Up In Lights

The Yes movement at war…or is it handbags? The billboards campaign again exposes that we don’t all think alike. There’s a surprise. The fundraiser to mount hoardings across the country accusing the BBC of ‘misreporting Scotland’ has run into headwinds from those who don’t like the message.

And I’m one of them.

The clear message conveyed is that all this is deliberate. And organised. It is part of a plan to tilt opinion against the SNP and independence. BBC journalists are willing participants or perhaps convenient stooges implementing a master plan. In short it is a conspiracy. In this he is backed by other members of the infromscotland group.

The trouble with this analysis is simple. It’s not true. It’s not true and it’s not possible. Anyone with common sense or any experience inside an organisation understands there is a collective ethos or corporate mindset and subconsciously follows it – which does happen at the BBC whose origins, management configuration and internal protocols tend towards reflecting a status quo. In this case that means Britain. This idea of conveying the coherence of the UK is now written into the new charter settlement. It means that when there is a threat to the status quo, as there was in the 90’s over a Scottish Six, the Director General went to the Prime Minister to move jointly against it in case it threatened the Union. Which makes you think about the indyref…

But that’s not the same thing as journalists conspiring to twist announcements to read like criticisms of the SNP. That needs a structure in which word comes down through layers of staff to the journalists. It means telling a journalist what to say or what to write even against his better judgment. It means over 200 staff keeping quiet and never spilling the beans. It suggests all staff are party to an undeclared plan and word doesn’t leak out. Nobody complains. Everybody is malleable or has no political views of their own. (I take some responsibility here having revealed the doubtful dealings of the head of news with the Labour Party but the point was to ensure that contact stopped. In other words a BBC journalist objecting to any possible interference.)

The anti BBC outlook is insulting to the people working there and I’m always uncomfortable about the demonisation of individuals. Jackie Bird for example is one of the most professional presenters of an early evening news programme the BBC has ever had. For 20 years and more she has anchored the show and read the cues and occasional questions written for her. She does not determine content let alone political direction. She doesn’t arch her eyebrow or spit out Sturgeon’s name as some suggest in order to imply criticism. But just writing those words will send some into apoplexy.

On-air people love the recognition (oh yes they do) and are normally handsomely remunerated so they can take the flak. But it’s an unattractive trait to blame presenters and reporters as individuals for failings that can be institutional and – in my experience – caused by poor management, resourcing and staff cuts. I know that will never cover every questionable slice of output and when I listen I still hear stuff that makes my hair stand on end. Mostly it’s poor journalism from people who should know better and as soon as I hear it, I know what the BBC critics will make of it. The corporation is its own worst enemy and its unending silent response to criticism doesn’t work in the modern social media forum.

So scrutiny of the BBC as the main information source and the one we are obliged to pay for, is legitimate and appropriate. But do we need a hoardings campaign to reinforce it?

I share the view that the next stage of the indy campaign will have to learn lessens from the past. It will need refinement and radical change. Some things we cherish may have to be re-thought. For example? Well, if you speak to No folk now in doubt and toying with transferring over, you’ll find they are uncomfortable with the flag-waving and kilty apparel of demos. But surely that’s who we are! That’s true and we shouldn’t pretend to be what we are not. Yet it remains true that doubters are put off by blatant nationalist signalling because they want to feel they make a rational choice not a crude, saltire-faced one. They don’t want to be associated with anything that’s easily mocked. So do we tell them to get lost or do we reconsider? (I know there are bigger considerations like the oil price but never underestimate the importance of detail).

I think the anti-BBC case has been exhausted. My heart fell when I say the campaign because it sounds like beating a drum to death. People have got the message and those who are suspicious of the BBC will carry on being so. But for many, it remains trusted and respected and when they see the giant hoardings questioning their judgment it tells them this is the work of obsessives. That’s how it’s seen and it won’t convince anyone to switch their vote.

Also, if we are to win, a day will come when the BBC will report how opinions are moving and how impressive Sturgeon is in Brussels and Berlin. Programmes will be made showing us how Scotland might become the 28th member instead of the UK. What do we say then about the journalists telling us a story that suits our narrative? Are they still distorting the truth or are they now to be trusted? The seeds of suspicion are firmly rooted.

Still, I think we should all do what we think is the best thing and I probably wouldn’t have mentioned the billboards except I was somehow linked to it. So to be clear, I don’t support the idea and have asked not to be mentioned as a site author or source as that is clearly taken as endorsement. (Links I don’t mind since all my material is out there and open to all). But nor do I disrespect people for doing it.  Actually, I might put that on a billboard

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109 thoughts on “Up In Lights

  1. Freudian slip, Derek – BBC, not SNP!

  2. “there is a collective ethos or corporate mindset”

    Ah! You mean like subliminal brainwashing? Sorry Derek, I think you are way off the mark here.

    • No, collective ethos or corporate mindset surely does not equate to subliminal brainwashing. That requires organised intent, which Derek rightly points out isn’t the case at BBC Scotland (or BBC in London, to be honest). I think you should believe the guy who was there for many years.

    • There doesn’t need to be a formal conspiracy for there to be a strong bias. Most of the really nasty stuff that happened in Nazi Germany was nver ordered by Hitler. There a general spirit around known as ‘working towards the Fuhrer’. People just did what they assumed Hitler would approve of. Perhaps it’s the same at the BBC, in which case both Derek and the conspiracy theorists are essentially correct. They just look at the situation from opposite ends.

  3. Derek, I have huge respect for your writing and agree with almost all of your output. I’m not aware of the billboard campaign and I too would have my doubts. But… I do wonder if your history with the Auntie is affecting your judgement here?

    I’ve no doubt there are many good people and even some decent journalists working in Pacific Quay. But their employer is as institutionally corrupt and badly managed as Westminster. The house of commons has some good MPs (even some who are not SNP) but the institution is anachronistic and failing. So too is the Beeb. Agreed that those fine journalists will be required in future to report SNP-Good stories. But hopefully that can be done as part of a new Scottish broadcaster employer.

    Billboards, if done correctly, might sew the seeds of doubt that are required by society at large. I hope they might be more carefully worded than some of the blatant scaremongering billboards adopted by the British parties a few years ago – Labour Danger showing Tony Blair with evil eyes, although on reflection that one wasn’t far off the mark. It might show many people that the weirdo nats they work with are perhaps not as extreme as they think.

    The message needs to go out but it needs to be done carefully and respectfully.

    • 😆Spot on. There is good within perceptions that are bad but does that aid everyone? Nope. There is bad within perceptions that are good but does that aid everyone? Nope. The ‘but’ is the BBC, Westminster, History & the ‘future benefactors’. That’s the all important factor,its why hate, religious intolerance has been highlighted/encouraged.
      A very, very large war is being placed on the chess set.

  4. Typo. First para. SNP should read BBC!

  5. Derek, while I respect your lingering, vestigial or otherwise, loyalty to the BBC and felt the same for my employer for some years after retirement, I have to disagree with your sentiment. What in your opinion lost us the referendum? Will the media, led by the BBC, be set up to try to ensure we will lose the next one? In my view that will be the case – the media led up front and unashamedly by BBC Scotland. The points made by many about what the first B stands for is irrelevant although Goebbels pointed to Britain as his model for creating propaganda in a different time and world. However you don’t have to be a genius to see the biased reporting of many happenings – the latest being the lawful transit of the English channel by a Russian task force. The US has ringed Russia with missile sites for years – never commented on by the impartial and benevolent BBC. If they are prepared to misinform about events beyond their control do you really believe that it will not be used in the fight to retain Scotland in this corrupt union- and if you believe, as I do, that the Union is corrupt then so is the BBC as it’s mouthpiece.

