I Resign

Dear Ms Davidson

After a lifetime of commitment as a Conservative, I have today tendered my resignation from the party I love.

Through every travail, and there have been many, I have held firm to the only party that represented what I regard as everything decent and civilised about our country.

I have watched as first the interloper Blair sneaked on to our territory and, with increasing alarm, the blandishments of Salmond the carpetbagger erode further our vote.

I acknowledge that politics is an every-changing chessboard requiring moves of attack and defence and flexible strategy. However when, three years ago, you appealed for my vote to support your candidacy for leadership, I detected someone who understood the Conservative’s fundamental resistance to chasing a media-contrived public mood. Devolution is to my mind the creation of agitprop writers and drawing room saboteurs whose lust for endless upheaval it satisfies.

When I heard of your Line-in-the-Sand declaration regarding the further degrading of the United Kingdom, I seized upon it as a long-awaited bulwark against incursion. It recalled for me Ian Smith declaring independence in Rhodesia in 1965. So far and no further, he said, and look what’s happened since to one of the jewels of Empire.

I cast aside my inherent doubts about your gender and what I’m to call ‘orientation’, not to mention youth, inexperience and, even at enormous effort, your years in the Red Brigade of the BBC.

You represented the raising of the standard of us British traditionalists, a banner reading no surrender to more petty Scotto nationalism.

I heard the proposals of your commission on the constitution therefore with horror and dismay, not just at their wilful separation of tax from the rest of the UK but at the tone of assimilation into the Irish bog of devolutionary concession along with the socialists and federalists. This leaves only the faragists utterly committed to unreformed Union and, though they are Rotary Club shopkeepers and golf club arrivistes, they will benefit from my vote in future. Even at my age I cannot recall such a feeling of betrayal since Heath took us into the EEC.

Frankly, we might as well have backed the Ibrox lawyer-boy Murdoch Fraser who at least told us how he intended to destroy our party and let us down. I now await your announcement of a referendum on the monarchy to complete your treachery. (I see your ‘adviser’ Professor Tomkins is a Queen-hating republican).

RIP The Scottish Conservative (and Unionist) Party. 

Yours in dismay

Derek W Bateman (rtd)

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Devolution is now such a mainstay of our politics that even a breath-taking reversal of a policy position – one that was used to gain the leadership – is accommodated by our media as a natural progression. It’s as if the Tories have at last applied logic and joined the real world. Perhaps they have. But where have their supporters been all this time if not in Unreality? One of the deepest issues in conservatism – as proved by Murdo’s leadership bid failure – is that the membership isn’t right wing in any modern sense at all. They aren’t libertarian, they’re not risk-takers who want to open up the business environment to commercial gamble and they don’t want to free up individuals to make their own decisions. They don’t want anything to change until after they die and they don’t want to hear about it before they do. They aren’t right wing. They are conservative. They are Unionists. Ruth won them over because the old regime backed her and she was promising no advance on devolution because they know, and are right, that this is simply a brick-by-brick dismantling of Britain rather than a wrecking ball. More powers lead to more powers because each time the demand grows. Surely a Conservative would understand supply and demand, the basics of a market?

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There is now little to separate the Tories from the squishy squashy middle of Scottish politics. They have arrived at Compromise Junction to find Labour and the Lib Dems unsure where to go next. The complexity of the different approaches from each means the detail will be lost on the public and it will be impossible to separate them out in the voters mind. Nobody is going to fine comb the documents for tiny margins of difference. The message is they are chasing the Nationalists, playing Salmond’s game and the direction of travel is unmistakable.

This may lead to a confused public believing they’re being given a combined offer of Devo Max or just as likely they will mentally lump the Unionists together and dump them in the river like kittens in a bag.

Two things stand out. First, what an opportunity for UKIP to carve out a position as saviours of the Union as we know it. They can rightly claim that you can’t trust anyone else not even the Tory leader.

Second, what a pitiful position it leaves Labour in. It seems that Johann is one of those people who just can’t win, can’t get anything right. Wasn’t the Tory commission part of their background thinking when they devised Labour’s proposals? Didn’t they foresee a danger here…some commentators did. How could they be outbid by the Undead, Scotland’s Zombie Party?

And who could have foreseen the implosion at BBC Scotland? I swear it’s only the Scottish government afraid to intervene publicly that prevents a major row blowing up. The SNP has had many opportunities to make life difficult at PQ but has a strategy of not showing any muscle in order to avoid a more damaging relationship developing and media accusations of interference. I suppose they may feel now there’s little point in showing their hand when the BBC does a brilliant job of damaging itself.

