When independence campaigners who are compelled to pay a licence fee on pain of criminalisation complain about how the BBC doesn’t reflect their views, and demand that the Corporation refrain from its anti-independence bias, they’re accused of trying to silence journalists and being enemies of democracy. It now transpires that it’s the BBC which has been silencing journalists, and if silencing journalists makes you an enemy of democracy then that would be the BBC.
The broadcaster and comedian Hardip Singh Kohli has reported that during the independence referendum campaign that he was told by a BBC Radio Scotland manager that his name appeared on an email list of Yes supporting individuals whom the Corporation would not invite onto its news and current affairs programmes. There is naturally no bar on appearing on BBC news and current affairs programmes if you oppose independence, because opposing independence isn’t bias at all. Oh no.
The news comes as the Corporation revealed its plans for its poxy wee Caledonian Ghetto Channel, to be launched later this year on a shoestring budget, broadcasting on a channel lost in the depths of the EPG for a few hours each evening. The new channel is the BBC’s answer to demands for a Scottish Six hour long news programme on BBC1. It’s pretty obvious that the Corporation intends to hive Scottish programming off into a minor channel that few will access, to underfund it, and then to claim that there is no demand for Scottish progamming. It’s another example of how Scotland is being sidelined and marginalised by the BBC. Get back into your box Jocks.
The BBC denies that it has any blacklist of pro-independence campaigners, and you might be surprised to hear that I actually believe their denials. In the small and cliquey world of Scottish broadcasting where everyone knows everyone else there is no need for an official blacklist. An unofficial one would work every bit as effectively. There are certain people who are “our pals”, and certain people that “we” don’t want to give airtime to because they’re not “our pals”. There may be no official blacklist, because an official blacklist would certainly call into question the BBC’s supposed impartiality, and would open up a legal and political can of worms for the Corporation. Why bother with all that hassle when an unofficial blacklist works every bit as effectively. A nudge and a wink and private conversation in the pub achieves the same thing, and it’s entirely deniable.
I don’t wish to name any names, because this was told to me in a private conversation, but it’s not just Hardip who has been cast out into the wilderness by the BBC. Another prominent independence campaigner, someone who once appeared regularly on BBC news and current affairs programmes to give their view on the Scottish politics of the day and who had a distinguished career in broadcasting, told me recently that since 2014 their broadcasting invitations have virtually dried up.
Unlike Hardip, who is now seeing aspects of his personal life being tossed around on social media by British nationalists like dogs with a rotting bone, this particular individual has never been involved in any scandals or controveries, public or private. It’s pretty obvious that the sole reason that their broadcasting career has died a death is because the BBC doesn’t wish to give airtime to articulate and informed independence campaigners who can lend an air of credibility to the cause of independence.
The lesson from the bosses of BBC Scotland is very clear. If you want to support independence, then your career in broadcast journalism is at an end. If that’s not silencing journalists and being an enemy of democracy I don’t know what is.
The Corporation does of course invite a couple of pro-independence people on to its news and current affairs programmes, but invariably those are people who lack a prominent standing within the grassroots independence movement, and are people who have displayed a willingness to criticise that movement as much as they’ll criticise the British establishment. So if you are an independence supporter who wants to get on the telly, the best way to do so is to start criticising other independence supporters. Because apparently the British establishment is really keen to foster diversity within the Yes movement. And if you believe that I have a licence fee to flog to you.
I’m pretty sure my name appears on that list that doesn’t exist too. I write two weekly columns for The National, I do most of the public speaking for the newspaper at its public Roadshow events, and while I don’t like to blow my own trumpet I’m told that I’m one of the columnists who does best for the paper on social media. I write this blog which is one of the top ten politics sites in Scotland, and unlike most of the sites which appear in that ranking, this is a single author site and not a multi-author one. The editor of The National has told me that he has given my contact details to the BBC on several occasions. Unlike many columnists for the paper I actually live within easy travelling distance of the BBC’s Pacific Quay studios, but I’ve never once heard from the Corporation. I don’t expect to either. The wee clique that controls the Scottish media has as low an opinion of me as I do of them. I’m not one of their pals and have no wish to be.
I’m quite sanguine about the fact that I’ll never be invited on BBC Scotland to talk about politics and current affairs. I was involved with Newsnet Scotland, and am one of those people once described by former BBC Scotland director Ken McQuarrie as “those bastards from Newsnet”. When you have spent as much time and energy as I have complaining about how the BBC marginalises and excludes Scottish independence supporters in an effort to resist the normalisation of independence, you can’t really be surprised that the BBC doesn’t want to give you airtime.
But that caveat doesn’t apply to many, and perhaps most, of the other names that appear on that BBC Scotland nudge nudge wink wink blacklist that has no need to really exist. We’re all bastards from Newsnet now.
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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