Public Service Announcement…

I know we have bigger things on our mind just now but I wanted to slip this out in the meantime. I didn’t want to do it during the election. Regular readers (and members of the Bateman Blog Cult) will know that I haven’t written about the BBC for some time. I have stopped doing so for personal reasons.

There is a strand of reaction out there that I find insulting and, however thick-skinned I may be, also hurtful and tedious. To be clear, I have no objection to anyone disagreeing with me…that’s the essence of the exchange – blog and react. Nor do I worry about political opponents taking cheap shots – that’s expected.

What gets to me is people on my own side refusing to allow me my own opinion and insisting I adopt theirs.

I’ve grown tired of self-appointed thought police telling me that ‘I must know what the BBC are doing’…sick of the ‘Come off it, when are you going to admit there’s deliberate bias’…or ‘How can you expect to be taken seriously (when you don’t agree with me)’

Here’s an actual example. Until you accept that it was your old pals at the bbc who decided the result of this election then there is no hope for you. Defend them all you like but they truly are the concentration camp guards who claim that they were just doing their job. Plantation quay needs to be destroyed.  How, I care not. Starved of funds or burned to a crisp, either is fine.’

Even when I don’t mention the BBC, the same thing happens gratuitously. ‘Is Derek still insisting this just poor management…’ (Scoff)

I can’t endlessly defend myself against ill-informed comment. On Twitter I was accused of being a Fifth Columnist, as in a secret agent posing as a Nationalist. It’s clear that partial information has led some to think I’m a cheerleader when long-term readers remember I actually resigned from Pacific Quay so I could campaign for independence. I did accept a deal to go but I still took a significant income hit at the time. I was the first, and I think still am, the only insider who went public with very precise detailed, and named, evidence of what I saw going on. That was no mean feat for someone with over 20 years in the BBC. I haven’t darkened the door since. When Professor John Robertson had his spat with the BBC management over bias in the news, it was me who publicised it.

I have been a consistent critic of the BBC and even laid out a detailed management plan of how they should have handled the referendum and what was needed to turn things round. My view hasn’t changed. I am often left open mouthed at the output when I do hear it such is its quality, although I don’t consume it very much any more. I don’t actually blame any outsider for believing there is willful bias and indeed I know very sensible people who believe just that. It is their right. But I won’t be railroaded into believing it myself and then insulted for sticking to my guns by people who’ve never crossed the threshold of Pacific Quay.

I just don’t believe the BBC organises and controls its journalism deliberately to damage Yes and the SNP. I say that because I was there and would have known. It takes a special kind of behavior to get someone to deny what they know to be true (or untrue).

Whatever your view – and I admit mine is that much of the current affairs output is rank – the demonization of individuals is unworthy of the movement. At Newsnet we received an article accusing a named journalist of blatant anti-SNP bias in a programme. It was such that we declined to publish, leading to a fractured relationship with the author, a well-known BBC conspiracy advocate. Months later that same journalist was working in Nicola Sturgeon’s office as a special adviser where he remains to this day. Some bias…

It’s begun to feel like Lilliputian fascism…little voices constantly demanding that everyone must think the way they do otherwise they’re traitors. This straightjacket orthodoxy kills goodwill and stunts critical thinking. We don’t all have to agree all the time and we must stop when we try to coerce others. Blogs are all about opinions and I’m entitled to mine, however nuanced it is and however it contradicts those of others.

Since I don’t mention the BBC, I’d appreciate it if others didn’t distort my views and display disrespect. Messages from those who demand I ‘own up’ to being wrong about the BBC and accept their version of reality won’t appear here and I’ll block tweeters doing likewise.

Like many on our side, I don’t need to do this blogging business. If we imagine the election result was disappointing, ask what it would feel like if there were no free blogs to turn to? I want your arguments and disagreements but more than that I want your respect.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

70 thoughts on “Public Service Announcement…

  1. Well put Derek. Fully agree with your decision. Shame it had to come to this though.

  2. Baronesssamedi

    Indeed. Devoting all our energy to “outing” BBC incompetence and bias distracts from OUR day job!

  3. Are we allowed to comment on this?

    “I just don’t believe the BBC organises and controls its journalism deliberately to damage Yes and the SNP.”

    Clearly you know more than most of us Derek but I still think some people will find it hard to accept this in the face of the relentless and persistent evidence to the contrary.

    • Absolutely spot on, Bryan.

      “I say that because I was there and would have known.”

      But you’re not there now!! You left BBC Scotland before the referendum- that’s three years ago. The world has changed beyond all recognition since then.

      You can reminisce about the old days until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, it’s the perception of BBC Scotland’s end users now, this minute, that shapes their opinion.

      • I agree. In this respect I think the BBC has changed beyond recognition during the last three or four years.

  4. I sometimes disagree with your take on the BBC, but I will take you at your word, in a free democracy you are entitled to your views and I for one will always read them as you are mostly sensible 🙂
    I get disappointed when I click your link and you haven’t posted for days on end, keep up the good work and please “don’t let the bastards grind you down”


  5. We can’t actually prove it either way Derek. Other than putting them all under a spotlight in a dark room listening to Vanilla Ice on repeat. There is no way of actually knowing what’s in peoples heads.

