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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  • MJ

    According to the SNP website:

    “…on independence day, we’ll no longer have a Tory government, but the Queen will be our Head of State, the pound will be our currency and you will still be watching your favourite programmes on the BBC”

    Mouth-watering stuff. Aren’t you the lucky ones?

  • A Node

    Clark, re rural boadband speeds.

    I have close connections with the Isle of Eigg. In 1997 they bought out the last in a succession of autocratic landords and took charge of their own destiny. They have since then been a model for what is possible when development is directed for communal benefit rather than cash.

    Their solution to the rural broadband problem is a case in point. They created their own wireless network – broadcast from the mainland and redistributed over the island from routers at high points on the island. At the moment they’re restricted to 8Mbps but they’re geared up for 50Mbps when BT gets its act together.


  • Cryptonym

    Mary it was that burying of evidence that lead to the winter of discontent, Labour under Callaghan/Jenkins were denying miserly wage increases to the lowest paid, many of them publc service workers, in the face of real cost-of-living inflation, whilst the government was awash with money, which was pouring in, they couldn’t admit it so hid both the surplus and the staggering near-term alteration in the national fortunes predicted. They even immediately returned the money they had just borrowed from the IMF, as they didn’t need it at all but kept the austerity and liberalisation/privatisation diktat of the IMF conditions, which saw that wealth ultimately frittered away de-industrialisation and retrenchment, ransacking of succesful state enterprises and building a chimerical ‘financial sector’ to launder and plunder the proceeds.

    On the previous topic, I made a point that is perhaps relevant here too, the Southern parts of the Borders don’t even get Scottish/STV television to weakly counter New Labour’s captive BBC Scotland, if STV had a mind to; to add to the insult of paying for the BBC Scotland dross and propaganda, their ITV ‘local’ news covers a vast swath of Northern England, an irrelevant babble of Durham and Isle of Man affairs of little interest to them.

    The key is refuse the BBC license fee en-masse, to do that requires communicating with the people who see no hope and who spend their time fretting themselves into an early grave over indebtedness by default and consequent public shaming through repulsive abuse of the law in enforcing what is in effect a voluntary subscription over which they CAN exercise choice. If the BBC is unwilling to prevent non-subscribers from viewing their content, it not those non-subscribers’ problem that they can inadvertently still receive it.

  • ianbeag

    Are there sufficient objectors to the appalling record of the BBC in Scotland to organise a massive campaign of viewers prepared to withhold the licence fee and persuade others who are technologically savvy to switch to on-line viewing?. If 40K viewers cancelled their payments that would deliver a drop of £5.7m, which would inflict considerable pain on their London masters.

  • Doug Daniel

    John Tk – ignoring your anti-independence bile (and it’s nothing we’ve not heard a million times before), the fact remains that when people vote in the referendum, they will be voting between two options. Therefore, the coverage should reflect this by giving both sides equal representation. Political parties are only ever represented by one member when appearing on TV debates – you don’t see the biggest party having five speakers and the smallest given just one – so what you’re suggesting is quite ridiculous and completely at odds with the idea of fair and unbiased debate.

    Besides, if Scots are so overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the glorious union, then what is there to lose by allowing equal representation for both sides in our “silly referendum”?

  • Iain More

    The anti Scottish Independence bias and anti SNP bias is not just ingrained at the BBC, STV news coverage is equally poisonious in my view.

    I recall not so long ago watching the STV Norths news output where they accused SNP govt of killing people on the roads though the police reported that the particular accident was down to reckless driving by one or more car drivers. That is just one instance amongst the daily and I do mean daily oupourings and bare faced lies of that particular we love Donald Trump channel.

    The rabid nature of the Brit Nationalist Press and Media collectively is disturbing if not frightening. It is a daily anti Scottish tirade of the Scots are too wee, too poor, too thick, too craven, too sick, too lazy, too filthy, too incompetent to be Independent.

    It is not just the bias and lies that worries me, it is the daily painting of Scots and the residents of Scotland by the Brit Pres and Media as subhuman that should concern us all.

  • Disgusted Dorothy

    Bannockburn,24th June 1314.

    Referendum autumn 2014 , not the anniversary of any battle merely the beginning of a battle to make Scotland a better place for all her peoples – even the oafish and ignorant,

  • bigbuachaille

    Excellent. The emergence of the secret document on the very day the GERS figures were published certainly raises a few questions. The fact that the BBC then continued to portray the figures as a Scottish deficit (spelled defecit on BBC TV, which being closer to “defecate” was pretty apt) was grossly biased, designed to confound the gullible and to keep then ignorant.
    The use of the word “bluenoses” above by an anti-indy poster is disturbing. The last thing we want to see in Scotland is the open manipulation of sectarianism to defeat independence. This must be openly deprecated by leaders of both sides of the argument.

