I Don’t Believe It!

‘You are not winning this particular argument.’ ‘You still don’t get it.’ You’re right! Time to come clean and stop lying to you about BBC bias. Of course it’s deliberate and orchestrated, everybody knows that. I’ve just been protecting my mates and a British institution that pays my pension. So here’s how it works.


The Home Secretary meets with the Director General and reminds him of his duty to the British nation at a critical time. The DG meets with the executive board and tells them what they have to do. Departmental heads across the corporation are quietly informed that the editorial line to be taken is to favour the Union and make sure Yes items are cleverly edited or read with a curling lip or missed out altogether.

In Scotland John Boothman tells programme producers to pass all output past him before broadcast so he can approve it based on secret guidelines provided by London. Journalists put aside a lifetime’s training and professional instinct and distort the news to suit one side.

I myself sat in programme meetings and was told by the producer: ‘Bateman, we know you’re a Nat but I’m telling you to make sure tonight’s item favours the No side. OK?’

In order to protect my job, I quietly agreed…the humiliation! Throughout this time upwards of 20,000 staff kept quiet in the national interest. No one spoke of the bias at home or in the pub and thousands of journalists whose stock-in-trade is gossip and information kept totally silent and didn’t tell their newspaper friends, even ones who’d love an anti-BBC story. The National Union of Journalists was never given any hint of a national conspiracy to defeat Scottish independence, even though it’s shop floor officials are the same journalists making up pro-Union stories. And people like, say Derek Bateman, disgusted and appalled at the behaviour, didn’t once whisper the truth to an SNP official or MSP.

Even now, with all links to the BBC severed and while offering withering criticism of BBC bosses and campaigning for a Yes vote, Bateman still pretends, until today, that this national conspiracy is nothing more than lazy journalism, budget cuts and a British cultural mindset. There it is, at last, the truth.

And if that’s the truth, I’ll be replacing Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.


You can make up any version of the above for yourself and make it fit the theory. Perhaps it’s not at DG level, just something within the news department in which all 8000 journalists are complicit. It includes freelance staff who move from one employer to another – none of them, as in not one – has leaked the news that would ruin what’s left of the BBC’s reputation, not just here at home but globally. And not one disgruntled staff member – and hundreds have left in the last couple of years – has taken their revenge by telling the truth. In fact, if I had the information proving a corporate plan to defeat the democratic process, I could go to the Murdoch Press or the Mail and negotiate a bumper payday for a story that would shake the corporation- again – to its roots, lose it – again – a DG, and cause uproar in Parliament.

Whatever is going on in the BBC, a conspiracy to defeat the Yes side in the referendum isn’t it.

If we ask different questions, we begin to see the shape of what may be going wrong but there is now no doubt in may mind that we have passed a point where simply saying as I do that there is no deliberate bias is good enough. Orchestrated or not, the effect of some of the examples we have totally undermines the credibility of the BBC news operation, and the list lengthens by the week. If you ask how that can be and yet not be deliberate, the answers are unconvincing and barely credible against the weight of evidence. But I never underestimate the depths to which the BBC has fallen as it tries to implement market principles and make cuts.

I also made clear at the outset last year that I believed there was institutional bias in the BBC in the sense that this is a British organization built on a British model – so that London retains all the real power and everybody works with that mind. It is undeniable that this influences news coverage of an event that could split asunder that same Britain.

But, as I pointed out with John Boothman, not once in all the years did he tell me what line to take on an item. In fact, if it’s anti SNP conspiracies we’re after, here are two examples, one known, the other not.


The CBI fiasco is presented as a sign of bias. The trouble is that the journalists didn’t know anything about it. Far from being a conspiracy, it’s exactly the opposite. They can’t conspire in ignorance. Just what the BBC is doing in membership is a pertinent question but it can’t impact on programme output since the programme-makers didn’t know about it. In fact, they’re demanding the BBC’s immediate resignation.

The second case concerns the disgraced MSP Bill Walker. My understanding is that this story first came to Newsnight Scotland. One of Walker’s former wives contacted the programme offering in effect to spill the beans on him and his abuse. This was a powerful story with serious ramifications and the woman would speak on camera. The news was taken to the Head of News, John Boothman for a decision. What an opportunity to blow an SNP figure out of the water and embarrass the party. His decision, it seems, was that it was a personal matter and not the kind of journalism that belonged in the BBC. As a result, it ended up at the Herald who broke it and the BBC followed the story thereafter but the chance to stick it to the SNP was declined. That would be a strange way to run an anti SNP scam.

I am not in a position to answer for every edit or omission on air or online and the truth is that some of these are unbelievably damaging. But it just doesn’t fit the reality of a busy newsroom that someone instructs changes for political reasons.It’s true an individual could do that sneakily if so motivated but some blanket instruction or whispered suggestion isn’t how it works. Journalists would be out front on a picket line if that happened.

Some of you seem to imagine I’m holding a line here for the corporation and imply I’m deliberately misleading you. That’s rich in the circumstances.

If I have to point it out, I will remind readers that I have been assiduously pinpointing failings at PQ since last September.

I not only understand the fury at some BBC coverage, I share it with bells on, because, unlike many of you, I do believe in the principles of the BBC and have seen from both inside and out, how great it can be and feel aggrieved and embarrassed at some of what I see and hear.

I see on twitter calls for an inquiry. I said the same thing months ago.

I have identified the BBC as a legacy issue to be tackled and, if it were possible would like that to be addressed now, before the vote. I said the should invite Professor John Robertson in to monitor.

I have suggested that the Yes movement begin a campaign of non-payment.

I have called for the management to be replaced.

I want broadcasting to be devolved if there’s a No.

Ask yourself who it was who revealed the behaviour of the Head of News at BBC Scotland and the relationship with Johann Lamont’s office?

Who described a personal example of how an MP could get journalism removed from our screens with a phone call while a member of the public had to wait a year and was lied to in the process?

Whose blog site did most to expose the BBC reaction to Professor Robertson’s accusations of bias, exposure which led to a Holyrood inquiry and BBC bosses being challenged in public?

Who has named presenters for not doing their job properly and impartially, and suffered abuse in the mainstream for doing so?

Who is possibly the only journalist left in Scotland with a broadcasting/political background not to be used as a commentator by the BBC?

I have many friends at PQ but I have also lost some by telling the truth and don’t tell me attacking BBC management doesn’t blight a future career.

Can you name another ex BBC person who has spoken out among all those who have left? Before me the nearest critic would be Iain Mcwhirter from years ago.

We all have an opinion and mine isn’t worth a penny more than yours. But to me, mine is priceless. It matters to me what I say and what impression I convey because this is a national cause, one I surrendered a living to pursue. I said at the start of my blog that I would be outspoken and tell the truth as I saw it and I have, sometimes at a cost to me.


But that also means I don’t bow when pushed. I don’t ‘change my mind’, I don’t suddenly ‘get it’ because there are howls of protest at my views. I stick to what I believe to be the case and to suggest otherwise is pretty insulting, as if I should own up or see the light just because someone else has a different view. I will not align my opinions because someone demands it, when I know that would be untrue. How could you ever trust someone who did that?

I would have thought the way to look at it is that some of you disagree and that’s your right but that you tolerate my view as I tolerate yours. I don’t see the need to ridicule me as naïve or stupid because I refuse to confirm your opinion.

One day, someone else may walk out of the BBC and declare that they were part of a conspiracy to defeat the Yes vote and explain how it worked, but until then I’ll stick to what I know from personal experience and back myself against all comers.

If you want someone who trims and bends, there are plenty of blogs to choose from. I just don’t believe that turning on your own side is helpful to the cause. Surely the point of agreement is that the BBC ‘s coverage is unacceptable and a block on democracy. And the best chance of dealing with it is to vote Yes.

‘One might expect that someone senior would be stepping in to say “This really isn’t good enough. We need to shape up here.” We see absolutely no sign of that. I think what is making people really angry is that BBC management appears to feel no sense of accountability to Scottish licence payers at this crucial time. There is not the slightest hint that they acknowledge that the concerns being so widely expressed have any legitimacy.’ This from Graeme is exactly right and is why so many are angry and disappointed. This is a brain dead management found wanting at crucial time and will be the judgement of history.

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128 thoughts on “I Don’t Believe It!

  1. I suppose that the Brian Taylor training videos count for nowt?

    • “The corporation said it had been a member [of the CBI] “since at least 1980″ and its membership was linked to investment in development and training in the creative industries.”

      Maybe Brian’s efforts were the productive result of this CBI link?

      James Cook releasing and running the CBI story is commendable and it would seem to prove Derek’s point. I am still half expecting James to be assigned to cover a penguin count in Antarctica.

      Maybe there is a comfortable groupthink at the BBC that enables the ongoing poor quality and low information content of the independence referendum? The problem is the BBC don’t seem to wish to up their game and this is reinforcing the calls of bias.

      The BBC just seems untouchable to me and any interaction with it is both thankless and pointless.

  2. Margaret Brogan

    This is an entirely honourable and honest position, we would expect nothing less of you.