    So yes you are correct there is an element of the Stasi when some people want to control what others should think. I have been the victim of this myself on other sites. The how dare you have that opinion brigade!

    I reserve the right to mention the BBC if you are referring to them in an article though , as we wouldn’t want reverse double speak, counter thought police.

  6. I can sympathise with you, Derek. I get frustrated when I see people accusing the company I used to work for of rigging elections, and no amount of trying to get them to explain how it could have been done without a pro-independence employee finding out about it works.

    When people have decided they’re right, there’s nothing you can do to change their mind. Unfortunately, there’s a bit too much of that going around in the Yes movement, and if anything, it seems to be getting worse, not better. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to our downfall.

  7. Yourself, Mr Ponsonby, and Grouse Beater deserve our utmost respect and we should all defend your right to voice your opinions – even more so when that opinion is informed, which yours certainly is.

    I’ve never been to PQ so I can’t judge. From what I see in the media there are most certainly issues with the bbc output, and that of the majority of the press. I very much doubt there is a formal organised campaign of anti-snp bias at the bbc. I strongly suspect there’s a majority of individuals toeing an assumed line to please their superiors for nothing more insidious than career progression or just fitting in with the gang. I know a few journalists who, twenty years ago, regarded the snp and its leadership with utter disdain despite not having met them or performed any political reporting. I suspect their views were simply a product of their own impressionable youth within their respective (tabloid) organisations.

    My point is that I don’t think the root cause of the bias is all that important. It exists and it is tangible to the viewer. Sometimes it’s as transparent as Rooth the Mooth, who says whatever she thinks her boss wants her to in order to curry favour. (Amusing to see her currently lost because she’s not sure who her next boss will be).

    I tend to agree with your non-conspiratorial theory but I suspect those who get upset with you simply don’t understand the nuance and see you as an apologist. Keep calm and carry on.

  8. “the company I used to work for”

    Ah! Penny drops.

  9. I think the bias issue is quite complicated. I got rid of the TV licence because I felt the BBC (particularly BBC Scotland) did not impartially cover the 2014 indyref.

    I, obviously, watch very little TV these days but that small amount and my exposure to radio does make me think that things have not particularly improved. Apart from James Naughtie returning to the southern lands. I will admit, however, that I have occasionally heard BBC radio current affairs where I thought my side got a fair hearing and/or representation. I do think these are exceptions to the rule.

    BIAS –

    Is it deliberate?

    Is it because the majority of the staff are unionists or rabid unionists?

    Is it because the YES/No argument often seems to be held against a political party backdrop where LabConDem get three bites of the cherry to every one the SNP get?

    Is it directed from outside, e.g MI5 or other informal government/establishment interference?

    Is it due to lack of funding? Not enough time to work on the details, check sources etc?

    Is it more like a paternalistic organisation where your career only goes up the greasy pole if you please the folk at the top, most of whom happen to be drooling britnats?

    Is it very much due to it being a British institution with British in the name? Is it easier to be British, as opposed to Scottish, to get on in life at the BBC?

    Is it at least partially due to me having poor tolerance for the other POV?

    All of the above and more? None of the above?

    The only thing I know for sure is that my life without a TV and significantly less exposure to the BBC is generally a lot better than before.

    I have a media studies degree from a long time ago and at that time I came to the opinion that impartiality beyond simple facts, e.g cat stuck up a tree, is an impossible pursuit. I also realised that a lot of folk were much more determined than I was to fight their way into a media job. No offence intended Derek but if it is mainly pushy types that get the jobs then that must surely colour the output in some way or other. Maybe they are a bit over the edge because they are either in a prime place but under siege or are constantly having to do a lot of that me! me! please notice me stuff as they continuously look for a break.

    Are pushy folks in the career world more likely to have fairly right wing political views? …

    Yes, it is quite complicated.

    I appreciate your blogs even the blogs about or mentioning the BBC.


  10. I agree there’s no conspiracy, no one sitting in darkened, smokeless rooms planning the next heist of the SNP/Independence agenda. But there are so many examples of differential treatment of SNP/Independence vs Unionism, SNP spokespeople vs Unionist spokespersons (the refusal to ask Davidson the difficult questins), many of which are highlighted in other blogs that something is going on.

    “I just don’t believe the BBC organises and controls its journalism deliberately to damage Yes and the SNP.” But there is such a thing as “group think”, peer pressure, the unspoken corporate expectations – that if you don’t present in such a way then you won’t get far.

    Then there’s the history of some of the correspondents. It stretches credulity that someone could be high in, for example, Tory circles and then be totally impartial, objective and truthful when commenting on politics.

    But yes, disrespect is not acceptable.

  11. John Donaldson

    Derek, I love reading your blog and would be very sad indeed if you ever decided to quit. So, please, don’t. Scotland needs you!!!

    Let’s replace the word bias with balance. Having been a print reporter for almost 20 years (albeit many years ago), my aim when writing was always to present a balanced, informed story. Otherwise, any of my many editors would have simply thrown the story back at me with the instruction to do it again – properly!