  • Giles

    If it will put a stop to the BBC beginning every weather forecast with the Outer Hebrides then I’m all for Independence. That and the excessive number of Scots in every sphere of public life going home. Oh, and not to forget the massive loss to Labour’s client vote, the only reason the BBC is pro-Union. Not sure why Craig is for an independent Scotland anyway as it will surely lurch to the right.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    I should like to ask our host Craig a question :

    You have urged Alec Salmond to act now and ask for OSCE monitors to be sent to Scotland as a matter or urgency.

    What conclusions would you draw personally were Alec Salmond to fail to call for OSCE monitoring?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    I agree with ‘Cryptonym’ ‘..the key is refuse the BBC license fee en-masse’

    On the BBC’s Question Time Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos.”

    The BBC has refused to report this application to the International Criminal Court despite 6,030 signatures:


    I will email all these petitioners advocating ‘Cryptonym’s’ key advice which will I’m sure raise the profile of this mistreatment above the parapet that forms the barrier filter for BBC reporting.

  • Barontorc

    Craig, sorry if it’s overlong!

    To see the extent of Labour insiders at the BBC State Broadcaster check out:-


    Common Purpose raises its ugly head again – ‘…Necrotizing fasciitis just about sums Common Purpose up.

    “The Left do not wish to improve our society – but to destroy it” – excellent article.’

    Here’s the outdated but indicative list of the ‘likely suspects’ :-

    John Birt

    BBC Director General 1992 – 2000

    At the time of his appointment he was a paid up member of the Labour party.

    Greg Dyke

    BBC Director General 2000-2004

    He had been a Labour donor and lifelong Labour activist.

    In 1977 he stood as a Labour candidate for the Greater London Council.

    In the run up to the 1997 election he reportedly donated over £50,000 to the Labour party.

    Gavin Davies

    BBC Chairman 2001 – 2004

    He had been a lifelong Labour party member and financial supporter.

    From 1974 to 1979 he worked as an adviser to two Labour governments.

    From 1992 to 1997 he was an adviser to the Chancellor Gordon Brown. Gavin Davies is a close personal friend of Brown and his wife, Sue Nye, is Brown’s private secretary.

    Sir Michael Lyons

    Current BBC Chairman

    Sir Michael Lyons was chosen in 2007 by the Labour Government to be chairman of the new BBC Trust – supposedly set up to represent the interests of licence fee payers.

    Before that he had been paid around £500,000 by the Government to carry out three studies for Chancellor Gordon Brown.

    Prior to that he was a Labour local politician, sitting as a Labour councillor in several authorities and as Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council.

    Ben Bradshaw

    Labour MP

    Former Environment minister

    Is a former BBC Radio 4 reporter.

    Chris Bryant

    Labour MP for Rhondda.

    He first joined the Labour Party in 1966 and became a Party Agent in 1991.

    From 1993 to 1998 he served as a Labour councillor in Hackney.

    In 1997 he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for Wycombe and then joined the BBC in 1998 as Head of European Affairs.

    Celia Barlow

    Labour MP for Hove and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Climate Change.

    Celia joined the Labour Party and her first trade union when she was 16.

    Between 1983 and 1995 she was a BBC Westminster reporter and finally BBC Home News Editor.

    Phil Woolas

    Labour MP for Oldham and Saddleworth

    Minister for the Environment.

    He first joined the Labour Party at the age of 16 and was active in student politics, becoming President of the National Union of Students.

    From 1988 – 1990 he was a producer on the BBC Newsnight Programme.

    James Purnell

    Labour MP Was Work and Pensions Minister.

    He was BBC Head of Corporate Planning before he became a Downing Street adviser in 1997.

    Prior to that he worked for the the Institute of Public Policy Research, the left wing think tank.

    While still a student, prior to the 1992 election, he worked as a researcher for Tony Blair.

    Denis MacShane

    Worked for the BBC from 1969 to 1977, including as a newsreader and reporter.

    Has been Labour Member of Parliament for Rotherham since 1994. Labour Minister of State for Europe from 2002 to 2005.

    Ed Richards

    Ex BBC Controller of Corporate Strategy

    Ed Richards was Controller of Corporate Strategy at the BBC until 1999. Before that he was an adviser to Gordon Brown.

    He left the BBC in 1999 to become Tony Blair’s senior policy adviser on media, telecoms, internet and e-government.

    As a policy researcher at No 10 ahead of the 2002 general election, he was responsible for drawing up a key political strategy outlining a “vision of what Britain should be like at the end of a second Labour term”.