    • Whenever someone with a suit, or suitess, was interviewed on the telly in North Britain it was inevitable they would have English accents. You just know afore they opened their mooths. For some reason they are also in charge of all the nature joabs in Scotland. Maybe it to recognise the English burd’s egg thieves. Even Balmoral is to charge them for watching black grouse humping each other.

      Now it is almost everyone they stop in the street to answer a question also seem to have English accents.

      When they interview fitba fans, they aw seem tae talk in clichés and shrug their shooders.

      When they interview Labour Cooncillors we definitely need subtitles for Labour speak,. “Aye that wull be right!.

  3. I think I need to copy a late comment I left on the previous post, to save retyping it all.

    I don’t necessarily postulate an overt conspiracy, as in actual meetings where the participants discuss what they’re going to do today to spin things for No. (Sort of what John Robertson said.) I imagine it’s more subtle than that, and so more deniable.

    I think there is a large cabal in BBC Scotland with ties of one sort or another to the Labour party. They work together, they socialise together, they holiday in each others’ villas in Tuscany and so on. And they recognise when someone is or isn’t part of this clique.

    People who aren’t, and that would include Derek and also Ruthie, won’t be aware of what’s happening and how it’s done, not because they don’t get the memos (there aren’t any), but because they aren’t in the culture. They’re recognised as “not one of us” in that intangible way, so the conversations where it’s implied that all right-thinking people support Labour and the union don’t happen in their presence.

    In the end it’s probably not wholly conscious. Just about everyone has the same outlook and the same prejudices, so it seems normal. Everyone regards Salmond as a jumped-up illegitimate oik who has no right to be in the FM’s role never mind prancing around pretending to be an international statesman, so that’s how he’s treated. Everyone knows that Scotland is better off in the union and couldn’t survive on its own and would be thrown out of the EU and so on, so these points of view are treated as mainstream and alternative points of view challenged as being clearly bonkers.

    If there’s nobody in charge with a remit to stop this, and I mean someone who isn’t part of it himself but can see objectively what’s going on, it doesn’t necessarily need an explicit conspiracy. It just happens, because it’s normal, because all right-thinking people know that nationalism is for fruitcakes.

    But the editing of FMQs, and the airbrushing out of Robertson’s call for Putin to be in NATO and Cameron’s approach to Putin to get him to help attack Scotland, aren’t legitimate editorialising or mistakes. The elephant in the room is turning into a great woolly mammoth in front of our eyes, and even if we don’t subscribe to the explicit conspiracy model, really the half-unconscious culture of bias has to be acknowledged.

    • Morag

      totally agree as per Geoff. Spot on.

      Derek must keep up the good work. I support Derek’s blogging. he should be boss of SBC after September ….. or can fight it out with another fine broadcaster oor Blair Jenkins.

    • May I say I totally agree as well.

    • Hugh Wallace

      Couldn’t agree more, Morag. This is akin to the uber-wealthy who all know each other and how the other thinks and while they would never (ok, rarely) come out with anything so crass as to say the oiks deserve a good horse-whipping, there is that unspoken assumption between them that if you are ‘one of us’ you would see the world the same way. This is why the Tony Benn’s of this world can be so effective, because they are jarring in a way that the Tommy Sheridans can be dismissed as ‘well his sort would say that, wouldn’t they?’. Within the so-called ‘left wing’ of Scottish politics there is this sense of entitlement that comes with believing you are smarter than your fellows (which often may be the case; not all political types are stupid by any means) and therefore know best for them. That rapidly corrupts into ‘what is best for me/us is best for the rest of you’ and the ‘right sort’ within the BBC are a part of that group-think.

    • Could it not just be a business decision. When Scotland votes Yes, the loss in licence fees will be astronomical

    • Yes I think that’s entirely right. It is a conspiracy of sorts, of the groupthink variety that you describe. I have seen the same thing in business when all the public schoolkids club together to sequester resources and the best jobs between themselves. When trying to get something or join a certain group, you are subjected to an implicit “is he the right sort?” test, and found wanting on the grounds that you wouldn’t be a “team player”, and all because you’re the wrong class and don’t buy into the idea that being a Tory, Unionist, privately-educated airhead is “normal” and that every other point of view is “political”.

      • Ian I also recognise that set-up. Live with that reality in Edinburgh almost every day. Have you noticed that in the entrance lobby of almost every private school ive been in there hangs a picture of some royal?

    • I recognise your explanation Morag. Ive seen similar approaches in places ive worked.



    • Bugger (the Panda)

      Bob, you don’t have to shout, we can hear you fine.

    • I’m afraid I didn’t read any of your message, as long writings in capitals are too time consuming to read.

    • Read it all, caps or not. Well said, Bob.

    • James Coleman

      Maybe if the people who have already replied to you in a silly, supercilious and sneering way had actually read what you said they would have found that you made some very excellent points. It’s funny that I had no problem reading it in Capitals and I don’t think you are a ‘fruitloop’ as someone has implied.

      • I read it too. I try to read everyone’s post, Caps or not. If someone goes to the trouble of posting a comment, it deserves to be read.

          • Read it too. Channel 4’s coverage of the independence debate has been a bit patchy but Snow’s piece is excellent.

          • All the channels are ignorant of Scotland. and still gull of Union Jackery. The Wright stuff on channel 4 comments only on English papers and no Scots guest has had the bottle to complain and demand to read from the Scottish Press, such as it is. Some of their SE guests are infuriatingly OTT. Last week they comments on C of E Bishops and the house of Lords and fleetingly mentioned the C of E does not have seats in the Lords. No one told him that the C of S doesn’t have Bishops, od the Bishop’s War when they tried to enforce bishops in Scotland.

            All English Wot the Papers say programmes are exclusively English. Wot happened to their wonderful family of nations?

          • A joy to read Jon Snow’s honest piece. He is of course reasonable as well as highly intelligent.

  5. Derek, I agree that you are right not to change your opinion. I acknowledge that your opinions reflect what you feel.

    However, I find it very difficult to understand why the BBC constantly portray the Yes campaign as often little more than representing Alex Salmond. Furthermore, I do not understand why BBC Scotland thought the comments made by Salmond about Putin justified days of coverage. Who makes these editorial decisions and why? I am sorry but they rarely if ever mention Lord Robertson’s comments about inviting Putin’s Russia into NATO. They did the exact same thing over Murdoch as well. I also stand by my comment that BBC Scotland journalists and presenters almost always interrupt Yes politicians during interviews, and almost never interrupt Unionist politicians. Why is that? It is not a theory either, it happens far too often for that to be the case. Derek, BBC Scotland simply do not scrutinise both campaigns in the same way.

  6. Very heartfelt and well said Derek. I still don’t understand how No Borders was given a whole days plus of coverage even through management ineptitude.

    However, far more importantly when is your radio station going to be launched? I’m sure it will be informative and will redress the balance sadly lacking from the BBC due to whatever cause.

    It is needed now more than ever.


      after they were contacted about this the bbc says they will continue to report without fear or favour

      • Can’t say that auntie does not have a sense of humour.

        Now if everyone girting on here would just formalise specific complaints or a petition on their general treatment of Scotland as a whole…

    • Great idea! That’s just what we need to cover what is REALLY going on in Scotland.

  7. Bugger (the Panda)

    Derek, I for one did not say there was a giant top down conspiracy, or a wee one either.

    What I think is the “conspiracy” is a much subtler cultural one.

    The pervading current one is one of anti SNP and thus anti Independence.. I believe that when the SNP took over Holyrood, as a minority Government, the who opposition political firmament were stunned into silence. They didn’t know which way to go, left or right, support, undermine or leave well alone until they could their heads around it and work out a strategy.

    What emerged was a strategy after a period of scrutiny of the performance of the Opposition, that all three opposition parties needed help and it was up to the MSM to provide both the ammunition and intellect.

    Thus the printed Press and then airwave people became involved.

    The culture of the BBC in Scotland has always been predominantly left wing; more of a relefection of the outside World that a Labour / Fabian / Trotsky cell. The arrival of people on the scene, with intimate and personal knowledge of Labour reinforced the ant SNP, implied culture. I have lived and worked in a French and American cultures of managed most of my life and there are unwritten rules about what you say and how far you can go without undermining your own future. As with everywhere, there will be brown nosers who see the chance to climb the greasy pole by overcompensating. My brother-in-law left the Treasury after being told he “wasn’t one of us.”

    I could waffle on but one simple question which you can chose to answer or not. It is your blog.

    Do you think, your “early” departure from the BBC was due to the fact that you were not one of “them?”

    I wonder too about Lesley Riddoch, a woman of her own mind, Joan MacAlpine and the “gardening leave” of Isabel Fraser, so soon after she tried to challenge a Labour bully who attacked he, on air, for being anti Labour, How long did Issy take to be one the disappeared?

    There is good quality journalism in there still.

    Why is it not being heard?

    • Hugh Wallace

      Tip top. It is incredibly difficult to pin the ‘conspiracy’ tag on anyone within an organisation but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one in effect. My own personal experiences of being in the Army and Police is that I would never have got to the higher echelons as I was never, ever going to be ‘one of us’. But there were absolutely no written rules or regulations to govern that fact. Even if the Masons are no longer a force to be reckoned with in terms of power and advancement, the underlying principle of being a member of ‘us’ is still a huge factor within Scotland in so many ways. At least with the Masons you had a target to focus on but in so much of modern life the unwritten membership of ‘us’ is much harder to pin down. Those who are one of ‘us’ know it but those who aren’t often never really realised there is an ‘us’ to belong to in the first place.