Cards on the table – I’m not a fan of the Gary Robertson presenting style or interviewing technique and there’s scant evidence in my experience of him being overburdened by compunction or regret at others being moved aside to make way for his career promotion.

He is employed on a contract because that is mutually beneficial. It allows him to be paid more because it carries the implied risk of termination in a way that a staff job doesn’t. He has benefited from this arrangement for years and has had such strong backing from the head of radio Jeff Zycinski that to the staff, he was untouchable. That the contract has been ended must also be a sign I suspect that Zycinksi may also be in a less secure tenure these days.

However, there are real issues here that transcend those considerations. The first is the personal one for Gary Robertson. Whatever his deal says, he shouldn’t go from voice of the station one day to reject the next. His exposure and seniority deserves more respect than to be victim of a number-crunching exercise and says much more about the management than it does about him.

I think it is harsh to throw someone out before the referendum. It is the biggest political event of our lives and he has played his part in bringing that to the nation. He should be allowed to see that through. If it is the case he has to go for budgetary reasons, then they have the executive authority to do so but I would have given a longer period of warning and made clear he would stay for the referendum and his departure could be managed thereafter. His dismissal is another sign of the inhumane treatment given to staff at PQ, as I outlined from experience in Just Another Body Out The Door.

The other point is more worrying. It displays disrespect for the audience. You can’t just hook someone who has been there for so long doing a prominent job without the listeners noticing. On the one hand they try to get the audience to buy into the presenters – it’s one of the strategies Zycinski follows to get the listeners to engage with the personality of the presenter. You can’t ask them to care about the presenter and the next day chuck him out like the rubbish. Where’s the explanation for the decision to the audience who aren’t just listeners – they’re the funders – they pay for this.

There is a massive disconnect between the regime at PQ and the people who really matter – the consumers.

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Which is how you end up Kezia Dugdale as a presenter. Here is my primary objection – she is a serving politician in the pending period before an election and is therefore an active participant in the debate.

I have never heard of a payroll politician being hired as a presenter, as opposed to guest, when the BBC has entered the period when impartiality is a necessity. The format is for two people to argue from opposing sides but her adversary is far outside the party machine with known views of his own developed after years outside parliament and party whip scope. Two such people would be fine. I don’t even think two serving MSPs, Labour and SNP, would work either because they act at the party’s command. Only a known maverick would dare vary the party line or go off message while subject to party discipline.

In this case, does anyone doubt that Kezia will now be subject daily to Paul Sinclair’s instructions and lines of attack and defence – Labour’s lines, mind, not Kezia’s. I am suggesting that she will not be her own woman because he has not been around long enough to have her own independence from the leadership or built up a wider support base needed to resist the party machine. Indeed, from everything I hear – and I do know people who know her well – her reputation is as someone prepared to say whatever she has to. ‘She would read a menu to camera if they gave her one’, was one unsympathetic view.

I wonder what effect a complaint to the Electoral Commission would have? An objection to a serving MSP, a party politician, being given airtime by the BBC could present an awkward question. They would probably wriggle out by saying this is not a party election, not a general election but a referendum but I still suspect they would be uneasy.

On the other hand, she might be brilliant at the cut and thrust, be ready to disagree with party policy, reveal hidden depths and a talent for the microphone and leave people like me speechless…

It displays either previously unheard of editorial independence by the BBC – as in ‘We don’t care what they say, we’ll decide who’s on air’ – or, more likely, crass indifference to how they are perceived. I fear that, for many, this will be the final confirmation that some internal gyroscope of balance and integrity has deserted the BBC and that a crash of credibility is imminent.

 

 

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34 thoughts on “I Resign

  1. Like many I greeted the news of Ms Dugdale and her co hosts arrival on the media scene with some shock. I simply couldn’t believe that the BBC would pull such a stroke in the run up to polling. They’ve stumbled from one car crash to the next from Buchanan’s removal to their handling of the UWS report we moved onwards and upwards to the sidelining and removal of any talented individuals which didn’t quite fit. These of course were replaced with big names from down south across the Rio Tweed and my what a job they’ve done so far. The shutting down of Newsnicht and the car crash of its current replacement has been traumatic enough to the Scottish viewer, but this? This is now surely the Beeb extracting the urine.

    Oh and let’s not forget the ongoing carnage that is the BBC membership of the CBI and their current wranglings with the NUJ.

    If the BBC were a lame horse in an old western, you’d put them out of their misery at this point.

