Can I point you in the direction of an email exchange – it’s currently in the list down on the right and mentions Okaye Dokaye. I’m, in a way, rightly being taken to task for my BBC criticisms by a former – very sparky – colleague. It shows how much all this means to people and how I’m breaking a taboo by trying to explain, from my inside perspective, how things are done in the BBC. It is a painful process but I am convinced that it is now necessary as trust in the BBC declines and fewer Scots think it’s speaking for them. I want real openness and real public debate on the role and operation of public service broadcasting in Scotland. I think you’re entitled to it. I also respect my former colleagues but I don’t think that means they – or me – are beyond scrutiny. Here is the exchange.


FFS Derek, as one of those people who could apparently not accurately be described as a journalist, you’ll not mind if, actually, I do take offence.

Since when does having “journalist” attached to your name mean you’re actually any good at your job? Some of the dullards who have populated BBC News over the years wouldn’t recognise a good story or a cracking contributor if either bit them on the bahookie.

So, whatever your feelings about Call Kaye, its staff, its production/editorial values, and the department it currently lives in, the people (of whom I was one) putting the programme together have knocked their pans in, often in pretty desperate conditions, to bring a new audience and a different kind of programme to the airwaves.

If BBC Scotland failed in its line management, production training and editorial benchmarking of Call Kaye, feel free to have a pop. But please do NOT have a go at your former colleagues. These are people working under exactly the same strains and pressures as colleagues in news. But somehow they manage to do it without the burden of the all-too-familiar NSC (Newsroom Superiority Complex). Mairi


Hi Mairi. 
FFS. Read the blog again. I’m defending the BBC against claims of political bias. Ninety per cent of the people reading this blog believe the BBC is deliberately biased against independence and is a nest of Labourites. I’m spending more time defending the BBC than the BBC is.
We both know there is no organised bias but how do you explain that to a deeply sceptical public? The BBC doesn’t even bother trying, it’s so aloof and untroubled. It seems to me that is the big question we confront. I’m searching for ways of explaining how this impression has taken hold and is it really impossible that there could be something in what I say?

When *less than half of Scots think the news output represents their lives, it is a scandal requiring answers. It is a kind of national emergency for the BBC. Not that you’d know it from their reaction. I’m trying to use my knowledge to explain how the BBC operates, why decisions are made to give a clearer picture, something the BBC should do for itself.

Why don’t you do the same? I invite you to write as much as you want about your experience of working on Kaye in a way that the public would understand and explain to them the difficulties, pressures and pitfalls and why they are wrong to hear political bias, if that’s your view. What do you say? The blog is yours.

*Why doesn’t the BBC make a fly-on-the-wall doc showing the process of making the news, highlighting the dilemmas we all encounter in producing it and show what’s involved, warts and all to let the public decide if BBC news does represent them and, if not, to understand why that might be?
The public has a right to know how the public service they pay for works. When our contracts debar us from speaking up while in BBC employment, I think it’s a responsibility to do so when out of the BBC. I’m not judge and jury, just a gadgie with a keyboard but I do have opinions about what is wrong in PQ and so do you. I’ve decided to speak up and put myself out there and it’s an uncomfortable place. Yesterday I had a whisper that legal action may be considered. Ask yourself why that should be in a public-funded organisation when someone with knowledge wants to pass it on to the public.

And it isn’t just the management who carry the can. Everybody does. Me too. I am not pursuing former colleagues but neither do I suffer from blind loyalty. There is a major public concern here and everybody connected to the BBC is at the heart of it. No one is above criticism. Sorry you’re offended but how often did you threaten to blow up at work because of the way things are run? I’m trying to say that it’s not good enough and none of us can afford to be shrinking violets. (I’m already receiving heavy negative traffic for breaking the omerta). And aren’t your own remarks about journalists just another criticism of former colleagues?

Journalists are probably guilty of superiority but then news is the main driver of audience and outputs what…eight hours a day plus bulletins in radio alone…and has disproportionately been hit with jobs cuts. As you know, when BBC pensions have to be protected, who takes action, who stands on the picket line and takes a pay cut while others walk into work?
I stand by my view that a news-based programme should be based in news. I commended the professionalism of the *Kaye team. I’m not saying they don’t work hard, either, that is taken for granted. And has no one really detected anything that could, in the intensely political Scotland of today, could be taken as bias? Seems unlikely in the middle of a live phone-in. The need for an upgraded awareness of that risk across all output is glaring and is, I think, a notable omission by management.