    • Well said Mr/Mrs/Ms Panda…

  8. An institutionally biased organisation has no need for conspiracies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent

  9. This will likely be my last visit and contribution to these pages. Mr. Bateman has clearly revealed that he has no in depth understanding of how the production of, management of & distribution of propaganda by a state funded broadcaster works. And one that he was once employed by no less.

    If denying a conspiracy of editorial output allows you to sleep well, then good luck.

    I wish you well in retirement.

    • What utter crap – until presented with actual evidence to the contrary of a conspiracy, Derek rightly sticks to his guns and you say he has no understanding and implying he is a coward for not “facing up to the truth”. In fact his criticisms of the organisation carry more weight than many as rather than simply cry foul and say everyone who does anything at the BBC is anti-scottish he actually tries to examine the facts of a more nuanced reality. But hey, if it helps you sleep more comfortably at night to see mass conspiracy rather than a more complicated reality then so be it.

      • James Coleman

        What YOU have written is the crap. The post just previous gives a link to an article which shows how ‘conspiracies’ and bias can occur very easily within institutionally biased organisations. I repeat the link here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent, because you (and Derek Bateman?) are obviously in need of the lessons it gives.

        • lastchancetoshine

          James, that’s a strange conclusion you draw from reading a very short article on what is a very dense book and I have to assume you haven’t actually read it. Chomsky and Herman are quite clear that an organised conspiracy does not have to exist in order for bias and mis-reporting to be common place that is part of their propaganda model. In fact opening the book at random I’m finding a number of instances that illustrate this without looking terribly hard.

          Here’s just a couple of them .

          “as we have stressed throughout this book, the U.S. media do not function in a manner of the propaganda system of a totalitarian state. Rather they permit – indeed, encourage-spirited debate,criticism and dissent, as long as these remain faithfully within the system of presuppositions and principals that constitute an elite consensus, a system so powerful as to be internalised largely without awareness. No one instructed the media to focus on Cambodia and ignore East Timor. They gravitated naturally to the Khmer Rouge and discussed them freely- just as they naturally suppressed information on Indonesian atrocities in east Timor and U.S. responsibility for…….”

          “In sum , the mass media of the United states are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalised assumptions and self censorship, and without significant overt coercion.”

          You are actually referring to a work that specifically says there doesn’t have to be a conspiracy for there to be bias to try and show that there does.

          I’d copy out more but unfortunately the books a bit short on snappy one liners and I’ve got stuff to do.

          and telling each other what has been written is crap is hardly productive.

          • James Coleman

            You don’t seem to be able to understand English. You have misinterpreted what I clearly stated, ie, “that an organised conspiracy does not have to exist in order for bias and mis-reporting to be common place” and it only took me a few words instead of the long winded treatise you have written.

          • lastchancetoshine

            What you clearly stated was

            “The post just previous gives a link to an article which shows how ‘conspiracies’ and bias can occur very easily within institutionally biased organisations.”

            which is miles away from “that an organised conspiracy does not have to exist”

            I haven’t read anything you have posted outside the thread started by graham harris graham (2.59) and in that context you appear to be supporting his view that there is an organised conspiracy.

            You also appear to be criticising Derek for not believing there is organised conspiracy.

            We all agree there is bias but you are criticising Derek for not believing there is an organised conspiracy whilst now simultaneously stating there doesn’t have to be one.

            (before sending this I’ve gone back and read all the comments on ‘I don’t believe it’ and can’t find where you’ve stated anything close to “that an organised conspiracy does not have to exist in order for bias and mis-reporting to be common place” maybe you want to look at what you’ve actually written and see if it matches up with what you meant)

  10. I have had occasion to lodge a complaint against BBC programme interview, also the Press Complaints and ethics committee of the NUJ. I won’t go into the details other than to say their programme on Scottish socialism was a waste of time and insulting to anyone’s intelligence: Labourite, Unionist and useless. You can guess how the complaints were dealt with, not even a straight answer to specifics.

  11. I’m still inclined to agree with you that there isn’t a secret programme in place to ensure news coverage favours the No campaign. I’m still inclined to believe that Hanlon’s Razor applies:

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”

    If there was a programme of deliberate bias surely by now we’d have at least one or two whistle blowers sticking their heads above the parapets.

    However the VNB thing makes it very difficult to keep believing this. Are BBC journalists really so lazy or disenfranchised (by cuts and poor resources) that they can’t spend a couple of hours researching an organisation such as VNB before stuffing the news bulletins with that story? Does Gavin Esler no longer do his own background checks before going in front of the camera? Is he too important to be doing such menial tasks? Was this particular story, and the decision to run it so frequently, left in the hands of newbies the indy ref special unit?

    So many questions need to be answered here.

    Everything about that VNB story stinks to high heaven. If the BBC is this stupid then why aren’t heads rolling. You can’t blame folks for taking the view that the BBC is now in “defence of the realm” mode, instead of stopping and thinking about what catalogue of errors conspired to allow that story to be run, with no questions asked.

    I stopped paying my license fee back in 2006 in protest at what I thought was sub-par programme making and what I viewed was unsatisfactory news output. If the BBC devolved BBC Scotland and allowed it to really be “Scotland’s State Broadcaster”, with better quality control, better journalistic standards, proper resources and behaving competently then I might be tempted back. But for now they aren’t getting a single penny out of me.

    I do trust you Derek and what you say about the inner workings of the BBC news rooms, and I hugely appreciate the leap of faith you took to leave BBC Scotland and start this blog. But it’s hard not to slip into black helicopter mode when stories like the VNB one are run.

    • Hardly a secret. It’s right up your nose.

    • I kinda understand Dereks position and partally agree with some points made in this article. However, this is about competent journalism. The ‘No Borders’ fiasco doesn’t just make the BBC look incompetent… it makes them appear complicit.

      The same thing happened on the day of the Independence March and Rally in Edinburgh last year. Here was a ready made story, with tens of thousands of people and a setting of beautiful proportions, just crying out for a film crew to take advantage… but somehow, the BBC en-location team took a wrong turning and ended up 2 or 3 miles away in South (i think) Edinburgh, where, quite by fortune, :-\ they just so happened (completely by chance) to come across a couple of Better Together leafletters outside a wee local shop in a sleepy suburb. Obviously, these daring and dashing BBC roving reporters jumped at the ‘once in a lifetime’ scoop this opportunity presented them with.

      If the BBC really have just become absolutely incompetent and so utterly rubbish at journalism and news production, then this should be grounds alone for refusing to fund them any more, as they have broken the contract and failed in their obligations (as highlighted in the charter) to provide educational and informative programming. …we won’t even go into the neutrality requirements of the charter!

  12. Just to reinforce what Andrew Haddow said above, the seminal book by Herman and Chomsky, “Manufacturing Consent” explains the institutional bias exactly. You yourself refer to Professor Robertson – his work is based on the Herman-Chomsky model of how the media work.

    It is perfectly clear from this that there can be bias evident at every turn, and yet no explicit “conspiracy” to produce this. In other words, support for the establishment is built in, as so many posters above and prior to this post have pointed out.

    In my view it is pointless apportioning blame, attacking or defending people caught up in this mindset. Keep on exposing the bias, as you have done so well in the past, and let’s not get distracted form the main goal of obtaining a YES vote in September, then building a better Scotland.

  13. As someone who worked in local government for almost 20 years I know how the system works. Get elected as a shop steward (by your workmates) and find that memos go missing, meetings are held and your mysteriously not informed then one day you are told ” we want a labour man in the job” No one supports you even those who agree with you because it could affect them. Work hard, study and get appointed to a senior post in another Authority and slowly it starts again. One day you are told by a sympathetic colleague that the Provost has been working against you even to the detriment of his own Authority and is quoted as saying “If he wasn’t so good at his job we would fire him” This is when it is wise to take early retirement and go into business with a long time friend. And all because I was a member of the SNP. No, it doesn’t have to be a conspiracy, you only have to be outside the accepted norm and the knives are sharpened ready for the unwary back.

  14. As a former civil servant, I recognise that cock-up can be a more accurate explanation of events than conspiracy. However, if what we are seeing is merely a series of cock-ups, they are accumulating on an alarming scale. Just this week we have had sustained promotion of a grassroots campaign that never was; the FM’s remarks on Putin flogged ad nauseam (and at one stage equated with praising Hitler); some very curious editing of footage of FMQ; and Lord Trimble’s views on the implications of independence for Northern Ireland being seriously misrepresented.

    One might expect that someone senior would be stepping in to say “This really isn’t good enough. We need to shape up here.” We see absolutely no sign of that. I think what is making people really angry is that BBC management appears to feel no sense of accountability to Scottish licence payers at this crucial time. There is not the slightest hint that they acknowledge that the concerns being so widely expressed have any legitimacy.

    Senior managers need to understand that a crucial part of their role is to listen to and communicate effectively with the people to whom they are supposed to be providing a service. Dismissing criticism with disdain and carrying on regardless is simply not acceptable.

