From 2012-2014, I wrote a regular column for Newsnet Scotland over the constitutional issues in the lead-up to the September 2014 referendum. Among my articles, several focused on the issue of Scotland’s EU membership after independence.
As I’m sure you’ll recall, the BBC consistently made the case that Scotland would be kicked out of the EU if Scots voted for independence, without even beginning to consider what that would entail. The BBC just took quotes from various EU leaders saying Scotland could not become a member, and/or Spain would block accession, yada yada. You know the tune. I basically made the case that evicting Scotland from the EU would be pointless, stupid and impracticable, at that after a vote for independence the EU would figure out something to keep Scotland in. For example, how and why would you deprive everyone who is living in Scotland of their EU citizenship rights simply for exercising self-determination? Exactly. Given the nightmare of Brexit for all parties, I think this view is borne out.
At least one BBC Scotland producer wanted to interview me about Europe. On 28 November 2013, I was in Paris enjoying a lovely day with an old friend, and I received an email on my phone from this producer asking me to do a live interview the following morning to give my views on the EU situation. This producer had previously contacted me about an interview which didn’t work out, having read my Newsnet article over Scotland and the EU. I said I would be delighted, but I was in Paris and I would have to do it by skype. I received an email response indicating that would be fine, and I told him I would call later when I got back to the apartment where I was staying to work out the details. He also mentioned that if we could not do a live interview, we could do a recording that could appear after the interview, presumably so if they didn’t like what I said, they could either ignore the interview or selectively edit it, as is their wont.
I got back later and called him. He seemed a bit flustered and embarrassed when he answered. To the best of my recollection, he asked ‘didn’t you get the email’? I said no. He said they had cancelled my appearance. I asked why, and all I could remember that his response was weasely and unconvincing. I asked if we could do a recorded interview, and he said that no, we couldn’t do that either. I do remember him muffling the phone while he spoke to another producer, and affirmed, no, that I would not be doing the interview.
I could tell he was embarrassed, and had obviously been overruled. I’ll never know if the interview was meant to be illuminating or a standard-issue BBC hit job. Nor will I ever know whether I was bumped because I was was one of the ‘bastards’ from Newsnet, or that what I wrote made sense and went against the BBC’s carefully cultivated propaganda. Whether I ever actually appeared on a list, I don’t know. What is certain is that either who I was or what I wrote was not to be broadcast on the BBC, which in essence is blacklisting.
The mind boggles to think how badly and mendaciously the BBC has shafted Scotland before, during, and after the referendum. May hell mend BBC Scotland, once they’re summarily abolished in an independent Scotland, and replaced with Scottish media institutions with inherent, verifiable, and sustainable integrity.