    • Good post, Bill, and echoes my thoughts. I don’t understand the thinking that the BBC are their own worst enemy, charged with protecting the status quo. Every organisation has to adapt and change to survive, to meet changing needs of the customer audience. Unless, of course, you are following a line of defending a dying breed/structure. It’s as much about what the BBC omit, which would bring balance.
      I just want balanced reporting and analysis.

      I agree with Derek about Jackie Bird, she has unfortunately been the target of much ire at the reporting, and its not her words.

  6. One of the turners for me with independence was the BBC. Something from 15 or so years ago about the Iraq War – it broke me because they were following the Daily Mail line. As I watched after that, all I saw was a deep insidious lack of real reporting.

    The BBC is not analysis, its just ‘reporting’. That reporting is dictated by policy from above which is wholly Tory. Yes – don’t blame presenters (can Shelley Jofre be blamed?), or even the localised producers because they are simply employees.

    The problem then is that people think ‘the News’ is the BBC. They drink it every day, enjoy the blandness, the lack of critical analysis and the inherent bias thereof. Getting my (English) mum to ‘try’ RT for example is difficult. She was amazed at a piece on beach quality, and wondered why the BBC had never covered it, but didn’t question for long .. its fizzled out.

    The BBC agenda is simple. Keep drinking the cool-aid, and they don’t want you to try the Irn-Bru. The upper BBC know (doh! Tories) that the low level, deep, non-analysis message is the one that keeps people from ‘thinking’. Take Question Time – I could call it every week – same questions, never asking/ answering anything important, led by a Bullingdon Boy – dull soft platitudes and Britannia hurrah – but worse, the (Dundee) audience of anti-society with planted sycophants – telling you nothing.

    So billboards? Flash in a pan, turning no-one, annoying some. Same as the Unionist ones tbh. I still like the idea that the odd one or two my have a Damascene moment – but it will mostly only get nods from some, and confusion for others.

  7. I was fascinated by London Calling and it needed to be written. However vilification of individuals is often wide of the mark and a case of ‘shooting the messenger’. (I’m still embarrassed at the doing Yessers tried to give James Cook for asking Nicola a question that needed an answer). Such reactions are clearly down to individual prejudice and perception. I think the billboards will come and go and just mystify most people.

    They may give BBC managemant pause for thought, though

  8. Scots Renewables

    I was listening to the lunchtime news on BBC Radio yesterday. Top headline was the news that the NHS in Scotland is failing to make seven out of eight targets on some organisation’s target list.

    This was then followed by what can only be described as an uninterrupted tirade from Conservative leader Ruth Davidson saying this was all the SNP’s fault, a disgrace etc. ad nauseam.

    Then an immediate cut to the next item. No balancing viewpoint, no Scottish Government statement, nothing.

    That was not a professionally crafted news article in line with the BBC’s alleged code of ethics, that was a crude stitch-up.

    Sorry Derek, but I too think you are way off the mark here.

  9. I would absolutely agree with the notion that the slant of the BBC output isn’t a conspiracy by the rank and file of the 200 odd people who work in BBC Scotland. Such a thing would simply be impossible to hold a line on for more than a week. However, I do think that the BBC controllers have a bias and do control the agenda of what makes the news and the order and orientation of the presentation. It is, after all the British Broadcasting Corporation, it retains a Royal Correspondent and has always been that fussy Auntie that knows best for everyone.

    That said I haven’t donated to this particular cause but I watch with interest. If the adverts are cleverly written with a mixture of information and humour then they may well serve a role in preparing the field for the coming battle. If they are strident and accusatory then I think they will be seen as too lecturing and partisan and may be counter-productive. That said any bill board campaign is short lived. The goal has to be to raise the conciousness and understanding of how news works. To ensure that any headline is looked at sceptically and weighed in the balances.

    So, I an not against the idea per se but if they are to done they need to be done with a lot of thought and care to maximise any value they might add to a Yes2 campaign.

  10. Derek, the day the BBC manipulated the timing of Stephen Doughty’s resignation for maximum impact on Prime Minister’s question time was the day to abandon any lingering belief that the BBCs problems are simply institutional.

    The sooner the billboards go up, the sooner the seeds of doubt can be sown.

  11. We all saw the interviews pre-referendum that Jackie Bird did with Salmond and then Darling. There was no sitting back in her chair and sneering with Darling. I lost all respect for her after that.

    “It won’t convine anyone to change their vote”, with respect you cannot know that. There could be a few “lightbulb” moments about to happen – “I thought it was just me”, “aye, I’ve been thinking they aren’t giving us the full story”, “there was that story about a tidal energy boom buried away and given less than a minute, haud oan!!!”

    And yes, please change the mega typo in the first paragraph. Another couple in the article too. GA Ponsonby isn’t involved in this btw.

    • The late (not really) Stuart Dickson on PB used to talk of the, “Brown epiphany,” before the 2010 election. A process where people who’d been told for 2 decades about the brooding genius of the Iron Chancellor suddenly realised that the man was a gormless tosser who couldn’t count to 10 without help.

      These posters are part of the same process as regards the bbbbbc. And I don’t agree that the individual staff are immune from attacks. they choose to work for a gang of traitors and Quislings. They choose to be part of an organisation that pumps out Scotophobic hate and endless cringe. Fuck them! No sympathy. NONE!

      • “The Brown epiphany” is brilliant! I remember Stephen Daisley getting terribly upset with me when I teased him about including a panegyric to Gordon Brown’s “formidable intellect” in a piece he sought to pass off as satire.

        He reminded me that he’d been trained as a journalist and I hadn’t.

  12. I enjoy your blog as much as the next man Derek but in this instance I think you are wrong. How can you honestly believe that there is no agenda when there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary with regard to Nick Robinson and his questioning of Alex Salmond.
    You think that they don’t know how to keep something secret, try telling that to one of the numerous victims of Jimmy Saville or any of the rest of those who did the same horrible acts of brutality.

  13. The BBC has editorial guidelines that require a degree of impartiality when it comes to elections but these guidelines don’t apply in between elections and they don’t apply to referendums. If they did then the BBC was in clear breach of the guidelines by frequently interviewing three unionists politicians versus one SNP politician during Indyref 1. There are only two sides to the independence debate; yes and no. They should have been equally represented. There is no clearer evidence of BBC bias than this.

    The BBC has a Charter obligation to represent the interests of the UNITED Kingdom. This takes precedence over the misleading and frankly useless (in the contect of the independence debate) editorial guidelines.

    BBC Bias during Indyref 1 was blatant but they were only complying with their Charter obligation so we should not be surprised.

    Rather than complain about BBC bias, I think it is necessary to expose the reason for it i.e. the Charter obligation and the progressively increasing politicising of the BBC since 1997. Perhaps then, people will see the BBC for what it is. It is a state broadcaster, increasingly influenced by Westminster appointments and with a Charter obligation to support a UNITED Kingdom.

    • Yes and they are still doing the three unionist to one SNP tag routine, despite the libdems only being the fifth party behind the greens in Holyrood. I reckon we see a lot more of Willie Rennie than we do of Patrick Harvie. Not right – not impartial.

  14. Derek, I agree with almost all of your musings but I have to disagree with you on this one. You write:

    “…needs a structure in which word comes down through layers of staff to the journalists. It means telling a journalist what to say or what to write even against his better judgment. It means over 200 staff keeping quiet and never spilling the beans.”

