The Big Debate – Choosing Scotland’s Future: Deception, Nepotism, Amnesia & the Practice Question

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By a Newsnet Scotland undercover reporter

Here we are, the morning of the night before!  BBC Scotland kicked off their in-depth referendum coverage with, ‘The Big Debate – Choosing Scotland’s Future’.

Waiting in the lobby I overheard and witnessed acts of deception, nepotism and strangers playing spot the opposition.

By a Newsnet Scotland undercover reporter

Here we are, the morning of the night before!  BBC Scotland kicked off their in-depth referendum coverage with, ‘The Big Debate – Choosing Scotland’s Future’.

Waiting in the lobby I overheard and witnessed acts of deception, nepotism and strangers playing spot the opposition.

Once seated in the studio, the audience was treated to the talents of BBC Scotland’s top warm up act – Mr John Boothman, Head of News and Current Affairs at Pacific Quay.

I was expecting him to jump on a unicycle, juggle and tell us a joke at any moment – thankfully he did not.

For those listeners and viewers of the show, you missed out on the best question of the night!  What was this killer question I hear you ask?  Be patient for we will get there in a moment.

Let’s begin with the acts of deception.
Pro-independence supporters were heard on their mobile phones telling tales of their subversive actions to gain a ticket.  John le Carré could learn a trick or two from these militia agents of Scotland.

Apparently it is best to lie on the BBC participation form to win the prize of being packed like a sardine in the audience – wee Jock McTavish fae Auchenshoogle has mastered the espionage skills of Harry Palmer.  The tip I picked up, and now share with you in strict confidence, is never to put member of the SNP nor pro-independence on the form.

Now we get to the act of nepotism.
A young BBC Scotland employee was chatting with her father and her ex-lecturer before heading off with them for a grand tour of the shiny new studio.

I tried a tailgate manoeuvre, but that damn bottle of Highland Spring detained me at the airport style security checkpoint just long enough for the tour guide and her party to have disappeared into the distance.   Yes Pacific Quay really is that big! Nae wonder they cannae afford to keep on the good journalists from BBC Radio Scotland after the money they’ve flung at that building.

Perhaps the statisticians, or bookie enthusiasts, amongst you can work out the odds of a father of a BBC Scotland employee being picked out as an audience member in the utopian world ruled by the BBC charter.

Before the comments flood in for the sacking of this young woman, I will proceed to defend her actions.  She was making her father and ex-lecturer proud of her achievement and standing within BBC Scotland.

Her young years, naivety and inexperience led to her loose talk in a public foyer full of trained agents of the state and members of the insurgency.  Reprimanding this young woman at the start of her hard won career serves no one.

Technical issues kept us out of the studio for quite some time; the herded audience chatted away freely in the corridor leading to the studio.

Amnesia
A young Labour party member was overheard chatting to others behind him in the queue, a conversation that turned to the recent Scottish Labour Leader inauguration.

Someone opined that Scottish Labour members had actually chosen the better leader, not the ‘disastrous’ one foisted upon them by the unions.

In the ensuing moments this small group of strangers were seen visibly banging their heads against the wall, trying valiantly to remember the name of the people’s choice for leader – they didnae ken Ken’s name.

Just like Ed Miliband before him, these young Scottish Labour supporters struggled to remember the name of the MSP favoured by party members.

Then one of the group went one better than Ed and called out, “Ken something!”.  That was the trigger for one of the others, a nonbeliever apparently, to have a eureka moment… “Ah… Ken… Ken MacIntosh!”

What has poor Ken MacIntosh, a decent enough chap, done to cause such mass amnesia amongst ruling elite and young pretenders alike?

Practice question
Next we get to that all important practice question that didn’t make it onto air.  Surely a question that wasn’t that important to the debate, a joke question about Scottish passports perhaps?

My memory isn’t all it used to be, so bear with me while I try to reproduce the substance of it as best I can.

“What are the benefits of the Union?”

It was a beautiful question, simple, easily understood and designed to elicit a definitive answer.  But what was it doing as the practice?  But hey, this is BBC Scotland we’re talking about.

Lesley “Ya bas” Riddoch, one of two shining stars on the show, kicked off with a well-considered and balanced response.

The answers from the Unionist members of the panel consisted of warm fuzzy sentimental claptrap, in other words naff all – perhaps they needed a second question.

The Deputy First Eck pointed out all the good stuff of the Union would still be with us come independence and then the show began.

The rest of the show was pretty much as aired and available to revisit on the iPlayer.  Look out for Jim Wallace trying to strangle the English language with his bare tongue.

My own personal “moment of the evening” was hearing a number of Unionist supporters voicing concerns amongst themselves about the quality of the unionist team, and more importantly the veracity of the argument for keeping Scotland in the union, or should that be lack of a decent defence of the union.

They had lost the first kick aboot, a home tie ‘oot Glenn’s back green’ and they knew it.

The final score was: Unionists United 0 – Caledonia Nats 1 (Jim Wallace ordered off for foul and abusive body language)

Short clip leading up to Wallace’s ‘red card’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljUZCj3-Cis{/youtube}