Approaching Ruth – The BBC way

Cast your mind back three weeks.  Ruth Davidson was playing the part of ‘The Fugitive’ by refusing to be interviewed on the thorny subject of two councillors who had been re-instated into her party after posting racist and bigoted messages online.

The Scottish Tory leader wasn’t available when invited to appear on Good Morning Scotland.

So frustrated at the repeated refusal of Ruth to appear on his show was Gary Robertson, that the GMS presenter posted the following message on social media.

Her reluctance to face questions on ‘bigot-gate’ was in keeping with her habit of going to ground when controversial issues raised their ugly head.  The DUP deal and Brexit are issues that Ruth prefers not to be drawn on.

On August 24th however things appeared to change.  Ruth, we learned, had finally faced BBC cameras on the issue of the two councillors.

BBC Scotland reporter Philip Sim revealed Ruth had spoken on camera.  Ruth was about to face probing questions at last.  Or so we thought.

Below is what was broadcast on that evening’s Reporting Scotland.

There was no tough questions.  Indeed there was no question at all.  The Scottish Conservative Leader was filmed making what appeared to be a pre-prepared statement to camera.  The statement was broadcast on Reporting Scotland.  That was it.

Davidson had dodged questions on the issue for days.  She had refused to be interviewed.  Where was the probing questions?  Where was the pressing by the reporter?  Why was Ruth Davidson allowed to whitter on completely unchallenged?

Contrast the treatment of Ruth Davidson with that of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when the Michelle Thomson story broke.  The SNP leader was doorstepped by a hungry pack of reporters, one of which is BBC Scotland reporter Andrew Kerr who fires a heavily loaded question at Sturgeon.

Below is another example of the kind of aggressive questioning faced by Nicola Sturgeon, this time on the notorious memo-gate scandal.

Frustrated at the very clear lack of consistency when dealing with the two leaders, I fired a complaint into the BBC.  My complaint accused the BBC of not pressing Ruth Davidson and of adopting two different approaches to the Scottish Tory leader and the SNP leader.  The relevant segment of my complaint is shown below.

The BBC has thus far been unable or unwilling to interview Ruth Davidson on the issue of the two councillors. For fully four days BBC Scotland made no attempt to doorstep the Scottish Tory leader.


On August 24th Ruth Davidson appeared on Reporting Scotland where she was allowed to make a statement unchallenged.


The statement contained several claims relating to ‘diversity training’ the councillors in question had apparently undertaken and were continuing with. Despite continually refusing to be interviewed on a string of contentious issues, the Scottish Tory leader faced not one question from whoever filmed her.


Moreover within 24 hours of her interview, a charity cited by Davidson released statements that called into questions the claims made by Davidson.


It is now nine days since the councillors were reinstated and five since Reporting Scotland broadcast Ruth Davidson’s statement, and yet she has still to face one question from the BBC. This bizarre failure to pursue a leading Scottish politician is in contrast to the scrutiny applied to her SNP counterpart who is regularly questioned/doorstepped on controversial issues.

Below is the response from the BBC.

Reporting Scotland covered the story of the councillors on the 6.30pm edition of Reporting Scotland on Thursday 24th August. Ruth Davidson was appearing at an event at the Edinburgh Festival. BBC Scotland were not allowed access for a camera to the event, so a reporter approached her outside the venue.


Ms Davidson answered the question BBC Scotland put to her and we broadcast 16 seconds of that answer in a two way interview with our political correspondent Nick Eardley.


It is not accurate for you to say we broadcast her “statement” and that she did not face one question from the person who filmed her. Our political reporter questioned her on this.


We would like to reiterate we are determined to be impartial and fair in our coverage. We place the highest value on accuracy and impartiality within our own journalism and rigorous editorial standards are applied across all of our output.

Accordingly, we don’t share your specific views about our coverage of this story as they are patently inaccurate.

The response begins with a rather bizarre claim that BBC Scotland was not allowed access for a camera to the event.

The event, for those who do not know, was the Edinburgh International Television Event.  It was held at the height of the Edinburgh Festival.

Indeed Ruth Davidson posed for pictures with Channel4 presenter Jon Snow.  BBC Scotland must be the only broadcaster in the world denied entry to a television event being held in the broadcaster’s own country.

But let’s give the BBC the benefit of the doubt and accept that their camera crew had to wait outside for Ruth Davidson to appear.

According to BBC Scotland, a reporter then “approached her”.  What does this mean?  Are we to believe that Ruth Davidson had popped outside the event for a breath of fresh air and was pounced on by this waiting reporter?  It’s a nonsense of course.

The BBC response then says Ruth Davidson “answered the question BBC Scotland put to her”.  This is quite the most bizarre choice of words yet.  Let’s leave aside the fact that a single unheard question is being claimed.  Why is it ‘BBC Scotland’ who put the question?  Why not credit the reporter, whoever he or she was?

The remainder of the BBC Scotland response is unadulterated drivel.  It is as clear as day that Ruth Davidson has not had to face the kind of aggressive doorstepping that her SNP rival has endured many times.  The Scottish Conservative’s appearance was cosmetic.  The double standards at play are obvious.

Ruth Davidson was at ease in front of the camera crew.  She appears to have been expecting them.  She had prepared a statement for their benefit.  BBC Scotland broadcasted it.