    But times, it would appear, have changed. Nowadays, that balance so beloved of my old editors seems not to be so strictly enforced – even at the BBC, which in my day was considered the pinnacle of any journalistic career.

    Indeed, I’ve often shouted at the television on many occasions at the complete lack of balance when it comes to some of the political reporting. The BBC (and other channels) really need to get back to basics. So, no conspiracy. Just an erosion of standards. Sadly.

  12. Derek, you yourself have detailed the links between SLAB and senior and not so senior figures at PQ. It is really not unusual or surprising, Labour dominated public bodies in Scotland for so long.

    This is how the control is done, either out of work in social settings or SLAB staffers getting on the blower to Boothman to tell him how to do it/not to it.

    This leads to people creating output which gets them a quiet life. If their manager will get on their neck if they are truly balanced (ie biased according to SLAB) then they will either change or leave.

    We know PQ shed a lot of staff, including your good self. So the large proportion of those left, fearful for their jobs, pressurised as many are these days simply take the easy route.

    The old political ties are why Wee Willie Rennie gets more air time than Patrick Harvie gets. Because the FibDem press people are personally known to the BBC people they ring up if Rennie does not get airtime whereas the Greens, being new upstarts etc, don’t.

    It is bias by community, by family, by friends, by environment, by expectation and default.

    The management could change this if they wanted to, if they saw it as a problem, if they were capable of doing so and wanted to change it. THAT is the problem, they don’t.

    Only after a Yes vote when the prospect of them being wound up and a new SBC put in place with everyone having to apply will they change. Look at how they got wrong footed by STV2, have they fast forwarded their plans for a Scottish Six? Not as far as anyone knows.

  13. There doesn’t need to be a conspiracy in smoke filled rooms. As in most big organisations, if your face fits, you get on.
    In the BBCs case, if you are a Unionist, you get on. Or you get moved away from BBC Scotland, or resign.

  14. There are idiots everywhere, they like to hear themselves think. They think too much IMO…

    You explained yourself very, very clearly not long after you started blogging about how the BBC functions so that should be it. It’s sad you are having to delete some “mooth breathers” but that’s what is needed.

    Folk are getting short-tempered and taking their frustrations out online, ‘coz where else would they go these days with pubs closing and politics all over the shop? 😀

  15. Alasdair Macdonald.

    Mr Bateman,

    There is no shame in admitting that things are ‘insulting’, ‘hurtful’ and ‘tedious’ and full credit to you for being so frank and honest. More of us should state to those being offensive that what they are saying is exactly that. It is not ‘surrendering’, or ‘showing weakness’ or ‘letting the insulter win’. It is a courageous thing to do. You are also being true to yourself and accepting that you have been hurt. However, I am sure you have a fair degree of justified self-respect. You have people who love you for what you are. Friends, colleagues and acquaintances who know what you are. So, you are not ‘losing face’ by stating to the insulter that you find what has been said unpleasant.

    Too many of us, particularly men think that hiding our feelings and emotions is a sign of strength, of ‘not letting the bastards grind you down’.

    Admitting that what has been said to you in response to an article you have written or a statement you have made has caused anguish, does not prove that your opinion is wrong. Indeed, it is possibly affirmation that much, perhaps all, of what you have said is true.

    Having worked nearly forty years in big, complex organisations, I am well aware of the ‘norms’, the cliques, the ‘expectations’, etc. There are some out and out self-seekers and rogues, but there are more pretty decent people who are trying to maintain the stated standards of the organisation, but also have personal integrity, which they maintain, often in the face of peer and clique pressure. And, it is true that often those of us who have held senior positions have recruited people of like minds. This cuts both ways. Many of us aspire to high standards (but fail from time to time), but others are ’empire-builders’. ‘Goal displacement’ is the bane of any organisation, public, private or third sector.

    One of the advantages of the growth in social media, of blogs of multiple TV and radio stations is that we have access to more sources of information. If we are wise, we consult a number of these before making up our minds what the ‘truth’ might be.

    Your blog is one which I consult regularly and, while there are, on a few occasions, aspects with which I disagree I rate it highly in terms of credibility (probably ‘confirmation bias’ or ‘wishful thinking’ on my part!).

    So, thank you for being so honest about your feelings. You are right to show anger and displeasure.

    I hope it clears the air a bit.

    All the best and keep up your sterling efforts. Pumping iron at the Stevenson Building will always help you cope!!

  16. Your blog Derek, your rules. Fine by me. On another note I see that Ruthie is not only ruling Scotland but the rUK as well. They’ll learn.

  17. Gavin C Barrie

    Derek, I’m inclined to John Donaldson’s view, perhaps it is not so much bias as a decline in standards of journalism. Now, since I have absolutely no journalism experience how can pass judgement? Well the bullying constant interruptions by journalists on TV irritates. The imbalance of three unionists to one SNP in debates does seem unfair. A journalist tearing up an SNP manifesto on TV? The inability {?} of Ms Smith to ensure the Leaders’ debate concentrated on Westminster politics?