  2. Has Kezia’s name not been suggested as that of a possible replacement for Lamont — presumably after 18th September? This move could be the PQ management giving her a boost by enhancing her public profile and showing she has the attack dog qualities necessary for leadership of Labour in Scotland. Perhaps Lamont is the one who really needs to take notice of this.

    This format suggests to me that PQ are thumbing their noses at the Scottish Government, safe in the knowledge that they can do as they like, say what they want. Hmm! Wonder how long it might be before the patience of the SG snaps. A head a steaming anger is certainly rising amongst Yes supporters.

  3. Free Scotland

    Ms Davidson looks quite at ease in the above photo, pictured against a background of multiple double-crosses. Every picture tells a story.

  4. I thought at first Kezia’s appointment was a spoof; I genuinely did.

    Then on finding out it wasn’t I remembered it was BBC Scotland we were talking about and that nothing they do should surprise me.

  5. I’m absolutely baffled that an extended discussion of this new BBC program can completely omit the words “Andrew” and “Wilson”. That it’s a jointly hosted show is SURELY of some relevance.

    • He doesn’t specifically say “Andrew Wilson”, but he does refer to him:

      “The format is for two people to argue from opposing sides but her adversary is far outside the party machine with known views of his own developed after years outside parliament and party whip scope. Two such people would be fine.”

      To put the difference between them into perspective, I actually had to correct two people on Twitter yesterday who thought Wilson was “clearly” anti-independence…

    • Yes, Doug, Wilson is billed in wikipedia as a Trustee of the John Smith Trust, and left office and parliament in (it seems) 2003.

      It’s an incredible idea, having a serving Labour politician as a frontsperson for a political programme in a referendum period or outside it. Panel member, OK, but presenter, no way.

  6. James Coleman

    “I fear that, for many, this will be the final confirmation that some internal gyroscope of balance and integrity has deserted the BBC and that a crash of credibility is imminent.”

    I can’t believe you STILL have doubts about the BBC’s impartiality. Where has your head been for the last few years?

  7. The soon-to-be Kezia Dugdale as presenter is so off-the-wall that it verges on comedy. I could live with Bryan Monteith versus Andrew Wilson because they are from the same stable but this is ridiculous. A complaint to the Electoral Commission is the minimum consideration. The First Minister making representation to the DG of the BBC is surely in order.

  8. “I have never heard of a payroll politician being hired as a presenter, as opposed to guest, when the BBC has entered the period when impartiality is a necessity. “

    The BBC Trust gave the BBC into trouble for paying Diane Abbott appearance fees on This Week after she became a member of the shadow cabinet. That was in a sort of half-guest/half-presenter capacity (the BBC itself uses the term “co-presenter”) and not during an official campaign period. It was also during the period that there was nobody sitting beside Portillo permanently. So how they can get away with giving a member of the Scottish shadow cabinet a full-time co-presenter role during an official campaign period is utterly beyond me.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19423658

    They’ve simply gone too far now. Regardless of who they have on to balance things, you just do not give elected politicians such a role.

    In hiring a sitting MSP and member of the shadow cabinet, I think the Scottish Government have just been handed the perfect excuse to wade in. Would the UK government sit back as the BBC gave a member of the UK shadow cabinet a co-presenter role during a general election campaign? I think not.

  9. Salmond hinted to Dimblebum at the Euro elections that the Scottish Gov had been monitoring the BBC’s output regards UKIP coverage, so would be a fair guess that they are likely to be compiling some sort of dossier about BBC goings on in the indyref . The question is though, what would they do with it?

    The BBC answers to no one and there are no regulators with any teeth to do anything. The EC is headed by an ex BBC man who sees nothing wrong with the CBI shenanigans.

    For the SNP to make a move on the BBC at the moment would be dangerous and would deflect from the indy campaign message.

    You are probably right that they are hoping that the BBC will destroy itself from the inside, though it may also take the possibility of a YES vote with it if it is allowed to continue as is.

    Is there not one serving BBC person willing to step up to the plate, and do whats right for the BBC, and for Scotland?

  10. As a previous poster commented, this is a move to position Dugdale as leader of SLab post NO, with an enhanced public profile.

    This must be stopped.

  11. I despair. Her attack-dog style (Lamont V.2) is going to lower the tone of the whole debate. She will be Labour’s mole in the BBC. The title of the programme, Crossfire, suggests strongly that it will be antagonistic. Instead of a calm, reasoned debate, we will get a stair heid rammy and hysterical shouting at a time when we need careful and calm exploration of the issues. Andrew Wilson is to co-present but will be no match for her. The public will be sickened. I suppose it is meant to be toxic and intended to poison political culture in Scotland. Really bad decision, unless Dugdale changes her style, listens to the people and puts Scotland before Labour, which I very much doubt.