  15. I in no way could understand just how things may be directed within an organisation such as the BBC. I have no idea how a newsroom might work nor how stories are deemed as being newsworthy or not.

    I really don’t think much of that matters when all I have to go on is the evidence presented to my own eyes and ears every single day. I don’t think I’m being delusional when I say that the bias from the BBC against Independence is self evident.

    Someone is pulling the strings, I am in no doubt of that.

    Whoever that may be, they won’t of course have the support of all journalists within the BBC Scotland newsroom, but they don’t need to. A select few are enough, funny how we have witnessed those senior presenters that don’t toe the line end up looking for a new role out-with the BBC.

    Just may be that those most senior journalists who are most in our faces just happen to support the No campaign and so are quite happy to report the view of the establishment. There wouldn’t need to be whispering or secret strategy meetings, it would just be.

    Cloak and daggers are not necessary when you all support the same goal.

    It could be as simple as this, a select few are supporters of the No campaign, quite happy with having their strings pulled and their opinion is promoted with zeal and enthusiasm. There need not be direct orders or threats. Their position requires none as they personally support No.

    Just a few with the power to manipulate the many. I’d wager if you thought hard enough about it, you’d have names for these few.

  16. Mr B,
    I don’t think it’s anything like a conspiracy at the BBC. I think it’s more of an agenda. Everyone at the BBC seems to espouse the same general view of life. There doesn’t seem to be any room for anything that opposes that. On the other hand, I think they’re doing a hatchet job on Scottish identity, which does exist. They often use the term ‘mongrel’ to describe us, which I find distateful, if not Nazi. Again, it’s part of the agenda that takes them away from their responsibility.

  17. lastchancetoshine

    I think to some extent you are missing the point in thinking we, your grumpy readers are suggesting there is an orchestrated and instructed policy of bias. That doesn’t have to exist for bias to make it’s way into output.

    Indeed , if we accept that it doesn’t exist and therefore the BBC management know it doesn’t exist may actually be the justification for not looking closely at what they are putting out. After all if there is not even a suggestion of bias all the way down the line to production then what is produced can’t be biased so it’s not worth looking at.

    This is the same line reasoning that made the Metropolitan police to fail to tackle racism within it’s ranks. Nobody instructed offers to be racist, there were policies to prevent it and instructions on proper behaviour. But having all those things in place wasn’t enough and if those at the top think they are enough to tackle a problem and therefore fail to have a look to see if whether there actually is one then it continues.

    The reality is that the mechanisms that allow bias are far more subtle to the point that those involved may not even realise they are taking part.

    Little wonder then that Chomsky is “following the debate with interest” as there’s probably another insomnia curing book in it and it gives an easily accessible case study for the propaganda model.

  18. “An institutionally biased organisation has no need for conspiracies.”

    So succinct, and it took me paragraphs to say the same thing.

    That’s two of us have mentioned Hanlon now. On the other thread I said it wasn’t stupidity, it was malice, Hanlon said so. I stand by that, but malice does NOT require a conspiracy. If everyone in the inner cabal of the organisation shares the same malicious mindset, that will do it, every time.

    It’s been pointed out that the Vote No Borders item continued to be shown long after it was all over the internet that it was a paid-for astroturf construct. They must have known, but they went on repeating it regardless. And you don’t cut out what was edited from the FMQ broadcast by accident. You don’t airbrush out multiple positive connections to Putin and Russia by unionists while monstering Salmond for a balanced comment by accident. You don’t repeatedly misrepresent the views of foreign politicos by accident.

    But you don’t need a grand conspiracy either. You just need an institutional culture where everyone on the “inside” tacitly agrees that Salmond is beyond the pale and independence is for Braveheart nutters.

  19. Imagine turning on your TV or radio and hearing well informed presentations of the important issues in Scotland today. Imagine hearing regular plays, readings, poetry, history, music, reflecting the Scottish culture, past and present. Imagine hearing debates from the Scottish Parliament with analysis which presents all shades of political opinion fairly so that the listeners and viewers become better informed. Imagine if we could easily find out how the Scottish economy worked. What is the value of our exports?
    Imagine if the state broadcaster provided that level of debate and we didn’t have to rely on the internet to get real information. That’s what I would like to see happen.

    • That has to our goal and is why I’ll vote Yes.

    • I can imagine it. I’d have loved to see it happen this year. Once, naively, I imagined it would happen. I was looking forward to it. Silly me.


        had to use my magnifier,can you read this hehe
        i hope your negativity is not catching,sounds like a bt oration,….silly you

        • It’s not silly not to be psychic enough to realise you have poor vision. Of course it’s readable like this. You must know that leaving the caps lock key on is perceived as angry shouting.

    • Wonderful thought. I look forward to that, Capella.

  20. What you say is perfectly understandable, Derek, and much of what happens at BBC is attributable to institutional bias. As has been pointed out, when bias is part of a culture, it doesn’t have to have memos and official meetings to continue.

    But part of what is happening can’t be attributable to that. Why hasn’t, for example, the statement which Lord Trimble denied making been removed? This is a decision that someone made and is continuing to make. We can all point to other examples where there had to be a deliberate decision to continue to broadcast information which has been shown to be false or remove information from public view. So yes, I do believe that there is at least a group within the BBC, possibly at a fairly high level, who are putting out propaganda deliberately and maliciously. Does that mean they have told the presenter on the line? No. It isn’t necessary to tell most of them, possibly not any. In fact, it is much more likely to be at the editing and management level.

  21. Agree with much of what has been said above. It is unfortunate that you would think that it was in some way a personal attack but I don’t think any one was impugning your own integrity. We wouldn’t be reading your blog if we thought that.

    However, it was you who introduced the subject in the first place and opened an angry wasps’ bike – not directed at you but at the BBC. Personally I didn’t think for a moment that you would change your mind. Like others, I am prepared to accept that you feel this way about the BBC but it doesn’t discredit your views otherwise.

    Many of us have worked in institutions or even as part of any social group and will know how subtly humans can communicate with others, We are the supreme social animal. How many have had the experience of being in a group who all seemed to be of one opinion, ready to stand up for what was right, only to find suddenly, all support had mysteriously melted away and you were left as the minority of one? Then you wonder, when was that vote taken and why was I out of the loop?

    I have been observing how the news gathering organizations have operated for two or three decades now and alerted first by how foreign wars were reported I began to notice that exactly the same techniques were employed reporting home news just as outlined in Chomsky’s book. Conspiracy is natural to human society and manufacturing consent isn’t done by gathering people in a room and issuing instructions like a Bond villain. You didn’t think that we were that crude in our thinking, did you Derek?

    We will just have to differ on this one, Derek. I don’t think any the less of you for what you think. Just don’t stir up the hornet’s nest on behalf of the BBC again. Please?

  22. HandandShrimp


    I tend to lean to your way of thinking. Most conspiracy theories are unworkable because they require a degree of coordination, consistency and organisation that is beyond the ability of mere mortals to sustain for any length of time. The house of cards always comes tumbling down.

    What I think we do have is unconscious bias. Labour and the Union are part of the cultural make up of, until relatively recently, the power structures in Scotland (arguably the paradigm has changed over the last decade). These are people who went to school together, university together and have worked together. The same can be said of the old boys network in Westminster with the CBI and other bastions of power.

    I do not believe there will ever be a smoking gun discovered at the BBC because for the most part the bias is automatic. It is little more than a softening of stance, an easier ride, an over eagerness to frame the question in a manner that the politician wants. Not because there is an order to do so or because individuals even think about it. It is just human nature The actual decisions that require a more conscious use of the brain are above aboard. This does not mean that journalists are complete walk overs. If a Labour politician were to falter then another aspect of journalistic nature would matter…the scent of blood.

    I think the BBC does need to do something about balance but the remedy is likely to require a more nuanced approach than simple accusations of bias. The BBC needs to address the notion of unconscious bias. There are experts in this field and awareness training is readily available. I fully expect them to look at this in October. 🙂

    • HandandShrimp. You ‘fully expect them to look at this in October’. By October I hope it will be too late permanently for the BBC to ‘look at this’. Personally I’m delighted by the crude way they’ve alienated Scottish audiences. They’ve damaged our culture and our self confidence for years, and now I think that there will (at last) be a reckoning for them. The FM hasn’t said that they would get rid of the BBC following a Yes vote but he has put down a marker that there will be a Scottish broadcasting service. That’ll do for a start. I hope they base it in Dundee to get away from Glasgow Labour corruption.

  23. This is yet another example of the bias against Scottish independence from the BBC this week. This is from Wings:

    BBC Northern Ireland website, 2 May 2014:

    “Former NI First Minister Lord Trimble has said the biggest threat to peace in Northern Ireland would be if Scotland were to vote for independence.”

    Lord Trimble on “Good Morning Scotland”, 3 May 2014 (31m 30s):

    “I want to correct what you said… [the website] reported me as saying that would threaten the peace process. I did not say that, that is not my view.

    Actually, a Yes vote in Scotland would reinforce the argument against violence, because it’s a demonstration of how you can achieve major change through the political democratic process.”