*Why not also a filmed interview on the website with Kaye? Allow her to explain her approach, her attitude, to reaction to criticism? She can defend herself and be really personable so why not let the public see another side of her and her team, show how they operate, how callers are selected, what the rules are etc. That would be a digital response more suited to the age than the BBC straight bat of….Nothing to see here…move on.
 Sorry again that it’s personally hurtful, Mairi but I think there is an issue here bigger than the individual. Thanks for reading the blog and good luck with the new company. Derek


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  1. Hi Derek – don’t think the link to the email exchange is coming up. If it’s the ’98’ link then nothing is showing (yet). Anyway, loving your work (just as much as I did before) :-0

  2. Legal action? Crikey, so much for freedom of the press…!

  3. Check under the car every day, Derek.
    We don’t want another ‘McRae’.

  4. I’m at the affshore at the moment so no chance of watching any Facetube stuff but, correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t there a BBC in-house video of Brian Taylor laying down the law about how to deal with the SNP / nationalists / independence, all done in a very pro Union style?

    I’m sure that it was posted on the Internet some time last year and I was pretty shocked at how it came across.

  5. You’re going to have to post everyday now, Derek, so we know you haven’t been ‘disappeared’.

  6. Your ex colleague must be aware of the attacks on the Call Kay program as well as on BBC Scottish news, it’s interesting that she only seems to get upset by you expressing your views, but not by members of the public, who pay her wages, expressing theirs.

    It would seem those views don’t matter to her, they can be ignored, that is not only a sad lack of judgement, it’s likely to be one which in the end will rebound on her and any like minded colleagues

  7. I don’t know if Call Kaye and team are biased but I do know that on numerous occasions Kaye says things that sound biased. On one programme a businessman living in Scotland born outside the UK in favour of independence remarked that the other caller on line was ignorant of the facts on independence and Kaye said -there you are you are ignoramus what do you think. This gave the impression the independence supporting caller was being offensive when he was not.

  8. It’s impossible not to see an anti-Independence bias in examples like; Brian Taylor’s big debate from the Borders. The panel was Tory, Labour, one other anti-Independence commentator and an SNP spokesman. When a member of the audience pointed put the unbalance, Brian Taylor, the Tory and the Labour panel members, said almost in unison, “It’s not about Independence”, although the whole programme was. This was repeated in the QT for 16 and 17year olds, the programme was almost all about Indy but when asked again about the panel, Dimbleby dismissively said, it wasn’t about Independence.
    Gordon Brewer(Newsnight) said the Census result showing 66% of Scots identified themselves as Scots was surprising, and had a pollster spend sometime showing this didn’t fit another poll result. Kirsty Wark called the vote of Undecideds, who came out nearly 70% for Yes after a debate, again in the Borders, “surprising”. She meant it.

  9. Unfortunately Derek, the BBC is treated in a way the NHS appears to be treated..Every night a different criticism of the NHS/Social Services in England (you’d think there was an agenda ) which inevitably will lead to someone in Scotland (my money is on the Tories ) putting as they say a tartan bunnet on it and hey presto the whole NHS system is failing.
    For every sleight that Paxman or whoever makes, appears even worse when’ our ain ‘ don’t seem to even challenge the stuff. Inside the studio it may seem the right thing to do or say ,outside the studio there are people sitting at traffic lights up and down the country going -whit ???
    Like the NHS it’s not even particularly one individual (although someone should tell G Brewer constantly interrupting is not only bad mannered its not clever)but collectively everyone gets lumped together.Ah the Union divi..
    The decision to close Blether with Brian was seen as highhanded and is biased . The reason given really not a good enough -did the management really think Pro Independence folk would just disappear or was it to stop a different view being accessible to the RUK?
    With that in mind, I’m not sure the BBC would take legal action against anyone as it may leave some folk answerable as to why your blog has been so well received plus, we’re getting pretty good at crowd funding on the Yes side -free the DB1 (2)

    • ‘the BBC is treated in a way the NHS appears to be treated..’

      Really, the NHS, as you point out later in your post receives daily criticism from the BBC. The NHS, being a public body, is open to severe scrutiny at all levels and any misgivings or malpractice will be reported by the media on a daily basis.

      The BBC is also a public body, it never receives criticism in the way the NHS does. The BBC’s daily failings are not reported in the media and they even have an opt out clause from FOI requests.

