Did Good Morning Scotland protect Kezia Dugdale?

kezia_dugdaleSo Labour’s conference has ended.  In terms of the UK it was all about Corbyn.  The plotters failed.

In Scotland the story centred on Kezia Dugdale.  She had attacked Jeremy Corbyn during the summer.  How would she deal with his re-election?  The issue of ‘Scottish Labour’ autonomy was raised again.  How would it work?

Dugdale has been front and centre of news broadcasts.  She’s been very keen to tell anyone who’ll listen that she now speaks for Scotland.  If she does then it would appear that she does it anywhere but on BBC Scotland’s flagship morning news programme Good Morning Scotland.

Here’s a statistic that should result in questions being asked of the Good Morning Scotland production team.  In the seven days leading up to Wednesday’s keynote speech by Corbyn and the end of Labour’s conference, the Scottish Labour leader didn’t appear once on Good Morning Scotland.

Think about that for a moment.  This is Scotland’s national broadcaster.  This is the flagship morning news programme.  Good Morning Scotland is anchored by Gary Robertson who is one of BBC Scotland’s most effective interrogators.  Yet the leader of Scottish Labour, during her party’s conference, is not invited onto the programme to be interviewed.  It’s a reasonable question to ask why?

dugdale-autonomyLast Thursday I did just that.  On the morning of September 22nd I asked Gary Robertson if Kezia Dugdale had been invited onto GMS to give an interview.

The Scottish Labour leader had been crowing the day before about the all-new autonomy the party in Scotland would now enjoy.  The story was all over the Scottish media, including BBC Scotland.

Robertson replied that the Scottish Labour leader had not been invited.  Asked why not, the presenter of Good Morning Scotland claimed that as she had been interviewed on Newsdrive the evening before, there was no need for an interview on GMS.


I was genuinely flabbergasted.  Not that Dugdale would be spared an awkward interrogation, but that Robertson would make such a ridiculous claim.  Politicians have regularly appeared on Newsdrive when a story broke, only to re-appear on GMS the following day to allow the story to be more fully explored.

The interview Dugdale had faced from Newsdrive presenter Mhairi Stuart was far from aggressive.  The Scottish Labour leader was not troubled by what was clearly very gentle probing.  You can listen to the five minute interview below.


Whatever the reason for Stuart’s passive approach, perhaps lack of preparation for a breaking story, there’s no doubt that Dugdale was not pressed to any great extent by the BBC interviewer.  There were issues that deserved scrutiny, not least how this new found autonomy would work.  The BBC was obliged to scrutinise claims that were being broadcast and reported unchallenged on GMS.


When Good Morning Scotland aired the next day, Dugdale should have been facing questions from a notably more robust interviewer.  That she wasn’t meant that her claims of autonomy were never examined.  That was September 22nd.

Kezia Dugdale was not invited to appear on Good Morning Scotland on Friday 23rd or Saturday 24th.  Incredibly the Saturday edition of GMS did include an interview with Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael on the subject of Labour’s civil war.  You can hear what Carmichael had to say below.


Quite why the disgraced liar was invited onto the show, but the Scottish Labour leader wasn’t, is not immediately apparent.  Dugdale did though appear on BBC News Live on the Saturday afternoon just after Jeremy Corbyn was confirmed as the winner of the leadership contest.  She gave an extraordinary interview to BBC network presenter Victoria Derbyshire.

Her remarks were quite sensational.  Asked if she stood by comments made during the summer when she said Corbyn could neither unite the Labour party nor win an election, the ‘Scottish Labour’ leader said yes, she did.

Within an hour of that interview, Dugdale performed an extraordinary volte-face.  She gave a completely opposite answer when asked by BBC Scotland reporter Nick Eardley.  The leader of Labour in Scotland was giving different answers to the same question depending on who was interviewing her.

Yet she was still missing from Good Morning Scotland.  Sunday’s edition of GMS barely touched on the issue that was in fact headline news in the Sunday Herald.  The only mention came in a brief review of newspapers by Daily Record political editor David Clegg.


