Dear Sir….

I’ve got a job at last! Blogging to end immediately…I’m hunting out my suit…Listen to this – BBC Scotland wants a public affairs adviser, someone with intimate knowledge of Scottish politics, who understands broadcasting and can advise senior management at PQ. It’s made for me…

They’re advertising for a good communicator – duh! – who can sort through a mass of information quickly and produce a coherent synopsis and tell the managers what to do to improve their image. Why did they bother to advertise? Must be able to talk with politicians (Johann will forgive me) and find out what’s happening in the corridors of power to tip off Kenny McQuarrie in advance. It’s made for me.

Of course I’ll miss this sharing my thoughts with all of you from the Maryhill Media Centre but it was only a stop-gap until I walked back into the Beeb as a rehabilitated big shot. And just before I go – can I say to you whining Nats out there that I have never detected the merest hint of bias in any of the BBC’s referendum coverage. Oh yes, I humoured you to keep you reading to get my numbers up but I knew they were doing their very best in there and anyway they know they’ll be on the winning side. So, farewell suckers. You know where you can stick your Yes stickers…

The job? Well it’s Adviser to BBC Scotland Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, answerable to one Ian Small, remember him? My good friend Ian is the man who wrote a perfectly reasonable letter of complaint to Dr Robertson* of some university nobody has ever heard of who dredged up the old chestnut of bias and had to be put in his place for impertinence. I think Ian and I could work very closely together in the interests of the BBC. I know he never reads this blog anyway. I know this because a colleague asked him if he’d seen my coverage of the bias affair and he shouted: ‘Don’t speak to me about that bloody blog’ and put his fingers in his ears.

The job is directly related to the referendum and independence, which is funny because that’s exactly what I said a few posts ago. I said they had misjudged it and needed strategy advice. I said it wasn’t business as usual as they claimed and pointed out they had no one in the team who was the voice or face of BBC Scotland who could represent them to the wider world. It must just be coincidence that they’ve reached the same conclusion now.

I was pleased but puzzled to read they want someone who can ‘build and establish trusted and effective working relationships with key parliamentary, government and corporate stakeholders’ as that’s what I said they weren’t doing. In fact I said it was a signal failing of the Director McQuarrie that he had no on-going personal relationship with his greatest ally in Scotland, the First Minister.

‘Must be able to deal with a wide range of people with tact and diplomacy’. (I’ll give Ian a wee lesson in letter-writing to innocent academics)

There’s a reference to dealing with complaints about referendum issues but to be honest I think the old method’s the best…Dear Sir/Madam, Fuck off, Yours sincerely.

I also suspect that since none of the high heid yins are remotely effective at answering questions that this appointee may find him/herself fronting up before MSPs to save senior execs the bother. To be fair, I was told that there was no initial plan on the media committee to investigate BBC Scotland until John Boothman gave evidence. He appeared so shifty, they thought he must be hiding something and there was unanimous cross-party support for a full inquiry.

Mind you, two hard facts emerge from reading this. First, it is Grade 10 in the BBC pay scale. Now that’s the top of the range for a programme-making journalist – as in an Editor – but it is below management, so anyone on the outside dealing with this person will know they have no real clout. It means they are officially not a decision-maker but mostly a messenger. The other people who know this are the BBC bosses themselves which means, if for example, bad news comes back from Holyrood about the quality of Radio Scotland, the Head of Radio, our chum jolly Jeff Zycinski will brush it aside and carry on regardless. Only an executive with authority cannot be ignored.

Secondly, my heart bleeds that £50,000 can be found for a corporate position, one that does management’s job for them, when the same people sacked 35 journalists, ridding the BBC of experience and quality at the very time in its history it was most needed.

If they wanted a human shield, why not save money by asking Brian Taylor, their best connected and most respected political staffer, to take on the role? This is a sign of crisis management. If such a person was envisaged why wait until six months before the vote? Why not two years ago when, as I say, all the planning should have been done. Dysfunctional? You bet. But how else would you want them to spend your money…making Scottish programmes?

(I’m trying to think where I left my suit…and where’s that application form?)

*Just been made up to full Professor at UWS. Now Professor John W Robertson, Convenor: CCI Research Ethics Committee, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of the West of Scotland. week done him. Must be for services to broadcasting…

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43 thoughts on “Dear Sir….

  1. Anthony Armstrong

    I’d sell myself out for £50k as well Derek.

  2. I think you could be a tad conflicted with your application. Didn’t you write the job description?

  3. Thought BTaylor had moved (maybe he has the job?) Sally M was saying that Dfrazer was answering politics question instead of the bold Taylor. Have you rumbled them? Not a word about Sally, though! My favourite at PQ, Hack, Author, Human Being etc.