    And there is the Acid Test. Are your customers staying with you? Not me, I declined to apply for my free TV license entitlement. Why? Because I consider the BBC product rubbish, and the Great British …..whatever, just a wee bit sinister.

    WRT yourself, don’t be deterred by silly people writing ill-considered responses.

  18. I greatly appreciate your insights as a journalist (I remember you from your days at the Beeb). Your nuanced analyses add depth of understanding when much, if not the majority, of the mainstream media skims and over simplifies complex issues. I can understand and I do accept that the demands of the modern news and current affairs environment doesn’t often lend itself to in depth, well structured and balanced pieces.

    However, I also think that some journalists believe their own publicity and presume a status for themselves that mostly isn’t deserved. There’s a tendency for some to acquire an exaggerated valuation of their own wisdom which leads to presenting opinion as if it were fact. Others appear to be simply lazy and you wonder what the editors and sub-editors are doing when they’re not demanding better balance or more objectivity. I’m aware also that, especially in the print media with shrinking revenues there’s no longer the depth of resources to support high quality journalism.

    I think part of the problem with BBC Scotland is sloppiness. An example on tonight’s Reporting Scotland was Brian Taylor, who is I think widely respected across the political spectrum, stated that unlike in England, Ruth Davidson’s tories won in Scotland. He surely didn’t mean the tories actually ‘won the election’ in Scotland, but to make this comment with no qualification to clarify the intended meaning, some people at least will probably perceive that as an example of the ‘inbuilt bias’ at Pacific Quay.

    I do think that the BBC in Scotland could do more to avoid creating and sustaining the perception of bias. Their handling of debates in the general election campaign was very poor. I understand these were produced by one of the external sources that also does Question Time and perhaps the BBC should consider tightening up their guidelines for external production companies. The episode in Edinburgh where the production company sought out a nurse specifically to ask a question on a reserved matter was a particularly irritating low point. The impression left by this company is that they wanted to direct and manage the discussion in a particular way, like current affairs in the style of Jeremy Kyle. The fact is that no one really bothers that much that this was an independent production company; what most people watching saw was that the BBC appeared to have set up a trap for Nicola Sturgeon and the event was stage managed to focus on the SNP Holyrood government. If they were remotely interested in balance they should have ensured the programme dealt mostly with reserved matters.

    The news and current affairs media in general in Scotland needs to improve, including the BBC.

  19. Derek – we love your writing and I for one respect your views about the BBC. I dont agree but you know better than I what goes on in the media. Personally I think the problem lies as much with the SNP and Greens for not being more combative with the media – someone must.

    Here is an idea….. why not organise through for example, NewsNet Scotland, a conference / meeting to discuss the role of the media in Scottish political life! Lets get an international perspective by inviting analysits from abroad to join us … and lets give BBC Scotland’s chief pride of place (as long as she agrees to answer questions…)

  20. I live in a small highland village. One of the people I speak to had a son who worked at BBC Scotland.

    He left because he did not ever dare speak about his support for SNP and Scottish Independence. He took a cut in pay to get out of the oppressive atmosphere of thought compliance.

    That says everything you need to know about BBC Scotland.

  21. Herman & Chomsky nailed it in their “propaganda model” as touched upon in the Chomsky interview by Marr:

    Marr: “I’m just interested in this because I was brought up like a lot of people, probably post-Watergate film and so on to believe that journalism was a crusading craft and there were a lot of disputatious, stroppy, difficult people in journalism, and I have to say, I think I know some of them.”

    Chomsky: “…Well, I know some of the best, and best known investigative reporters in the United States, I won’t mention names, {inaudible}, whose attitude towards the media is much more cynical than mine. In fact, they regard the media as a sham. And they know, and they consciously talk about how they try to play it like a violin. If they see a little opening, they’ll try to squeeze something in that ordinarily wouldn’t make it through. And it’s perfectly true that the majority – I’m sure you’re speaking for the majority of journalists who are trained, have it driven into their heads, that this is a crusading profession, adversarial, we stand up against power. A very self-serving view. On the other hand, in my opinion, I hate to make a value judgement but, the better journalists and in fact the ones who are often regarded as the best journalists have quite a different picture. And I think a very realistic one.”

    Marr: “How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are..”

    Chomsky: “I’m not saying your self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”


    You’re not sitting there because you DO believe something different, Derek: Respect.

  22. Everyone has an opinion Derek, but not all of those criticising the BBC do so from a splendid isolation beyond the BBC – some of us have also worked there in the past and have had major issues on London’s patrician relationship with Glasgow. I agree with yourself that there is no direct edict from above – “destroy the Nats!” – but there is a group think in parts of the Beeb based on a variety of factors that I do think can help to create an atmosphere of bias in places. With staff jobs disappeared, and people now on short term contracts, the mantra of “you’re only as good as your last job” is one that focuses the mind if you are going from three month contracts to three month contracts, for example. Don’t upset the apple cart – keep your head down, do what is asked, and you might just be back again next week.