  24. Isn’t it possible that there is no need to tell these “journalists” what line to take as the BBC only employ people with the same mindset as themselves and mostly people with the same political leanings, lets face it there is an enormous amount of Labour Party connections at BBC Scotland so it isn’t necessary to state the Party line they all know what to do and say. I’m not saying its 100% but it’s certainly almost that in the areas that matter. Didn’t Elizabeth Quiqley remove herself from Reporting Scotland as she new she would be expected to take a critical line with her husband John Swinney.

  25. I know how it happens. I saw it when I worked for a company which was very respected, somewhat staid (tending to take the long term view) but gave women and minorities an equal chance. Then there was a hostile takeover. From that time forth no woman or minority person was ever promoted. Nothing was said overtly but the result was that the female /minority talent dribbled away. I was near to retirement so I hung in there for a couple of years. When I left I made sure none of my retirement monies remained connected. The company I worked for is now in a somewhat precarious state because they went into the boom big time and got burnt. My remaining friends at the company I worked for pray that they retire before the proverbial hits the fan.

    How would that work in BBC Scotland? He/she who does biassed to No items gets the next lot of plum jobs. He/she who persists with balanced reporting is given crap assignments which don’t get aired or get heavily cut as they are “Not up to the required standard”. A boss who gives tasks out equally gets transferred laterally into a no prospects position. New guy/(usually not gal) sees the writing on the wall and does the necessary. Those who can leave or retire. It does not take long – say 5 years or so?

    I notice that some old-timers who are still around seem to be trotting off to London quite frequently. They see the writing on the wall and I wouldn’t be surprised if they horse trade appropriate bias for appearances down south. The newbies they have brought in probably don’t have a clue. And then there is Naughtie. How near is he to retirement?

  26. I read everything on your blog and really enjoy the comments made on any of the subjects. You are well supported and allowed your opinion so i will accept what you say but have to admit sir , it was your blog that made me question the BBC first. and after numerous examples i cannot agree that the Beeb are not bias. Sorry to differ as i agree with most of what you say. All MSM has now directed its venom on Mr Salmond. Fine , he;s a big boy and can stand up for himself, but to my mind its smear instead of scare. And the negativity could have been more balanced if the Beeb would only do its job. Its supposed to be one of the finest establishments but the quality and accuracy of this referendum has been shocking. And every day we see them at it again.

    I have lost faith in all of them and turn to the internet and the many like you for truth honesty and accuracy that One of the worlds leading broadcaster cannot be trusted to do. So i will be back Derek . Keep the good work.

  27. Derek,
    Sometimes, just sometimes a person cannot see the ” wood for the trees”, but me well I am looking,and listening at the “wood” from afar, and my eyes and ears tell me that they are bloody well bias !.

  28. G. P. Walrus

    There are parallels here with the accusations about cybernats and Salmond’s black-ops brigade. We have members of the public expressing their opinions on line, not in direct collaboration but feeding off each other as arguments circulate and develop. This can look surprisingly like coordinated behaviour even though it is in no way centrally controlled.

    I go with the idea of an ingrained London-centric BBC mindset strongly influencing the way Scottish politics is reported. There is no central direction, just a bunch of “media-brits” feeding off each other, probably less consciously than the online independence community, but it comes out as a systematic anti-independence bias which, in effect, it is.

  29. I’ve said before, and will repeat. Forget Scotland. Look at the BBC’s contribution to warmongering in the Middle East, its serial misrepresentation of of the Israel/Palestine situation, its continuous beating of the drum for war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, or any-fucking-body that the UK is instructed to hate by US boardrooms. Too many Nat posters here are merely reporting that bombs that use to fall safely far away are now falling on them.

    Derek, you are not defending the BBC’s attack on democracy in Scotland, you are in a stinking trench defending their support for attacks on democracy and ordinary people everywhere. For any sake, give it up.

    • Vronsky,

      I don’t think Derek is doing anything of the sort.

      Derek is doing a superb job highlighting the way the powers that be are trying to close down thinking as the independence referendum gets closer.

      Derek KNOWS the BBC, he knows the people in the BBC, he knows there is no conspiracy, and I completely believe him.

      On the other hand, we KNOW that the BBC is systematically lying.

      And there is a simple way of understanding why Derek is right to say there is no conspiracy and why we are right to say the BBC, newspapers, etc are systematically lying to us.

      Its a reason highlighted in many of the comments above and very clearly summarised by MD over on Wings over Scotland as a comment to today’s ‘An Easy Mistake to Make’ article. MD says: [3 May, 2014 at 5:38 pm]

      “No conspiracy needed, just the in-built bias of a media serving the powerful: “Herman and Chomsky quickly dismiss the standard mainstream critique of radical media analysis that accuses it of offering some sort of “conspiracy” theory for media behavior; rather, they argue, media bias arises from “the preselection of right-thinking people, internalized preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints” of a series of objective filters they present in their propaganda model. Hence the bias occurs largely through self-censorship” – http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/198901–.htm

      The reason I place this comment as a reply to yours is two fold:

      (1) You are right that there is huge bias across the media on ALL issues, bias that says that the status quo knows best and that its solutions (on climate change, on security, on prosperity, etc) are the right ones, when we can see that their solutions are the problem. My question is: can those who see the overwhelming bias exhibited by the media in defence of the status quo in relation to rather unthreatening prospect of Scottish independence, realise just how intense and deceitful the bias is in relation to ALL other issues? I’m not talking about conspiracy just total unconscious learned bias.

      But also

      (2) The main way in which this bias in relation to ALL issues is driven is (as we can see with the No campaign) through promoting fear and the sense that there is no alternative to the status quo. The biggest threat to the status quo is if people realise that there is and always has been a very real alternative in ALL the areas where it promotes its ‘solutions’.

      Just one example:
      If we realise that there is no underlying problem of poverty to be tackled through their ‘clever’ economics and aid and economic growth systems (if we realise that the problem is not poverty but theft, and that if the 85 billionaires who own as much wealth as 20% of the world’s population were not allowed to take that wealth then there would be an end to starvation and immiseration) then we’d start our solutions from the opposite place to the status quo’s ‘solutions’ that are actually the problem.

      So Derek is not “in a stinking trench defending [the BBC’s] support for attacks on democracy and ordinary people everywhere”, he is doing a superb job unpicking a lot of the lies thrown at us. If he can’t see one part of that picture that’s not a reason to throw insults at him, that’s just what the status quo loves, us fighting amongst ourselves. I miss part of the picture, you miss part of the picture, he she it misses part of the picture.

      Let’s stay on the same side, and bring everyone over not by laying into a single Yes or No voter but by reminding them that its ok, you’re ok, I’m ok – and the only thing not ok is the status quo (a way of thinking and doing and organising that privileges a pathetic way of being in the world, and oppresses the thousands of humane ways of living). But I agree with you that this independence referendum offers a chance for those of us engaged in it to wake up to the much bigger changes we can and must make happen, changes that only happen by taking a first step, and what a step this referendum process is becoming: the more lies they throw, the more we see what is really going on.

      Sorry for taking up so much space, I guess folk can just jump over it to the more pithy responses!

      • “My question is: can those who see the overwhelming bias exhibited by the media in defence of the status quo in relation to rather unthreatening prospect of Scottish independence, realise just how intense and deceitful the bias is in relation to ALL other issues? ”

        That was rather my point. The answer (at least in the context of the referendum debate) seems to be no. The BBC agenda is the agenda of the establishment and is by no means limited to the problem of Scottish secession from the Union. In fact, that might be its most innocent expression.

        For the avoidance of doubt, I enjoy Derek’s writing and I’m a regular visitor and poster. If I thought he was silly or wicked I would go elsewhere. I’ve perhaps expressed myself a bit pungently, but you’ve echoed my concern with your mention of deceit ‘in relation to ALL other issues’.

      • Very well put, thank you!

  30. I remember reading on a recent previous post of your’s Derek that there used to be editors at the BBC who would edit and filter stories prior to letting the journalists/reporters continue with them incase they were bogus or unworthy of reporting however those jobs have now gone and the quality with it.
    I don’t work in journalism but in another sector where relatively recently there has been a change to the management structure and a ‘flat’ structure has been put in place, with no or many less middle managers.
    As I predicted when this was implimented, anarchy, or something approaching anarchy has replaced lines of organised decision making and consequently, we are constantly fighting against a decline in quality of ‘end product’.
    With that in mind I can well believe your assessment of what is happening at the BBC, not with standing the fact that it is a British organisation whose purpose is to serve Britain, from it’s heart aka London.

  31. Well said Vronsky.

    Derek, I have a few questions for you.

    Why after 2 1/2 years since it all really kicked off at BBC Scotland with the closure of the Taylor and Fraser blogs and since then the countless ‘badly judged’ stories and ‘misrepresentations’ conducted by the news department (many of which you agree with) are you the only BBC person to ever raise these issues in public ?

    What does that tell us about staff at the BBC ?

    Can it be that all the news staff within Pacific Quay have absolutely no issue with the quality of work they are producing or are they all too afraid to say anything in case they get the sack ?