    Yet, this is empirically true. All one has to do is look at the historic sexual abuse offences and paedophile ring in the House of Commons. It was organised by certain MPs and was protected from prosecution by elements within the Metropolitan Police and the Press. It would be silly to claim that the entire legislature, Met or Press were compromised but there were significant enough numbers of them to perpetrate it – for decades.

    If you want to term the BBC’s behaviour as “corporate ethos” or whatever is your prerogative. I and many others experience it differently and feel there is a subtle but deliberate attempt to discredit independence and the SNP.

  15. Derek
    No-one at Inform Scotland is saying EITHER there is ‘an organised conspiracy’ OR ‘its just in the BBC culture’ as you are saying.
    The point we are making is that the result is the same – ‘THE BBC IN MIS-REPORTING SCOTLAND’

    Here is a link to Ponsonby who has been supportive of the billboard campaign – he seems to believe, like you, there are cultural issues at playin the BBC https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1974950206065053&id=1969903196569754

    Here is a link to the Wee Ginger Dug – he also agrees that the problem is a cultural one, but unlike you, is not against campaigning with billboards on it https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1976944742532266&id=1969903196569754

    And here is the Prof – John Robertson – he seems to believe it may well be a conspiracy- and wants everyone to know – https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1976946195865454&id=1969903196569754

    DEREK – you are missing the point – it does not matter WHY it is happening – we need to tackle it – the BBC is the ONLY broadcaster that cannot be fined by OFCOM for persistent and flagrant bias

    Cadogan for Inform Scotland

  16. The poster that I have seen online does not personalise the matter.
    It says that BBC is misreporting.
    Whether it is a presenter’s, an editor’s or an institutional bias matters not to my support of the campaign.
    The statement on the billboard is true.

  17. “Let’s call it Devo-Max” – Jackie Bird referrring to what a NO vote would bring just days before IndyRef1.

    Right there Derek was blatant and calculated manipulation of the vote and no one will ever convince me otherwise. BBC Scotland ‘news’ deliberately pushed the ‘Devo-Max’ / Vow narrative in the full knowledge it was a pile of steaming sh*t that would deliver precisely hee-haw. I will NEVER forget or forgive BBC Scotland for subverting the referendum witht hat Jackie Bird comment. (And she wasn’t the only one ‘at it’).

    Then tehre was the hour long Broon, fist clunking, closed meeting lecture from the miner’s club, broadcast mornin’, noon and night by BBC Scotland. Gordo says Naw! Where was the YES sides right to respond to that? Where was YES’s hour long PPB?

    The BBC are blatantly pro-union and wholly against the very idea of Scotland fully recovering its sovereignty and running its own affairs. I fully support the billboards and any other methods that help raise awareness among the unaware / misinformed of the BBC’s message manipulation. This isn’t about silencing the BBC (as if that were even remotely possible). It is about calling them out for what they are and making sure those who are unaware are made aware.

    Otherwise Derek – you are spot on.

    • I have to.
      This was the article I showed people who asked me why I had stopped voting Labour (15+ years before). It took a re-read or two from some until the penny dropped.

      Have to agree with one comment. The BBC in Scotland are just Labour.

  18. There were a whole lot of problems with the BBC during the last campaign and I try hard to agree with Derek’s view of decent people working under tough conditions succumbing to subliminal ideas about their organisational purpose. That doesn’t give us all the answers though. For example, why did Brillo’s This Week invite Charlie Kennedy on as an additional panellist on the two occasions they came north? And why was Tommy Sheridan the guest both times? Indeed, why did Tommy Sheridan get SOOOOO many more appearances during the campaign than anyone other than Salmond or Sturgeon? Could it be that his credibility was already tarnished? The point is that those were active choices by BBC producers, not just a London-centric method applied to a non-London-centric story.

    Then there was that dreadful animation about Scotland’s defences. Whoever allowed that through was just irresponsible. Even setting aside the patronising tone and the childish voice given to the Nat, the analysis of a serious issue was just pathetically weak.

    Still, these billboards are a bit ham-fisted and the website doesn’t look too good. I wouldn’t oppose something a bit more subtle, but the whole “the BBC is full of liars” angle is hard to take for the average punter.

    • It must be more than embedded institutional bias – in the latest edition of Radio Times I counted 21 individual titles of television programmes containing the words ‘Britain’, ‘British’ or ‘Great British’. “Unconscious” bias? I think not!

  19. Oops looks like your audience disagrees with your perception of BBC Scotland , I think you might find a fair bit of scepticism of anything the BBC and their presenters promote as News or Scottish current affairs , their whole attitude towards anyone in the SNP government is there for all to see , sorry Derek we aint blind or indeed deaf , Those at Pacific Heights will and do on a daily basis feature anything under the sun that portrays the current SNP government as useless , incompetent , anything the Tories, Labour , Wullie Rennie cares to utter is given a prominence way beyond the particular items place in the general scheme of things , if its not trains , bins or blocked drains all the Irrelevant nit picking by the opposition constant moaners suddenly becomes a National crises a countrywide disaster , and this is on a daily basis .
    Where is the alleged Tory election expenses investigation involving at least fifteen Police forces down south featured on any of their output , dont bother looking it aint there .

  20. Derek, you write:

    “But that’s not the same thing as journalists conspiring to twist announcements to read like criticisms of the SNP. That needs a structure in which word comes down through layers of staff to the journalists. It means telling a journalist what to say or what to write even against his better judgment. It means over 200 staff keeping quiet and never spilling the beans. It suggests all staff are party to an undeclared plan and word doesn’t leak out. Nobody complains.”

    And that is precisely how Saville got away with it.

  21. DerekI thoroughly enjoy your blog and your commitment to the cause ,however on the subject of the BBC I have to strongly disagree with you.
    Time after time as many show their is a bias and a pretty blatant one at that to favour the Union at all costs.
    We have all witnessed the different approach by journalists when it is a Unionist or a Nationalist being interviewed.
    What angers me most is not the blatant bias in reporting ,it is the material they do not cover that is the worst.
    How often for example is the headline Kezza,Ruth Willie accused ?
    Go to BBC website and type in SNP ,Salmon Sturgeon accused.
    Show me the clips where UK Gov or Cameron are ever attacked in anyway.
    How can you then say there is no bias?
    As others have said Jackie Bird’s interviews with Salmon and Darling are classic examples of the different approaches taken with each side.
    Why is Ian Murray given so much airtime?
    When SNP had 6 MPs they were rarely ever interviewed or given a platform.
    Why is someone as vile as Ian Smart a regular contributor to programmes?
    Sorry Derek IMHO on 5his one you sent letting your personal hope get in the 2ay of reality.
    As to the posters I am ambivalent as will most of the non political anoraks

  22. The BBC IS institutionally unionist so we should just eat our cereal and shut up? These billboards may well have the effect of obliging the BBC to critically examine their output so that they are less biased than during Indyref1

    As one infamous politician said: No No No I am notexpecting the BBC to amend their ways unprompted.

  23. As others have remarked, the Iraq debacle was the last straw for me, with Director Generals and reporters rolling up the white flag to Alistair Campbell and his bully boys.

    I admire your loyalty to your old employers Mr Bateman, but let’s consider the following:

    Nick Robinson’s attempted stitch up of Alex Salmond

    The concerted efforts to hole a Scottish Six below the water line…

    An entire afternoon’s newstime devoted to Federal Broon’s ‘vow’ and no follow up Q and A or analysis i.e nobody pointed out the obvious that Brown was in no position or had no power to deliver on the vow.