    There will nevertheless be individuals for whom many of us will have issues – Nick Robinson in 2014 with his edited Alex Salmond comment of “he couldn’t answer” is one that I have never been able to justify. But I do also buy into the idea of a decline in journalistic standards, an under-investment in investigative journalism and documentary, and an over-reliance on newspapers as unquestionable sources. On another front, a lot of output is also made by indies these days, and I think there are some issues there also. Mentorn Scotland’s handling of Question Time is appalling, for example, and I’m not just asking as a viewer today, but as someone who has a friend who has shared much experience with me of having worked on the series for many months.

    There is a lot the BBC gets right, but in these days of constitutional urgency, every single error gets amplified a hundred fold. Whether the BBC is biased is one question, but the fact that it is perceived to be biased, with allegations that it somehow never seems to satisfactorily address, is what ultimately will hole it below the waterline. As much as it is impossible to blame everyone in the BBC for being biased, it is also equally impossible to accuse every viewer/listener with a grievance of having no genuine issue of concern. There are issues on both sides. The tragedy is that a lot of good folk at the BBC are as much a victim of all this as many of the viewers who feel so aggrieved. The ultimate failure is in management at the corporation.

    • Chris, well said sir! Your comments absolutely nailed it for me. I agree 100% with everything you said.

      • Agreed. 2 further points. Chris alluded to the fact that the BBC never satisfactorily addresses complaints. I would go further, and say it never admits it got it wrong except in the most egregious examples and alway relies on the cliches of impartiality and editorial judgement to bat away criticism. Complaining is a complete waste of time, as I have discovered.

        Second, the BBC has always been an Establishment mouthpiece. That’s the argument put forward and demonstrated in Tom Mill book – The BBC: Myth of a Public Service. And of course, the Establishment is Unionist.

  23. Crossed swords with you over this many atime Derek .

    But i always respected your answers and views. I agree with almost everything you write but the BBc ..

    i now see them as the enemy of Scotland. Sorry sir 🙁

    I refuse to watch any more and feel better for it. 😉

    If others read your blogs and disagree you have always been fair to allow them their say . They should cut you some slack . Often you’re the voice of reason among the multitude of blogs indi and unionist .

    Was worried we would lose you after Indi 1 but you stuck it out , thank goodness . It would be a great pity to lose you now to hecklers and whingers .

    Some times you have to just tell them to “get to feck” . Your one of Scotland’s finest Journo and Blogger . We should be glad to have you here , i know i am and miss you when your busy elsewhere .

    chin up Derek 🙂

    We have a referendum to win . When Brexit kicks off even the BBC will be hard pushed to hide the damage coming .

  24. I grew up with the BBC of the 70’s and 80’s, and remember wistfully the genuine impartiality of those days before Thatcher canned Alasdair Milne in favour of Marmaduke Hussey.

    As you’ve said before, Derek, the BBC is a big organisation with a lot of output that isn’t news & current affairs. The idea of an organised conspiracy doesn’t pass the common sense test, and commentators will always have their biases.

    Where the BBC fails in Scotland, is in not having a range of commentators that reflects in any way the balance of opinion in Scotland. For every staunch unionist, there’s another staunch unionist as a counterbalance.

    The BBC in the wider UK, with its permanent QT seat for UKIP, isn’t blameless, either.

    It doesn’t need an organised conspiracy if the organisation only ever takes on people whose faces – or opinions – fit. It doesn’t need a conspiracy if no-one holds it to account.

    The news & current affairs output is unforgivably slanted, and Donalda Mackinnon hasn’t made a difference.

    If Ireland gets all BBC content for – I’m remembering these figures rather than looking them up again – 20 or 30 million quid a year, and Scotland with a similar population raises 200 or 300 million, where in the output is that extra tithe reflected? Why is BBC news in Scotland following the oligarch press rather than spending a few hundred thousand on researchers?

    Why do you think an independent Scotland should rely on the BBC for its broadcasting, rather than a new SBC? From a simple, hard-nosed point of view, it would make much more sense to get BBC output for a tenth the current price, and a new organisation with new faces would better reflect the new nation. The BBC ain’t even trying.

  25. Brian Fleming

    “Whatever your view – and I admit mine is that much of the current affairs output is rank – the demonization of individuals is unworthy of the movement. At Newsnet we received an article accusing a named journalist of blatant anti-SNP bias in a programme. It was such that we declined to publish, leading to a fractured relationship with the author, a well-known BBC conspiracy advocate. Months later that same journalist was working in Nicola Sturgeon’s office as a special adviser where he remains to this day. Some bias.”

    Derek, perhaps you’ve inadvertently discovered why the SNP campaign was such crap this time around. Anti-SNP journalist becomes insider due to NS’s naivity regarding the BBC and sabotages the campaign from within. One COULD interpret your paragraph as disproving BBC bias. Alternatively one could interpret it as suggesting infiltration of a naive SNP.

    Either way, please keep writing. It’s always enjoyable to read your views. On the BBC they often do not coincide with mine, but then I’ve had it in for the BBC for nigh-on 40 years.

  26. It gets harder to believe when BBC Scotland political heavyweights like Brian Taylor claim that the Tories “won” the election in Scotland.

