English Extremists and a very peculiar interview

8
692

By G.A.Ponsonby

Yesterday morning, just prior to his scheduled speech at the Lib Dem Conference, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems Willie Rennie gave an interview on BBC Radio Scotland.

The interview was noteworthy for one thing only, in that Mr Rennie seemed to believe that there was such a thing as a British NHS.  This, claimed the Lib Dem front man, was one of the reasons for maintaining the Union.

By G.A.Ponsonby

Yesterday morning, just prior to his scheduled speech at the Lib Dem Conference, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems Willie Rennie gave an interview on BBC Radio Scotland.

The interview was noteworthy for one thing only, in that Mr Rennie seemed to believe that there was such a thing as a British NHS.  This, claimed the Lib Dem front man, was one of the reasons for maintaining the Union.

The fact that there is a completely independent NHS in Scotland seems to have escaped both Mr Rennie and the BBC interviewer Hayley Miller – but hey, that’s the way these interviews sometimes go.

However, there was a central theme to his being on the show and that was to promote the Union.  A legitimate stance and one that Mr Rennie pursued vigorously.  Indeed the point he strove to make was that people in England should make their voice heard in Scotland’s independence debate.

In particular, Mr Rennie emphasised the need for reasonable voices to replace the usual English extremists we usually hear from – the BNP sprang immediately to mind when Mr Rennie cited views on immigration as an example of such extremism, although he himself mentioned the English Democrats.

Rennie was specifically invited to include the SNP, but declined.

Whether you agree with Rennie’s call for those living outside Scotland to be heard or not, one thing is clear, his citing of extremists was very clearly aimed at those from England – not Scotland.

So, it was with interest that I listened to an interview with Rennie’s colleague, MP Michael Moore, later on that evening.

The interviewer’s identity is not important but what caused me to sit up was that when questioning Mr Moore on the independence debate, the interviewer very clearly implied that the extremists mentioned earlier that day were from within Scotland.

In an interview on the referendum negotiations, the interviewer said: “We’ve also heard a call today for the debate not to be dominated by extreme nationalist voices.  You want the moderate, reasonable, open and welcoming voices from outside Scotland to be heard.”

The nuances and tone make it clear that the extreme nationalist voices are from inside Scotland, the raising of the pitch when saying ‘outside’ left the listener in no doubt as to what this interviewer was trying to convey.

Moreover, Willie Rennie hadn’t been vague in his speech to conference when proscribing a national identity to the extremists, in his view they were English.

Here is an excerpt from his speech: “As we approach the referendum, the danger is that the voices on the extreme will dominate the debate.  We’ve already heard from some English nationalists that they want Scotland out.”

The not so subtle language adopted by the Radio Scotland interviewer conveyed something that was completely opposite from what had been said by Rennie earlier that day.  Anyone listening would have inferred the extreme nationalists being spoken of where Scottish based – and guess which party that is?

The interviewer also claims that “nobody else seems to agree with” the SNP’s proposed question on independence.  A claim that is clearly subjective and partisan.

In all, this interview was poor and reflected badly on the interviewer who has sadly displayed this kind of unprofessionalism before.

Here is a snippet from another interview earlier this year by the same interviewer in which a discussion with a guest on the subject of flags is very clearly hijacked by the same presenter in a clumsy attempt at attacking the SNP.

The BBC must at some point appreciate that we are now in the 21st century.  Listeners are sophisticated and will pick up this sort of contrived nonsense.  Presenters really must leave any political baggage at the front door of Pacific Quay if the reputation of the broadcaster is to have any worth.