    James Naughtie’s soft soap interviews of Lord ‘workers’ republic of Scotland’ Darling

    I could go on and on, but as they say, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action…

  24. “But for many, it remains trusted and respected”
    Derek, this single excerpt from your latest post for me more than justifies the concept of these billboards from my point of view. Frankly whether it is by design or accident or for any other of various possible explanations is now irrelevant because “misreporting” does exist and very little action has been taken to rectify concerns of that nature.
    By all means let the BBC continue in their ways but at the very least we should endeavour in every way possible to get across the message that the content of BBC news and political programming can no longer simply be taken at face value and be trusted as anything other than the establishment message.

  25. “Jackie Bird for example is one of the most professional presenters of an early evening news programme the BBC has ever had. For 20 years and more she has anchored the show and read the cues and occasional questions written for her. She does not determine content let alone political direction. She doesn’t arch her eyebrow or spit out Sturgeon’s name as some suggest in order to imply criticism.”

    Perhaps this video would contradict the above.

    • Did Jackie get nominated for an Oscar for that?

    • If I remember correctly the next day she did Cameron…….that is with her tongue hanging out licking his bootlaces

    • Yeah no ‘arched eyebrow’ just utter condescension toward Alex Salmond. Sorry Derek, seriously this is not autocue reporting, this is nuanced bias displayed by Jackie Bird, now compare and contrast her enthusiastic ‘let’s call it Devo Max, for example’ with the Darling interview. Giving Darling free reign to lie through his teeth. Where is our super duper Devo Max by the way? Sorry I couldn’t find a longer clip of the whole interview (just over a moment or two long)

      There should have been ‘serious’ and in depth interviewing of what was sold to the Scots as quite literally all powers apart form Defence and Foreign policy. There was zero ‘pushing and prodding’ from Ms Bird on this rather important aspect, was there?


      One more contrast. Here’s a Channel 4 reporter ‘at least’ attempting to pin Gordon Brown down and being given short shrift. More interestingly just out of curiosity watch the lie in Brown’s eye as he is asked the percentage number of tax raising powers that the Scottish government will get whether it will be 30%, 40% etc…it’s worth it just to see the squirm as he delivers the lie that it’s about the ‘principle’ not the percentage.

      Shameless, just utterly shameless, journalism failed in Scotland in 2014 and the BBC cheerled the daily rags’ biased output and did not one ounce of ‘investigative’ journalism, and that failure to reflect back the Scots to themselves has continued unabated since and beyond GE15 when the biggest change in Scotland’s political landscape took place in a hundred years!

      I for one look forward tae seeing the billboards, even if one, just one person wakes up whilst watching the news having had a nudge from one of these billboards, it will be one less gullible Scot who may finally start looking beyond the industrial strength glazing over haze that the BBC regularly employs as a smokescreen for it’s complete abdication of duty in being a public service broadcaster.

    • Oh yes, very professional from Jackie!

    • Jackie Bird’s attitude in interview of Alex Salmond ‘patronising and insulting’. Had she no idea that Alex is an economist by profession and worked for RBS before it became corrupt. There was no evidence of a patronising attitude in her subsequent interview with Alistair Darling and, if I rightly remember, she was fawning all over the place with Dave Cameron.

    • Very well put and provided evidence K1 , sorry Derek if you believe the Bird approached Salmonds interview with anything other than disdain and revulsion you need to remove your rose tinted glasses, looking at both interviews it is disturbing to see on one hand an aggressive personal confrontational approach, and on the other an almost sycophantic adulationary conversational approach, with nary a challenge to flipper. I’m sorry but I think Jackie exemplifies the contemptuous attitude of the BBC towards independence

  26. I agree with you Derek but do think that Nick Robinson often oversteps the mark. This morning, for example, he interviewed Tony Blair on the Today programme. During the interview, Blair stated that he was no longer involved in politics (I paraphrase). Immediately the interview was concluded and with Blair off-air so unable to respond, Robinson remarked that “it doesn’t sound like that to me”.

    Robinson’s notorious assertion during the Referendum campaign that Alex Salmond “didn’t answer that question”, as we know, enraged many Yes supporters. They regarded this statement as a naked lie; Salmond did, of course, answer the question. But it is abundantly clear from Robinson’s outraged response to this accusation (writing a book about it which he came to Scotland to promote!) that he sincerely believes he spoke the truth – as far as he is concerned, Salmond “didn’t answer that question”.

    This contradiction can, I think, be explained thus: Robinson said, Salmond “didn’t answer that question”, but left unsaid the words “to my satisfaction”.

    His arrogant use of the first person surely breaks the first rule of journalism?

  27. So the aggressive style of BBC staff when interviewing SNP/Scottish Government reps is all in my mind? Not buying that.
    Billboards? Not convinced it’s money well spent. Give us high quality 100% factual leaflets to drop through doors, + new feet, my 71 year old ones are bowfin’

  28. Spot on, Derek!

    I am deeply disappointed in BBC Scotland, the tacky, provincial quality of much of its output and the inability of its senior management to engage in an adult manner with criticism; but I think the billboards are a big mistake.

    • You say ” billboards are a big mistake ” I ask you when all avenues of getting the independence message over are and will be unavailable . What’s your answer, how would you approach this impediment , A Magic Wand on wishful thinking ? .

      • By continuing to insist on improvement in a calm and reasonable manner and through effective satire, such as James Robertson’s “The News Where You Are”. The billboards play into the hands of BBC Scotland’s senior management by making it easier for them to dismiss their critics as cranks.

        • I see no sign of any improvement over the last several years, so it seems clear that “calm and reasonable” just doesn’t cut it with BBC Scotland. They smugly insist on their impartiality and laugh up their corporate sleeves whenever anyone complains. As far as I know they have never once, in response to a complaint, admitted that anything they did was wrong and this is in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

          I was one of the couple of thousand who assembled at Pacific Quay to protest the BBC’s bias and I believe that the publicity this generated got more people thinking about this issue than “calm and reasonable”. ;o)

  29. Really sorry Derek, normally I so agree with all you say, but, this time, I have to agree with the main thrust of the comments above. The BBC have had adequate time to counterbalance the academic research (not some kind of quick poll) which showed significant lack of balance in the reporting of the indyref. And what have they done to counteract that? Nothing. Just carried on. The case outlined by Scots Renewables (above) is a case in point. More of the same. Well, it isn’t OK. Having said that, the jury is out on the billboards – but how else can we try to get some of these messages out?

  30. All you folks who criticise these proposed Billboards, Ok What’s your Plan ? , What’s your solution to inform the public that so far have been totally misinformed by our media headed up by the BBC and BBC Scotland in particular, Wishful thinking won’t work or letters to the various media outlets.

  31. It always amazes me how Derek can write an article giving the wealth of his experience of the BBC, giving plenty of criticism and highlighting why things can go so badly wrong… Only to be met by dozens of folk going “sorry Derek, we know better than you, it’s all a conspiracy.”

    Get a grip, folks. Seriously. I get a horrible feeling from a lot of these comments that folk have convinced themselves that the only thing – and I mean LITERALLY the only thing – standing between Scotland and independence is the BBC and it’s evil anti-SNP conspiracy. If we could just get rid of it, independence would be ours.

    We made mistakes. We did not convince enough people. Some folk simply weren’t open to being convinced, others just didn’t believe we had the right answers. It’s all THAT we need to get right next time, rather than obsessing over the BBC.

