BBC Scotland’s coverage of Scottish politics continues to plumb new depths. You’d scarcely have imagined that was possible, but they managed it on Thursday evening when Gordon Brewer on Newsnicht berated Fiona Hyslop for not having a time machine, not being Nicola Sturgeon, and for refusing to throw a gallon of Grangemouth refined petrol on the already heated dispute between the Unite union and Ineos.
Dunno what’s got into Gord of late. He used to be one of BBC Scotland’s better presenters, who could be relied upon to produce a bit of gravitas instead of gravid arse. But these days Gord’s gone more Jeremy McKyle than Jeremy McPaxman. Pro-independence supporters get treated with a disdain usually reserved for a chain-smoking transvestite benefits claimant with an alcohol problem and fourteen kids by five women.
Maybe in a wee part of Gordon’s brain there’s a guilt complex for destroying Iain’s chances of becoming Furst Meenister and inflicting an SNP majority government and an independence referendum upon the land. Possibly Gord really believes he’s so influential he changed the course of Scottish political history.
He’s got no need to worry there. The SNP managed to win the 2011 election quite handsomely without any help from the BBC. I’m sure the Yes campaign can manage to win the referendum without Gordon’s assistance.
Perhaps BBC Scotland’s top political interviewer is upset because he single handedly brought about the downfall of Iain Gray, at least in his own head, setting off the subsequent chain of events that’s got us all here, and then his bosses got that bastert James Naughtie to come up from exile in London to head the referendum coverage.
And Naughtie got to have a bitch fest with Nicola Sturgeon on the radio that morning, while Gord gets papped off with Fiona Hyslop. Who-slop? The very name taunts him.
But back to Fiona, who didn’t seem very sloppy or Waynetta-like at all really. She was under the fond impression that she’d been invited onto the Gord show in order to big up big Eck’s big speech. But no, Gord didn’t want to discuss Eck’s speech, the one Fiona had sat through all afternoon, carefully taking notes on.
Instead Gord wanted to know whether Fiona would condemn Ineos for being evil money grasping capitalists, knowing full well that the Scottish government is currently engaged in some highly delicate negotiations which essentially boil down to trying to persuade an angry drunk ned who’s sprayed petrol all over your shed to put down the lighter. You’re not going to tell him, live on telly, what you really think of him. Sweetness and light is the order of the day, at least until he gives you the zippo, then you can get your shovel out the shed and lamp him with it.
Naturally Fiona demured from giving a direct answer, allowing Gord to award himself some of his imaginary “tough question” points. The slippery politicians not giving direct answers box could be safely ticked. He may well be developing Tough Question Points into a game show format, but he’s keeping the details close to his chest because Pacific Quay would only go and offer it to Paul Coia as a comeback vehicle.
We moved on to the speech. But not that speech. He wanted to ask about a speech Nicola Sturgeon was due to give the next day. Gord was still smarting about the Naughtie interview.
Gord wanted to know if Fiona shared his derision at the very idea that benefits would be slashed in the event of a No vote, something Nicola was apparently going to allude to. That’s just nonsense, cried the Gord. It’s Project McFear! At least this was a sideways acknowledgement that Project Fear’s claims are most notable for being baseless nonsense, although that’s not something that generally comes out in one of Gordon’s interviews.
Fiona, being neither Nicola Sturgeon nor in possession of a time machine, was unable to comment on a speech that someone else hasn’t given yet. Instead she resorted to a parallel universe machine, and imagined she was really being asked a semi-sensible question about whether an independent Scotland could sustain current levels of benefits spending. The answer to which is, Yes, and with bells on.
Gordon, being in a parallel universe of his own, continued to scoff at the very notion that benefits in the UK are under threat. This is the guy that’s supposed to be one of BBC Scotland’s best political interviewers. And he’s apparently unaware that the fiercest of the Coalition cuts are being saved up for after the 2015 General Election. Labour has promised the same spending plans, the only difference being that Labour will slash budgets and beat up on benefits claimants with a sad emoticon at the end of their press releases.
Budgets are going to be slashed in ways far more cruelly inventive than the Bedroom Tax or Atos tests. And cuts to the meagre allowances currently begrudged of the poorest and most vulnerable will be top of the to-do list. This is what awaits us if we vote No.
How can you not know that Gordon? The dugs in the street – like yours truly – know it. Call yourself one of the BBC’s top political interviewers? With behaviour like this it’s scarcely surprising that his bosses looked elsewhere for someone to head the referendum coverage.
We can only guess at Gordon’s motives for trashing his own career. But it’s safe to say that if he continues to subject pro-independence supporters to increasingly stupid and ridiculous barracking, the person who comes across as untrustworthy, stupid, and shortsighted is himself.
But whatever lies behind Gordon’s descent into petulance, the person he’s letting down the most is himself. He’s capable of much better than this, and the viewers deserve much better. Note to Gordon Brewer: getting yourself together doesn’t mean getting yourself Better Together.