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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  • Herbie

    It seems that Dr James Wilkie of the Scottish Democratic Alliance, has already approached the OSCE concerned about earlier dirty tricks by Westminster.

    “Last Saturday the BBC’s chief political advisor in London, Ric Bailey, cited “heightened tensions” over the “nature of the political debate around Scotland’s future” as his reason for banning Alex Salmond from appearing on a light-hearted sports show ahead of the Scotland versus England Calcutta Cup rugby match. Of the ban Salmond said: “It’s a totally unsustainable position which raises all sorts of questions about their impartiality and their role as a national broadcaster and basically if they can be trusted to conduct themselves as an impartial broadcaster in the run-up to the referendum campaign.”

    The BBC censoring the First Minister in this way, two and a half years before the likely date of the vote, indicates an extraordinary sensitivity over the issue in London and gives weight to the SDA’s argument that Scotland’s referendum will be subjected to interference by “external vested interests”.”


  • ajax

    “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.”

    I concur entirely with the above but this is surely true of all BBC news and current affairs coverage.

  • craig Post author


    I agree with you too but in this instance I can think of something cunning to do about it!

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    O/T but I was so pleased to hear this news about Alfie Meadows, the student whose skull was broken by a police baton in the student riots. It is wrong though that it has taken two years for justice to be given to him and his mother. The last we heard of him was when he was admitted to hospital for treatment having been turned away by another hospital.

    ‘The last of the trials of students involved in the 2010 violent protests has ended with the acquittal of Alifie Meadows, whose skull was fractured by a police baton during the demonstration.

    A jury at woolwich Crown Court took just a couple of hours to clear both him and another, Zac King, of violent disorder following a three week trial. Alfie’s mother Susan Meadows told Channel 4 News it’s a huge relief, “Two years of agony are finally over. It’s just fantastic”.’


  • CE

    “Not sure why Craig is for an independent Scotland anyway as it will surely lurch to the right” 😯

    You are aware Giles, that their are currently more Giant Pandas in Scotland than Tory MP’s.

    In fact the Scottish Electorate, much like our Nordic cousins, seem to have a predilection for centrist and social democratic parties.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    That dear brave young man Harry Fear has finished his world speaking tour and is returning to Gaza. You will remember his live reporting during the last Israeli onslaught. He has been in the UK.

    Harry Fear‏@harryfear Feb 27
    The world tour is over! Thanks to all the organisers throughout the world! Time to recover health and mind before heading back to #Gaza!

    He remembered Hugo Chavez.

    Harry Fear‏@harryfear Mar 6
    RIP Hugo #Chavez


  • Suhayl Saadi

    Perhaps then, if Scotland were to “move to the Right” after independence (though why, exactly, it would do that is not clear), Giles might wish to immigrate here? Scotland needs immigrants.

    Here is a book, ‘Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence’, recently published by the excellent Edinburgh-based radical bookshop, Word Power Books, a collection of essays on the theme of Scottish independence:


  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Craig recently said that he thought his Al Hilli post and comments thread was one of his most successful and one of which he was most proud.

    This is a report on the progress? of the Surrey and French police investigations from the local paper.


    Hope that Surrey Police are doing better in the case than they do in answering their phones. Most of the county’s police stations have been closed and flogged off yet calls to the 101 non-emergency number are being unanswered in thousands. What should the people do?

    Non-urgent police calls ‘go unanswered’

    Surrey are third in the list for ‘dropped’ calls, over 12% of the total.

    PS Council tax has just been raised by 1.99% (the maximum before a referendum is triggered) to pay for the increased cost of policing.

  • English Knight

    Just the cost of a pukka environmental decommission of all the redundant wells is enough to keep Aberdeen busy for the next twenty years ! Normally wells only give up 50% of their largesse, with newer 3D seismic tech, horizontal drilling and even fracking possibilities (no ground water enviromental issues),it may be wiser to leave well heads platforms in place, not only to serve as artificial reefs (to generate fishing stocks), but also for the day when renowned Scottish genius for invention comes up with a way to unlock the trillion pounds of known oil/gas still untapped, for the only 5m population.

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  • Jemand - Evolutionary Religion 101

    Craig, do you pay your TV licence? I hope you don’t and I encourage you to write a post about your reasons for not doing so. Here is a chance for commentators to put their words into real action. If you can all get a million people to refuse to pay their licence fee over the next 12 months, then that will be a £150M slap in the face to the BBC. How many people would actually be prosecuted? Are the courts so efficient that they can handle thousands of cases every day? Start the fire Craig, the moment is NOW.