      The BBC are a law unto themselves, they receive NO public scrutiny whatsoever when compared to other public bodies, they hide behind the false guise of a ‘Trust’ which is full of ex-public body types and leaders of business, the same is also true of the Audience councils.

      • Tartanfever ,sorry read my post back and see what you mean.Basically what I meant was sometimes as a listener to BBC Scotland, when the NHS in England is being criticised down south ,there is also an assumption that the NHS in Scotland must have the same problems -they don’t. There appears to be a rush to put a tartan angle on it ,Both NHS systems have problems but you can’t automatically lump them together -but they do.
        So we can accuse the BBC of bias but can’t lump all the employees as biased ,Dereks former colleague I think is saying that but unfortunately for them just as a lot of the public don’t differentiate between the NHS and NHS Scotland,they just hear NHS failing,we don’t see the ‘backroom staff’,just the corporate image presented to us and by things like removing Blether etc and the rather hollow promise of balance (here come Naughtie ), some of us lump it all together.

  10. Derek, you can rely on my contribution to your legal fees. Goldenballs II!

  11. The BBC does not have the balls to take legal action against you. However they may feel that leaking the threat of such may be enough to derail you. I think you are made of stronger stuff than any of them. How can shutting down blog comments, unique in the U.K. be seen other than political bias? It is positively North Korean. I am confident that we will vote Yes in the referendum next year, and that the BBC and their discrimination will have made that certain. They are now beginning to see that, but it is to late the die has been cast. It is their arrogance I find so suffocating. I have not paid a license fee for a long time now, and I never will. A great institution has been destroyed in Scotland. The BBC used to mean something here. They once made programmes about our country our culture and our people. Now they cannot even afford to show us our own football, although that may be a blessing. Keep calm and carry on, you are doing Scotland a great service. Your day will come. I take it a book is underway?

    • I have to agree on the absolutely unbelievable decision to shut down comments on all Scottish BBC blogs. It was blatantly intended to shut down political debate. There was no other possible explanation and BBC didn’t even bother to try to give another explanation.

    • I would stop paying the licence fee but my other half is concerned about a visit from a representative of ‘Her Majesty’.

  12. Recently, Kaye was overheard remarking angrily to her producers that the Independence caller should NOT have been given the last word. She was “off air” but as the phone line was still open…..! I have no reason to doubt the person involved.

  13. When the Libs went into this deal with the Tories call Kaye had a programme abut them getting together. I contacted them with an e mail saying there was little point in the Lib Dems and they would be better just throwing their lot in completely with either the SNP, Labour or the Tories. When it was read out the SNP were not mentioned.
    A small point I know but I complained that they had changed my message and their excuse was they couldn’t read out the whole message,funnily enough the only letters missing were SNP.
    I do very much respect Derek’s position and his views are very refreshing ,however from this side of the radio the BBC just seems to be swirling down that toilet pan after the Scotsman..

  14. Mairi says about the ‘Call Kaye’ team.

    ‘to bring a new audience and a different kind of programme to the airwaves.’

    Really ? A new audience and programme no less. ‘Call Kaye’ is a tabloid pot-boiling load of rubbish. It reinforces and encourages every negative stereotype that I can think of.

    Gang mentality, limited facts, limited questioning, limited journalism, arguments, defamation, slander, abuse, negative agenda. It has no positive aspects about it at all, it has no redeeming features and does not teach me anything.

    Thank God she’s leaving.

    Mairi sums up perfectly for me the problem with BBC media staff. They think and act like they run a commercial business – that it’s all about ‘bums on seats’ or whatever the radio equivalent is. You see this time and time again. Boothman goes in front of Holyrood and he spiels about ‘we’ve broadcast 20,000 hours of news over the last year on six radio stations throughout Scotland and on BBC One Scotland’ etc etc ‘ we’ve met our targets’ and so on he blabs.

    Well yes, very well done Mr Boothman (and Mairi) – but let me ask you this, Was any of it any good ?

    “Cause thats the thing we’re all out here thinking. When are they going to mention ‘quality control’ ?