    Are we a pro-independence movement or an anti-BBC movement? These billboards kind of sum it up.

    • I’d like to be clear Doug – is it the posters you are against or the BBC you are for? To tell people who comment lucidly and honestly to “get a grip” is hardly fair comment! Differences of opinion is allowed. Partiality from the state broadcaster we pay for is not!

      • This is exactly what I mean. There is literally nothing in my comment that is pro-BBC, yet you’ve taken a plea for people to stop obsessing over the BBC as a defence of the BBC. Just as whenever Derek writes “there is no conspiracy”, people seem to read “there is no bias”.

        If the BBC’s bias is so important, then how have the SNP managed to win three elections on the trot? Not to mention 2015’s landslide. Not even the BBC can flog something to the public that the public doesn’t want. If we fix the faults in the 2014 independence case, then not even the dastardly BBC can stop us.

        • “I get a horrible feeling from a lot of these comments that folk have convinced themselves that the only thing – and I mean LITERALLY the only thing – standing between Scotland and independence is the BBC and it’s evil anti-SNP conspiracy.”
          Let’s put it another way then. If the BBC adopted a pro independence stance it would essentially be guaranteed. That is how much they contribute to the NO movement. Do not underestimate the power that they wield.

        • Aye Doug, but it appears that when people (not just commenters here) criticise the BBC Derek’s response is ‘there is no conspiracy’. I know some have alleged that but most of us appear to be simply saying that the BBC is not reporting accurately or fairly on the issues and therefore shouldn’t be trusted.

        • Sorry about late response Doug but you misunderstood or misrepresented what I wrote. My asking you is “it the BBC you are for?” did not mean you were defending the BBC simply juxtaposing 2 positions. Your second paragraph makes no sense in world where news/reporting is skewed to a
          well defined and recognized agenda to sell that agenda to those that may not exercise their right to free thought too much! Sorry Doug! the BBC is not what it says on the tin!

    • “Are we a pro-independence movement or an anti-BBC movement?” I don’t know about the movement, but I am both pro-independence and anti-BBC. I don’t think the two are mutually incompatible.

      There can be no doubt that the BBC were completely biased toward the Better Together campaign and I don’t doubt you’ll have commented on it yourself in the past Doug Daniel. (By the way, saw your contribution at the SNP conference the other day. You were very good!)

      • They’re not mutually incompatible, but we’re not going to get rid of the BBC, so we would be far better using our energy (and funds) making the independence case so watertight that even Siobhan McFadyen of the Express struggles to find faults.

        (I jest of course – she’ll just make them up.)

        And cheers, it was fun! Might do it again someday…

    • “Seriously. I get a horrible feeling from a lot of these comments that folk have convinced themselves that the only thing – and I mean LITERALLY the only thing – standing between Scotland and independence is the BBC and it’s evil anti-SNP conspiracy.”

      Not the ONLY thing, but a very important one. If the BBC gave fair coverage of the debate it would make a big difference to uncommitted voters. I don’t care whether you’re a former BBC journalist or an ordinary independence supporter like me, if you really can’t see the BBC’s deliberate, continuous and unashamed bias, then we’re really in trouble.

      • “I don’t care whether you’re a former BBC journalist or an ordinary independence supporter like me, if you really can’t see the BBC’s deliberate, continuous and unashamed bias, then we’re really in trouble.”

        I would suggest if people can’t understand that we simply didn’t do enough to convince people last time, then we’re really in trouble. Because that would suggest we’re spending our time focusing on fixing something that can’t be fixed, while ignoring the thing that can and very definitely must – the case for independence.

        • Goodness Doug! We all know that the BBC will not be fixed – it’s about drawing people’s attention to their misreporting and clear, clear , clear bias!!

  32. Obeying orders was no defence at Nurnberg. I’ve seen how news has been deliberately misreported. Coincidence that those who have occasionally shown ballance are reporting on the American presedential election and more gun violence. Yes there is no bias… not when as Derek corectly states the BBC are fulfilling Charter obligations by, for want of a better word, lying.

    Afraid of the truth anyone?

    Billboards and bollox… hell of a choice. So settle for the status quo?

    Those who seek change don’t seek the simple life.

    Truth will out. Whether you find the lies on the billboard or… shock horror… Auntie beeb!

  33. You are way off the mark here Derek. All we ever heard from the BBC is SNP BAAHD INDY BAAHD and when they are taking a break from that it is just plain Scotland BAAHD. I don’t bother with the BBC now because I cynically don’t expect them to change ever. The BBC is far as I am concerned is nothing more or less than the mouthpiece of the British State.

    The BBC were a disgrace during the Indy Ref and as far as I could see they haven’t improved on that since the Indy Ref and actually seem to be even worse and I gave up on it totally because of that. I now withhold the TV TAX! I will never pay such again as long as there is breath in me – the damage is done and it was done in 2013 and 2014 if not before then.

    I am thus also more than willing to bet the BBC will become nothing more than the megaphone for a dirty Brexit from the EU but I wont watch or listen to any of it. The BBC have become the lepers of the 21st Century Derek and it wasn’t Indy posters or billboards that put them there, the BBC did that to itself by being the obsequious servants of the corrupt, reactionary and warmongering British State.

  34. smiling vulture


    The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster

  35. Sorry Derek, when the BBC promoted Vote No Borders for a whole 24hrs that was it for me.

  36. Janet Cuthbertson

    The important thing about the billboard was the website: http://www.informscotland.com . I neither wholly agree nor disagree with what you say about the BBC Mr Bateman but the fact is that Scotland got a raw deal last referendum and people do need to know the this. The billboard is one way of leading people to the excellent website/

  37. You simply just do not know it “..it won’t convince anyone to switch their vote.” The BBC in Scotland, as opposed to any other part of the UK, have prevented any online comments on their political outpourings about this country for years now, yet you would have us believe this is somehow systemic rather than a purely politically unionist driven decision. The complaints system is designed to prevaricate and obfuscate, and I need not deign to go into it. Yet, we should wearily shrug and do nought, as all those who go along with this broadcasting assault on our democracy are to be, not even pitied, but actually lauded, according to you, because, you know, it’s not really their fault. They’re just doing their job, poor things. It really is time to throw away your rose tinted spectacles.

  38. My God Derek, I find your post unbelievable. As though it was written by someone else. Your blanket defence of BBC journalists does a great disservice to the few individuals that actually do try to present fair and balanced coverage amidst the corrupt coverage by their colleagues.

    From treating the BBC as my main trusted source of news and comment for decades, I now loathe and revile everything that comes out of their news and current affairs department.

    It’s beyond me that you continue to defend it. What about your demolition of James Naughtie’s partial interviewing technique during the independence campaign? Don’t tell me that his appalling biased approach was due to bad management or lack of money. It was out and out corruption, repeated week after week during the campaign by an old trusty foisted on us by London.

    I despair.

  39. Look at Dr John Robertson’s statistical analysis of BBC reporting.
    The constant anti-SNP/pro-union agenda of Call Kaye.
    The loading of Question Time panels with one pro-indy voice being interrupted by all other guests (and a blatantly biased anchor who allows and indeed leads the interruptions).
    The easy ride given to unionists in tv and radio interviews – the lack of challenge to their claims and allowing lies to be repeated.
    The newspaper reviews (with no Scottish editions) that report opinion pieces as fact.
    Choosing Blair McDougall as a studio analyst for the SNP conference.
    Nick Robinson.
    BBC subtitles with Kezia Dugdale referring to Sturgeon’s Nazi party.
    The “accidental” use of a gorilla video while talking about Scotland’s first minister.
    What Mr Ponsonby has termed “agenda days” when attacks are made on one subject over several days, but always attacking the SNP.
    An hour long documentary on PFI schools without one single mention of the Labour party.
    The metropolitan bias/ignorance when taking about Scotland.
    Certain people presented as ordinary members of the public in interviews with no mention of their day job as local councillors.
    Those same ordinary people randomly selected from the audience to ask questions.