Her ‘interview’ is as credible as the response from the BBC.


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12 thoughts on “Approaching Ruth – The BBC way

  1. Kangaroo

    The BBC are lickspittles for “the Regime”. To expect impartiality is naivety in the extreme,
    And I don’t think you are naive. I respect your willingness to ask the BBC the hard questions, they need to be held to account, but with the current system they are just “The Ministry of Truth” nothing else.

  2. Michael Bruce

    Hang on! Didn’t Nick Eardley say, quite specifically, that he didn’t conduct the interview but simply fronted the broadcast piece? Didn’t he go on to say that he wouldn’t name the interviewer, to protect him/her from harassment (by which he must have meant accountability)?

  3. Alasdair Macdonald

    There is also the ‘blanking’ of Patrick Harvie. He does not seem to exist when the BBC report on FM Questions. Often, we get Ms Davidson’s question verbatim and in total, but we get a synopsis of what the FM’s response was. Then we get the Labour question, followed of course by Wullie Rennie’s drivel. Wullie is the leader of the FIFTH party at Holyrood, yet his pearls of wisdom are continually cast before us swine, while seldom is any comment by Mr Harvie reported – unless he is opposing an SNP position,

    1. Jas

      The Yoon rationale for this would be that the Lib-Dems are a big, big important UK party, whereas to us Yessers they are nothing more than a total irrelevance.

  4. Robert Graham

    Lost count of the times i have complained to the BBC in Scotland , I am pretty sure they have a complete set of stock answers that could apply to any situation .

    The replies received more or less follow the same theme ,we are right and totally impartial at all times , you are wrong and mistaken . That is the answer to every complaint .

    This lot treat the licence fee payer as being stupid ,hence the often moronic replies , they insist what we see and hear broadcast by them is always correct , even if other agencies and broadcasters present a different view of events .

    Just as the often viewed Nick Robinson Lie that was distorted by them to present a totally different view of his interaction with Alex Salmond that was conducted in front of a gathering of the international press and media.

    What we all could see before our eyes was at odds with what they broadcast and still they deny it , they deny any manipulation of what we all had seen .

    That one incident should have meant instant dismissal of all involved including Mr Robinson , it was a lie and a distortion exposed by what can only be described as the UK propaganda unit operating under the name of the BBC .

  5. Scott

    I asked BBC something along the same lines and below is their reply usual crap.

    Thank your note, as below, which has been passed to me for my attention. I’m sorry you continue to feel that BBC is inaccurately reflecting the work of the SNP/Scottish Government. However I’m afraid that I cannot agree with you on this point. It is the responsibility of the BBC to report fairly and without favour, holding to account, on behalf of viewers and listeners, those who hold the reins of power and make decisions which affect all of our lives. That was – and continues to be – the principle which underpins our journalism.

    I still say if you could find the person seen on his phone he might be able to tell us what was going on regarding the clip of Davidson.

  6. Jason Smoothpiece

    We have to accept that the broadcasters are fully part of the British Nationalist regime.

    They are a propaganda arm much like security services.

    I do not see a time when we can fully refute the lies and distortion other than on sites like this prior to independence.

  7. Jas

    A week or so ago I had mentioned James Cook’s guerilla-style ambush of Nicola at a big rally but couldn’t remember when and where it took place, so thanks for posting this clip which fills in the blanks for me. Otherwise the article is spot on and once again underlines what most Yessers know only too well: the BBC is the enemy of the Scottish people.

  8. Dr Jim

    During wars and conflicts the BBC admits freely and indeed has made TV programmes about how it distributes false information to considered enemies of the British state

    Are they saying the SNP are NOT their enemies now after years of telling us they must be because they want to break up the British State

    Can’t have it both ways BBC or indeed all broadcast media

  9. Jack Collatin

    Do we expect anything else?
    BBC Scotland is a mere British Nationalist mouthpiece.
    They support sectarianism, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and colonial rule by a WM Tory Elite by stage managing the News Where We Are in this way.
    They are beneath contempt now.
    I will be glad to see the back of this wee Brit Establishment Stockade when Scotland is Free again.
    A question? How many Catholics are there fronting BBC Scotland’s programmes?
    How many pro Self Determination staff?
    Or have they all been culled?

  10. David Mooney

    I can’t understand why the SNP indulge a clearly hostile media.

    Sturgeon should hold a press conference announcing a selective press embargo. Stating the SNP will no longer give the BBC, $ky and selected members of the British centric print media, any more access to officials for interviews and ban them from all SNP events. Clearly stating why and citing examples like GAP’s articles as evidence. She should make it clear that STV, C4 etc… Are more than welcome to have fair and constructive dialogue with the SNP and will continue to take part in debate with other parties (just not on the BBC or $ky).

    Frankly I don’t think it’ll make any difference to the content of BBC Scotland’s news and political programme output anyway. Give them nothing and all they will be able to report is the negative crap the Unionist parties spew out on a daily basis. Once the BBC have to continually say nobody from the SNP was available for comment or due to the SNP ban we are unable to present the SG’s side of the argument. Surely – sooner or later – any remotely intelligent viewer would start to wonder why!

    Just my opinion but as things stand I honestly don’t think the SNP have anything to lose.

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