    Of course, it’s a subjective notion – some people prefer different things to others and that makes it difficult, but there are a couple of simple steps to take that could help win a little respect. Stop headline manipulation on the BBC website is one, the other is extend all news items by an extra minute. So Reporting Scotland has five ‘news’ stories that take up 10 mins – ok, why not make those five news stories take up 15 minutes. That forces producers to get more opinion from different sources, and to even have a reporter ask a question on camera, which we the audience actually hear ? It happens all the time on the Regional London News, but not up here, we’re quite happy to settle for the reading of the ‘press release’ and accepting it verbatim.

    It’s that simple, it is that easy.

    The most important factor for the staff at the BBC is you stop taking this personally. The BBC is not a business, it is not a commercial enterprise – It is a SERVICE.

    You, the BBC employee, are a ‘custodian’. You will serve your time there, you will work and hopefully when you leave , you will have contributed to making the BBC a better, more respected place. That’s it.

    Finally Mairi, whilst you were having a bad time putting up with a difficult job, think about your day with that of an NHS nurse. You may both work long shifts, but at the end of the day you can go home and put your feet up to watch the news or unwind. More often than not the nurse will go home, put on the TV and hear about how dreadful our NHS are, how they are failing, how infection rates have gone through the roof in another lie made up by Jackie Baillie and all reported quite happily, without question, by the BBC.

  15. “Ninety per cent of the people reading this blog believe the BBC is deliberately biased against independence and is a nest of Labourites.”

    Derek, it doesn’t actually matter if the BBC is deliberately biased against independence and for the Labour party or not because that’s the message that viewers get from its output.

    Whatever the cause, the BBC does not challenge the Labour party and when a story which may damage the SNP appears they run with it for days trying to give it legs. There is also the simple fact that when the Better Together narrative was of a stalled and failing Yes campaign the BBC couldn’t even rustle up a camera crew for the 20,000+ march in Edinburgh which also fell off the news as quickly as a Labour bad news story.

    Whether it is deliberate and organised bias, institutional bias, individual bias or simply a hangover from days when Scotland was virtually a one-party Labour state and you had to be nice to Labour to get on the end result is biased output.

    I’ll use a parcel carrier as an analogy. If your parcels arrive bashed and broken it doesn’t really matter if the driver deliberately threw them around the van, if the driver is simply unintentionally clumsy or if there is a culture of in the company of being cavalier when loading the van because the end result is a broken parcel. Like the parcel carrier, there’s no point in complaining about the BBC but every point in ensuring that you’ve got a different carrier for your news in an independent Scotland.

    • Thanks for putting my comment in Derek and just as a follow up it’s interesting how the BBC’s business correspondent Douglas Fraser in his reporting of the nationalisation of Prestwick Airport managed to slip in the old nationalist + socialist = national socialist = nazi jibe against Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

      “The first part of the challenge has been achieved. It’s got political cover. Nicola Sturgeon, with responsibility for infrastructure, went out of her way to avoid being branded a nationalising socialist.”

      One of the joys of independence will be ridding ourselves of the BBC.

  16. Ouch!!

  17. Put British in front of any organisation name and you are talking London Centric,Elitist and Secretive.
    All of these attributes are anathema to most Scots.
    Can’t agree more with you Derek that the BBC (especially here in Scotland) need to
    be completely transparent in their dealings with their “stake holders” otherwise they will continue to be viewed in the same way as Pravda and other authoritarian state outlets.

  18. Can I just point out my favourite comment on GMS from Derek Bateman. In 2002 (I think) when referring to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq election victory with 99.6% of the vote, he said “so well done Saddam!” That cemented my already firm view of who was the best broadcaster on the BBC. Fantastic.

  19. I remember an edition of Call Kaye some time ago, covering “organic” farming. She had as her only “expert” at her side someone who was an expert at organic rose growing. She started the programme obviously believing she was just going to get cuddly calls from the knit-your-own-sandals brigade about how healthy it all was and so on.

    She was almost immediately assaulted by a highly articulate and coherent call from a farmer’s wife, explaining that “organic” livestock farming only differed from what she and her husband did in that it denied the cattle routine preventative medicines and even treatment if they were ill. That her cattle were just as free and just as happy and rather healthier being as they were wormed when necessary, and that she was sick to the back teeth of the “organic” groupies libelling her husband by implying that conventional farming was cruel and unhealthy.

    Kaye was utterly taken aback. She turned to her expert, who started to witter cheerfully about how to grow organic roses. The farmer’s wife (or maybe there were several queueing up to take a pop) continued in the same vein. Kaye stammered that all this was news to her and perhaps she’d have to look into it a bit more. You could practically hear her begging her producer for a yummie mummie to say how she always bought organic for her darling Torquil.