  32. Lord Trimble was clearly irritated by their totally inaccurate headline on GMS this morning. His honesty in reiterating his actual words was indeed refreshing…… which incredibly turned out to voice the very opposite side of the argument. Looks like many employed by the BBC simply don’t listen. In other words, extremely unprofessional.

  33. Derek, I think in the round we are all, including you, saying the same thing.

    There is no overarching conspiracy. As you have said, that would be impossible to sustain. But that is a straw man in any case. This is cultural and you can see it manifest itself in different ways.

    Westminster has a cultural paradigm. Left wing Labour types go down to London full of bravado for their poorest constituents and end up establishment figures, wholly signed up to desires of the Whips to call people into line. Indeed some such as Alastair Carmichael make their name and gain promotion by being zealots for the cause.

    In the same way you must have seen journalists like Eleanor Bradford do a wrecking job on the Scottish NHS. Her favourite tack is now to offer the sting in the tail by demonstrating how Scotland compares unfavourably with England in so may ways, whereas Penny Taylor, before her offered much more balanced reporting.

    For a brief spell in my life I was a frequent visitor to the Houses of Parliament and rubbed shoulders with Earls and Baronets. It is so easy to be sucked into the establishment. For Establishment read BBC Scotland.

  34. The BBC is biased against Scottish independence, the Scottish government, the SNP and Alex Salmond. We have the peer reviewed and tons of anecdotal evidence to prove it.

    When a doctrine (BBC’s famed editorial standards) fails the test of criticism the only way it BBC employees can retain faith in it is only if it becomes dogma.

    Derek you are clearly in denial of the ugly facts your beautiful theory of it being otherwise has no credence.

  35. Personally I find an organisation that saw nothing wrong with a political commentator (Glen Campbell) ripping up a political parties manifesto on air, yet when a journalist on a football program made a rather feeble joke about womens football he was suspended.

  36. “I have many friends at PQ but I have also lost some by telling the truth and don’t tell me attacking BBC management doesn’t blight a future career.”

    I think that after a “Yes” vote you will have a fine career Derek….

    As head of the new SBC (if you want it of course!)

  37. Robert Graham

    well you either take the man at his word and he does make a compelling case i personally agree with his stated position and more power to him because when you throw your lot into and support a cause you at the very least deserve at least some support from in this case his blog followers if you don’t well what’s the point in following his posts , then again morag makes a very good point when she points out what can happen when you’re not in the loop now this is when it really gets machiavellian ha ha glad to have cleared that up for you personally i haven’t a bloody clue you either trust or you don’t if you don’t well goodnight

    • With all due respect, I have to disagree, Robert. Thinking that Derek is mistaken in his belief that there is no concerted or deliberate BBC bias is not a lack of ‘taking him at his word’. I absolutely believe his experience at BBC. That doesn’t mean that there may not and probably are things that go on there which he isn’t cognisant of. I do not believe that the decision to suppress resports of Prof Robertson’s paper and attack him, suppress the BBC Trust finding on the false report on Lucinda Creighton’s comments, or continuing to publish false reports of Lord Trimble’s comments were mere chance or happenstance.

      I like and respect Derek, but that doesn’t mean that I think he is always correct. We can have disagreements on issues along the way and still be fighting for the same goal. 🙂

  38. Ian PA MacDonald

    Many really intelligent posts here. It is vitally important to try to grasp what really is going on, because we all know something is.

    I am inclined to go with the stupidity theory over the institutional bias view (noting they are not mutually exclusive), mainly because of the mounting evidence of other large, formerly unassailable institutions completely making a dog’s breakfast of their interventions in the debate, completely discrediting themselves in the process.

    Complacency, you see. That’s the thing. BBC is indeed a shining torch relative even to the withering pillars of the print media in particular. No need to set the bar any higher than that, then. Rest on laurels.

    I get personal replies from our national broadcaster defending their position when I complain about the TV guide coming up BBC London by default and hard to change. Now if they were on the ball, they would just have fixed it.

    The BBC is too big. A bit like the UK. No-one is in control any more.

    • Dear sir,
      firstly thank you for the article.Secondly thank you for your continuing passion, honesty,insights and informed detail on our referendum.With regard to the journalistic staff in the BBC I firmly believe that the majority who comment on political matters do so with one eye on their bosses and the other on their bank balances.I have never believed that the BBC was this corporate paragon of virtue seeking out truths and holding people and organisations to account. For instance, after the Falklands it was well known that cargo ships docked in the Clyde before it kicked off had their sailings delayed on various ,spurious reasons.One,for instance, was delayed because it was waiting on a delivery of rails for Brazilian railway.Nonsense. The owners were tipped off.If I know this then professional journalists do too. There are many areas where journalists are not doing their job.If this is a case of them being scared to upset their paymasters then the problem will not go away on independance.A supine and scared BBC after independance will be just as bad for democracy as a scared and supine BBC is at the moment .At the moment the remedy is in their hands ,this however may not last.

      • A lot of journalists on leaving Auntie would still have good reason to fear for their careers if they spoke out. They are not all as bold as Derek, whom I fear may top himself if he takes this debate the wrong way. It is anti Auntie, not anti uncle Derek, who is doing Sterling work, if we can use that word on EBC contexts.

        As for journalist stories being suppressed I have been telt that stories of the lovely Glesga Cooncil corruption’s are regularly suppressed. Especially of one ex Glorious Leader who was brought down and that he and his druggie chums were/are scamming the City Car Parks. Everyone knows who the dealers are – except the polis and Cooncil who regularly hand out security contracts and licences for money laundering in pubs, bookies, tanning salons, security companies, etc, etc.

        Billy McAllister, SNP Cooncillor frae the Milton is regularly in trouble for daring to take them on.

  39. Great comments and this is a really good thread. However, I believe that the BBC are biasing the debate to the extent that they will steal our democratic position. Did you see and witness MacQuarrie in Holyrood recently? I think the time has come for a mass demonstration ay PQ. Why? Well nothing else seems to make any impact whatsoever…..

  40. It is people who are at the heart of every organisation. Although The BBC may not be biased in the way that decisions are made around a table at board meetings, individuals with significant power may abuse that power for their own or shared agendas. That is clearly going on at BBC Scotland. Glen Campbell is an example of a person who lets his personal views influence his journalistic output. There are other examples. This is probably cultural and it is most definitely unacceptable. It still qualifies as bias.

  41. I do not know if what the BBC would call a conspiracy, however I do think that they have an agenda, which is to negatively effect the democracy of Scots, it is seen every day, and it is getting worse.
    There is evidence all there, every day they pour out more.

    However, in Derek’s defense I believe this has got worse since Derek was employed there. What does puzzle me is what Derek pointed out that a conspiracy such as suggested, could hardly be expected to be contained. That is indeed odd, how could it be, yet evidence confirms it is everywhere?

    Can I ask if when staff leave are they, in order to get a goodbye sum, having to sign a confidentiality agreement? Or when they join the BBC do they have to sign one? I would ask Derek that and would hope he would reply, clearly it is not evident, by his own writings, but I am searching for a reason of such silence.

    I do think that Derek has his principles and has his right to keep them unless he wants to change them. He has written many good and yes pro Independence articles which I know that I have enjoyed, as I am sure many others have too. He sees and is aware of the inner workings of the BBC, and I accept he could be right.
    For me, there is no doubt the BBC are actively working against the very thought of Scottish Independence, their allegiance is to the British state is paramount. However, democracy is supposed to be sooo important, as long as it is not Scottish democracy. I will call it their agenda, others may call it what they want, but it IS there.

    As for Derek, I will be back to enjoy more of his articles.

    • They contained the Savile story for decades, even though a number of people were aware at least partly of what was going on. And when finally it was going to be exposed on the BBC, it wasn’t… Someone else had to do it. And let’s not forget the dodgy dossier affair, the death of Dr David Kelly, and what happened to Andrew Gilligan when he dared to stick his head above the parapet. There might not be a conspiracy at the BBC but certainly a culture of keeping things in house, and of not upsetting the government of the day. A lot of it is probably self-preservation.

  42. How does HMG instigate, direct and guide EBC/MSM/STV etc as in reporting/support for Iraq, Afghanistan, Suppression of the Palestinians etc?

    They obviously have a permanent system on tap as and when they want to use it. It would suggest to me that there is a permanent capability there which can be activated very quickly when they want to.

    Which must have immediate and permanent points of contact into the EBC/MSM etc, 24/365.

  43. We are still 140 days from the referendum. In that period I promise you that the propagandist role of the BBC will be asserted beyond doubt. Be careful what you say now to avoid looking like a dupe later.

  44. Sunday Herald has come out as a YES!!

  45. Dr JM Mackintosh

    I think it is quite instructive to read the BBC Charter – it is available to all, unlike the CBI one

    This is a point that caught my eye…


    44. Accuracy and impartiality
    (1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.

    I think the Director General and Chairman of the BBC may have some problems with this regulatory obligation with regard to their reporting of the Independence Campiagn.

    At least the Chairman has some experience of Independence from his Hong Kong days. He should know better.

