A Big Boy Did It …


Commentary By GA Ponsonby

The National is set for an indefinite print run.  The first daily newspaper to back independence for Scotland sold well during its five day trial.

Newsquest, the company that owns the Herald and the Sunday Herald, hopes to reap the obvious business reward that was awaiting the first publisher to create a product that the 1.6 million Yes voters would support.

I like the look and feel of the newspaper.  It has a good mix of news and comment and a wee bit of sport thrown in.  It’s an easy read and the moderate pro-independence editorial line is key if soft No voters aren’t to be scared off.

What effect it might have on the Scottish body politic is anyone’s guess.  If the BBC follows its news narrative as often as the broadcaster follows pro-Union rags then it might actually make a discernable difference.

The National has already highlighted the problem facing the BBC post-referendum.  Friday’s edition contained an article by Iain Macwhirter where the respected journalist asked if the BBC really did fail Scotland during the referendum.

Yes supporters need no persuading when it comes to the issue of BBC coverage of the referendum.  Thousands of Yes supporters converged on the BBC Scotland HQ prior to the referendum complaining about bias and demanding sackings.  They had a point when one considers the overwhelming weight of evidence against the broadcaster, some of which was covered by Newsnet Scotland.

Macwhirter’s article though sought to deflect blame away from BBC Scotland and onto London based colleagues.

In his article he wrote:

“My opinion, as a viewer, was that BBC Scotland journalists like Glenn Campbell, Brian Taylor and James Cook (the BBC Scottish correspondent) took their responsibility to be impartial very seriously indeed.”

Macwhirter added: “…when some of Westminster and UK correspondents trekked north somewhat uncomprehendingly, they did much to damage the BBC’s credibility.”

I admit to laughing out loud when I read that.  The BBC’s reputation was already in tatters in Scotland before the London mob arrived.  People like Glenn Campbell had already seen to that.

On more than one occasion Newsnet Scotland revealed complaints from foreign officials after reports from Campbell had sought to imply opposition to an independent Scotland retaining its EU membership.

Had Iain never heard of the Lucinda Creighton affair when the BBC Trust found BBC Scotland guilty of having broken editorial guidelines?  The scandal led to BBC Scotland’s political correspondent Raymond Buchanan resigning days before the Trust confirmed it would investigate the affair.  It took eleven months for the verdict to be announced and even then BBC Scotland refused to correct the initial report or issue an apology.

Did London management force Jackie Bird to describe new powers offered by the No campaign as ‘Devo Max’?  Was Eleanor Bradford pressurised by London into embellishing NHS waiting time statistics?  Did London bosses order BBC Scotland to send a camera crew and recording equipment to every speech given by Gordon Brown?

The truth is that BBC Scotland required no help from London in order to corrupt the referendum – they had proven themselves adept already.

The media village in Scotland is small and there are clear signs of unwillingness within that community to criticise colleagues who took a partisan stance whilst presenting themselves as impartial.  Welcome as The National is, we are unlikely ever to see published criticism of BBC Scotland editors, reporters and news gatherers.

That’s why I decided to write my book – How The BBC Stole The Referendum.

The conduct of the BBC in Scotland from 2007 until September 2014 deserves to be chronicled.  When put down in writing, each page backed up with unimpeachable evidence, then the real picture will emerge of a BBC in Scotland but not of Scotland.  An institutionally corrupt broadcaster unable to cover the referendum in an impartial manner.

The first chapter of my book is already published and can be read in the website created as a companion to the book.  You can read it by going to http://ponsonbypost.com

There are many good people working at the BBC in Scotland, but let’s not kid ourselves that within the ranks of Pacific Quay – in particular the news department – there are people who abused their position in order to pursue a pro-Union agenda.  For most of the time, London merely watched on, nodding in approval.