    I could go on all night. There is nothing on this earth that could convince me that the BBC are fair and balanced. Of course they’re not responsible for the referendum result but they surely must have played a huge part.

    It was good to hear so many people disgusted by the media demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn, then watch the penny drop when it was pointed out to them that it’s no different from the way they’ve treated the entire Yes campaign for years.

    Sorry Derek, have to respectfully disagree. In my opinion the BBC are a disgrace. And if others feel strongly enough to get up off their arses to protest at Pacific Quay or go to the trouble of crowdfunding billboards then fair play to them. If that makes a few people think instead of swallowing stories whole then that’s fine by me. Maybe it does make us look like tinfoil hat wearing zoomers but at least it balances and counters the street campaign and billboards by Scotland in Union.
    And if 99% of the media are against us, we have to use every possible medium to get our case across.

    • Well said, Banksy! I agree with every word you say and couldn’t have put it better myself. For once, I totally disagree with you, Derek. I would add that Jackie Bird most certainly does treat the SNP and the Independence movement with contempt and her sneering attitude towards them on air is a disgrace. There is no evidence of that attitude towards unionists of any description as she flutters her eyelashes and fawns over them in the most cringe worthy fashion. Blatant, undeniable bias.
      I demoted the BBC to the trash bin long ago. I will never fund that lying Tory propaganda machine again. I wish good luck to the billboard campaign. I’m pretty sure it will alter some views and make some people think twice about what they are being spoon fed. That HAS to be a positive.

  40. Amazing stuff here, especially from Doug Daniel.

    No, the BBC is not bias he tells us, ‘look, Derek used to work for them and has a wealth of experience’

    So the following are also wrong for calling out BBC bias:

    Media Lens
    The Canary
    John Pilger
    Glenn Greenwald
    The Intercept
    Noam Chomsky
    Peter Obourne
    Mark Curtis
    Neil Clark
    Naomi Klein

    and of course, Alex Salmond

    righto Doug.

    • “No, the BBC is not bias he tells us”

      Where did I say the BBC is not bias(ed)?

    • You haven’t tried to digest or understand the article or Doug’s points have you?

      In simple terms there is bias at the BBC. DB doesn’t believe it deliberate or a conspiracy. DD thinks it is counterproductive and a waste of time and effort to pursue this as an agenda linked to indy.

      I agree. I would say a slight majority of my social circle voted no but I’d also say many of those are not hard nosed about it. I can’t think of a single one of them that would look at a campaign like this and be convinced to vote Yes. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say it would probably harden their scepticism that ‘Yes’ is associated with conspiracy theorists, fantasists and amateurs.

      Take the James Cook debacle for example. the vast majority of people look at his Q’s for Nicola and say “fair enough” (and an even bigger proportion of no voters and swing voters – y’know the ones we need to convince). They then see a noisy rabble of Yesser’s go after him all guns blazing and simply come away turned off by the totally unwarranted hysteria and probably the wider concept of a yes vote too. Great.

      • YES! I am utterly black-affronted when I see some of the bile James Cook gets from folk on our side. He was absolutely one of the better journos at the BBC during the IndyRef and he’s never struck me as being biased. He does his job well, but because that inevitably means asking OUR side tough questions as well, this means he’s biased, apparently. It’s just nonsense.

  41. Hoss Mackintosh

    Sorry Derek – way of the mark for me. I have nothing but contempt for the BBC and never watch it anymore.

    Your comments saying the BBC would someday report truthfully Nicola’s impressive performance in Brussels or Berlin are just deluded. The BBC is just as bad as before the Indyref campaign and are now one of the main leaders of the propaganda war against Scottish Independence.

    So your protection of them is quite bizarre.

    However, one good thing – you have now finally convinced me to go and fund the anti-BBC Bill Board campaign.

  42. Derek Bateman is right, there are very good people working at the BBC, but that does not get over the fact that their coverage of politics in Scotland and UK wide (regarding Scotland), has been nothing short of blatant bias. Prior to the referendum, each and every time Alex Salmond as the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland was interviewed by the BBC in London, the sneering contempt by the supposed professional news presenters at the BBC was as clear as day. Time, after time, I watched with admiration, as Alex batted away the sneering, patronising, and frankly insulting tone of the likes of Jeremy Paxman.

    Then during the referendum, I was fortunately able to watch a great deal of the media coverage, and the bias against Scottish independence was as clear as day. Every night, the BBC news channel ‘reviewed the papers’, usually with panellists from the South of England, and who expressed their blind ignorance of Scottish matters with patronising, pig-ignorant, insulting comments about Scotland, its people and political leaders. The BBC, in their defense, said their coverage was guided by what was in the papers, – oh how convenient that all bar one weekly paper, opposed Scottish independence, and such a pity, that almost ALL their reviewers just happened to be opposed to Scottish independence. All just coincidence of course.

    Then their was Nick Robinson. This was about the First Minister of Scotland. It was important. I watched the actual press conference that day, live as it happened, and what Nick said that evening on the six o clock news was not just untrue and unfounded, but was simply a disgrace in every way. If anybody in the BBC who was a supposed professional should have shown how to do professional even handed political reporting at that fevered time, then it was nick. He didn’t.

    Over and over again, I watched, as the BBC analysed independence to the nth degree, yet singularly failed to analyse the current constitutional situation at all – and surely their would be no demand at all for independence if the current situation was working fine. That is bias, that is not an accident.

    So yes, their are no doubt good people at the BBC, and as people away from work, I am sure they are lovely, but the matter of Scotland’s constitutional future is important. It has absolutely dominated Scottish politics for the last ten years or more. So far, the BBC has singularly failed as a ‘national’ broadcaster to even remotely come to terms with how Scotland works politically. Night after night, the BBC UK news talk of people such as ‘the education secretary’, when they actually mean the ENGLISH education secretary ( education having been devolved to Wales and N.Ireland, and always having been separate in Scotland since before and after the union, or ‘the health minister’, meaning (as usual), the ENGLISH health minister. It simply isn’t good enough, we deserve better – a lot better.

    If those billboards make at least one person think, hmm.. maybe all I get told by the BBC is not what it seems, they will have done their work. Yes, they need to be subtle, but I wholly agree with them, as the flaws in BBC coverage have been highlighted over and over again, yet NOTHING, and I really do mean NOTHING has been done by the BBC to address it. As regards the stooshie over the billboards, well, some folks just have different ideas of how to gain independence, some people for instance didn’t like ‘national collective’, but others did. What made indyref1 exciting was the many differing campaign groups, so I see no need next time around to turn it into some kind of sterile single strategy.

    Aside from that, those bill boards won’t do any harm, and it might, just might make some people think – and who knows, somebody with power at Pacific Quay might actually sniff the freaking coffee, wake up and, like the perennial addict finally facing reality, accept they DO actually have a problem.

  43. Wow Derek I usually agree wholeheartedly with your articles but the BBC is simply indefensible .Billboards ? If the msg gets through to some who get their news from the msm headlines .More power to them I finished with the BBC along with a large part of Scotland during the 2014 ref .I will not be going back .