  12. I think these two moves by BBC Scotland show that they are very clearly in Full On British Imperial Propaganda mode. They know the EC intend to report on the conduct of media organisations after September 18 so they have no fear there. The Trust will also be behind this so they have no fear of of a Dianne Abbot repeat from that side either. They will also be banking on the Scottish Government not picking that fight.

    So they will be as brazen as they dare, thumbing their noses at Scottish Democracy as they go. They will go down screaming defiance and they don’t care how many people’s careers they doom by association. If I was a journalist or lower level manager at PQ I would be seriously looking for other employment and apply to join the SBS after the dust has settled. Being thought even possibly complicit would be too much of a risk.

    I know journalism jobs are hardly ten a penny any more, but what price self respect?

    If a BBC Scotland crew ever tried to do a vox pop with me I would politely but firmly tell them where to go and why.

  13. Thomas William Dunlop

    How could they be outbid by the Undead, Scotland’s Zombie Party?

    Easy. It is very hard to see whether Labour or the Tories are they most atrophied, zombie like party in Scotland. Both act utterly brain dead, only reacting at some basal level towards an instictive hatred for the SNP.

  14. I’m getting confused – which is the real BBC Scotlandshire and which is the spoof – I’m beginning to think the other one is making more sense but I’m not sure which other one is the other one ………..

  15. Teeter-tottering Derek, now your sense of what the BBC in Scotland should be compared to the ever increasing train crash it is becoming?

    Smith’s version of Flam 2014 can’t hold on for long given its plummeting audience figures after only one week – I bet there are more folk watching the Gaelic news on Alba than watch Smith’s dumb down disaster on BBC 2.

    Come across to the dark, BBC is institutionally biased, side ……. you know you want to …. let go of your hate and disappointment at the organisation, you joined with such trust and vigour, pitiful collapse at the hands of the British Establishment’s need for greed.

    Accept senior management’s love affair with toxic Labour has brought the BBC in Scotland to this pass, see Jackie and Brian Taylor on Reporting Scotland struggling to make mountains out of mole hills in defence of the Union and accept as far as Scotland is concerned the BBC motto is the ‘British Nation will speak down to Scotland’.

    Ms Dougdale’s appointment is part of the problem and merely indicates just how mendacious the BBC/ Labour connection in Scotland is.

    BBC Scotland is now in its Norwegian Blue Parrot phase – it would not go ‘voom’ if you put 40Mv through it, it is nailed to its perch, deceased, gone to the maker in the sky (or is that BSKYB) – it is an ex-neutral broadcaster.

  16. Derek, do you really think that a crash of credibility is imminent?

    I would have said it is actually going on right now in very slow motion!

  17. Drew Broadley

    Dream scenario: Kezia Dugdale jumps ship to Labour for Independence after a few days in the job.

  18. I fear Kezia may neglect her spot in the Daily Mail as their go-to concerned Scottish citizen. On the other hand you have to admire her ability to bag multiple gigs. Is she the Alistair Darling of Lesser Nation Labour?

    I would question the tone of Derek’s words about Ruth Davidson. Less informed readers may think she said a lot of stuff to get elected leader of her party with no conviction in what she said. Especially where the nature of the policy change is something that is core to Conservative beliefs.

    I’ve lost count of how many times Alex Salmond has changed his mind on Scotland being a country that ran its own affairs.

  19. The Referendum and the media coverage of it must be the biggest story for a long time in the UK but as they are part of it, they won’t investigate it. Even the Guardian has shown it is interested in democracy, but only if it is far away. The Times and Telegraph and all the Scottish based papers are firmly against independence and seem to take that as an excuse to put investigative journalism on hold.

    The whole British establishment, and its institutions, is weak at the core. This is bad news for the UK. it is never good to be seen scrabbling: others outside the UK will be taking note.
    Panic is never a good look.
    The BBC in Scotland is now a total failure. Perhaps the staff don’t realise it yet, but they are acting against the very people who might preserve it.
    The Conservatives at Westminster are looking at how it performs for the next review, of course I mean the big BBC in London.
    The arses in management in Glasgow are not on the staff’s side.

  20. Both the Scottish and the UK Government have a duty to ensure that the electorate are protected from undue manipulation and pressure in casting their vote. Appointing a presenter to a current affairs programme whose first loyalty is with the Labour Party, Unionist, clearly breaches the BBC’s duty to be impartial. Obviously, this move should be reversed and the status quo ante prevail at least until after referendum. A joint Holyrood and Westminster approach would be necessary. Perhaps the Electoral Commission will initiate this?

