According to the Tory Culture Secretary speaking on Thursday in the Commons, a key part of the renewed BBC charter is “supporting greater cohesion between the nations of the UK”. You might think that the words culture and Tory were mutually exclusive, because that certainly seems to be the case as far as Scotland is concerned. The Scottish Tories spend their time either denying the existence of Scottish culture, or denying that key parts of Scottish culture like our own languages are deserving of state support. The only culture that the Tories are interested in is the culture of privatisation, the culture of educational segregation, and the culture of money.
It also seems to be the case that the BBC isn’t especially comfortable with the existence of Scotland as a nation and a culture. Normal countries which are self-governing or autonomous have their own public service broadcaster as well as the service proper to the state as a whole. The BBC thinks that Scottish culture and politics can be more than adequately served with a series of hauf-airsed opt-outs from the “main” service. As far as public service broadcasting is concerned, Scotland only exists as a set of minor divergences from a Great British menu.
It’s reasonable to ask how a public service broadcaster which has a key goal to support greater cohesion between the nations of the UK can properly cover a population which doesn’t want to be a part of the UK at all. How can a broadcaster dedicated to the principle of greater cohesion between the different countries of the UK accurately and fairly report on an independence campaign in one of those nations? The answer is, it can’t.
Already sources in Westminster, according to the Herald, have confirmed that because of the new charter commitment, proposals for a Scottish Six news programme are dead. Because the BBC is dedicated to the principle of erasing any Scottish distinctiveness, we’re not even going to be permitted to have an hour long news programme that’s an opt-out from the main 6 O Clock news. Instead we’re to sit through interminable discussions of educational and health policies which are of minor relevance to Scotland, a whole lot of verbiage about the progress of the England cricket team, and a weather map that makes Scotland look smaller than Dorset.
The Scottish Six was only ever a sop, even though it was described by a certain Unionist commentator as the holy grail of the Scottish independence movement. Because what all those SNP, Green, and Rise party members, what all those people who work their socks off in Yes groups and CommonWeal groups up and down the land are really striving for is an extra half hour of Jackie Bird. We were permitted to discuss the possibility of an extra thirty minutes of news about the UK and the rest of the world presented from Scotland as a distraction from the real question. Why doesn’t Scotland have a national broadcaster of its own?
What was confirmed today is that the UK and the Westminster parliament refuses to countenance any news or current affairs production in Scotland that is not controlled and mediated by them. We can have our parochial little productions about items of strictly local interest, but when dealing with the wider world we have to go through London. Scotland cannot and will not be permitted to develop its own perspective on the world. We are to remain firmly an adjunct of a BBC controlled and produced from London. Remember your place Scottish people. Get back into the Great British shortbread tin.
It cannot be stated often enough. I’ve said it before frequently. Other self-governing nations have their own public service broadcaster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the odd ones out. It’s not unreasonable, it’s not outrageous, it’s not unconscionable for Scotland to demand something that other self-governing countries take for granted. It’s a symptom of how much we’ve allowed the Unionist parties to control the debate on this topic that there isn’t greater public pressure in Scotland for something every other self-governing country possesses.
So screw yer Scottish Six BBC, we want an SBC. We want a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation that’s based in Scotland, funded by Scotland, broadcasts to Scotland, and is answerable to Scotland. We don’t want a Scottish Six. We want an SBC that broadcasts in English to the whole of Scotland. We want a Scots language TV service to sit alongside our existing Gaelic channel. And we want what the Catalans have got – we want a 24 hour, 7 day a week Scottish news channel.
Catalonia has its own broadcasters. The Basque Country has its own. Galicia has its own. The 60,000 people of the Faroe Islands have their own public service broadcaster. The 30,000 Sámi speakers in the far north of Norway have their own dedicated broadcast service. Even the tiny autonomous territory of Gagauzia, 150000 people in the poorest corner of Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, on a scrap of land smaller than Ayrshire can have their own national broadcaster. And yet the 5 million people of Scotland, with our rich culture and ancient history and rich heritage and political distinctiveness, in what we’re always being told is one of the richest countries in the world, well we can make do with a half hour of murrderrs, fitba and wee cute kittens after the really important news about educational policy somewhere else that doesn’t affect us. That’s not a public service broadcaster. That’s taking the piss and making us pay to be pissed on.
The only reason Scotland can’t have its own national broadcaster is because Westminster and the Unionist parties don’t think it’s in their own interests to allow us to have one. Again, as so many times before, the Unionist establishment and the Unionist parties put their own interests and their own needs before those of the people whom they claim to serve. The truth is that they only serve themselves, and they serve themselves at our expense. When you vote Unionist, you’re voting to for a party that puts its interests before your own. You’re voting to be held in contempt. You’re voting to be sidelined. You’re voting for irrelevance.
Of course we all know the real reason why the Westminster establishment refuses to countenance even the token recognition of Scotland as a nation that a Scottish Six represents. They claim that a Scottish Broadcaster would be under the thumb of the SNP, and that’s why it shouldn’t be allowed. But by making that claim they implicitly acknowledge that the BBC is under the thumb of the Unionist establishment, because under the Westminster system an SBC would be set up and governed by a similar charter to the charter the BBC operates under. The BBC is the propaganda arm of the British state. It’s what allowed the Better Together campaign to determine the narrative of the last independence referendum, and that’s exactly what Westminster intends to do the next time too. The BBC is not a public service broadcaster. It’s a Union service broadcaster.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-15th-sept-2016
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