    In 2006 he became chief executive of OFCOM, at a salary reported to be some £392,056 (including benefits and pension entitlement). OFCOM is responsible for adjudicating complaints against the BBC. Ed Richards has dismissed accusations of New Labour cronyism as “tittle tattle”

    Tom Kelly

    Ex BBC NI Head of News

    Tom Kelly spent 16 years at the BBC in London and Northern Ireland.

    He was a political editor and later head of news at BBC Northern Ireland before crossing the divide between those who report the news and those who help to shape the government’s message, becoming director of communications at the Northern Ireland Office shortly after New Labour came to power.

    In 2001 he became one of Tony Blair’s official spokesmen.

    Bill Bush

    Ex BBC Head of Political Research and Analysis

    Bill Bush was “Red” Ken Livingston’s Chief of Staff and right hand man at the old “loony left” GLC.

    In 1990 he became Head of Political Research and Analysis at the BBC.

    He then became “Head of Research” for Tony Blair, and later took a position as Special Adviser to New Labour culture minister Tessa Jowell.

    As Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Jowell and Bush were responsible for Government policy towards the BBC including renegotiating the licence fee.

    The Guardian said:- “Bill Bush, the head of the BBC’s political research department, left to join the research unit at Number 10. This was a man who had access to the most sensitive information the BBC has on MPs, their parties and the government. His value to the Labour party can hardly be over-estimated”

    Catherine Rimmer

    Ex BBC Political Research

    Catherine Rimmer was Bill Bush’s assistant at BBC Political Research.

    A former Bush colleague, who has also travelled the short distance from the BBC’s Millbank offices, which coordinates all political coverage, to Downing Street.

    The Spectator is reported to have said :-… (Bush) is also taking with him the deputy head of the BBC’s political research unit, one Catherine Rimmer. In fact, you could say that the BBC’s political research unit has turned out to be an invisible branch of the Labour party”.

    Geoff Mulgan

    BBC Reporter

    According to John Harris in the Guardian

    “When someone finally gets round to making the definitive New Labour movie – and you can imagine it: Our Friends In The North meets Primary Colors, with the inevitable Britpop soundtrack – they will have to base at least one character on Geoff Mulgan. The PR at his publisher emails his CV to me the day before we meet, and it is so packed with the stuff of recent history that you wonder how he has found time to fit it all in. From the top, then: “Between 1997 and 2004, Geoff had various roles in government including director of the government’s strategy unit and head of policy in the Prime Minister’s Office . . . Before that, he was founder and director of Demos, described by the Economist as the UK’s most influential thinktank . . . chief adviser to Gordon Brown . . . [and] a reporter for the BBC.”

    Catriona Renton

    Reporter for the BBC Politics Show and BBC Presenter.

    Catriona Renton is a former Glasgow Labour Councillor, who represented Kelvindale before losing her seat to the LibDems in 2003. She was “Glasgow’s Youth Tsar”.

    She was apparently recruited by BBC Scotland’s parliamentary unit in 2006, where John Boothman, husband of Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon, was a senior producer.

    Her personal facebook has listed the following as friends:

    Jackie Baille Labour MSP, Yousuf Hamid Labour Activist, Tom Harris Labour MP, Mike Dailly Labour Activist, David Martin Labour MEP, Frank McAvetty Labour MSP, John Robertson Labour MP, John Park Labour MSP, Steven Purcell Labour Glasgow Leader, Dave Watson Vice-chair of the Scottish Labour Party

    She was apparently the centre of a bias storm after an item broadcast on Sunday 18 October 2009 attributed views to senior SNP MSP Alex Neil that he had not expressed. When filming at the SNP conference in Inverness, Catriona Renton had claimed on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show that Alex Neil had confirmed the SNP’s desire to see David Cameron become the Prime Minister at the next general election. The recorded interview with Mr Neil that followed Ms Renton’s claim contained no such confirmation. The BBC were forced to issue a personal apology to Alex Neil.

    Lance Price

    BBC Journalist 1981 – 1998

    Lance Price joined the BBC as a trainee journalist and worked there for 17 years.

    He left in 1998 to work as Alistair Campbell’s assistant in Downing Street.

    In 2000 he became the Labour Party’s Director of Communications.

    Now he is a freelance journalist writing mainly for the Guardian and broadcasting for the BBC – again

    Tim Luckhurst

    Scottish News Editor

    Previously a Labour spin doctor

    Sue Nye

    Wife of Gavyn Davies, and has acted as Gordon Brown’s political secretary.

    Sarah Hunter

    Held the broadcasting brief at No 10. She formerly worked in the BBC Policy Directorate and is also a veteran of the Channel 4 Policy Department. God-daughter of former Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine.

    Katie Kay

    Lord Birt’s former diary secretary, worked for Mr Blair.

