A panelist who is regularly presented as ‘pro-SNP’ by BBC Scotland has backed Unionist arguments on the issue of a special Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
Andy Collier is a regular guest pundit on Good Morning Scotland. The journalist is introduced as “former SNP speech writer” due to his previous role as a speechwriter for former SNP leader Alex Salmond.
However questions have been raised over his pro-SNP credentials after Collier appeared to side with Unionists over the issue of a special Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
He said: “As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, Nicola Sturgeon’s argument that Northern Ireland is going to be economically in a much better position than Scotland if this deal is accepted, yes, it probably will be.
“But there are very special circumstances in Northern Ireland. There is a land border there, a land border between the UK and the EU, and of course there is the legacy of the troubles.
“So in terms of the difference between the two different constituent parts of the UK, there is literally clear blue water I think between them.”
The argument that Scotland does not deserve a special deal similar to that of Northern Ireland because there are differences between the two, has been widely promoted by Unionist politicians and their media allies.
The UK government claims Northern Ireland deserves a special deal because it shares a physical border with the EU, which Scotland does not, and says the backstop is needed to protect the Good Friday peace agreement.
However supporters of the First Minister have pointed out that Unionists previously claimed any special deal was impossible, and that Northern Ireland shows the opposite to be true.
In March 2017 then Brexit Secretary David Davis said there were ‘barriers’ to Scotland remaining in the single market.
Nicola Sturgeon has said the deal as it stands would give Northern Ireland a competitive advantage by offering businesses easier access to the single market, which she fears would have a “devastating” impact on Scottish jobs and investment.
Questions over Andy Collier’s suitability to be presented as a ‘pro-SNP’ pundit by BBC Scotland have been raised before. The journalist, who has also previously worked for South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, began his regular appearances on Good Morning Scotland shortly after writing an attack attacking so-called ‘Cybernats’.
The journalist’s appearances increased in frequency after he defended the BBC’s coverage of Scottish politics in the article, describing claims the corporation was pro-Union as a ‘cybernat delusion’.
“To these people at the medicated end of the national cause, newspapers and broadcasters are the full-on, cask strength enemy. They’re viewed as working together enthusiastically in a common battle for the obliteration of nationalism and all it stands for, with editors and journalists maliciously crawling over each other in order to earn their knighthoods and CBEs.
“This grand cybernat delusion has become something of a cottage industry. Complaints and theories choke up social media. Crowdfunding has been employed to feed the beast. An entire book has been written obsessing against the BBC. There are even, God forbid, now plans to make an independent TV documentary on the alleged bias (not, presumably, to be offered up to Pacific Quay).”
In September 2016 during another guest appearance on Good Morning Scotland, Collier controversially suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s revelation of a miscarriage was an attempt by the First Minister to “soften her image”.
Despite being presented as a pro-SNP pundit, Collier has often provided lukewarm analysis on issues relating to the SNP and independence.
Critics of the BBC have suggested the broadcaster seeks out guests it can present as pro-Indy, but who, for whatever reason, will provide analysis that is often critical of the nationalists. Many prominent pro-independence commentators, such as Paul Kavanagh, have never been invited to appear as guest pundits.
BBC Scotland official Ian Small has denied the station operates any blacklist.