    Primer –

    Angry person who doesn’t own a TV (excellent site – must read) –

    Sample link from above site –

    Another sample, TV licensing system dumped in NZ –

  • Adriana

    My only connection with Scotland is 3 great-great grandparents who left for the antipodes in the 19th century, and some wonderful holidays in Scotland, but I really, really hope that Scotland says ‘yes’ to independence.

    The Australian ABC is as biased as the BBC, and we have a Labor goverment which has largely sold out to corporations and vested interests.

    If only we had a blog of the calibre of Craig’s.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Alex Salmond compares BBC boss with Nazi official
    Alex Salmond has been accused of indulging in an “embarrassing” and offensive tantrum after comparing a BBC chief who prevented him appearing on a sports programme to a Nazi bureaucrat http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9062404/Alex-Salmond-compares-BBC-boss-with-Nazi-official.html

    btw you can see the slant against Salmond in the above piece by the Torygraph’s Scottish editor.

    The same individual that Salmond complained about has just been interviewed by Samira Ahmed on Newswatch who asked him why the BBC gave so much coverage of UKIP in the Eastleigh by-election and so little to serious parties like the National Health Action Party and the Greens. As a viewer of BBC South Today, I can vouch for the partisan UKIP coverage.

    They even had the failed! UKIP candidate on QT the other night. She was dire. An empty vessel. All that motivates her is immigration to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania and our membership of the EU.

     Watch now 12 months left.
    Duration: 15 minutes

    Viewers’ opinions on the coverage of events by BBC News, addressed by the editors and decision makers in charge. This week, did UKIP get too much airtime before and after last week’s by-election, and how much detail was really needed about the Queen’s illness?

    As you can see there were also questions raised about the excessive coverage of the queen’s gastric condition.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Ric Bailey

    •POSITION: Chief Political Adviser, BBC
    •DATE OF FELLOWSHIP: Michaelmas Term


    I’ve been a political journalist with the BBC for most of my career – as a network lobby correspondent and presenter in Mrs Thatcher’s time, then later as the political news editor of the BBC’s Westminster unit. For six years, from 2000, I was Executive Editor of the flagship BBC One political debate programme “Question Time”, including editions in China, Russia, the US and the Middle East, also setting up a long-running citizenship scheme for young people – “Schools Question Time,” now in its eighth year.

    Currently, I advise throughout the corporation on political impartiality and independence, oversee policy on polling and other aspects of editorial policy and organise for the industry the UK’s system of Party Political Broadcasts.

    In the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election, I represented the BBC on the team which negotiated the first ever television election debates between the Prime Ministerial candidates.

    My degree was in Modern History and Politics from Southampton University, followed by a post graduate diploma in broadcast journalism at the City University in London.


    “The Prime Ministerial Debates – an improvement in democratic accountability or merely political X factor ?”

    A study, from a first hand perspective, of the three televised debates during the 2010 UK General Election, looking at their role in engaging the electorate in the campaign, the level of policy scrutiny and comparisons with debates internationally.

    Internet Picks

    BBC Democracy Live – what a good citizen needs to hold politicians to account – all on the same site.

    New and improved – the BBC’s revamped book of editorial wisdom, published October 2010:

    …plus Britain’s best cinema – and my local


    BBC biog of Bailey http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/biographies/biogs/controllers/ric_bailey.shtml

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    O/T What is May cooking up this time?

    Abu Qatada arrest over ‘bail breach’
    Radical cleric Abu Qatada is arrested for allegedly breaching bail conditions, days ahead of the government’s latest attempt to deport him.

  • Clark

    Vronsky, 8 Mar, 1:04 pm; grief, I didn’t know it was that bad, that many Scots are denied Internet access through poverty. I tend to regard Broadband access as very cheap, as it usually only adds £5 to £10 per month to the standing charge for a landline. But people’s circumstances differ, of course. I’ve known people to cancel their landline because they have youngsters in the family who’ve run up a huge bill, for instance.

    Telecom companies pricing policies are a huge con. You have to pick a tariff in advance based upon your projection of your communication patterns, and either under or over estimation leads to excess cost. It would be easy for the telecom companies to charge customers according the cheapest tariff depending upon the past month’s usage, but they prefer to offer these “guesswork lotteries”.