  44. C’mon Derek open your eyes. BBC Scotland hate the SNP. The management push the stories but the presenters ask the questions. The recent NHS guff fails to point out that over 90% of targets are being met. They just go on about the 8 % endlessly. The Anglo centric people they have on as so called experts like Penny Taylor, Eleanor Bradford and others Spout endless blame at the SNP. But rarely mention Westminster cuts.

    If anything the BBC is getting more obvious in its bias. They don’t even bother pretending now. The Yes movement is public enemy number one for Ken Mcquarrie. Are the presenters in on it? Maybe not but they are poisoned by the institutionalised anti Scottish BBC. They go along with it and it seeps into their pours by osmosis.

    The BBC is biased, there is an agenda and the presenters play a part in it.

  45. interesting that the likes of jackie bird simply reads what shes told to and does not have any input , either with content or body gestures. does this include talking over anyone from the snp or yes movement while giving the opposition freedom to give clear uninterrupted answers and lengthy announcements ?

  46. why did the bbc only stop comments on its online politics section in scotland and not the rest of the uk ? was it coincidence that it was during the referendum campaign ? was it so they did not have to police the comments or did they not want anyone questioning them on the content of news stories ?

  47. The Unionists use billboards, maybe they are effective. Careful with the message though, don’t want to frighten the blue rinses.

    I stopped paying the license & watching the BBC some years back. What I have seen/witnessed – whilst visiting – over the past recent few years is essentially unchallenged Unionist propaganda. Question Time is a disgrace.

    Regards BBC employees – domestic issues – mortgage, car HP payments,school fees (?), pension. So hands up the BBC Scotland person who will challenge the content given to them to read out.

    I respect you Derek, but in this article, I consider that you are quite wrong.

  48. Nah. Gave up my tv license after Indyref 1. Totally disgusted with the BBC. To be told your country was shit on a 24 hour loop just became tiresome and insulting. Why should I pay for that?
    Of course giving up paying the license means I”ve had to give up live tv altogether. Great! You cannot imagine how liberating that has been. The whole family’s mental and physical health has improved. My young kids are no longer exposed to the daily ordure that pases for entertainment on tv. We read more, talk more, go out more, exercise more… I now delight in telling people that I don’t watch tv. The look of sheer bewilderment on their faces at this earth shattering confession is always a delight to me!
    Giving up tv has been one of my best decisions in recent years. I would recommend it to all.

  49. Anecdote – from abroad, pre-referendum I tuned in one night to a news roundup with a lady anchor and two contributors, one of whom was Gardham of the Herald. The braying and sneering of the 10 minutes or so spent on Scotland hit me like a brick, as did the contrast of the tone when the subject changed to a “serious” (UK) issue. I later tried Call Kaye and did not last more than 10 minutes.

    Other stuff I’ve heard has varied, but how does that kind of corrosive material get airtime? And that’s the only public channel you’ve got, apparently.

    Spoilt for choice in Catalonia, where majority pro-indy local vies with national and sometimes virulently anti channels, you get used to choosing your favourite. At the very least, Scotland and the UK in general seems poorly served by its broadcasting, partly just due to an astonishing lack of alternatives. With the centrally run BBC picking – guess what – the line of 90% of its public.

  50. Where is the difficulty in deciding what to do about the BBC?

    I don’t pay for things that I neither need nor want and I’m, certainly, not daft enough to pay for something that does me or my interests harm.

    I haven’t paid them a penny for years, despite their empty threats of dire consequences for those who refuse to obey. Why don’t people realise that this thoroughly corrupt organisation should be starved of financial support until it changes its ways. It won’t, of course, but it will fiddle with the rules until it finds a way to entrap everyone.

    I don’t watch live television. I pay for Amazon Prime and Netflix. That allows me freedom of choice to watch what I like, when I like, without threat or embargo from the supplier.

    We’re fast approaching the point where, if the BBC has its way, the ‘rules’ will be changed so that they can impose limitations on my use of those alternative services.

    So, let’s take a closer look at that. If BBC is acting as wholesaler to retailers like Amazon or Netflix, What gives them the right to impose conditions on your use of products that you’re paying for? Where the BBC is concerned, we have no consumer rights, our complaints are ignored and we have no right of redress.

    I’ve no doubt that lots of decent people work for the BBC but that is no justification for continuing to enrich their thoroughly disreputable employer.

  51. Derek, I’m a devoted follower of your blog and podcasts….as far as I can remember, this is the first time we have greatly diverted greatly in opinion.

    For me, it is simply beyond reason to argue against the most obvious and blatant bias that is manifest in our national broadcaster. Lies, lies by omission, lias by bias, lies by presentation….the BBC runs the whole gamut. The methodology of that bias is irrelevant….it’s prevalent, it’s obvious, it’s deceitful and its the biggest obstacle, imo, to an independent Scotland.

    You make special mention of Jackie Bird….surely I must be thinking of a different news anchor? She may not, as you write, determine content or political direction…but she is absolutely responsible for presentation. Who can forget the interview she gave with Salmond during the Indyref? Take an already biased message, deliver it with the vitriol and petulant resentment of an establishment challenged, and you have the basis of this most farcical and disrespectful pieces of ‘journalism’. An affront. That she has form beyond this is also no secret.

    The billboard as a medium, I actually quite like. Billboards are big and raw….uncensored by state or media…in your face. Perhaps I would choose a more wry and satirical way to present the information – I think it conveys the message better without being too confrontational. Regardless, I don’t see them doing much harm…and they might just start a wider conversation. We must continue to remember that nobody owns the Yes movement…and if an intitiative such as the billboards can garner the support needed to be viable, then fair play to them.

  52. Bias or not? The sheer volume of England based content and reporting passed off as “British” is bias. Take morning TV. The slot for the news “where you are” for Scotland is appallingly bad. Lucky to get three four minutes rush of trite.
    Then it’s back to the Excrutiatingly drawn out drivel with Excrutiatingly screeching English dahn sath assaulting our ears! Rehashed low level non stories. Ugh!!
    That is bias, not deliberate, but structural. Let us have the Brexit for Brexiteers dahn sath and we can cut loose. That is all!!
    How many times is the oldest hotel in England on fire going to be passed off as British?

  53. At the beginning of the referendum campaign, their coverage was more nuanced, although slanted toward the status quo. The shift to full on bias, matched the gradual upward swing of the opinion polls for independence, culminating in the astonishing arrival in Scotland of the “self-proclaimed” journalistic elite, at the fag-end of the campaign.
    This time, as we prepare to embark on Ref 2, it is quite clear that they have decided to approach this with a blitzkrieg mentality, with constant references to “black-holes”, “deficits”, “Gers data”, “plummeting oil prices” etc. These are valid issues, that, by design they have not allowed to be contested by applying one of their favourite propaganda techniques, omission of counter-views and information.
    It is for this reason that I applaud the efforts of the “Billboard Campaign” team for making the effort to try and nullify the insidious BBC and I will be happy to contribute what I can afford. I would urge others to do the same.
    Make no mistake, this organisation are a conduit for the British establishment hegemony and I think it is quite naive to believe that there is no impact on the ballot box.

  54. I donated to the billboard campaign long before I read this article by Derek. Nothing I have read here has made me regret this.

  55. Respectfully Derek, I almost never disagree with anything you write but on this issue I think you are wrong. I have no opinion on the billboards per se but the BBC are definitely not doing a good job at reporting the news though they are doing a grand job spinning it.