    Charlie Whelan

    Was for years a key Labour activist and news manager and spinner for Gordon Brown. He acted as a commentator and political journalist for Radio Five, and reported on the Conservative Spring Conference 2003 for Radio Five Live.

    Andrew Marr

    Has his own politics show on BBC TV and radio programme.

    Is a former editor and chief political commentator of the Independent. His wife is Jackie Ashley, the Guardian political columnist, former BBC employee and cheerleader for Gordon Brown.

    Student Labour organiser.

    Michael Crick

    Newsnight Political Editor

    Labour activist and Labour prospective parliamentary candidate.

    Martin Sixsmith

    BBC Foreign Correspondent 1980 – 1997

    Martin Sixsmith joined the BBC in 1980 and worked as a a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Geneva, Moscow and Washington.

    Following the 1997 election he left the BBC to work for the Labour government as Director of Communications.

    He described his enthusiasm for his new job, when he later told the Independent :- “It was May 1997, it was a new start after 18 years of Tory misrule…..”. He was later Press Secretary to Labour Ministers Harriet Harman and Alistair Darling.

    After a brief period in the private sector, he returned to the government in 2001 as Director of Communications for the Department of Transport

    Joy Johnson

    BBC Political News Editor 1992 – 1995

    Joy Johnson was a BBC political journalist and became Political News Editor in 1992 at the Millbank centre.

    In 1995 she was recruited by Gordon Brown to join New Labour as Campaigns Director, responsible for winning Labour’s 80 target seats.

    Sam Jaffa

    BBC North America Correspondent.

    Husband of Celia Barlow MP, He stood as Labour candidate for Eastleigh in 2001.

    Don Brind

    Political reporter for the BBC in the south-east of England

    According to the Guardian became a Labour party press officer.

    Peter Hyman

    BBC producer

    Strategic Communications Unit.Former Labour Party press officer, BBC producer and Sky News journalist. He became the Policy Directorate’s media analyst. He worked as a researcher for Donald Dewar and John Smith.

    Sarah Hunter

    BBC Policy Directorate

    Part of the team that travelled with Tony Blair on his 2001 election campaign bus, and worked for the Labour Party in Opposition. In the past she has worked for Peter Mandelson.

    John Boothman
    BBC Scotland – Head of Political Broadcasting

    Husband of Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon

  • Giles

    I don’t recall such outrage from Craig when Ireland was manipulated into saying YES to the Lisbon Treaty, having got the answer wrong the first time round.

    Nor do I hear Craig demanding a referendum on membership of the EU, which would surely be in the democratic interests of this country.

  • Herbie

    This is quite a good essay on the subject, from a unionist.

    “Even to a unionist like me, an Alex Salmond-led government is preferable to one that rewards greed and corruption”

    “we conveniently overlook the fact that London has already broken away from the United Kingdom and now exists as a world super-state governed by the greed of unhindered capitalism and recognisable as British only by its taxis and bad service. As the world’s most newly minted oligarchs continue to colonise the independent state of London, it becomes almost impossible for families on less than £250k to live decently there. Poor London families made homeless by the coalition benefit cuts are being evacuated as far north as Middlesbrough.”

    “With each passing week, it becomes more difficult to support a union that doesn’t really exist anyway. Morally, it may soon become indefensible to remain in a state that rewards corruption and promotes inequality when you have an opportunity to leave it behind.”


  • Techno

    Nothing surprises me anymore about the BBC.

    I stopped paying my TV Licence two years ago and barely a day goes by when I don’t feel very content at the decision.

    I just bought a piece of furniture for my little rented flat that cost £150 and I thought that this is about the same as the annual cost of the licence fee I should be paying.

    So I would just like to thank anybody from the BBC who’s reading for allowing me to spend the money on furnishing my flat rather than paying for your cr@ppy propaganda, inflated celebrity salaries, taxi fares and your guaranteed pensions that nobody in the private sector has.

  • Cryptonym

    @DtP 8 Mar, 2013 – 1:39 pm

    What if she/he were transexual (which I very much doubt)? Or for that matter (again doubtful) disabled? What of it? What relevance would such factors have in discussing her partiality and unsuitabilty to be inflicting her personal political agenda on BBC viewers.

  • Graham Ennis

    So, the monitoring of th forthcoming referendum is now essential it seems, and craig is right. In a banana republic, there would be a howl of rage if they refused to allow OECD monitoring. But scotland?……oh, that’s different. Why do I suspect that salmond will run and hide under his desk rather than ask for independent monitoring. Sadly, Salmond is not Chavez. As first minister, he is legally empowered to do so. he will not. have you formally and publicly written to him and asked him Craig?….very important to get it on the record about what is happening. Please do so, on behalf of all of us.Thanks

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