Oh Dear! New Labour’s Control of BBC Scotland Must Be Curbed 285

Beyond doubt, a significant number of Scottish citizens are disturbed at what they perceive as a systemic bias in the BBC against Scottish independence. I have read some sixty internet articles to the same effect in the last 24 hours. There is a citizens internet revolt against the mainstream here.

That BBC bias is displayed in the selection of which news stories to present related to independence, in the selection of guests on programmes, in the selection of which facts to highlight within the selected stories, in the comment provided by BBC journalists, and in the treatment afforded to guests, the way guests are presented, the respect they are or are not given and the opportunity they have to present their arguments.

Yesterday’s coverage of the official, civil service prepared GERS report indicating that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK’s public finances brought these matters to a head.

The BBC’s own journalists presented the report solely as indicating Scotland had a fiscal deficit, without the BBC commenters saying that Scotland’s finances were much better than the rest of the UK – despite the fact that the determination of the comparison is the avowed main purpose of the report.

The BBC subordinated the GERS report to a commentary by the Fraser of Allander Institute allegedly indicating Scotland’s economy was too weak to sustain independence. They ran the story all day but did not reveal once that the Fraser Institute is a New Labour “think-tank”, and its head is the husband of Wendy Alexander, failed New Labour leader, and brother-in-law of shadow Foreign Minister Douglas Alexander. Fraser has an appalling forecasting record, having issued dire and completely wrong forecasts on growth ever since the SNP came to power in Holyrood.
[My dad used to work for Hugh Fraser, a total bastard incidentally]. It is, in short, not a real economic institute at all but another New Labour device to fund undeclared political contributions in effect to the party (cf the Smith Institute).

The GERS report was also subordinated in news bulletings to a “leaked” report about Scotland’s future spending choices. The apocalyptic tone of the BBC reporting of this bore no relation to the report’s contents. They continually showed the report with a graphic of a cover stamped Top Secret – an entirely false graphic actually made by the No campaign and circulated by them with a press release. This leaked report was the number one news story, and television guests invited to discuss it in the course of the day were unionist to nationalist in the ratio of 17 to 3.

Just one day, but part of an unbroked pattern of behaviour by BBC Scotland.

Broadcast media does have a real impact on public opinion and voting intentions. BBC Scotland is particularly influential as there is limited alternative broadcasting which reflects across its output Scots culture and interests.

Fairness in an election campaign is a much wider concept than the process of voting, and fairness of access to broadcast media is an extremely important component of that. It is plain that, as things stand, the referendum campaign will not be free and fair.

Action must be taken now. That necessary and urgent action is for Alex Salmond and the Government of Scotland to approach the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and request that the subordinate Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR, ponounced Oh Dear!) deploy immediately an election monitoring mission to cover the referendum.

I have witnessed ODIHR monitoring operations in action, and once had a job interview in Warsaw to be Head of ODIHR. In this, the pre-campaign period, ODIHR will immediately despatch a small team to Scotland of which the principal task will be media monitoring. They will be guided by this ODIHR media monitoring handbook.

This details what they analyse, including these criteria:

Were election candidates and political parties given equal opportunity to present their campaigns and platforms to the electorate through the media?

Did election candidates or political parties have equal or equitable access on a non-discriminatory basis to public/state media?

Were the relevant types of television programmes, such as news programmes or debates, unbiased?

Yes, ODIHR can and does monitor referenda as well as elections – the guidelines are easily followed mutatis mutandi.

It Salmond asks for an OSCE observation mission, I have no doubt it will be granted – there is a strong presumption in favour of missions within the OSCE, and member states like Russia repeatedly complain there should be more monitoring of the West, not just the East. It is hard to see on what grounds the Unionists can oppose international election monitors. They could not in practice stop it. Russia and Ukraine, for example, hate OSCE election observers in their country but have been obliged to accept them. To refuse would likely mean expulsion from the OSCE.

I believe the reason international observers have not yet been requested is a false understanding of their brief, ie that they only check the balloting and counting. That is not true at all – they monitor all the issues around fairness in a holistic way. Their brief is much wider than that of the UK Electoral Commission. The referendum already having been announced, we are already in the designated pre-campaign period. The OSCE observers would come immediately.

The clock is ticking. Alex Salmond must ACT.

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285 thoughts on “Oh Dear! New Labour’s Control of BBC Scotland Must Be Curbed

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  • resident dissident


    I am also quite prepared to form my opinion when all sides of the argument have been presented in a balanced manner and subject to cross examination i.e. in court. If the abuses of legal process that you claim to have happened have occurred – then the best chance of them being revealed and acted on would be if the Court case went ahead as well. And if Assange went to a Swedish court and was found not guilty as you expect, especially if the political inference you infer is demonstrated – I suspect that if anything this would considerably reduce the chances of JA being extradited to the US for his Wikileaks activities.

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  • CE

    Hi Clark, hope you are well.

    Sorry if it appears to be rude, but given Arbed’s continuing attempts to smear me(despite several attempts on my part to neutralise any animosity), I think I will try to avoid commenting on the Assange affair for the moment.

    Views(mine included) seem fairly entrenched and legitimate criticism of JA and his supporters is not something his more fanatical followers can seem able to comprehend.