    I think you are somewhat institutionalised where the BBC is concerned and, in this regard, you strike me as someone a bit like me.

    I was a proud member of the British Army for a brief few years and had life taken a different path might well still be a serving soldier. I never thought the British military could ‘do no wrong’ but I definitely viewed them as a lesser evil on the world scale (and they are compared to many) but the reality is that through people like me who are willing to serve the UK is able to perpetrate massive injustices around the world and closer to home. My instinct is to protect the reputation of the military and the serving members in it even though I know that some of them are bad people (and all are often used for bad ends), but they are my bad people so that can’t be that bad, surely? This view was what allowed me to serve, it was a rationalisation to make myself comfortable with a morally awkward decision and now I look back on myself with a little less pride (though no real regrets).

    Later I became a police officer and yet again my instinct is to defend the reputation of the police against criticism. People who haven’t been police officers really don’t understand the nature of the job so their criticisms are often unfair so it is only natural to want to set the record straight but the reality is many police officers, and the organisation as a whole, deserve the criticism they get (and then some). I am older and (ahem) wiser now and see through my own thought processes a bit better than I used to but I know many officers who have a default ‘defend the police against all external criticism’ mentality even when they are internally highly critical of their colleagues.

    I don’t think you want to see the BBC as it is but want to remember it as you thought it was (and may well have been when you worked there). We all have our blind spots and this, I think, is one of yours.

  56. My problem is that I find myself agreeing not just with Derek but most (though not all) of the commenters (and particularly Doug Daniel) as well.

    Is BBC Scotland News biased (NOT bias)? Yes of course it is, and egregiously so in many cases. Will anything we say, whether on or off a billboard, change that?


    Is a billboard campaign worth running? Possibly (although not in the proposed form). Could the money be better spent elsewhere? Probably not as there won’t be enough to make much of it.

    If we must have billboards, rather than slag BBC Scotland’s coverage, they should point up its contradictions. How they could do that I leave to to others, but Wings’ subway adverts were a brilliant example of how to put your point across without alienating your audience.

    If I had to express a preference, I’d ignore the BBC altogether and run adverts along the lines of :

    ‘They promised you the most powerful devolved parliament in the world then dragged Scotland out of the EU against your will’.

  57. £8500 (£8765 at time of writing) doesn’t get a lot of billboard so the impact, in terms of number of billboards anyway, will be limited, so the moaners should stop moaning.
    But we really do need to raise awareness that the msm can be, and often is, duplicitous in its output, that the headlines, the content, the order of presentation, the editing of images, etc., are not accidental occurrences but are the results of decision made by writers, interviewers and editors to have an effect, to create an atmosphere, to manipulate opinion. If you understand that you will not read an article, listen to the radio or watch TV without also suspiciously analysing the output. As a previous head of Intel once said, only the paranoid survive.
    The BBC does not claim to have no bias; it claims to be impartial. However, impartiality is actually impossible to achieve. As soon as the camera lens points at one thing it excludes others. As soon as the microphone is available for one it is denied to another, as soon as the question is posed the action cannot be undone. Editing an interview to fit the allocated time involves decisions about content. This conundrum is termed ‘the view from nowhere’ and the search engine of your choice will find an excellent article about this on BellaCaledonia. It is unlikely that the BBC will acknowledge it cannot fulfil its obligation for impartiality. Instead, the BBC will claim to provide balanced content but the fulcrum sits somewhere south of the Watford Gap and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
    On the morning after the 2015 general election when, just to remind you, fifty-six SNP MPs were elected to the big hoose by the Thames and there was only one each of the other three parties, I turned to radio 4 for an update, perhaps expecting to hear from the SNP and their amazing election success, only to hear from the one labour MP left standing. Odd, I thought, and retuned to BBC radio Scotland only to hear, again, from the one labour MP left standing. So, I cancelled the TV licence, climbed on the roof and removed the TV aerial. Netflix and, accidently, Amazon Prime, provide plenty of entertainment.

  58. “The clear message conveyed is that all this is deliberate. And organised. It is part of a plan to tilt opinion against the SNP and independence.”

    Sorry, Derek, but that is NOT the ‘clear message’. What the clear message is is that you cannot automatically believe everything you see on BBC and far too many people do. It is essential to take the argument beyond Twitter and Facebook that you must fact check everything the media says, and that INCLUDES BBC.

  59. Stockholm syndrome comes to mind here, I’m afraid. Ok, so the BBC isn’t biased, it’s impartial, fair, etc etc. Well, let them prove it. Where is their evidence? Let them define and enumerate the indicants. Do they have any counter examples where they have failed to be impartial, which they admit to and which they publish? Not a jot. I’m afraid the Saville case is totemic for the management ethos of the BBC. Let’s not ask any difficult questions.

  60. Oh dear, you’ve spoilt your track record Derek. Watch this, then try again. It’s OK, it’s from the BBC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suFzznCHjko&feature=youtu.be&t=238

    • I tend to see Derek as the one who watched this and saw precisely what Chomsky was saying. He certainly is not Marr, who was obviously intellectually incapable of seeing that he was clueless.

      A lot of ‘Marr’s out there.

      Not enough Batemans.

  61. Derek, I remember you defending the BBC not long after you left them and started with the yes campaign, I thought you were very wrong then. I’ve just watched Noam Chomsky interview with a young ANDREW Marr and he hit the nail on the head. “I’m sure you believe everything you say ANDREW, otherwise you wouldn’t be working where you are.” Worth a watch on YouTube.

    It’s clear that bbc Scotland run stories which are provided by London, most recent was the masses of time given to the England manager resigning or whether a runway will be at Heathrow or Gatwick, it makes little difference we can’t change any of that its for London but somehow we get fed every twist and turn because it’s important in London.

    BBC radio Scotland seem to have a policy of accent balance too. If there is a Scot voice there needs to be a non Scot. How do they manage to get so many non Scot voices as experts, interviewees, commentators or even on culture and comedy shows like Janice Forsyth or Breaking the news when it’s supposed to be Scotland’s radio unless these stories or contacts are fed from London.

    The research has been done showing the bias at BBC Scotland, prof Roberts and GAPonsonby etc so I do think that they should do the bill board campaign but only upto the start of the next ref. This keeps them on their guard. But we can’t let it be used as negative bullying by YES.

    Unlike you I do think we need more positive stories about Scotland because all I hear is negatives about Scotland, its economy or its government. I know that you wouldn’t get this negativity broadcast in NZ or Aus to this extent, they might go after politicians etc but wouldnt keep putting their own country down like BBC Scotland does.

  62. All of those who have commented here will be aware of the effect of UKIP’s scary billboards threatening invasion by long lines of raggle taggle immigrants marching over a border into the UK. The fact that the immigrants depicted in the billboard were nowhere near the UK was irrelevant. The billboard did its job.

    Similarly no one can arue with the effectiveness of the Brexit mob’s bus advert carrying the promise of £350m per week being diverted back to the NHS.

    Both of these adverts/billboards and possibly others were bare faced lies but they worked. Many people would argue that these two issues alone would have been enough to sway the 2 percent throughout the UK that swung this particular referendum.

    Surely there is nothing wrong with us using billboards to point people to the truth in this case?

  63. While I normally agree and respect your writings I am afraid I must beg to differ on this occasion. I agree so far as it would be impossible to get all staff to point in the same direction, it is equally wrong to say there is no influence from editors whether they are in London or Glasgow. There are too many instances of quite blatant bias to not call fowl! It is a convenient tag to label such acts as the rantings of mad conspiracy theorists.

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