP MSP also helps cultivate the narrative that the referendum is a Labour versus SNP contest, man against woman.  Wilson would be better advised to leave this well alone.

BBC Scotland is colonial and corrupt and something Scotland can do without as it grows ever confident.  It really is the end for this outfit and, going by the near universal loathing of the corporation amongst Yes supporters, I expect a mass withholding of the licence at some point in the near future.