Of course Dugdale was to take part in a now famous interview conducted by Gordon Brewer.  The twenty minute interview was classic car-crash stuff with the hapless Labour MSP appearing unable to accept reality.  Social media lit up after the embarrassing episode.  A recording I uploaded to youtube has attracted over twenty two thousand hits.

It didn’t end there.  An equally toe-curling performance followed when Dugdale was interviewed on STV by Bernard Ponsonby.

It’s clear to anyone who follows Scottish politics that Kezia Dugdale is not up to the job.  Blunders and gaffes follow her around.  Her claims that ‘Scottish Labour’ is autonomous and that she believes Corbyn can win a general election, fall apart under scrutiny.  She is prone to make ridiculous claims that defy belief when pressed on an issue.

Had Kezia Dugdale appeared on Good Morning Scotland to face questions from even a lacklustre Gary Robertson, she would have embarrassed herself.  More people would have been exposed to her jaw-dropping double-speak than watched the Sunday afternoon politics show or the late night equivalent on STV.

By not inviting Kezia Dugdale onto the show for a full week, Good Morning Scotland saved the Scottish Labour leader from further embarrassment.  We could have heard her explain why Jim Murphy claimed ‘Scottish Labour’ was autonomous under him back in 2014.

We might also have heard her explain why last Saturday wasn’t the first time she had backtracked on her views on Corbyn’s electability.  The clip below, from one year ago, was dug out by Wings Over Scotland.  Ask yourself how credible Dugdale would appear to voters if they knew she had flip-flopped three times within a year on the issue of supporting Jeremy Corbyn.

Was it a deliberate strategic decision by Good Morning Scotland not to invite Kezia Dugdale to give an interview this last week?  We’ll never know.  Below is a list of people who were invited to appear on GMS to be interviewed on the subject of Labour, Corbyn and Dugdale herself.

22nd Sept
BBC reporter Nick Eardley
Labour MP Ian Murray
Kate Green Labour MP for Stretford and Ermston
Neil Findlay Labour MSP

No Interviews

BBC reporter Nick Eardley
Stephen Lowe – Labour party activist in Scotland
Lance Price – ex-Director of Communications for Labour
Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael

BBC reporter David Porter
David Clegg – Daily Record political editor

26th – Dugdale Speech day
BBC reporter Nick Eardley
Torcuil Crichton [Daily Record] and Kevin McGuire [Daily Mirror]
Tom Harris and Ian Davidson [Ex-Labour MPs]
Trade Union official Dave Prentice

27th – NEC vote on SLab autonomy later that day
BBC reporter David Porter

28th – Corbyn keynote speech day
Pre-recorded clip of Dugdale speaking unchallenged
BBC reporter David Porter
Lengthy vox-pop with several unnamed attendees at Momentum conference
Rhea Wolfson – member of Labour’s NEC
Kate Devlin [Herald] and Kevin Schofield [Politics Home]
Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South and Finsbury

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10 thoughts on “Did Good Morning Scotland protect Kezia Dugdale?

  1. Andy Borland

    It’s patently obvious that when it comes to Scottish Labour Good Morning Scotland can not be trusted.

    They clearly and deliberately chose not to interview over the last week to prevent her being held up to scrutiny; messrs Derbyshire, Brewer and Ponsonby revealed what happens when she is : calamity car crash telly.

    I said earlier in the week that Good Morning Scotland on radio and MisReprting Scotland on tv are the real Scottish Labour branch office operations.

    Plus ça change ….

