Back in August I highlighted the way the word ‘Nationalist’ was casually used by the BBC in order to describe racist, fascist and borderline Nazi groups. The article was prompted by reports from the USA which covered a rally by White Supremacists. The rally featured on many news reports across the BBC. Surprisingly, given this was an international story, it made it onto BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme.
Below is an item that appeared on Reporting Scotland at the time.
BBC Scotland reporter Nick Eardley’s piece conflated Scotland’s inclusive and tolerant independence movement with the extreme paramilitary racists in the USA. The item also misrepresented a discussion between Nicola Sturgeon and Turkish author Elif Shafak at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The clip above was manipulated by Reporting Scotland. A fuller explanation can be read here.
On Monday I tuned into BBC Scotland’s flagship morning news programme Good Morning Scotland to be confronted by headlines informing me of the success of the ‘nationalist’ AFD party in the German elections. Listen to the clips below.
Both bulletins describe the AFD as a ‘Nationalist’ party. Gary Robertson also describes this same party as ‘Far Right’, which it is.
Previous bulletins had also made clear this party is considered not just far right, but Nazi in its philosophy by many German voters. Listen to the clip below.
So listeners are being invited to consider ‘Nationalist’ to be the same as ‘Far Right’ and perhaps even ‘Nazi’. The problem is of course that the single word ‘Nationalist’ is also used by BBC Scotland reporters in order to describe both independence supporters and the SNP. You’ll often hear BBC Scotland presenters and reporters say ‘The Nationalists’ when they really should be saying ‘The SNP’.
And this is the problem. If BBC Scotland is going to use this word to describe bodies associated with Scotland’s tolerant and inclusive independence movement then it must differentiate when using it to describe extremist movements. If not, then drop this habit of referring to the Scottish National Party as ‘Nationalists’ and call them by their correct name.
The AFD should either have been described as a ‘Far Right Nationalist’ party or better still, just a Far Right party. To employ a single word to describe what is a spectrum of groups ranging from inclusive and tolerant to racist and Nazi is simply not good enough.
BBC Scotland reporters should know how this casual throw away use of the word has implications for politics in Scotland. Unionists for decades have sought to demonise and smear the independence movement and the SNP by applying the most extreme definition to the word ‘Nationalist’. They will only be encouraged if our ‘national’ [or is it nationalist] broadcaster feeds this propaganda by lazy use of the word.
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