Scottish independence: BBC denounced

Yes campaigners demonstrate outside the BBC building in Glasgow ahead of the Scottish referendum | Andrew Milligan/PA

Over 1,000 Scots demonstrate outside the BBC building in Glasgow ahead of the Scottish referendum | Andrew Milligan/PA

‘British Biased Coverage’

Campaigning in Scotland‘s referendum reached a new intensity on the final Sunday before the referendum, with thousands of canvassers and people manning hundreds of street stalls fighting for the final few hundred thousand votes either side needs to clinch victory. In Glasgow, a large section of the 2,000-strong rally marched on the BBC’s Scottish headquarters on the Clyde to denounce its coverage of the referendum as bias and lies.

Along with minimizing the size of the demonstration (the BBC and the Herald at 350), newspapers such as the London Guardian misrepresented the protest rally and personalized the issue as being one of the rally “furiously accus(ing) the BBC’s political editor (Nick Robinson) of being a biased liar who deserved to be sacked. Indeed, Alex Salmond had levelled accusations in the Sunday Herald of an “unconscious bias” by the “metropolitan” BBC against the yes campaign.

Asked further to clarify his views by reporters about the alleged demands for Robinson to be sacked, Salmond pointed out that the exchange had been selectively edited, saying: “I certainly don’t want him to be sacked. I saw the two clips. I don’t think it was fair for Nick to suggest that I hadn’t answered a question when I actually answered it twice. It wasn’t reasonable to cut a report in such a way as to imply that the question hadn”t been answered.”

A population has awaken in a positive movement for sovereignty that involves people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Town Halls and Community Halls that haven’t been filled in years are being filled. There are virtually no ‘Better Together’ meetings. “Yes” is visible whilst “No” is invisible. “No” is so invisible that the location of Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting in Aberdeen was kept secret and attendance was by invitation. A central tactic of the media that has emerged is to equate the Yes campaign with the Scottish National Party and to negatively obsess over the role of Alex Salmond as the United Kingdom’s bete noire. The media refuses to even mention Yes Scotland and the broad movement, and that is deliberate. It thus presents Salmond as the only one objecting to the BBC. 

“Unconscious” or conscious, the BBC is a British public institution state that is being utilized for the self-serving aims of the British government and private capital. It has been intervening under the cloak of “balanced” coverage to divert the united struggle of the Scottish people for sovereignty and rights. While the BBC profiles individuals from either side as if a “debate,” its main tactic is to raise in a self-serving manner “questions” aimed at creating panic in the middle strata and mobilizing it against the popular will. Throughout the referendum campaign it has only ever been the Yes case which has been scrutinised by the monopoly media. There has been no matching scrutiny of the No campaign. The modus operandi of disinformtion is to sow doubt on a just cause and prevent people from discussing the issue-in-itself. The default position taken by the likes of the BBC is that anything the anti-independence campaign says is factual and valid, while everything the pro-independence campaign says is questionable. All analysis of the case for independence and a self-reliant economy has been based on the capital-centric, neo-liberal assumptions of the No campaign that is wrecking the social fabric of England. And there has been almost no critical analysis of those assumptions – or how the secret of Scotland’s oil wealth had been hidden away for thirty years (McCrone Report). 

For example, the clash of Robinson with Salmond came when the BBC editor continually harassed the first minister over the alleged risks of Scottish banks moving business to England. Giving as good as he was getting, Salmond accused Robinson of “heckling”. The timing of the questions was aimed at orchestrating  statements issued by big Scottish banks that they would desert the country if the Yes vote succeeded. The orchestrated statements are tantamount to economic terrorism and show the bankruptcy of Westminster’s campaign and the monopoly media which is central to it.

The big media is driving the ‘No’ campaign. The central thesis of this media and the ruling elite is the neocolonial view that looks down on small nations. This slavish view is frankly expressed in the slogan “Better Together.” Hence Scotland, as a small nation, can never consider itself on a par with a big state to whose “security interests” it must sacrifice its own security and rights. Neither the United Kingdom nor the Anglo-American NATO military bloc were nor are not unions based on the relations of equality of nations, big and small or the principle that every nation is as equally as important as the next.

bbc-protest-3Further, with its enormous financial resources, this media is presenting itself and the No Campaign as the victim of the Scottish people. The London Guardian reported that “BBC sources disclosed that some political reporters have been repeatedly subjected to verbal and online abuse.” This newspaper, traditionally associated with the British Labour Party and liberalism, has emerged as a virulent opponent of Scottish sovereignty. Its report went on to highlight, “Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish secretary, (who) branded the Scottish protesters a mob”. On Sunday evening children who attended the BBC protest were likened to “the Hitler Youth” by a Scottish Labour Westminster candidate. Those ordinary men and women who were at the Glasgow HQ  Pacific Quay were labelled “bullies” who are challenging the freedom of the press. The Herald expressed its “outrage” relating to “cybernat abuse”. On September 17, the BBC’s Max Foster, London correspondent who double dips as CNN correspondent, described heckling of the Ed Milliband in Edinburgh as “intimidation” by “fringe elements.” “Heckling seems to be quite popular in Scotland.” In other words, those who object to the “free press” and who support “separatism” are “a mob” – savage, uncivilized Scots, akin to mob rule. The implication is that not only should the Scottish struggles for social, economic and national rights be abandoned, they should be suppressed.

Shaken by the depth of the protest, the BBC defended Robinson’s report after it received a flurry of complaints, and insisted it was “balanced and impartial,” as if objective journalism was part of its remit. Since Sunday, it has gone to the extraordinary lengths of broadcasting instantly-produced profiles of individual reporters in the field, who are “just getting the story.”

Nevertheless, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. On September 16, The Scotsman revealed that a Better Together cinema advertisement “was filmed at the headquarters of BBC Scotland using the corporation’s in-house crew in violation of its own commercial and editorial guidelines.” 

BBC Good Morning ScotlandIn May 2014, an academic study into referendum output on the BBC’s flagship morning news programme Good Morning Scotland “revealed news headlines and interviews skewed in favour of the No campaign. According to the month long study, referendum coverage was more likely to lead with a story favouring the No campaign than one favouring Yes. The study also found a tendency on the part of interviewers to adopt a more aggressive stance with Yes figures than when interviewing their No campaign counterparts.”

Away from the news items and statements from the respective sides, the study “also found evidence of a marked difference when interviewing each side in the campaign. The study found interviewers tended to adopt a more aggressive manner when interviewing Yes figures than with No. There was also a significant increase in the number of interruptions, or attempted interruptions, with Yes interviewees than with their No counterparts.” The ratio was almost exactly 3:1 in favour of Better Together.

Another study, The Dirty Dozen: The case against BBC Scotland, provides a range of evidence that suggests the BBC’s coverage of Scottish politics and the referendum is being manipulated in order to present the Scottish Government and SNP in the worst possible light. 

On the question of the Scottish referendum, the BBC is airing a non-stop 24/7 campaign on behalf of the British imperial state framed around the theme of what it calls “the crucial question: will Scotland prosper?” This coverage is representative of how people are being presented with all kinds of diversions. The aim of the Westminster consensus is to ignore the question of where sovereignty should lie in a modern state and reduce the debate to the level of pragmatism, to one of whether Scotland “is better off in or out”.  This is to divert from the actual issues at stake over sovereignty and the right to decide.

People should be presented with all of the facts to enable them to make up their own minds, rather than raising passions and dividing the population over the issue.


Video on Craig Murray’s blog at

With a file from the Guardian and

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Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation

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