  2. Sandra Hunter

    Mr Ponsonby enabled Kezia Dugdale to reiterate her key ‘bites’: united Labour Party, after 5 years ‘she’ has ensured a Scottish representative on the NEC, Scottish Government supporting austerity and passing on cuts. By asking her the same question and not making any variation – he offered her the opportunity to reinforce the message she wanted to get across – the bites which would be caught and remain with the listener above all else – united Labour Party, ‘she’ achieves getting a Scottish representative on the NEC therefore ‘giving Scotland a voice’, Scottish Government passes on austerity and passes on cuts. She was given room to repeat it several times. Ponsonby knows how to break a sequence or stalemate- he didn’t do it – which he could have with ease. He gave her the platform to repeat her key memorable phrases. Job done I’d say. Not a car crash interview because she was allowed to repeat the phrases she wanted to repeat and get out there in a simple format which everyone will remember. The proof of which is that her repetition is being remarked on and articles are being written about it which are naturally repeating her key phrase bites again for her. She was repeating it not because she was stupid – she was repeating it because she knew she had the platform to do so and that it would be commented on afterwards. Whether commented on in a negative light – makes no difference. She achieved what she wanted to achieve – with considerable assistance I would say! Had the intention not been to allow that space – say had Ponsonby been interviewing Nicola Sturgeon – he would have tried to take her unawares by interjecting with a completely different question and appearing to change the subject – but would have used the different question to lead back to forcing Sturgeon to answer the original question by association. He could easily have used a number of well-known techniques to lead Kezia Dugdale onto her back foot – but he didn’t, and we must assume the reason he didn’t was because he was enabling her message.

  3. Sandra Hunter

    Sorry to come back a second time – but I’d say the complimentary lighting softened Ms Dugdale’s ‘presentation’ considerably and it looks as if all effort was made to present a comfortable, watchable, smartly-paced and all round ‘attractive to the viewer’ piece here. I’m sure had it been Nicola Sturgeon, for instance, she would have been shown in full-on harsh lighting, Ponsonby would have spoken faster and more sharply and the sound would have been up – so a less sit back on the sofa and ‘attractive’, ‘comfortable’ listening experience for the viewer.

  4. George

    I know I’m preaching to the converted here but living without the BBC is no great sacrifice. Give up the licence and explore what else TV has to offer. There is enough streamed content both free and subscribed to last you a lifetime. If you are genuinely disgusted at the BBC get them where it hurts most. Write to the licencing authority and withdraw your participation. The more people entirely switch off the stronger the message will be.

  5. Jockanese Wind Talker

    It shows once again that the most effective opposition to an iScotland is not the Ruth Davidson ‘No surrender to referendums’ Party, British Labour in Scotland or the Fib Dems.



  6. johnny rudkin

    i keep switching on to radio scotland it is force of habit but the amount of biased reporting by garry robertson has me reaching for the off switch i have switched to radio five at least i dont need to listen to robertson and his gang assassinating the snp and giving the labour party an easy time

  7. millie

    The link below is what the ‘BBC’ is about to feed up to the Scottish audience. One would almost think the’ BBC’ has an agenda- and I am being asked to pay for this- honestly!! I am really shocked by this.

    ‘Scotland and the Klan’ – 3 episodes- presented by the Coast presenter Neil Oliver- BBC2 , 4th October.


  8. Brian MacLeod

    I would have missed it anyway.

    Watching the BBC is up there with standing under a sewer outlet for me – and at least with that you can rinse the doodoo off afterwards.

    We need a genuine Scottish broadcaster not under instructions from a foreign country.

  9. John McCall

    It has to be said, Gordon Brewer comprehensively exposed Dugdale’s inconsistent position when he interviewed her. You’ve also given above lots of other examples of her being subject to rigorous interview.

    You cannot seriously claim the BBC or any other media is protecting her.

  10. Clydebuilt

    BBC Radio Scotland 9am News “Mike Russell Scotland’s So Called Brexit Minister”

    BBC Radio Scotland 10am News. The title given was so long winded I didn’t take it down ……. Basically I Think it ment Scotland’s Brexit Minister,

    So they probably got a phone call of complaint from the Government, and this was their cheeky response.
    Akin to refusing to call ISIL…. Daesh…..because that was Alex Salmond’s suggestion.

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