We’ve got a new BBC weather map! Whoop, and indeed, de doo. Scotland is growing before our very eyes. The new map is a vast improvement on the old one, which showed the distance between Aberdeen and Newcastle as being approximately the same as the much shorter distance between London and Southampton. On the downside you’ll no longer be able to save hours on your journey time in the northern end of the island of Britain by using the BBC weather map as a guide.
Contrary to the assertions of a particular journalist on an anti-independence newpaper, I have never used this blog to argue that the BBC weather map was part of an anti-Scottish conspiracy by the BBC head office in London. I have argued, and still maintain, that the old weather map angered many in Scotland because it came to symbolise, in a very explicit way, the London-centric view of the Corporation. The map was a symbol of a BBC which looked down from London on the rest of the UK, a BBC which thought that the further away from London you were the smaller and less important you became. For many people the BBC weather map is the only map of the UK that they regularly see, and it led people to believe that Scotland is a great deal smaller – and therefore less important – than it really is. You wouldn’t realise from the old BBC weather map that Scotland comprises one third of the UK’s landmass.
Contrary to the assertions of some cartographically challenged apologists for British nationalism on social media, there was no geographical or map projection reason for the map. Scotland was not depicted much smaller than it really is in relation to the south of England because the world is a globe. Just look at any atlas. The pages in books are notoriously flat. The distinctly two dimensional pages in books are indeed as lacking in a fully rounded view of Scotland as a paid up member of Scotland in Union. Most likely what really happened was that someone in the BBC graphic design department thought it looked cool, and no one in BBC management paused to consider whether people at the opposite end of the island to London might object to being marginalised and diminished. Or if they did, they didn’t care.
The map wasn’t a conspiracy, it was just a lack of care, but its geographical distortion was a convenient symbol to many of all the other things that are wrong with the BBC, a perfect picture of the Corporation’s innate southern metropolitan bias. That’s why it provoked such an emotional response in so many people. Trying to discuss this cultural phenomenon became a tin foil hat conspiracy theory in the view of a particular journalist. But then that same journalist has also claimed that I’m not really an independence supporter because I’m actually a black ops agent for British intelligence. At least that is when he’s not claiming that I am an agent of the Kremlin. Personally I suspect that he’s just a bit jealous of this blog’s popularity. In 100 years time people who are studying this period in Scottish history will be reading what is written here, whereas what he writes is forgotten by lunchtime.
Objecting to the map was dismissed by Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw as “the worst form of nationalist paranoia.” But then Mr Carlot has previous for objecting to the millions of pounds spent, in his imagination at least, on Gaelic roadsigns, because as anyone who reads the Daily Mail realises, Gaelic roadsigns are a leading cause of potholes. So he knows quite a lot about nationalist paranoia, at least nationalist paranoia of the British nationalist variety. But then that’s not nationalist paranoia because British nationalism isn’t nationalist at all. So it’s just your regular British paranoia then.
What’s decidedly not paranoia is the indisputable fact that Scotland is short-changed by the BBC. A report last year showed that just 55% of the licence fee revenue raised in Scotland is spent in Scotland on home produced programming, compared to 95% in Wales and 75% in Northern Ireland. The BBC is short changing Scotland by around £140 million annually. None of this is likely to change much with the introduction of the new part-time Scottish channel later this year. Instead of allowing Scotland an hour long news programme to replace a BBC news which tells us all about the NHS and education in England and devotes considerable time to the English football and cricket teams, and also to replace the discredited and parochial Reporting Scotland with its fixation on murrdurrs, wee cute kitten and yet more fitba, the BBC is fobbing us off with an underfunded ghetto channel which is being set up for failure.
What’s not paranoia is to point out that Scotland lacks a national public service broadcaster of its own. What’s not paranoia is the reality that throughout Europe it’s the norm for self-governing nations, territories, and regions to have their own broadcast media and that it’s the UK which is the odd one out so it should be for the UK to justify why Scotland doesn’t have the same rather than the onus being on Scotland to argue for it. What’s not paranoia is to acknowledge that during the independence referendum, Scotland’s views and opinions were drowned out by the ill informed noise of London based commentators metrosplaining Scotland to people outwith Scotland. It’s not paranoia to say that while the UK may not be the only country with a TV licence fee, it’s the only one to criminalise people for not paying it. It’s one thing to broadcast what many regard as pro-British propaganda, it’s quite another to fine and criminalise people for refusing to pay for it. None of these imbalances are changing just because the weather map will no longer be so imbalanced. The symbol may be gone but the injustices it represents are still the same.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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