    The basics of this controversy are discussed all over the internet. It’s hardly rocket science to look it up and figure out what sort of counter-arguments might appear in such a debate. Apparently the whole thing completely blindsided Kate. I walked away shaking my head, appalled that such a low standard of journalism had managed to get on to the BBC.

  20. Just to reiterate a point made in a previous submission, the Tory blogger Ian Dale had Ms Adams on record as stating she was a supporter of New Labour. The instances of bias in her show are so frequent and often blatant as to be almost comical. I think she’s an intelligent woman and really wonder how she feels about being associated with such a dreadful load of drivel. Is money really that important to her or is her motivation slightly different? I remember one show when the housing shortage was in the spotlight. An “expert” was called on from down in England, who, when asked various questions about the Scottish situation, stated quite clearly that she didn’t feel able to comment because of her lack of knowledge of the Scottish scene. It was actually embarrassing to listen to. That is a very common feature of her show and BBC Scotland morning radio news; an increasing amount of stories from south of the Border and reference to experts or spokespeople on subjects of little relevance to Scotland. I am very glad she’s away. I am utterly convinced the creation of the show and her heading of it was political. A “state” show named after a freelancer? Who decided to create a show with Kaye Adams heading it? I asked a dozen related questions of the BBC through a FOI request. I waited the maximum length of time for a reply, only to be told that “journalistic” decisions were exempt from FOI legislation. They really don’t do themselves any favours.

    • Wasn’t she a conservative when she was at the Uni? I’m just asking, because I’m sure I heard that said once or twice. Some sort of officebearer in the Conservative Society?

  21. To seasickdave, sced300 and hen broon – thanks to your conversations I have found the utube bbc videos. A great insight into how they view the vote. I could almost smell the fear. Thanks guys and hen!

  22. Well just listened to Call Kaye this morning (or as much as I could stomach) while the matter of the Scottish Government taking over Prestwick airport was being discussed. Nothing but negativity from Kaye. ” You’ll have to pay for it taxpayers–How does that make you feel?” Much concentration on falling passenger numbers yet no comment about Prestwick’s potential for aircraft repair and recycling as well as having the only runway which can accommodate a fully laden 747 although this had been put forward not 20 minutes earlier on the news programme. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  23. Perhaps we could have a new morning show with a new audience? Something along the lines of “Britain Calling”. We could have callers from all over the UK phoning in to agree with the presenters unionist viewpoint and reminding all of us in Scotland how much better off we are being ruled by a bunch of self-serving, arrogant politicians based in London. The show could be presented by someone “impartial” like George Galloway or Jack McConnell.

    Oh, and by the way, Fred MacAuley, it is long, long, long past your bedtime. And please take all your cuddly little british bulldog toys with you when you go.

  24. Just remember, people, its not called the BBC for nothing.

    Not quite sure why Derek is trying to convince us otherwise.

    Interesting to see under the mossy boards, though!

  25. Once emailed a Scotsman journalist to ask: why do you always give the SNP such a hard time?

    The reply was: it is our duty to hold the government to account, which I suspect the BBC would say too. Did they “hold Labour to account” in the same way, or were they seen as safe hands?

    It’s the degree of emotional engagement even anger aimed at the SNP among Scottish journalists that strikes one. Kaye’s ire as described is typical. You’d expect it of politicians, sadly, but of journalists? The reverse of the coin of the English attitude so excellently described by a commentator above:

    “Taken together, they present, to my mind at any rate, a paternalistic brotherhood offering to bring us to our senses and rid ourselves of overblown notions of an importance our status and history simply doesn’t warrant”

  26. Kaye is perfect for her task. She has a degree in politics and loves all the gosip of the day. She does have the common touch. The morning chat show she now hosts has gone throught several transformations from it’s original. Where there would be an hour spent on one topic. Kaye’s version brings in several topics usually with one offering the oportunity to have a go at the Scottish Government. The multi topic format is aimed at low attention span listeners, who might be easily influenced. Encouraging listeners to complain is another of her favourite ploys. Then daily she has one or more topics aimed at drawing in a female audience. Would this be to steady the hoped for NO vote.
    Regarding Kaye’s departure. Well that will only be a good thing if her replacement is even handed with both sides in the referendum. As I suspect the replacement will be Louise White I’m afraid were in for more of the same.

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