  4. DearSir/Madam, thank you for your note of interest in the above post. We have have had many experienced candidates for this post but regrettably you do not fulfil the basic requirements of experience, knowlegde or arselicking required. Good luck with your future career
    Yours etc

  5. I wonder what they’d do if you applied and got 10,000 emails in support…..

  6. cynicalHighlander

    Typo of a missing ‘r’ in f’ace’ team who was the voice or face of BBC Scotland and don’t forget your right political membership card to boost your CV

  7. Very good, we must be touching

  8. The ‘ Maryhill Media Centre’ – love it.

    But come on Derek, do you really own a suit ?

  9. Good to see Professor John W Robertson receiving a leg up. A two fingered salute to the BBC?

  10. Interesting. Before retirement I built myself a job which had never previously existed at the major insurer where I had spent my entire career. As our opponents didn’t have such a role, it meant that I could roam free pinching some of their best business off them. One day a colleague dropped a job advert on my desk, it was from Axa Insurance and having read the job description, there was practically nobody else in the whole of the UK who could fulfil the exact criteria but me.

    “They’re trying to take you out.” he said.

    Derek, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that they’re trying to take you out. You should hold out for £100k at least.

  11. ‘Must be able to deal with a wide range of people with tact and diplomacy’.
    Are they meaning SLAB politicians? .
    My apologies, I read that wrong.

  12. “Fall guy or gal wanted for corrupt public state broadcaster’s remote outpost in the far North. Experience of dissembling in front of politicians and members of the public essential. No qualifications necessary, Independent thinking unacceptable (all statements, points of view and responses will be provided for any contact with staff, public or politicians). Must be a member of the Labour Party, preferably not the North British variety. Public school education desirable. Former members of HM Armed Forces acceptable as long as the rank was below Major. Anyone with a numerate degree of any kind need not apply. Salary negotiable, but in any event less than the lowest management grade.”

    There, That should do it for the Job Specification for the post Derek!

  13. Derek,you need to save your talents for something far more important after independence.
    I really hope that we will retain a state funded broadcaster but one which serves the people of Scotland and not “Britain”.
    As part of the division of assets,we should demand Buckingham Palace which would make a splendid residence for our ambassador to England.
    Might make a nice new residence for you.

  14. Outstanding Derek, you’re a shoe in for the job. 😉

  15. Brilliant Derek, if you don’t get it maybe Miss Lamont would suffice!

  16. Blimey good communications skills? Depends what they mean by ‘communication’…would love to be a fly on the wall at the interview, any ideas who they might have lined up for the job?
    O/T slightly, I was at a ‘debate’ re Indy and the arts (oops I typed rats at first!) at a local arts club with a couple of media stooges answering some questions fairly recently, and an older lady, about 80+ asked what “happened to Derek Bateman?!” Hence no one answered her. I wrote down info about your Blog and told her you were no longer with the Beeb, she doesn’t use the internet, but said she would ask someone to show her the blog. Hate the beeb more each day and don’t even listen to their radio these days, also stopped looking at their online news, it is so dreadfully anti Independence and just like the Metro newspaper, small minded pap, sad really.

  17. It’s a shame for all sorts of reasons that this organisation doesn’t have to raise the cost of such a post from crowdfunding. I’d love to see their pitch on Indiegogo!

  18. Round about 1964 I went to a job interview in Glasgow ,St Vincent Street to be exact and I was asked fairly early in the interview, “And ,er, what school did you go to by the way?” I answered MacLaren High School and watched in innocent puzzlement as the interviewers looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads.
    Aye Derek, Selkirk High would give Weegies the same problem!

  19. You have a good CV Derek but alas, your not one of them so best not to apply. You know that already of course as you haven’t “had a call”. I’m no longer one of their customers, I follow your writings. A radio station in Scotland post-indy would benefit from your expertise and humanity.

  20. Re Norman Russell’s comment, ‘Brilliant Derek, if you don’t get it maybe Miss Lamont would suffice!’ Well she’d need to have a debate before she could give anyone an answer. You must be the talk of the steamie among former colleagues.

  21. Derek………yer Fucked.

  22. innerbearsdenurchin

    Do you suppose that this job creation is directly connected to the Pig’s Ear of a wee collection of tactical errors Ian Small made over Dr Robertson’s survey?

    Can’t fire or demote him, oh no sir!

