I’m not going to write a preamble to this article. I’m just going to come straight to the point. BBC Scotland smashed its Charter to bits on Wednesday when it attempted to manipulate the news narrative prior to Scotland’s GDP figures being published.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed anything quite so brazen. It started with the morning news bulletin on Good Morning Scotland. Below is an example of the kind of bulletins that were broadcast within the first hour of the programme.
Former Labour party official Alf Young made an appearance on Good Morning Scotland. His party ties conveniently ignored, Young lapped up the opportunity to have a go at the SNP.
It was the same on the breakfast edition of Reporting Scotland where the ‘recession’ story was the lead item. As in the case of Good Morning Scotland there was also a prominent attack on a second independence referendum courtesy of the Scottish Conservatives.
Wednesday was Frenzy-day. The hype was incessant. It wasn’t news, it was the opposite of news. It was expectation. BBC Scotland was preparing the ground for something it actually expected, even wanted, to happen.
But it didn’t happen. The much vaunted recession never materialised. When the GDP figures were eventually published they showed, not negative growth or even marginal growth, but growth of 0.8%. Moreover the growth in Scotland’s GDP was four times that of the UK over the same period.
What happened next? Well where the GDP had led every news item, it suddenly … didn’t. A story involving a dispute between HMRC and the former owners of Rangers Football Club suddenly became the station’s top story.
Scotland’s healthy GDP growth was not as important a news story as the earlier pessimistic predictions. The positive facts were deemed less newsworthy than the negative speculation.
Now don’t get me wrong. Scotland was indeed facing a technical recession. The previous quarter’s negative growth meant one more would satisfy the requirements of just such a technical recession. But BBC Scotland went completely overboard with its coverage.
The corporation broadcast attacks on the SNP by its political opponents based on nothing more than guesswork. Instead of waiting for the facts, the broadcaster ran with its preferred narrative before its expectations were confirmed.
But that wasn’t all. The very next day Good Morning Scotland ran the following item.
It was a gratuitous attack on the SNP and the party’s mandate to hold a second independence referendum. The clip was clearly part of a longer interview the BBC had conducted with Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson.
The interview segment was the lead item on the breakfast edition of Reporting Scotland. Just as the day before the lead item was an attack on the SNP and the party’s mandate for a second independence referendum. But why was it news?
An article appeared on the BBC Scotland politics site. It contained a short video clip of the interview.
Swinson manages to cram several blatant untruths into the short clip. In the interview the Lib Dem MP is heard to say that the Scottish economy is “teetering on the brink of recession”. We know of course that this is nonsense. Also nonsense is the unchallenged claim that voters had rejected the SNP at the recent Westminster election. The SNP won a majority of Scottish seats. Swinson also launches the obligatory attack on a second independence referendum.
But why was the interview filmed? Swinson’s comments on a recession that never materialised suggest that the interview was filmed prior to the GDP figures being released. If so could it be that BBC Scotland was planning to give Swinson a central role in a scheduled attack on Nicola Sturgeon and the First Minister’s mandate for a second indyref?
Regardless of the reason for the bizarre Swinson interview, one thing is clear. BBC Scotland anticipated negative GDP figures. This anticipation was used as justification for broadcasting Unionist attacks on the SNP. Guest pundits were sympathetic to the narrative the BBC was cultivating.
This coverage was calculated. It was premeditated. It was coordinated. Everyone at Pacific Quay was in on it. Editors, producers, presenters, reporters and news readers did as they were told. So relentless was the propaganda that there are undoubtedly some people in Scotland who actually believe we are indeed in recession. That’s the power of the ‘trusted’ BBC.
Make no mistake BBC Scotland was setting the ground for an all-out assault on Nicola Sturgeon. Her administration had already been described by some newspaper journalists as ‘tired’.
A recession would serve as the perfect platform from which to launch attacks that would significantly damage the First Minister and by extension any plans for a second independence referendum.
Thankfully the carefully planned operation was stopped in its tracks. Not before Unionists enjoyed their free pot-shots at the SNP courtesy of the ‘impartial’ BBC.
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