Question Time has prompted howls of outrage from independence supporters again. The programme, renowned for under-representing the SNP on its panels, is in the spotlight for over-representing a known right-wing loyalist.
Billy Mitchell made an appearance for the fourth time on the programme. Something unheard of … unless your name’s Nigel Farage.
The Question Time producers were so impressed with Billy’s contribution that they tweeted it from the programme’s official twitter account. This meant people who don’t watch the live show didn’t miss the ignorance laden rant from the British Nationalist former UKIP candidate.
Many people were shocked at the behaviour of the BBC. At least one SNP MP called the programme a “sham”. Respected journalists expressed astonishment. The biggest shock though isn’t that Question Time can be so blatantly corrupt, it’s that people seem surprised when confronted by it. It’s common-place.
Cast your mind back to the 2017 snap General Election and a now infamous ambush of Nicola Sturgeon by a nurse.
Claire Austin provided ammunition for Unionist politicians and their media minders when she appeared in a televised ‘General Election’ debate. The red-headed nurse harangued Nicola Sturgeon over nurses’ pay, claiming to having been forced to seek help from a foodbank.
Claire Austin’s contribution dominated BBC Scotland news the following day and for many days after.
It later emerged that Austin had also appeared on a Question Time programme only days earlier.
On that very programme, and sitting alongside Claire Austin, was another ‘ordinary member of the public, Eric Holford. Viewers didn’t know that Holford was a Tory councillor, he was also a former Tory candidate for both the Westminster elections and the Holyrood elections.
How then did Claire Austin find herself in the audience for the BBC Scotland leaders’ debate after being on Question Time, especially when most people find it nigh-on impossible to obtain access to any BBC shows? When quizzed on social media, Austin revealed that she had been invited onto the General Election debate. Moreover she gave as the reason the fact that she hadn’t been allowed to ask her question eleven days earlier.
So BBC Scotland invited Claire Austin onto the prime-time televised debate in the full knowledge that she intended to ask the question she did.
Independence supporters smelled a rat. More so given the issue in question was devolved and should not have featured in a debate on issues relevant to a UK General Election. It also later emerged that Austin had posted abusive messages about Nicola Sturgeon on social media.
When Austin was taken to task on social media after her claim about attending foodbanks was called into question, BBC Scotland jumped to her defence.
This is the BBC we are dealing with. It is an unashamedly British Nationalist institution. It can’t be anything else.
When, in December 2016, Donalda McKinnon pledged to win back the trust of those it lost during the Indyref campaign, it was a hollow promise. BBC Scotland, as Donalda well knows, can’t change. It can’t change because it doesn’t think it did anything wrong in the runup to September 2014.
The same faces dominate its TV programmes. The same voices saturate its radio programmes. The same guests turn up time and again to give their ‘impartial’ analysis. Of the new faces, most so-called ‘Yessers’ who are now regulars on BBC Scotland, or benefit from commissions, have publicly attacked the online Yes movement. BBC Scotland chooses its pro-Indy pundits wisely.
You don’t get on BBC Scotland if you’re a genuine critic of its political output. The broadcaster might just make allowances if you blame its questionable output on a lack of resource. You’ll be black-balled if you even hint that institutional corruption might just be at play.
It’s news output is parochial and patronising. The NHS is a dripping roast. Freedom of Information requests have replaced in depth and honest journalism. Tragedy, as the recent hoslital infection deaths have demonstated, is politicised. Anti-SNP smears – think Michelle Thomson, Cambridge Analytica, Gillian Martin – are a staple diet.
BBC Scotland’s idea of balance is to run Unionist attacks and allow the SNP to defend itself. The latest piece of parochial nonsense is workplace car parking.
It’s a lame story. Councils are to be given the power to levy a charge on employers who provide workplace parking. That’s it. Councils don’t have to levy a charge, they can leave things as they are.
But the Scottish Tories, eager to detract from Brexit and Ross Thomson, are trying to contort it into a guaranteed tax hike by the SNP. And guess what. BBC Scotland has decided to promote the nonsense.
Not content with promoting Scottish Tory propaganda as genuine, BBC Scotland went further on Sunday when Gordon Brewer brazenly lied about the Scottish Govt/Green proposal.
Brewer’s description of the proposal is a lie. There’s no other way to say it. The thing to note though is the casual manner in which he makes it. Why he decided to misrepresent the workplace parking proposal in this way is not clear. But the possibility cannot be dismissed that he knows the story is lame, and just decided to sex it up a bit.
If you try to complain about Brewer’s lie, you’ll be dismissed by BBC Scotland, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit will endorse Pacific Quay and finally Ofcom will literally ignore the complaint. We know this because this is what has happened to multiple complaints since this small site came into existence in March 2016.
Question Time with Billy Mitchell prompted outrage from the great and the good because it was so blatant. But do people really believe that corruption is restricted to this programme? Of course it isn’t. It’s everywhere on the BBC. In England it’s Corbyn who is targeted. In Scotland it’s the SNP.
The BBC is the British establishment’s means of maintaining order. It conditions. It influences. It persuades. If it wasn’t seeking to protect the status quo then it wouldn’t be doing its job.
Everyone who walks through the doors of the BBC Scotland HQ in Glasgow to clock on each day, becomes North British for the duration of their shift. He or she conforms to the rules laid down by London. If senior management tell them that the biggest story that day is workplace parking, then that’s what they’ll tell the public.
BBC Scotland has zero intention of informing the public of the dangers of Brexit to Scotland. Brexit is a threat to the cohesion of the United Kingdom. It has the potential to end the Union. Thus, it will continue to be marginalised in terms of Scottish news.
Billy Mitchell probably won’t appear on Question Time again. Rumour has it though that he’s already made it onto BBC Scotland’s new digital channel as an audience member in a debate. The new channel will be worth seeking out if only to catch Billy’s cameo.
The BBC in Scotland won’t ever regain the trust of those it lost during the Indyref. But it knows that. It isn’t trying to win those people back. It’ll never change. It’ll only leave.