Unionists manipulate Salmond remarks in attempt at diverting attention from BBC Censorship scandal

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Unionist politicians and their allies in the media have today mounted a concerted campaign against First Minister Alex Salmond following a row over the BBC’s refusal to allow the SNP leader to appear on a rugby programme.
 
The attacks on Mr Salmond are based on comments he made where he compared the BBC’s London based political adviser Ric Bailey to a ‘Gauleiter’, a term used to describe someone who behaves in a petty and authoritarian manner.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Unionist politicians and their allies in the media have today mounted a concerted campaign against First Minister Alex Salmond following a row over the BBC’s refusal to allow the SNP leader to appear on a rugby programme.
 
The attacks on Mr Salmond are based on comments he made where he compared the BBC’s London based political adviser Ric Bailey to a ‘Gauleiter’, a term used to describe someone who behaves in a petty and authoritarian manner.

Mr Bailey had blocked a scheduled non-political interview with Mr Salmond that was to have been broadcast hours before the rugby international between Scotland and England.  The London based political adviser overturned an earlier agreement, citing what he described as “heightened tensions” over Scotland’s independence referendum.

The BBC then found itself on the back foot  with a furious First Minister slamming the decision and claiming Mr Bailey had “panicked”.  The First Minister suggested that the BBC were taking guidance from Downing Street and described the situation as something that would be found in a “tin-pot dictatorship”.

However this morning several newspapers, including the Daily Record, the Scotsman and the Herald and many from south of the border were claiming that, by using the term ‘Gauleiter’ Mr Salmond had in fact compared Mr Bailey to a Nazi.

The basis for the claims lie in the origins of the word which refer to a low ranking regional official in German in the 1920’s and 30’s – a period when the nation was under Nazi control.  However the term is now a recognised euphemism for someone who acts in a petty and officious manner and has long since ceased to refer to the era of 1930’s Germany.

Supporters of Mr Salmond have pointed out that only six days ago Telegraph journalist Jeremy Warner himself used the phrase several times in an article on the Greek debt crisis.

In the article entitled ‘Germany has every right to impose a gauleiter on Greece’ Mr Warner wrote: “I’m sorry, but I cannot agree with the general sense of outrage sparked by calls for an EU bureaucrat – or German gauleiter, as depicted in some quarters – to take control of the Greek economy.”

He adds: “What’s more, if the austerity continues to cause the economy to contract, the debt burden will just keep on growing, regardless of efforts to cut the deficit or even because of them.  It’s a vicious circle.  So even the lash of the German gauleiter won’t correct the problem.”

Mr Warner’s article will prove embarrassing to his colleague and well known Salmond critic and BBC Scotland regular Alan Cochrane who, in attacking Mr Salmond for using the same phrase, wrote: “We could be generous and suggest that calling the hapless BBC mandarin a “Gauleiter” displays either an imperfect knowledge of the English language or of 20th century history – or both.

But knowing our Dear Leader as we know, it is entirely possible that he thinks it is perfectly all right for him to liken those who dare to defy him as some kind of Nazi.”

The Scotsman newspaper itself is also facing accusations of rank hypocrisy after it emerged that one of their own journalists had used the term to describe Labour MSP Duncan McNeil.

Six years ago a paragraph of an article read: “We have taken this principled – if unusual – stance because we have been offered only limited rights of access by that Gauleiter of Holyrood’s catering facilities, Labour MSP Duncan McNeil.”

Unionist politicians have seized on the misrepresentation with Labour’s Patricia Ferguson saying: “What is totally unacceptable, however, is for the First Minister to accuse journalists of occupying the post of a Nazi district leader.  That is an ugly smear.”

The Scottish Conservatives also joined Labour with former BBC presenter and new Tory leader Ruth Davidson claiming her former employer had merely stood up to Mr Salmond’s bullying, saying: “There is now a disturbing pattern of behaviour emerging from the SNP against anyone who dares to stand up to them.

“It is a completely inappropriate outburst from a man supposed to be running Scotland, and symptomatic of the SNP’s ‘attack mode’ where they try to destroy anyone with whom they disagree.”

The well orchestrated smear campaign will do little to dampen the mounting cynicism in what many are increasingly viewing as a Unionist dominated media in Scotland.  Newspaper sales have plummeted at a higher rate than those south of the border as readers tire of a lack of penetrating and objective analysis and apparent news manipulation.

The row over the BBC’s role in reporting Scottish politics is also threatening to escalate with news that the Scottish Government plan to present concerns to Chair of the BBC Trust Chris Patten.  Included in a list of issues is the behaviour of several BBC reporters over their use of Unionist coined phrases when presenting news and current affairs items.

There are growing concerns amongst many viewers of the role of the broadcaster, in particular the continued use of Unionist leaning pundits and the frequent top-loading of debates where Unionists are allowed more participants than their Nationalist rivals.

The behaviour of the BBC in Scotland is has also led to campaigns from viewers angry at the axing of high quality political and cultural Scottish programmes, including music programme ‘Introducing In’ and the popular ‘Janice Forsyth Show’ as well as Newsweek Scotland.

Last week former BBC Governor Jeremy Peat acknowledged that the BBC needed to improve its coverage of Scottish news.