  21. Who makes the rules? Who pays those who make the rules? Who pays them who police the rules? They are the establishments rules! Go back to start.

  22. Is it possible that Ms Davidson is ahead of the Westminster game? Come a No vote and the comeback of yet another Tory government we didn’t elect and the introduction of the souped-up Tory Devo proposals (OK, 3 big assumptions!), there will be even less need for the serried ranks of Labour time-servers at Westminster – except like for voting on English legislation.
    Enter stage right: West Lothian Question, mark x.
    There surely will be a demand from English Tory MPs for a reduction of Scottish MPs, since there’ll not be much left for them to do. This, of course, considerably enhances the prospect of a Tory government in London.
    Or am I giving Ruth too much credit?

  23. When I first heard of Fifi’s imminent appointment, what came across to me was the visual image of the unionist establishment having completely run out of ammunition and resorting to throwing everything it’s got at the advancing army: saucepans, plates, forks, dirty laundry and bags of old garbage. Given the quality of their arguments against independence it seemed apt.

    We currently have John Reid wheeling himself out complete with blunderbuss and deerstalker hat, Ruth Davidson adopting the role of authoritarian parent threatening to send us to our rooms, Cameron swivelling helplessly on the weathervane spike and Better Together using scraper machines to construct the strangest possible lies about independence. If there’s any coordinated method to all this, “If it moves, throw it” really does seem to be the mantra now.

  24. Don’t know if you’ve seen this yet Derek – the BBC is to cut another 500 jobs from its news division http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilmidgley/2014/06/03/bbc-news-division-to-cut-500-jobs/

  25. didn’t even realize Ms Dugdale is to be on BBC TV. Gave up months ago at the unadulterated bias. Still listen to GMS guff, but getting tired of the bias there a well.

  26. The BBC, for some time now, has charged ahead regardless of shattered trust and broken commitment. I can’t believe this wasn’t planned long ago – ie the decision, if things were not going their way, to charge headlong without consideration, engage in a determined, “anything goes” effort to preserve the union. We are tasting a little of what it must be like for those living under a dictatorship. Fortunately though, we can vote YES in September. It’s the one and only way forward for Scotland.

  27. Andrew Sinclair

    Like others, when the Kezia Dugdale to present (OK co-present) a show story broke I really thought it was a wind up, and internet borne fantasy. But it’s not.

    I really worry about the power of the BBC. It has to be the wall-to-wall appearances Nigel Farage on the BBC which gave UKIP the result we’ve seen. If they’d given the Greens the same amount of airtime we’d have had a Green landslide. There’s no way to prove this, but it just feels that that is what happened.

    The BBC has now tried, tested and proven it’s power. It knows it can get the public to respond in the way it wants. The beta test is over.

    So they put a new figurehead on a show, to get the public used to the sound of that voice. Then increase, to being on the screens. Get the public used to seeing that person in their living rooms, their name on on our PCs. All the time. It’s not even subliminal. It’s blatant. We know it’s happening, they know we know, but they really don’t care. Who is pulling these strings?

    Unless we, the public, are prepared to risk a Criminal conviction we can do nothing about it. It seems to me that the biggest threat to a YES vote is the BBC. In gameplay you’d say it was playing in “God mode”. Outside the normal rules and controls. Is it time to revitalise a “Can Pay, Won’t Pay” campaign? What alternatives do we have? I can only think that we all need to be wearing our YES badges, have YES stickers on our cars, on our business vans. be talking to colleagues, friends, social groups. Word of Mouth is the best method we’ve got.

    Can you imagine waking up on the 19th Sept to hear it’s been a 51:49 vote to NO. “If only I’d got up and talked to people”, “If only I’d gone along to that meeting”.

    Word of Mouth, Conversations. They’re even more important than you think.

    • Alex – re. the treatment of the Greens by the BBC, at least in the referendum context, the new research on BBC referendum coverage on Newsnet today has something to say.

      Greens called “junior party” etc. begs the question: what should the BBC have been calling UKIP?

  28. Andrew “The BBC has now tried, tested and proven it’s power. It knows it can get the public to respond in the way it wants. The beta test is over.”

    One of the most chilling things I have read about the referendum – – unfortunately I have to agree with you

  29. It displays disrespect for the audience.

    I agree with every word you say on the BBC here Derek. I’d go even further and say it displays out and out contempt for the audience.

    I don’t buy into the bias beliefs of the Nationalists, but recent events at the BBC are indefensible.

    Regards

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