    I would tread warily on taking everything Arbed says at face value. She is not an honest arbiter searching for Truth, she is pursuing a cause and attempting to portray JA and the evidence concerning his alleged crimes in as positive a light as possible. This is to be understandable when you devote a large portion of your life towards something. As both myself and ResDis(Red Notices\Letter to Nick Davies\Role of Swedish prosecutor\ect) have shown she does seem to have a predilection for bias(as do I, of course) in this affair.

    Take Care.


  • Clark

    CE, I never take things at face value. I follow links. I followed one of your links some weeks ago, to an article claiming that the Ecuadorian Ambassador and staff at the Ecuadorian embassy wanted rid of Assange. It was a smear piece, nothing more. It contained NO evidence whatsoever to support its assertions. It contained one link which supposedly supported it, so I followed that, too. There was no evidence there either.

    You presumably took that worthless article at face value, or, presumably, you would not have linked to it.

    I follow Arbed’s links, and I find them to be rich in evidence to support her assertions. I have read Extraditing Assange, and found that it links to court documents that contradict David Allen Green’s article, an article which you apparently hold in high regard. I find David Allen Green to be dishonest, and biased against Assange.


    CE, I agree that penetration without a condom should be treated as a crime if the woman concerned wishes to press charges. So far, I do not know this to be the case, and there is evidence to the contrary. But in any case, proper procedure should still be followed, and in this case it clearly has not. Deviations from procedure include:

    * The interview with SW was not recorded.
    * At least some of SW’s interview was conducted in the presence of AA, who very strongly seems to be a biased party.
    * The written notes of the interview were not signed by SW.
    * The written notes don’t include the interjections that AA claims to have made, and thus don’t record what influence AA had upon the interview.
    * The written notes had sections added days after they were originally made.
    * A different set of notes apparently were signed, but the unsigned, altered set have been presented to courts in preference.
    * The Swedish authorities did not protect Assange’s anonymity.
    * The Swedish authorities have refused to question Assange in the UK.

    Deviations from proper procedure could be mistakes. But when each and every “mistake” proves prejudicial to Assange, foul play seems to be the only explanation.

    But it is far worse than that. The UK police attempted to enter the Ecuadorian embassy, and the government suggested that they might withdraw the embassy’s diplomatic status in order to arrest Assange. These were nearly breaches of international treaties, and it clearly indicates political interference in the case. The government are clearly not pursuing Assange about sexual allegations, and if they were it would be wrong as it should be an operational matter for the police; if the government are directing the police then the government is operating a police state.

    CE, if you really care about sexual protection laws, you should be campaigning against these abuses, which clearly indicate ulterior political motives. Political abuse of sexual protection law is undermining its perceived validity and damaging the international reputation of UK law enforcement and legal systems.

  • resident dissident


    I agree – I very much doubt anyone has anything to add of interest regarding the case. The real interest is how the current impasse will be resolved. My guess is that sooner or later an event will happen where it is no longer in their interest for them to continue to harbour a fugitive from Swedish Justice – Correa is a pragmatist and the record shows that he has not always been a great supporter of Wikileaks. One hopes that the FCO/Hague are not daft enough to invade the embassy or similar – my guess is that would be just the sort of provocation that Assange are looking for.

  • Arbed

    Clark, 4.45am

    I can only applaud your deep understanding of such a complex and highly politicised case. Superb post there.

  • Arbed

    Resident Dissident, 10.06 am

    “Correa is a pragmatist and the record shows that he has not always been a great supporter of Wikileaks”

    Note date – 30 November 2010

    Ecuador offers Wikileaks founder Assange residency:

    True, Correa did quickly assert the Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister’s remarks were not official policy but I believe Ecuador was the only country in the world to publicly state when the US State Department cables first started to come out piecemeal, as the five media partners reported them, that they wanted Wikileaks to release every single cable they had on Ecuador. This was discussed during The World Tomorrow interview with Correa:


  • LastBlueBell


    So you are upset and angry because there are people who does not share your views?

    I am curious, are not people both entitled and free to form and hold their own opinions?

    And on what grounds do you base your views, ‘that they are wrong and you are right’, when you can not even clearly define what you yourself constitute as evidence?

    As you stated earlier, “I haven’t made up my mind”…

  • Clark


    I have problems with your argument about the following article. As I mentioned above, I read it some time ago. I’ve just now read it again:


    CE, you stated (quoting Arbed):

    “Also, it [Interpol Red versus Orange Notices] was not ‘one bloody sentence’, it was the entire thrust of whole link”

    It is neither. The “Red versus Orange Notices” is mentioned twice as the opening assertion of the article. The bulk of the article asserts corruption within Interpol; this is reasonably well argued, plausibly supported by fairly strong though circumstantial evidence.

    In the final section the author claims that there is a debate raging within Interpol about the Red Notice issued for Assange, supporting this with a quote attributed to an “Interpol insider”, but unfortunately does not offer any evidence that would validate the source. Of course, if the “insider” wishes to remain anonymous the author must comply, but this detracts from the authority of this section of the article.

  • John Hannah

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    Makes you wonder why Tavish would lie to the people of Shetland!

  • Hector

    You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

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