Fury over handling of BBC Scotland debate

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    BBC Scotland presenter Glenn Campbell has come under fire following his handling of a live election debate.

     

    The Politics Show Scotland saw Labour’s Jim Murphy the SNP’s Angus Robertson, Conservative David Mundell and Liberal Democrat politician Alistair Carmichael answer a series of set piece questions posed by Campbell.

     

    However there has been fury at what some have perceived as a lack of balance on the part of the host and even suggestions that Campbell had ‘gone easy’ on Jim Murphy.

     

    Campbell’s approach to each guest was peculiar from the outset when he laboured over a newspaper claim that an SNP minister had struck a Labour aide.  The other guests had been asked to respond to stories of fact and each exchange had lasted less than a minute, in Jim Murphy’s case no more than 30 seconds.

     

    However the SNP representative was asked to respond, not to a factual story but to the Labour allegation.  The resultant exchanges were replete with pejorative words (punched, hooligan and heckled) from both Campbell and Jim Murphy who had been allowed to hi-jack the question in order to attack the SNP.

     

    Amazingly over four times as much air time was spent on this spurious Labour claim than on revelations that a convicted criminal had attended a fundraising dinner for Jim Murphy.

     

    Mr Murphy displayed a discourteous manner throughout and was allowed to hector and harangue the SNP representative, interrupting to such an extent that at one point Mr Robertson was prevented from answering the question put to him. 

     

    Later in the show, with the Angus Robertson attempting to answer a question, Campbell grinned widely as Murphy and the others drowned out the SNP politician with loud and boorish laughter; insults and shouts could clearly be heard.

     

     

    The show also saw the host refuse to question Jim Murphy over the ditching of Labour candidate Stuart MacLennan who was sacked on Friday after making a string of abusive and obscene remarks.

     

    Campbell skirted around this Labour scandal and then simply diverted from the issue entirely by confronting Angus Robertson over an innocuous facebook site that lampoons Mr Murphy.  Campbell then followed with a series of accusatory questions to the SNP politician but made no mention of another disgusting facebook site ‘I hate Alex Salmond’ run by a Unionist and containing numerous obscene and abusive messages aimed at the First Minister.

     

    The end of the show saw similar selective behaviour when a series of light hearted questions was asked of the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative politicians but bizarrely Mr Robertson faced a question on the minimum wage.

     

    Jim Murphy was asked who won the Grand National, David Mundell was asked who sang ‘Pokerface’ whilst Alistair Carmichael was quizzed on Doctor Who.

     

    Campbell then asked Angus Robertson how much the national minimum wage was.

     

    There are fears that this may have been a calculated attempt at manufacturing a damaging headline after a similar ‘trick’ question was asked by another BBC presenter (Brian Taylor) last year.

     

    On that occasion Alex Salmond was asked what the answer was if a number is divided by zero – Mr Salmond answered correctly, however Taylor erroneously stated that the FM was wrong.

     

    Headlines highlighting Mr Salmond’s ‘error’ duly appeared in newspapers the following day.   It also saw Labour leader Iain Gray use the incident during First Ministers Questions.

     

    The First Minister later stated in the Holyrood chamber that he had received a private apology.

     

    There have been major concerns expressed by many independence supporters regarding the behaviour of Glenn Campbell.  They point to a number of examples where they claim the BBC Scotland presenter’s actions have verged on being partisan.

     

    His handling of this live debate will have done little to allay those fears.  Campbell’s decision not to question Jim Murphy on the biggest story of the campaign thus far is one that is indeed perplexing.

     

    Throughout the programme there was an uncomfortable sense that Mr Robertson was being marginalised and the sight of Jim Murphy laughing loudly along with David Mundell and Alistair Carmichael, with the show host grinning, as Angus Robertson was trying to speak was unbecoming.

     

    The show can be viewed by clicking here.

    Meanwhile BBC Scotland have been criticised after yet again closing down the Scottish political blog ‘Blether with Brian’.

     

    The blog was closed down on Sunday morning, hours after a story emerged in the News of the World that a fundraising event for Labour MP Jim Murphy had been attended by a convicted criminal.

     

    All of the other BBC blogs who’s links featured alongside the ‘Blether with Brian’ blog remained open to comments.