  • A Node

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha

    From the BBC Editorial Guidelines


    The UK has diverse political cultures in the different Nations and representation at Westminster is not the only basis for assessing relative political strength in a devolved structure. Achieving due political impartiality, especially for network output, involves giving appropriate coverage to all the main political parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as those which stand for election across the whole UK.”


    Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “O/T What is May cooking up this time?”

    Perhaps nothing’s being cooked up; it might just be that Abu Qatada has actually broken his bail conditions – in which case the normal procedure is arrest.

    Willing of course to listen to any evidence to the contrary.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    re various commenters announcing proudly that they’re not paying their TV licence :

    one must assume of course – although they haven’t specified it so far – that these commenters are taking the logical position of not watching television either.

    Musn’t one?


    La vita è bella, life is good (some say better without TV)

  • Villager

    Jay, thank you for bringing a calm and wise tone on this subject.

    Habbabkuk, our resident Inquisitor-General, ironically himself an immigrant, was the first one on this blog to raise his hand and get worked up about the ‘Roms’ and Bulgarian peoples landing on our shores. Words like ‘pleasant’ and ‘common sense’ are alien to him. Please comment more often so that some pleasantness may rub off.

    Happy days (even with all the immigrants)!

    PS this song still makes my hair stand on end. Incidentally ecorded in Hollywood at A&M Records on a former Charlie Chaplin Studio shooting stage. Chaplin himself, if i recollect correctly had some Roma blood.


    What elevating energy this anthem has, to begin the day with. And then there will be Habbabkuk who has brought upon himself more aliases than anyone has been accorded in the history of this blog…

    And finally here’s one for Scotland

  • Clydebuilt


    The US Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Lessons In Propaganda

    “In contrast to the ideal of an educator, who aims to foster independent judgment and thinking, the practitioner of propaganda does not aim to encourage deliberation by presenting a variety of viewpoints and leaving it up to the audience to determine which perspective is correct. The propagandist transmits only information geared to strengthen his or her case, and consciously omits detrimental information.”

    Exactly what has happened this week, more than any other

  • Adriana

    Don’t know which was funnier, the laughing policeman or the Indian bagpipes.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    Mrs May, instead of persecuting Muslims, would have been better employed in attending to this terrible neglect by the police service on her watch. Her friend Mr *unt, too, instead of running down and destabilizing OUR NHS, should attend to the neglect of mental health services and provision.

    Freed to kill by police blunders: Mental patient who murdered stranger begged to be sectioned – one check would have shown she’d killed before
    Nicola Edgington killed Sally Hodkin in Bexleyheath, Kent

    She also attacked 22-year-old Sally Clark who managed to fight her off
    She had made four 999 calls asking to be arrested earlier that day
    But she walked out of a mental health clinic and killed Mrs Hodkin


    Listen to John Cooper QC, Edgington’s barrister, on Radio 4 Today, in a discussion with Prof Craig Jackson, a psychologist, on the matter.
    1 hr 32 mins in

  • Arbed

    John Goss, 11.20am

    A Thousand Words…

    Very revealing of character, that photo, isn’t it? As I said on the other thread it really angers me that this woman is painted, or paints herself, as a ‘victim’ who is ‘being denied justice’ by the Swedish government/Ecuadorian embassy stand-off (though true enough in a way – I believe faking evidence carries a two-year sentence in Sweden), when it’s Assange who has been bankrupted and driven to refugee status by this woman’s behaviour. Genuine rape victims don’t hand false evidence in to the police. (They’re unlikely to indulge in the kind of retail therapy coping strategies Ardin clearly enjoys either.)

    The latest news out of Sweden is that the Ecuadorian offer to interrogate Assange in the London embassy that was hand-delivered by the Ecuadorian ambassador in Stockholm on 25 July 2012 was not only passed by the Swedish FO to their “America section” but also to the official within the Swedish Justice Department responsible for Mutual Legal Assistance.

    This link says there was some kind of marginal mark “For further action”. They did nothing, of course. It’s also debatable whether either the FO or the Justice Department even bothered to pass this offer to the Chief Investigator of the case, Marianne Ny.


    And they say the case has nothing to do with the Swedish government, it’s “purely a judicial matter”. Pull the other one.

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