    On a positive note, I see that I am not getting any fast responses to my steady flow of complaints to the BBC. So they are obviously thinking about it a bit harder than normal. We will see what happens – along way to go yet…

  46. It’s such a pity that Scotland isn’t a really poor country.

    No vast oil and gas fields offshore – on both east and west coasts, no coal, no wind for turbines, no water for the whiskey and the thirsty, no hills for hydro-electricity, no tidal surges, no salmon, grouse or deer. no skiing,
    no scenery, no agriculture, no AberdeenAngus beef, no Edinburgh Festival or T-in the park,
    no sea lochs for submarines, nor granite hills for warheads, no sailing waters, no diving wrecks, nor much much more.

    Then no one would be bothering about this Referendum.
    Not Westminster, the Unionists, the BBC, not the Labour & Unionist Party, not the Conservative & Unionist Party, not the Scottish Press, no one.

    Probably not even the Scottish Electorate would be bothering too much.

    Except they would be.

    Because there is one thing not mentioned above that Scots want most.


    And when we get it,

    we get to keep the rest as well.

    Intelligence does not explain a No vote.


      and as cameron will lose his job if we seperate………..watch out the beeb will get worse,if subtle

  47. I believe you are an honest and honourable man and thus have written accordingly.

    All the rest is conjecture unless proof to the contrary can be evidenced.

  48. Leaked 2014 BBC Management Training Video.


    People who criticize this government approved BBC strategy must be treated with outright suspicion and shunned. There are no exceptions. Now carry on.

  49. Thank you for your thoughts on the BBC Derek.

    Let me say that I think we should all genuinely respect what you say about your own personal experience of the BBC and should stop having a go at you personally with our concerns about the BBC.

    Whilst accepting your experience that there isn’t a pro-union conspiracy involving the journalistic rank and file at the BBC, I think we would all very much like to have your views on the following recent events at the BBC:-

    (a) Why do you think the BBC appear to have gone into overdrive promoting the questionable “NO Borders” group (see http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/05/bbc-propaganda-hits-new-all-time-low/) when the BBC has never given publicity let alone acknowledged the existence of National Collective and other pro-independence grass root groups?

    (b) Why do you think the BBC appear to have edited out the comments made by Alex Salmond at this week’s FMQ about George Robertson’s invite to Russia to join NATO (see http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/9128-bbc-wipes-labour-peers-putin-nato-invite-from-news-bulletins)?

    (c) Why do you think the BBC went along with the pack of pro-union newspapers and misrepresented Alex Salmond’s Bruges speech this week (see http://derekbateman.co.uk/2014/05/02/nation-shall-speak-pish-unto-nation/)

  50. Having just had a reply from the B.B.C to my latest complaint, in which they tell me, politely, to bugger-off, I still bow to Derek’s knowledge of the inner workings of his former employer. I agree totally with the “institutionally biased” theory as I once worked for a large organisation that had the same attitude. Nothing was written down, very little was spoken about, and yet everyone knew you had to toe the line, or else you were finished, certainly as far as advancement was concerned. I value everybodys comments on this site as they always increase my ability to understand the different aspects of the independence debate, so I for one will be continuing to read Derek’s opinions, because, as he says, he will continue to tell the truth, and will not bend, just because people don’t always agree with him.

    • I got the same stock reply for my complaint. They believe they are lily white with no blemishes. Filming a meeting in George Square with a guy from England doesn’t just happen it was prearranged and rehearsed.

  51. Richard Scott

    Derek – I think you are absolutely right in your analysis of the BBC’s editorial line. There is no conspiracy, but there is a mindset. I am reminded of the report into the Metropolitan Police which concluded that the Met was “institutionally racist”. That did not mean that all officers were racists (although undoubtedly some were), but that as an organisation, the way in which it operated amounted to racism. The BBC coverage of the independence debate is similar – there is no deliberate and overt effort to favour the No campaign. I am sure that individual journalists will be horrified at the accusation. But the mindset which sees London as “supreme”, which depends on largesse from London for revenue, which sees itself as a British national institution (clue in the name) just cannot help itself.
    The question for Scotland is – what do we do about it? The BBC is a powerful player in this debate and can influence millions of voters. While there is still time, We need to go formal in our complaints – I think there is little point in complaining to the BBC (although I suppose we should) but perhaps we go to the Electoral Commission, the courts, European Court of Human Rights. Perhaps, as has been suggested elsewhere, we need to organise mass demonstrations. I don’t know – anyone else got ideas? Time marches on.

  52. I gave up on the BBC when the story broke some years back about MI5 vetting their potential journos. The BBC’s output today is exactly what you would expect of a state broadcaster which has weeded out the ‘wrong sort’.

    Derek is probably right in that there is no conspiracy at the BBC. With the ‘right people’ on board, there doesn’t need to be.

  53. I too have to disagree. I’m afraid if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then … its a duck.
    My touchstone for this is, if the BBC are not biased in favour of No then the law of averages would suggest that at least half their output would be in favour of Yes. This is self-evidently not the case. I agree with you on almost every subject you write about, just not this one. I too have worked for a large UK wide organisation and know only too well of the unspoken internal pressures and politics that prevail.

  54. lastchancetoshine

    Andrew , no one on here has said that the BBC’s output is not bias, least of all Derek. What he is saying is that they are.

    A. not being instructed to be bias.
    B. not doing anything about it.

    there’s a huge difference between a orchestrated policy and an inbuilt constitutional way of thinking.
    People should read what’s actually been written more carefully.
    and most likely be forced to read Manufacturing consent before being allowed to post 😉 (although it’s a bit dull)

    • I think you and Derek are misunderstanding what people mean by conspiracy. This always happens when institutions are accused of bias. They jump on the usual perception of conspiracy to mean a group of like-minded people getting together in secret enclaves to hatch a secret agenda known only to themselves with coded language and closely synchronized behaviour.

      What I mean, and it appears many other posting commenters mean, is the natural conspiratorial behaviour which occurs in human groups trying to achieve cohesion, acceptance, approval or advancement. Humans are expert at it and often so accomplished at it that those of the top do not need to exert overt pressure.

      This is why we are engaged in this frustrating argument, because Derek, like yourself apparently, thinks we mean the former – carefully orchestrated and robotic organization with obedient minions. What we mean by “conspiracy” is not the stuff of sci-fi dystopian fiction but the mundane social behaviour patterns of human groups which, strangely enough, seem to result in common endeavours and common perceptions, without the kind of iron mind control which Derek seems to think we imply.

      Several commenters have already ably given examples of how these natural behaviours operate and Derek also appears to agree with us as to the BBC output being biased. So what are we arguing about? If it’s just the word ” conspiracy” Derek objects to, I think he now has plenty of information as to what we understand it to mean.

      I don’t think anyone was trying to bend his will – as if we could (too much respect for that) – but like others I was trying to make Derek understand that we do think the BBC is culpable. The disagreement simply appears to be over the nature of that culpability.

      Just one more comment. In the time of the Cold War, One of the old Soviet dinosaurs (can’t remember which one) on a state visit to the USA, remarked to his American counterpart about the American press and their unswerving partisan support of the American government, that to achieve such uniform reporting in the Soviet press they required a Secret Police and a Ministry of Propaganda. He congratulated the US on having managed the same result without such overt coercion.

      And yes, I did read Manufacturing Consent and no, I didn’t find it dull.

  55. Thoroughly enjoyed “Headlines” this morning and delighted to learn that Ken MacDonald will be back next Sunday. So, with at least one non-biased BBC programme, one newspaper supporting the Yes Campaign and Derek’s superb blog along with the various Indy sites we can head with vigour towards independence.

  56. Bugger [the Panda]

    Sorry on a poxy telephone with fat fingers
    @. Mr Nimmo

    Yes of course but that wouldbe outwith their charter and be implicitly a conspiracy.

    I am in the culture corner butmanipulated hy oportunistic people.


  57. Bugger [the Panda]

    Still on moderation it seemz I am says yoda

  58. I believe the BBC has now grown far too big for its boots. Long past it’s cozy Aunty days, it’s now a ‘British’ business organisation. It has lost touch, it’s Scottish political output is institutionalised Westminster biased therefore it is by default anti independence – it cannae help it. What can we do? complain, don’t watch BBC and cancel your tv licence, as I have, until something changes and it better change soon.
    On another point, the BBC protected Savile as he was considered too important to their image at the time, and now they are protecting Clarkson as he is also responsible for a large income for their Top Gear program. They are more interested in their business than their public. The licence fee has to go. canpaywontpay worked for the poll tax.

    • Actually I have said for years that the BBC serves the Establishment regardless of which party. Labour is the Establishment Party in Scotland, therefore it favours it, Tory is the Establishment Party down South and it favours them there. I do not think it sees it is doing anything wrong but it is not serving the British Public, whilst picking their pockets.

      • Many Tories are on record with their belief that the BBC is Labour dominated. One day they’ll nail the Beeb in revenge. This was explained to me about 10 years ago by a BBC man from London who said that they recruited people mostly from the same background – affluent North London ‘socialists’ of the Michael Foot variety. This was after I and others had complained to him at a social function about a very obvious anti Scottish item on the box. He said there was no conspiracy, just as Derek has.

