Imagine watching the film Jaws and finding all references to the shark have been edited out. Envisage taking part in a discussion about world war two where nobody is allowed to mention Hitler.
On Monday BBC Scotland returned to the issue of Private Finance Initiative [PFI]. From 07:00 until 18:30 the controversial funding mechanism dominated the broadcaster’s news.
What prompted the coverage was a documentary to be broadcast that same evening. BBC Scotland Investigates was going to expose the scandal of the PFI legacy which resulted in a wall collapsing at an Edinburgh school and a host of dangerous defects causing seventeen schools to be closed.
The documentary also revealed the extent of profiteering surrounding PFI contracts which were being traded by offshore equity firms. The cost to the public purse would eventually run into billions.
As the day progressed, it became apparent that BBC Scotland was determined that one key player in the whole rotten game was not going to take the field. In news bulletin after news bulletin, there was not one mention of the party responsible for introducing PFI in Scotland – Labour.
An online article, numerous radio bulletins, TV news and a one hour documentary all failed to mention the role played by the Labour party in a financial scandal that led to the lives of school children being put at risk. And they were put at risk as inspections that would normally have been the responsibility of local authorities were placed in the hands of the very companies who stood to benefit financially from cutting corners.
The refusal of BBC Scotland to make even a passing reference to the Labour party is as scandalous as the PFI scam itself. Labour introduced the funding mechanism and then set about coercing any local authority that dared refuse to implement it into adopting the mechanism. If you didn’t use PFI then Jack McConnell was prepared to cut your funding.
McConnell’s decision to lumber future generations with billions of pounds of debt was all the more shocking when you realise that the former Labour First Minister handed back a billion and a half of unspent cash to Westminster. But Lord Jack wasn’t asked to explain his decision by anyone at BBC Scotland.
BBC Scotland isn’t just a national joke, it is a corrupt national joke. Social media was already predicting a Labour free documentary before the thing even aired. People were genuinely laughing when their predictions came to pass.
Some suggested that the documentary would somehow contrive to lay the blame at the feet of the SNP. It didn’t … well not explicitly. What it did do was end on a note so suggestive that many viewers will have inferred the current Scottish Government was indeed partly culpable.
Finally, and probably missed by even the most politically aware Yes minded viewer, was the identity of the editor of the documentary. It was Daniel Maxwell.
Who he I hear you cry? Well in a week when Unionists are complaining about people being ‘gagged’, Daniel Maxwell was the BBC Scotland official who closed down the comments facility on BBC Scotland blogs in 2012.
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