If there’s one thing worse than BBC Scotland’s institutional corruption, it’s arrogant reporters and presenters who treat licence payers like idiots.
Some weeks ago I had a spat with the Stanley Baxter lookalike that is Nick Eardley. Eardley had written an article highlighting the Tory campaign against Angus Robertson in Moray.
I queried the wisdom of such a move, pointing out that it wasn’t the BBC’s job to highlight Tory target seats in what we already knew was a tactical voting contest in Scotland. Below is a summary of the exchange.
That was BBC Scotland’s first foray into Moray as part of this general election campaign. It wasn’t the last. On May 15th Nick Eardley visited Moray to do an ‘item’ for BBC Scotland. You can hear his radio report in the clip below.
You’ll notice Nick led the item with mention of Fishing. Fishing is the most widely covered sector on BBC Scotland since the Brexit vote. The sector is used as a proxy in order to introduce arguments opposing Scottish membership of the EU. Membership of the EU is of course a key plank of the SNP’s independence arguments.
Eardley appeared on that evening’s Reporting Scotland where he was very conveniently located in a Moray harbour used by local fishermen. Fishing was, as you can see from the clip below, prominent.
Before I go on I think it’s worth explaining the problem as I see it with BBC Scotland highlighting a seat like Moray. This general election, in Scotland at least, is a tactical affair. Unionists are coordinating resources at what are termed ‘target seats’.
There is evidence to suggest that Unionist parties are effectively lying down in seats they have little chance of winning. In these cases the candidates are termed ‘paper candidates’ in that they appear on the ballot paper but are accepted as also-rans by the party.
In Moray for example STV recently revealed that a leaked document showed that Scottish Labour had contacted only one voter in the constituency. The implication is that Labour is stepping aside to allow the Conservatives a free run at Angus Robertson.
One week ago STV news reported the following:
Unionist parties are working together by fielding “paper candidates” in some key SNP constituencies they are looking to win at the general election, STV News has learned.
The move is aimed at ensuring the anti-SNP vote is not split in marginal seats, which could see the Nationalist candidate win in those areas.
Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are fielding contenders in all 59 seats but some will be “paper candidates” – they will appear on the ballot paper but will not be actively campaigning.
STV News understands all three parties are deploying the tactic in target areas including Edinburgh South, Edinburgh West, Perth and North Perthshire, East Lothian and Moray.
Standing aside for one another doesn’t of course guarantee that pro-Union voters who would nominally vote for one Unionist party, and who don’t want an SNP win, will opt for the best placed Unionist party. This is because these voters won’t necessarily know which Unionist party is the best placed.
By highlighting these ‘battleground seats’, as the BBC terms them, the broadcaster is in effect educating pro-Union voters on which Unionist party is best placed to unseat the SNP. In Moray the party of choice is the Conservatives.
BBC Scotland is running a de-facto pro-Union information campaign. Now I’m not saying the BBC Scotland reporters or presenters are knowingly conducting such a campaign, but that is the undeniable effect of singling out these constituencies for special coverage, and Moray seems to be the BBC’s number one target.
Nick Eardley’s article, his broadcast on Radio Scotland and his special item for Reporting Scotland weren’t the extent of BBC Scotland’s Moray obsession. The broadcaster visited the North East constituency on two further occasions.
On May 26th BBC Scotland broadcast a special debate from Moray. The debate featured the broadcaster’s favourite Brexit hobby-horse of fishing.
On June 5th BBC Scotland visited the constituency again. Good Morning Scotland presenter Gary Robertson was dispatched to the Tory target seat to conduct a series of local interviews.
Throughout the programme it was made abundantly clear that the Conservatives were the main rivals to Angus Robertson. As expected, fishing made an appearance.
Robertson was challenged on social media on why BBC Scotland had decided to help the Tories by visit Moray yet again. His replies were typically arrogant and dismissive, signing off in typical condescending trolling fashion “righto”.
There won’t be too many pro-Union voters in Moray who aren’t now aware that the party best placed to unseat Angus Robertson is the Conservative party. Most, I would hazard, have the BBC to thank for educating them.
Remember that pro-independence voters wishing to vote for a pro-independence party have no such educational need. The SNP is always the best placed option for a tactical vote, even in those three seats where the Scottish Greens are standing.
BBC Scotland hasn’t just covered Moray in its self-styled ‘tour’ of Scotland. Other constituencies have featured, some where the SNP is widely expected to win. But there can be no arguing with the fact that key Unionist target constituencies, including Moray, have enjoyed special attention.
On the day the SNP launched its general election manifesto, Good Morning Scotland sent its reporter Hayley Millar to Edinburgh. The station covered the constituencies of Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West, Labour and Lib Dem targets respectively. These are also two of the constituencies STV claim Unionists are working together against the SNP.
The UK BBC has covered ‘interesting’ constituencies for years. It’s normal practice for it to send reporters to carry out special items for TV and radio. However in this general election with the tactical voting strategy being employed by Scottish Unionists, such practices ought to have been shelved north of the border.
Reporters and presenters aren’t idiots. They know fine well that only Unionists can benefit from these special reports. Producers and editors also know.
The conclusion therefore is that BBC Scotland has invested licence payers’ cash in order to produce special reports it knows will influence the general election result in Scotland.
Licence payers are funding a very subtle, but very effective, pro-Union educational campaign. Angus Robertson is the number one target.
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