Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Lies, Damned Lies and BBC Scotland

Even after Chris Patten and the BBC Trust’s promise that the corporation would have to mend its ways when it comes to reporting the Independence campaign, the lies just keep coming from BBC and in particular, Auntie’s dutiful half-siblings in Scotland.  

When Alex Salmond recently expressed a view on the proposed redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald saw an opportunity to make an unfavourable association between the First Minister and Donald Trump on the basis that Alex Salmond had supported the American’s golf course development in Aberdeenshire. This was notwithstanding the fact that it was his own party’s Jack McConnell who ferried the tiresome tycoon around Scotland in a helicopter to find a spot where his ego could land.

Following up on Macdonald’s inference, the London lackeys at Reporting Scotland blatantly lied when asserting that Mr Salmond had been “rapped over the knuckles” by the Scottish Parliament over his dealings with Trump. Despite the hysterical ravings of the opposition parties in Holyrood to set up a committee to investigate their own malicious allegations of sleaze and corruption, the said committee found no evidence to support the claims.

Then there is BBC Scotland’s Seonag MacKinnon. Now, I’m not for a second suggesting that her reporting is in any way coloured by her politics although some may disagree. She is a former Education Editor at the Scotsman and is married to Peter MacMahon, one-time press secretary to former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish and political editor of the Scotsman and Mirror newspapers. She tells us that she gets private tweets and emails from teachers who may be under pressure to withdraw requests to delay the Governments Curriculum for Excellence.

One would hardly imagine that an unsubstantiated claim of private tweets and emails constitutes the evidence required for this to broadcast by a supposedly impartial publicly funded news outlet.

Next up was the astonishing claim made by Labour’s Health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie that patients at a Paisley hospital had to share blankets. The BBC reported it without any investigation on its own part and Baillie a platform to attack the government based on the claim. When Baillie was challenged about her allegations she suggested that health board were involve in a cover-up.

Suffice to say that when this story was shown to be yet another fabrication, the BBC did not give the same high profile coverage to Labour’s admission that their spokeswoman had not told the truth. (Baillie has a record for this sort of thing though. In January she claimed that NHS Scotland topped the European league for hospital infections. Well, it did, way back in 2006, when her Labour Party was in power in Edinburgh.)

Meanwhile, the BBC in London, who recently barred Alex Salmond from appearing on a Six Nations pre-match programme, saw nothing wrong with asking a panel of unionists on Dimbleby’s dumbed down version of “Newsnight” to give their reasons why Scotland should not be Independent. There is little that can be done about London’s approach to the Independence Referendum, which is usually comes over as misinformed, condescending and parochial. Ah, that it was ever so.

There can no longer be any doubt that the BBC in Scotland has a unionist agenda. But with its reputation for balance in tatters it is unclear who it thinks it is persuading with this continuous Westminster propaganda. While it may still offer some succour to the dyed in the wool “North Britishers” the unremitting mantra of “Britain Good” – “Scotland Bad” is, unlike in the good old days before the internet, not going unchallenged.