  59. I have been watching a lot of the BBC’s James Cook recently, covering all aspects of indy, from chairing debates to breaking stories on the UK network and of course in Scotland. I have to say I am impressed, not because I think he favours YES, but that he comes across as that most elusive animal in journalism these days, which is fair! He is professional, clear, gets his points across well and seems to me that he has a bright future whether YES or NO.

    Credit where its due, from me anyway.


    Like the new airliner with cracks on the wings.
    Or like the high speed train with the faulty tilting mechanism

    I really dislike bursting someone’s balloon, but …

    Q. Can the Sunday Herald be a ‘Nationalist’ Paper on the front pages
    while at the same time be a Unionist paper on the football pages.

    Can the Sunday Herald say on the front pages – The Emperor has no clothes,
    While on the football pages say, in unison with every other paper in Scotland – The Emperor’s new clothes!

    Including James Cook of The Herald.

    (For those who have been away on business or holidays for the past two years – The Unionist club, RFC(IL) went into Liquidation in 2012. A new club was formed thereafter.
    No mainstream media outlet in Scotland will say in public that that is the case.)

    “The media should not speak with one voice”
    (Editorial. Page 3. Para.T))

  61. Derek I’m with Morag’s first post and others. No cloak and daggers conspiracy is needed, just a ‘one of us’ culture you were unaware of because you were not ‘one of them’. All those years and no management job. Did you never wonder? or did the management tell you how ‘valued’ you were doing what you were doing? You were after all useful, you and Isabel Fraser could be pointed to, ‘see we can’t be biased we employ these people’.

    I’m amazed you can’t see it, you have even given us the rudiments of it with Boothman’s cabal and the Labour links. But that was all you saw, because you were not one of them. There will be no outraged revelations because those ‘fighting the good fight’ are not outraged. Those who were out of the loop, didn’t prosper, felt stifled but didn’t quite know why, left disgruntled but with nobody to attack and their confidence shot. Too vulnerable to counter attack by management with their file open.

    It’s like that in all of life, others have given examples. It’s the same in Science, though there it’s more if you are ‘clubbable’ in a specific way. At the NIMR where I worked there was an institute bar, no having to go off site for a drink in the evening. There was a group, centred around one of the top head guys who would ‘meet’ there most nights. My lab head was one of them. I had a young family, lived locally, my wife commuted so most evenings I was out of there at 6 to pick up the kids, go home, cook tea, organise homework etc. So I saw guys who were in no way better than average given labs for little reason. Except they were part of that group and a word had been put in on their behalf. Science is no more a meritocracy than a lot of human endeavours. Who you know and how well you get on with them is still more important than it should be, because we are human.

    I’m a scientist and am socially gauche and highish up on the ‘autistic spectrum’ without being clinical and I can see this. Why can’t you?

  62. There is a lot of chaff as well as wheat on this Facebook page but there is enough wheat there to suggest to me that there is real concerted bias against the Yes campaign. Why else would they alter content on their website, etc?

  63. Another good post Derek.
    I used to be a reader of the The Scottish Review.Now, I don’t always agree with Kenneth Roy but on his day, he does have the knack of getting to the ‘ nitty gritty’ of our governance.Depending on the topic ,do know what I used to do ? I would skim read or skip it. The who was connected to what etc passed me by in local Council , the NHS or whatever the topic. However after the last couple of elections (and in fairness due to having more time), I can now tell you who is married to who, who is connected to which party and if need be, who to contact to find out. Kenneth Roy hasn’t changed , I have. It is now in my vested interest to find out, who is making/taking decisions on my behalf.I do sometimes wonder what the hell have I been doing to let such a group of placemen and women be in charge of budgets, decisions and outcomes over the years but I think that is one of the big problems for an Institution like the BBC and by default BBC Scotland.
    The public are far more aware, far more cynical and far more demanding of better services and that includes no longer rounding off our news by telling us about a cat stuck up a tree
    Loathe as I am to go here, the Rangers /Sevco thing avoidance by all our media (with the possible exception of Alex Thomson channel 4) is a classic. By avoiding reporting the ‘whole story’ , there could be a serious reaction by people paying their money and investing their time, wondering how did it come to this, if/when things go pear shaped but add to that the knock on effect to the SFA and that then involves everyone who has a passing interest in Scottish Football or even the National team.

    BBC Scotland should be the first port of call for information, oh how we laugh. The Rangers thing is a microcosm of what goes on in Scottish society,including Scottish politics..We all know whats happening and have joined the dots our selves.We now have access to information like the man in charge of the Electoral Commission,once being a BBC Controller or John Boothman (highheid yin BBC Scotland) having been to Uni with some of the current Labour powers,far less married to one and you can see why there is such public frustration. We’re not daft and the stakes over the last two years have risen substantially.
    Like you, in essence I don’t think there is a conspiracy as such, just those in charge are out of touch, trying to toe a line that has not adjusted to our times ,while not wanting to or even being able to adapt .Afterall, two years ago they possibly thought they wouldn’t have to,if nothing else,they know they do now.

  64. Bugger (the Panda)

    From WoS


    Eric D says:
    5 May, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    X_Sticks : I was in the audience for Salmond’s Carlisle speech.

    The speech was good, and well received by the mostly business audience.
    But what impressed me most (and from what I overheard – those local business people agreed) was that he then sat down and answered every question put to him. That Q&A didn’t finish until all questions had been answered.
    He then left the stage and chatted to anyone who wanted to chat.
    When we left 30 minutes after he’d joined the audience, he was still there, chatting away.
    BBC Scotland’s James Cook was there, but like the rest of the media, he completely ignored what followed the speech.
    Or … was it those infamous BBC-S editors again ?
    You know, the folk that the BBC-S executives claimed are responsible for all ‘editorial decisions’.
    That Q&A was recorded, but has been edited out of all subsequent BBC Parliament broadcasts.
    We know why.
    Carlisle was not unusual – it’s what usually happens – and if you watch the FM’s recent ‘EU’ speech the Q&A is where we see him at his very best – but it doesn’t matter where he is or who is asking the questions.
    Cameron’s spinners know this, which is why we are unlikely to see a Cameron/Salmond debate

  65. I don’t think anyone thinks it’s that kind of conspiracy, do they? It’s institutional bias.

    Institutional bias of another sort, racial and gender bias was once part and parcel of policing, for example. Individual female or ethnic minority officers could do OK, even get quite high in areas of policing concentrating on “their own” issues – women & children, community policing. By the 1990s some could get to quite high rank outside those “ghettoes” but even high rank hasn’t protected some from being the target of discrimination and even sabotage at times. Not because so many are out to get them but because so many are reuctant to admit that it happens. Or to take it seriously.

    In police forces there was no need of racialist conspiracies as such because the right (white) people got on by fitting in, by being the right type. By having the right sort of views, too.

    Laughing at the right jokes, leaving cultural and institutional norms unchallenged, knowing the right people. Forgetting to ask certain people to nights out with the lads and works dos. Some people getting, and some not getting networking invites to this or that industry event. People ending up networked in different networks, only one of which includes the people with clout. And just enough exceptions to be visible, to disprove accusations of bias.
    As for race in the past, so still, for thre BBC, where politics and culture are concerned.

    I mean — it’s not that long since having an Anglified accent, in Scotland, was a basic requirement for ever getting in front of a microphone. Football being the exception; even people with quite common accents could do well in “their” wee ghetto. Even now, an un-tivvied-up Scottish accent is regarded as political point-making.

    The people who create institutional bias seldom if ever, I’m sure, plan it that way. It’s the result of a thousand “people-like-us” decisions in many different contexts and areas day after day. Much of it fuelled by unconscious rather than conscious bias. (With policing, the end result was that for decades it made explicit racism accepted and acceptable in a national institution.)

    The similarity with the BBC is in the way bias becomes instiutionalised: it can only do so if the large proportion of generally benevolent members believe the bias does not exist. Or at least, it requires that they believe that the instances they have noticed are just one-offs, just one biased individual.

    Everyone gets to meet the people who matter once or twice. The right sort, with the right values and the right outlook, end up being brought along to get to know them better. They simply don’t notice that some of their peers are not being given the sort of inclusion and access they themselves are.

    The ones included-in also fail to notice that some values and attitudes that are representative of the wider population are not being received as gladly as their own, or not being acknowledged as being in a disporoportionate minority within the institution — or just not even being noticed at all.

    Lack of awareness, clubbiness and self-confirmatoion bias leads to institutional bias as effectively as conspiracy plans.

    That’s how the BBC is unionist to its bones (and how so much of QMD/PQ news is Scottish Labour in its ither claes.)

  66. I think Derek is right and that the bbc has a general institutional failure and the radio and television reports on the referendum in particular give just enough lazy consensus that prefers the Yes campaign, Scottish Government, ‘Alex Salmond’, issues related to Europe or the pound to be portrayed as being on the back foot most of the time.

    I think we can expect this to remain the case in general up to the vote.

    I am more than inclined to believe what Derek Bateman has said in this article that there isn’t a coordinated anti Independence plan, just enough journalistic laziness and a lack of true direction and leadership and this is a disappointment.

    Derek’s own words, tone, credibility and motives are not open to question in my eyes, he has shown integrity and honesty in this debate and he plays an important part in it and credit should be given where it is due.

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