Last Friday the First Minister gave an interview to the BBC. The interview was conducted by Good Morning Scotland presenter Gary Robertson.
Robertson began by forensically examining the Scottish Government’s record on education. The second half of the interview was given over to Nicola Sturgeon’s proposals for a soft-Brexit and of course the possibility of a second independence referendum.
Below is the relevant clip from the interview.
In the clip above Nicola Sturgeon makes it absolutely clear that the option of holding a second independence referendum within the current Brexit climate is conditional on Theresa May rejecting the Scottish Government’s proposal for Scotland to retain its membership of the EU Single Market. If Theresa May negotiates a deal that protects Scotland’s single-market status, either along with the UK or through a special deal, then Indyref2 will be removed within the context of Brexit.
That indyref2 in terms of Brexit will disappear if Scotland’s EU interests are protected has always been the First minister’s stance. Indeed the First Minister made it clear during the interview that she has always been willing to compromise on any indyref2 within the context of Brexit. The interview merely allowed her to re-iterate her position.
Sturgeon tells Gary Robertson:
“So I’ve in a sense been willing and I am willing to put aside my preferred option independence in the EU to see if we can explore a consensus and compromise option.
“In terms of the timescale of Brexit, that’s what I’ve been very clear about.”
Removal of the immediate threat of indyref2, i.e. the one prompted by the EU Referendum vote, was always going to happen in the event that Scotland retained its membership of the single market. Had it not then Scottish Labour along with the Lib Dems would never have backed Nicola Sturgeon in June last year as she began her efforts to protect Scotland’s EU interests.
Indeed Kezia Dugdale underlined her backing for the First Minister’s stance two days later during First Minister’s Questions. Would Dugdale really have offered her support had she not been convinced protecting Scotland’s EU status would remove the immediate threat of a second independence referendum?
In October last year, during the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed by Brian Taylor on the specific issue of the Brexit Indyref2. In her reply she made it absolutely clear that the option of a second referendum would only be chosen if all other options failed. In other words, if Scotland’s single market membership could be protected then the immediacy of Indyref2 would disappear. Sturgeon, as you can see from the clip below, made it clear she was speaking only in the context of the European referendum result.
Remember that this interview took place three months ago. Why then is our professional media presenting Sturgeon’s Indyref2 stance within the context of Brexit as though it only appeared days ago?
Within moments of the Radio Scotland interview, BBC Scotland was headlining the First Minister’s answer to the indyref2 question as though she had revealed something hitherto unknown. News bulletins reinforced the myth.
Listen to the clip below which includes polling expert Professor John Curtice claim the First Minister’s tone had changed. It’s followed by opportunistic attacks on Nicola Sturgeon from uber-Unionist Ruth Davidson.
To the uninitiated it appeared as though Nicola Sturgeon had altered her stance. She hadn’t of course. But a narrative was quickly cultivated that lent credence to the lie.
Newspapers seized on the opportunity to portray Nicola Sturgeon as having backtracked slightly on the independence issue.
David Clegg of the Daily Record told readers that Sturgeon had “rowed back on a second indy vote.”
Tom Gordon of The Herald suggested the SNP’s stance on independence was now a riddle. He wrote: “When she launched Scotland’s Place in Europe, Ms Sturgeon said a second referendum remained ‘highly likely’. Now it is being ‘put aside’. It cannot be both.”
On Sunday after the First Minister had appeared on the Andrew Marr show, Alan Cochrane tweeted; “Will the real Sturgeon please stand up. On Friday she says she’s backing down from indyref2. Today she boasts she’s not bluffing. Farcical.”
Even The National embraced the myth by printing the apparent new offer on its front page. ‘Sturgeon offers to compromise on snap indyref2 if we get the right Brexit deal.’
The myth has now embedded of course. You need only glance at social media to see how Unionists have embraced the idea that Sturgeon has backtracked, that it is a sign of a weak hand, that there is now confusion within the ranks of the SNP over Indyref2.
There isn’t of course. The SNP leadership knows exactly what it is doing. Days after the EU referendum result became known I wrote the following:
Nicola Sturgeon has played a blinder throughout. Her campaign was flawlessly pro-Remain. She concentrated on making the positive case, but said just enough about the possibility of Brexit to ensure people were aware indyref2 could result.
Sturgeon continues to play a blinder. Unionists have been on the back-foot since June last year which is precisely why they are so desperate to portray the First Minister as having developed the jitters. The BBC will play its part in cultivating this myth as will the rest of Scotland’s corporate media.
There is no appetite for portraying Nicola Sturgeon as decisive, consistent, honest and principled.
Finally, and not unrelated, is the apparent confusion that has infested BBC Scotland on the issue of Brexit and Indyref2. Amongst some presenters there has been a weird inability to correctly recall key aspects of the Brexit/Indyref2 issue.
On Friday Gary Robertson had to be corrected after inexplicably claiming the FM was seeking only “access” to the EU single market as opposed to full membership.
On Saturday Gillian Marles repeatedly questioned an academic by presenting Nicola Sturgeon’s position as seeking to remain a member of the EU, as opposed to the single market.
In an interview on the same day, Gordon Brewer claimed a recent poll showed there was no support for independence amongst Yes supporters. He had to be corrected by former Yes Scotland chief Blair Jenkins that the poll in question had asked only about a referendum in 2017.
The following day Brewer’s colleague Bill Whiteford made the same erroneous claim.
These aren’t show-stoppers but they do demonstrate how easy it is to pepper broadcasts and discussions with very subtle pieces of misinformation that can get picked up by the unassuming listener.
Finally, finally … I had planned to produce a separate article on this subject but simply ran out of time. BBC Scotland has, for some time, had an over-reliance on party press releases for its news. There has always been a suspicion that press releases from the Labour party in particular are favoured.
Listen to the audio clip below which contains a selection of headlines from Radio Scotland that were broadcast between January 3rd and January 7th.
Oh, the cannabis item was actually reported three months ago by the Sunday Express. This isn’t news. It’s party political garbage. This is what BBC Scotland is reduced to.Views: 7845
If BBC Scotland’s political coverage concerns you then please consider donating to the following appeal which is seeking to raise funds in order to produce DVDs of the excellent documentary ‘London Calling’. Donate here.