The most striking thing about Donalda MacKinnon’s pleas on behalf of the BBC in ScotlandB is that she sounds exactly like the leader of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). The tone is identical. A tone of wheedling condescension that somehow manages to be simultaneously self-effacing and self-righteous. An elusive shifting between superficial mea culpa and thinly-veiled rebuke. An admission of fault from which all the sincerity has been sucked by an underlying insistence that the error lay in a failure to take due account of the public’s obdurate inability to comprehend.
An expression of regret just vague enough to be mistaken for contrition, until the mask slips and we see, not repentance for past behaviour, but rueful resentment that efforts to manage perceptions of that behaviour proved inadequate.
Close your eyes and you could be listening to Kezia Dugdale.
The similarity may not be so surprising. There are certainly parallels between BBC Scotland and British Labour in Scotland. Both are very much branch operations of British institutions. Both represent the British establishment in Scotland while purporting to represent Scotland within the UK. Both are part of the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state, albeit only as low-status proxies for the organisation to which they are subsidiary.
Neither is capable of winning back the trust that they have lost, because neither is able to admit that they themselves squandered that trust. Neither has any intention of changing, because neither accepts that the loss of trust is a consequence of their conduct. Neither can really comprehend the underlying reasons for the change in public attitudes, because neither actually relates to the public they are supposed to serve.
While the talk is of ‘winning’ trust, there is no sense that this implies acceptance of trust having been lost for cause. Rather, the impression is of resentment at trust being unjustly denied by an ungrateful and uncomprehending public. The words speak of deserving our confidence. The voice demands our unquestioning loyalty.
From the BBC’s perspective, Donalda MacKinnon is undoubtedly the right person for the job. She has the platitudes off pat. She can do the stuff about wanting to be “open” and wanting to “understand” every bit as proficiently as Kezia Dugdale does her routine about needing to “listen and learn”. She is clearly a ‘safe pair of hands’. She will serve the corporation well, just as Dugdale serves British Labour.
But who will serve the people of Scotland?
This is where we come to the crucial difference between BLiS and BBC Scotland. In the realm of politics, the people of Scotland have a viable alternative in the SNP. In the realm of public service broadcasting, who do we turn to as the BBC continues to fail us?Views: 4928
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