  27. Well done Derek…

    How you manage to keep going is beyond me but I’m glad that you have the strength to do so….

    You are correct to feel insulted by others insisting that you accept their POV. It’s your blog…! If ‘they’ don’t like it they have the options of a) not reading it or b) writing their own….

    Please continue as you have been doing.. giving us a balanced output.

    Lang may yer lum reek!

  28. There is seldom any excuse for rudeness, abuse and vilification. In the on-line world, it is just noise spoiling the signal and is no substitute for cogent argument – let the facts speak for themselves.

    Being TV licence free I have no opinion on what I choose not to consume, the money saved being spent on Netflix and, clicking by mistake, on Amazon Prime and this situation will continue until I hear or see the BBC admit that it is impossible not to have a view point – see:

  29. Just keep on doing what you’re doing Derek. 🙂

    • Sam, I’ve been saving a 10 year old Aberlour single malt for a special occasion.
      Derek is essential reading and rightly has his views on the internal machinations of BBC PQ. Having once worked there, his opinion holds more sway than ours..
      I offer him a glass from my stash, to quieten his nerves.
      I have no doubt at all that there are some good people at BBC PQ.
      However it is more than a coincidence that the personnel has been whittled down to a team which according to their CVs hail from the same educational and ‘cultural’ background.
      I see no signs of ‘balance’ or any pretence at evenhandedness any more.
      But in my lifetime, I was born in 1947, I have seen much more blatant bias and downright elitism in the professions, the media, and God Help Us All, golf, tennis and bowling clubs.
      We have made massive strides, but there are still hermetically sealed little Scottish Establishment cliques and clubs, running things.
      Independence is seen as a threat to the Established Order. The BBC is the Establishment mouthpiece.
      It’s as simple as that.

      • No argument from me Jack. Whether it’s institutional incompetence, poor management or bias makes no difference to me. The fact is half the story goes unreported or poorly reported. They don’t speak to me and they don’t speak for me, I therefor pay them no heed whatsoever and haven’t done for quite some time.

        Oh and Derek is well worth that hauf. 🙂

      • Take it you’ve heard the news of Sinn Fein representation flying over to Westminster?

        I suspect the smelly stuff is about to hit the fan for Ms May.

        • Sam, you and I share the same view; this is about to go horribly wrong for Big T and her Familiar, Ruth.
          Pull up a chair, my man.

          • Running low on munchies. I’ll have to go out and stock up. Hope the buggers don’t do anything rash while I’m away. 😉

  30. I let this one sit for a while, ‘dont go too hard on the Tories’ said the editor to the ‘Liar Liar May’ creator, who did the song they wouldn’t play about going hard on the Tories.

    The BBC is a rich mix, but they all have mortgages etc. If you pull out the reporters I tend to trust (Joffre … umm) then you extract personal knowledge, its obvious there is bias but harder to see if it stems from the editor or producer or presenter.

    Some agree that its the whole thing, well, because as a former BBC employee <- OH YES, I know there is political bias pushing down from the top, and that certain people need their jobs, so will bend somewhat or ignore at least, to the will of the producer in their ear.

    After a time, the top pushes down on the lowest (the ones on camera) and they either snap or get the message and carry on with the bias.

    Did you leave because you snapped – I did.

  31. Why people in Scotland continue to fund this organisation is a mystery to me.

  32. I have a pro-independence friend who works for the BBC. He was sad when I told him I’d cancelled my TV licence and why, but simply sighed. He tells me that in his opinion support for independence is around 80% among the ordinary grunts working for BBC Scotland. However the higher you go up the food chain, the more unionist the opinions become.

    I had another SNP-member friend some 20 years ago who worked for the BBC in England. She wanted to return home and work for BBC Scotland, but despite numerous applications for jobs she was eminently qualified to do, no joy. She said that she had recorded her membership of the SNP on her first application and she believed this was the reason for the repeated rejections. She eventually moved to Switzerland to work in broadcasting there.

    The first friend I mentioned acknowledges the bias. But he would still agree with Derek about the cause. It’s not a deliberate, micro-managed conspiracy, it’s the mind-set of the people who plan the programmes and make the decisions. These people all scorn the SNP and see them as some sort of lunatic fringe pressure group. They have the Union in their DNA. They self-reinforce these attitudes within their rarefied social and professional circles.

    Most importantly, these people decide who gets the jobs that provide the entrée to this rarefied upper stratum. And they appoint like-minded people. They’re never exposed to the thinking of the 80% of the technical and support staff grunts, because they only talk to and employ the “right people” in their own world. They may be doing that deliberately, but it’s just as likely it’s pretty much unconscious.

    So nobody has to instruct Jackie Bird or Sally Magnusson to sneer at the SNP. Nobody has to instruct Gavin Esler or Gordon Brewer to talk over SNP spokesmen and cut off their replies. Nobody had to tell Nick Robinson to perpetrate that “he didn’t answer” outrage, or Jim Naughtie or Sarah Smith to do what they do. It’s their mind-set. They despise the SNP, they don’t think the party deserves to be treated seriously or with any respect.

