This article was prompted by an interview which was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Sunday, July 17th.
The interviewee was Fraser Nelson [pictured]. For those who perhaps don’t know who Fraser Nelson is, he is the editor of an elite London based right-wing journal called The Spectator. Nelson himself is pro-Union. Nelson is Scottish.
The interviewer was Gordon Brewer. It can be stated without fear of contradiction that neither man possesses what most people in Scotland would describe as a recogniseable standard Scottish accent. Both appear to have acquired what I myself would describe as an ‘elite’ accent. That though is peripheral to my main point.
What concerned me was why an elite pro-Union commentator like Fraser Nelson was being given the opportunity to air his political views on national radio? Below is a short clip of a segment of the interview where Nelson makes several questionable points about the SNP and independence.
The points were barely challenged. Indeed some weren’t challenged at all despite being demonstrably false.
BBC Scotland has a problem with political guests going back years. It selects from a very small pool of elite academics and professional writers. Many of the writers come from pro-Union journals which leads to pro-Union narratives dominating discussions.
If I want to know the political views of Fraser Nelson and his elite ilk, I’ll buy magazines and newspapers within which those views are published. I certainly don’t expect my TV licence fee to be used in order to promote an elite British nationalist viewpoint.
It’s a recurring theme on BBC Scotland TV and radio where Uninionist views, or views that appear to chime with Unionist arguments, often prevail. Below, as an example, is a recent discussion that was broadcast by Radio Scotland.
Finally, and on a related note, I came across an article by Kevin McKenna on the same day as the Nelson interview which highlighted some of the shortcomings at BBC Scotland. In the article McKenna wrote the following:
“BBC Scotland, though, needs a champion from inside the organisation; unfortunately, in the cowering figure of MacQuarrie, it has merely a London-appointed factor, whose main function is to keep the lights on, keep the licence fees rolling in and to make sure BBC Jockoland doesn’t get too many ideas above itself.”
I agree with this assessment of MacQuarrie. But unless pressure is applied which will force change at Pacific Quay, then people like MacQuarrie will remain in position. I see no evidence of our professional commentariat seeking to apply any such pressure.
BBC Scotland will remain a pro-Union vehicle remotely steered by London. Ken MacQuarrie will keep his job as the ticket inspector aboard this North British train and people like Gordon ‘What on Eth’ Brewer will continue to be allowed to invite the elites he considers worthy onto his programme to be ‘interviewed’.
Meanwhile outside the Pacific Quay ivory tower, the real Scotland moves on.
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