    Give him an Assistant to whisper sweet wee things in his ear. I wonder if Blair McDougall will get in there as he sure as hell is about to get his jotters from the Bitter Together financiers.

  23. If I thought for one minute you’d leave us in the lurch 7months from such a momentous day…….!

  24. BBC Scotland is currently sending out emails saying that they are unable to respond to complaints in the normal timeframe. Reading between the lines and I’m guessing that the volume of complaints and accusations of bias has never been this high. You reap what you sew.

  25. therrawbuzzin

    May I remind you that the BBC stands to lose the tv licences of 2.4m Scottish homes (£350m pa) in the event of Independence, so should be forgiven for the partial, stilted, pro-union, black propagandist, vaseline-arsed sycophancy which is enough to make one’s scrotum crawl?

    May I also point out, on the matter of BA, that this airline runs very few holiday flights, and has a huge number of business users, and as such, APD is a tax on Scottish business.

  26. There is a great future for Mr Bateman post Indy. The great efforts will not be forgotten. Head of the SBC or Editor of the possible? renamed ‘Scotsman’, ‘The Scottish Independent’. Thanks. Take a note Alex and Co or future gov.

  27. Reports now Professor Robertson. Thanks.

  28. @Blizzard
    “Anyone with a numerate degree of any kind need not apply.”

    Hmmm, do you think they will know that physiology is a numerates science or should I just say it’s in a biological science and make them think I did it because I can’t do maths for toffee or something? the PhD might take some explaining away mind . . .

    • @Muscleguy – “Sorry, way over-qualified for the post, we were actually looking for someone with A level in b-s. Don’t know what the Scottish equivalent is!” 😉

  29. You seem to be enjoying your new-found freedom. I imagine that working for the BBC must be desperately restrictive, requiring an inordinate degree of restraint from anyone with a strong sense of justice – which doesn’t always appear to concern BTaylor – so perhaps they have considered him for the job. Anyway, you know the SBC job is yours……. and perhaps a history of the battle for Scottish independence in the mean time.

  30. In an independent Scotland, you would have to be in the running for DG of the new SBC.
    Now wouldn’t that be fun?

  31. How will you fit your new job alongside the one featured on the BBC website today? I always wondered why we never saw Ken MacDonald and Derek Bateman in the same room!

  32. Mr Bateman, don’t go back near them. You did the best thing you ever did for yourself getting out from under the Blair and Bush Corporation, Strictly Come Dancing and other rubbish that now permeates that once great organisation. See you in the SBC, soon I hope.

  33. I think that on the evidence of the article, you are ideally suited to this post. I would guess the person description calls for complex obfuscatory skills – these are much in evidence in the reply to a complaint I made about bias shown by James Naughtie in GMS a few weeks ago, when he interviewed Alex Salmond and Danny Alexander pre and post 8.30 headlines. The first interview employed Mr Naughtie’s “combative style” (the BBC’s words, not mine). The second interview, with Mr Alexander, could probably fairly be described as fawning (my word). My initial complaint was rejected (with exactly the same response as posted by one of your other readers). I then submitted a second complaint, regarding the response to my first complaint, saying that I did not believe that my complaint had been addressed at all, and asking for details on which grade of employee had assessed my complaint, whether or not they had listened to the interviews in their entirety, and asking how they had determined lack of bias e.g. counting number of interruptions or secondary questions. The response to that complaint, received this morning, states that “I think we have explained the position as clearly as we could and we do not have more to add “. My further written complaint will be winging its way to the BBC Complaints Unit in London, with a copy to the Editorial Standards Unit at the BBC Trust. However, I think we have a major scandal and democratic deficit here which is beyond satire or comedy. How the hell do we nudge our national broadcaster towards impartiality, and how (apart from the seemingly honourable exception of Brian Taylor and Alan Little) do current BBC journalists manage to look at themselves in the mirror of a morning? If this was going on in another country,articulately one whose politics meet with disfavour in Westminster, it would be headline news. A year ago, I looked on the BBC as the best broadcasting organisation on the planet, with a news output on radio and television which I trusted. I now believe it to be institutionally corrupt. How many others have gone through this conversion? I’m afraid I now simply don’t place any faith in BBC news, even for world stories.

  34. Please read “articulately” as “particularly” six lines up from the bottom of my previous post- spell checker on stupid iPad!

  35. dennis mclaughlin

    My eyes were opened wide when i watched BBC’s coverage of last Septembers Calton Hill YES rally….
    Their attendance estimates of 8,000 crowd numbers made me laugh with incredulity….i was THERE!.
    J.Goebbels couldn’t have handled it better 🙁

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