    And when they retire, other presenters will be appointed who think and act the same way. Will that be a deliberate stratagem? It might be. MI5 actually exists and it would be foolish to imagine it would never seek to influence opinion in this way. But it’s just as likely to be people doing what people do – appointing successors who are “one of us”, “the right sort” and so on.

    • So where does Derek himself fit into this theory? Derek is undoubtedly pro-independence, and was certainly a senior presenter. But he was there a long time. I believe he was appointed at a time when the possibility of Scottish independence wasn’t seen as a serious threat, and appointing someone with that little foible wasn’t such a no-no. (Though I accept that contradicts my Swiss-émigrée friend who thought she was being blocked 20 years ago.)

      But did Derek make it into the really influential positions? I’d say not. He was in a Saturday niche, not regularly presenting Newsnight Scotland. And of course once it was clear he was pro-independence, or at least that he was giving these awful Nats a relatively fair hearing, he wouldn’t have been privy to the groupthink anyway.

      And we have Derek’s own account of what happened after he retired in order to campaign for a Yes vote. Contrary to normal practice he hasn’t once been invited back as a guest presenter or commentator, although the prospect that he would be was almost taken for granted as he was saying his farewells. He’s now “biassed” and so beyond the pale.

      It’s all devastatingly effective, and it doesn’t need to be deliberate or planned at all. The high-ups know their own opinions are the “right” ones, and the rest simply flows from there.

      • As I said to Derek during indy ref 1, if you read Chomsky you know exactly how it works, there is no conspiracy, but as you have outlined above, the bias is nonetheless real, and all the more effective since the perpetrators actually believe that they are being fair.

        Denying the bias is also part of their DNA, for if they could appreciate the bias then they wouldn’t be in the job in the first place, as your friend in Switzerland knows only too well.

        The BBC is lost to us, we need to frame the debate in our terms, not theirs. George Lakoff has a useful series of articles and videos explaining how to do this in an American context. His popular book “Don’t think of an elephant” is a good introduction to the subject. Should be mandatory reading for all SNP officials and elected representatives, especially before facing the MSM.

        • George S Gordon

          I’m an avid follower of your blog Derek, and deplore the fact that you are being slandered. However, I go with the groupthink/state broadcaster hypothesis expressed by some of the other commentors.

          In addition, I believe there are some individuals who are beyond the pale. Gordon Brewer comes to mind: for example, his hounding of Mike Russell on Sunday – “you have been told in no uncertain terms that you should drop indyref2”, referring to an election the SNP won – and repeated this several times with little variation. This from a man who claims he is not an aggressive interviewer.

      • I think there is a lot to that suggestion, Morag. Institutional bias is well established phenomenon where senior managers (in particular) are more likely to promote or hire people who show empathy with their own way of thinking.

        It is one of those things that produces stagnation in large organisations and a slow decline unless radical changes are made. Many examples in manufacturing and commerce. In the West of Scotland it was common to ask the name of your primary school during recruitment/promotion interviews. Those days are not entirely gone.

        In the BBC I can imagine that those with a particular ‘leaning’ (i.e. not an Establishment thinker) would simply not be considered as they would be seen by managers as “Well, good bloke / girl, but – you know, not really what we’re looking for”. This is how “Institutional bias” becomes the norm.

        I respect Derek’s position viz. BBC. I DO think there are many journalists who use their position to (subconsciously?) push a particular political line, but equally, there are many examples of video reports being “spliced” to, in effect, present a complete opposite of the truth. THAT doesn’t happen by accident.

        I see BBC bias in almost every news report, interview, and debate. Whether it is planned by managers, or “just happens” I really don’t care. To me it clearly exists.

    • Good post.

  33. I’m quite ready to believe that much of what is perceived as bias could be explained by over-sensitivity on the viewer’s side, and the occasional leak of a fundamental mindset on the broadcasting side. But one thing stands out for me as inexplicable in those contexts: the easy ride which Ruth Davidson has been given for years. In my many decades of following politics, that has been quite exceptional.

  34. cyril mitchell

    Reporting Scotland tonight 13th was all anti SNP government. Women having to go to England for abortions. Glen Campbell wondering what is going to happen to the crowdfunding for indy ref 2. Our new First Minister Ruth claiming victory and demanding Nicola does more than reflect and so it goies on all unchallenged, oh and Brian Taylor saying Scottish Tories won the election.

  35. Wil respond whne more sober….

  36. From my point of observation Derek; you have just killed your credibility on this issue of BBC BIAS, do you seriously believe BBC Question Time is a fair and open panel for discourse and debate ? do you watch the BBC ?
    I suggest you take on this BBC BIAS head on and PROVE once and for all it’s a conspiratorial nonsense !
    I myself have followed you for many years mate, and i personally think this will ruin your credibility. And that pains me to say this

  37. The existence of a viable SNP is a necessary condition for Scottish Independence. Many SNP appearances on BBC TV are poor and do little or nothing to help Independence.

    Could you not help by analysing these performances and guiding the SNP politicians to improve their game?

  38. Absolutely have my respect Derek.
    As you have pointed out in the past,it is a cultural thing with the BBC.
    So long as we have one nation Tories running the show in Westminster,the direction of travel will be to an ever centralised state based in London.
    The prospects of a Scottish broadcaster look pretty poor so we are just going to have to put up with the provincial attitude that appears to pervade Pacific Quay.

  39. Robert Graham

    If you suspend all thought processes and disregard what you see and hear on BBC in Scotland’s News bulletins , you might possibly agree with them being fair and neutral and offering a balanced view of politics in Scotland , Sorry dosent wash and certainly wont fly ,Too much contrary evidence has been presented this arm of the government are not trusted , they have never been able to come to terms with the independence movement , and never will ,its against their charter , protecting the union is their job .

  40. But then again, when you analyse what’s happening, it is hard to draw any other conclusion but institutionalised bias.

  41. The BBC is almost a colonial organisation, there is the centre in London and the Nations and Regions who are expected to keep their noses out of anything in the centre, if there is anything major the big hitters will be dispatched from the centre to cover it. They will be required to adhere to the systems designed for London, if it doesn’t work for the region they should change their operation to match.

    Glasgow has been a testing ground for for system to see how they can centralise systems control, large areas of their technical systems are all controlled from London, massive laughter when it is queried why these can’t be controlled form another site. If you cut the connection from down south there would be no BBC Scotland television as it no longer has all the facilities to actually broadcast.

    And you will not be isolated at all the meetings, you will be invited, just your opinion will fall on deaf ears, but you will be politely listened to. Once it is seen you do not adhere to the hymn sheet the prospect of invitation to the centre will disappear, not a good egg.

    So there is not open bias, it is much more subtle than that. There is a BBC ‘way’ that you need to adhere to, and unsaid inferences of they way they want things to go.


    Derek- I do believe we must be careful regarding accusations of bias, but the evidence does seem to be there. I would just mention the repeated appearances of Margaret Curran and Tom Harris ( remember them ?) on BBC Radio Scotland; should we now expect regular appearances by say, Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond in future?

  43. Robert Graham

    I could be wrong ,but this is going down like the proverbial lead balloon looks like the audience has failed to be impressed by any arguments to the contrary , and the BBC are guilty as charged .

  44. I don’t recall any pro independence articles on the ‘impartial’ BBC on the run up to the indy ref or even now. Easy to make programs just comparing Norway to Scotland on oil wealth alone. Nothing good to say about indi? really?

  45. Just in case anyone reading this still thinks that a conspiracy of silence involving hundreds of people cannot possibly exist, Jim’ll fix it for you!

    Never underestimate the power behind our state broadcaster.

    • Davy, there is a conspiracy of silence around the number of fatalities in the Tower Block inferno.
      It is clear that loss of life is tragically high, and may even number in the hundreds; of children, whole families, ethnic minority poor working class workers ghettoised in a tower block to service the otherwise incredibly rich and affluent borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
      It appears to a have been a council engineered army of ‘live in’ servants and lackeys in working class jobs on low wages essential to collect refuse, maintain neatly trimmed parkways, maintain the street lighting, wash the dishes in posh restaurants, provide domestic staff, serve exotic wines and spirits in trendy wine bars, and generally be on hand to cater for their rich and famous neighbours.
      London is such a bloated rich City that low paid workers could not afford to commute into Kensington to change street light bulbs for the Beckhams and the Camerons who it is reported have pads in the stricken borough.
      Of course costs were cut. After all, it’s the servants quarters we are talking about.
      The BBC has stuck doggedly to the ’17 dead’ twaddle for as long as possible.
      There is no doubt that the authorities know the death toll by now.
      To announce it at this juncture could spark riots, and weaken May’s Austerity 40% cut in LA spending government even more as she shambles into Europe on her EU Exit expedition.
      Heads must roll; already ‘corporate manslaughter’ is being bandied about.
      No named individuals; nobody goes to jail for this. Just a hefty fine, and back to business as usual.
      Just like the banks, or RFC. Nobody will go to jail.

      • Apparently Lilly Allan called out the media silence on this and stated that she was told by Police and Fire services that there was at least 150 dead and possibly up to 400 (these are missing). Her appearance on Newsnight has been cancelled. Surprise, Surprise?

        • I can understand why the authorities would want to initially suppress the true figure of casualties in the aftermath of this tragedy.
          The efforts are in securing the building, treating the injured, housing the homeless, and maintaining civic order in the immediate area, massive and heartrending task for survivors their neighbours, the emergency services and the police.
          The horror and disbelief is turning to frustration and anger now, since it is plain for all to see that there have been many more fatalities than the 30 so far announced.
          It is a tinderbox which could be sparked alight by the merest heartless gesture from politicians, or a Hillsborough ‘blame the victim’ headline.
          Dissent and disorder could easily spread in the hot June weather, from Notting Hill, to Toxteth, to St Paul’s in Bristol, to Moss Side.. previous hot spots.
          But we witnessed the inferno live on TV: we know that there are many more fatalities. It is difficult to imagine that the final death toll will not be extremely high.
          It is still sinking in that this happened in one of the wealthiest quartiers on the Planet, for God’s sake.

Leave a Reply