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BBC Scotland Indyref Reminders – Newspaper Reviews – Towards Indyref2…

BBC Scotland Indyref Reminders – Newspaper Reviews

scottish_papersThis article is the first in what I hope will be a short series of articles designed to remind people of what I would describe as the corruption that took hold at BBC Scotland during the independence referendum campaign.

The articles will feature recordings of BBC Scotland programmes from as far back as 2012.  Some of the broadcasts will have long been forgotten.

Please promote these articles widely and reproduce them if you please.

The ‘Scottish’ Media

The independence referendum was a watershed moment for the Scottish media.  From the moment the SNP won the 2011 Scottish election in a historic landslide, an independence referendum was a certainty.

The Scottish media, Unionist to its core, was forced to reveal itself.  With the Union under threat, newspapers could no longer pretend to be politically impartial.  History will show that not one daily newspaper backed independence and only in the latter stages of the referendum campaign did one Sunday newspaper declare its support for independence.

Newspaper coverage of Scotland’s independence referendum was appallingly one-sided.  In my book ‘London Calling – How the BBC stole the Referendum’, I chronicled some of the worst examples of political reporting by BBC Scotland.  The corporation had an appalling referendum.  Its reputation has been left in tatters as a result.

Good Morning Scotland

One of the more subtle methods for the broadcaster to promote pro-Union arguments is the newspaper review.  The newspaper review appears on the flagship morning radio programme Good Morning Scotland.  It has also recently begun appearing in the main online news section for BBC Scotland.  It is essentially an advert dressed up as news as you can see from the image below which is from Wednesday April 27th.

bbc scotland papers

Such is the overwhelming Unionism within Scotland’s newspaper industry, that these reviews and promotions are little more than political bias by proxy.  Indeed on Wednesday April 27th there was a very clear example of just that bias when the Good Morning Scotland team reviewed that day’s headlines.

Newspaper headlines that day were dominated by one story – Hillsborough.  The exoneration of Liverpool fans by a jury saturated most of the newspaper front pages, and rightly so.  However two Scottish editions bucked the trend.  The front pages of the Scottish Express and the Scottish Daily Mail focused on Scottish politics, as can be seen below.


One has an anti-SNP headline dominating.  The other has an anti-Labour headline dominating.  Both front pages were ‘reviewed’ on Good Morning Scotland.  The recording below contains each review in full.


If you listened to the clip above, you’ll note that the Mail’s ‘Labour Chaos’ headline was completely ignored by the Good Morning Scotland presenter who instead read out the Hillsborough banner at the top.   However when the Express was reviewed, it was the anti-SNP headline that was read out despite a similar Hillsborough banner to that of the Mail being prominent.  This is as clear an example of double-standards as it is possible to find.

The Indyref

The worst example involving newspaper headlines that promoted a political agenda happened one week before the independence referendum.  The recording below was broadcast by Radio Scotland on September 11th 2014.  It’s truly gobsmacking.


The referendum campaign [de-facto and official] spanned almost three and a half years from May 2011 until September 2014.  Throughout this time BBC Scotland continued with the practice of promoting pro-Union newspaper headlines and occasionally summarising the stories.  Below are a couple of examples of the kinds of newspaper headlines that found their way onto the airwaves of the BBC.

September 2012 – CBI


February 2013 – Treaties


There are, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, literally scores of similar recordings. There’s just not enough time to include them all.

From newspaper to airwaves

It should be noted that many of these newspaper headlines were the catalyst for news stories that appeared on the BBC during the referendum campaign.  The recording below was broadcast by Good Morning Scotland on December 6th 2012.  It was based on a front page story published by The Scotsman newspaper.

scotsman letter

The item actually led straight into that day’s newspaper review as you’ll hear.


The story featured on Good Morning Scotland’s sister programme Newsdrive as you can hear from the recording below.


There was however a major flaw in the story.  The European Commission had sent no such letter.

The truth was only discovered after online outlet Newsnet Scotland contacted the Commission for a response to the story.  The Scotsman newspaper was subsequently forced to issue a correction.  BBC Scotland never did.

scotsman correction

BBC Scotland continues to promote politically motivated newspaper headlines.  This Scottish election campaign has had more than its fair share.  Below are a few of the more ridiculous smear stories that have been published by pro-Union newspapers and that have found their way onto the airwaves of BBC Scotland via the newspaper review.

Smear 1


Smear 2


Smear 3


Why BBC Scotland promotes newspapers known to be politically partisan during key political campaigns is unclear.  Scotland’s media is so biased in favour of Unionism that it would be impossible not to promote either a pro-Union or an anti-SNP agenda.

The remedy though is simple.  Stop promoting politically motivated stories from newspapers known to be politically partisan.  The licence fee should not be used in order to promote or advertise these newspapers, especially during an official campaign period.  Oh, and that includes The National.

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6 thoughts on “BBC Scotland Indyref Reminders – Newspaper Reviews

  1. Iain Barker

    The corruption at the BBC set in long before the Indy Referendum. Decades before in fact. I would also say that STVs outpourings from its Aberdeen outlet are as equally as bad as the BBCs.

  2. john mccrae

    our media services are corrupt and unfit for purpose.
    they are so anti scottish that in the run up to the
    referendum my 10 and 12yr old grandchildren
    commented on the anti snp bias against them
    by the bbc, without i may add any prompting
    from myself.
    i have not purchased an newspaper for over
    5yrs as there is now no such thing as proper
    and decent unbiased journalism and include
    football reporting in this time.
    i do have a choice if i buy a newspaper or not
    but not the bbc which really annoys me that
    i am paying towards spin and corruption.
    however i think their day is coming

  3. James Cormack

    The message is clear – pay no licence fee.

    One other thing, how many people actually buy these Mickey Mouse publications?

  4. James Nicoll

    When did BBC start this craze for reviewing the papers anyway? Was it an American import? It’s cheap, it’s biased, and it’s surely advertising for these discredited rags!
    During election periods (like now!) newspaper reviews should stop.
    If I had my way they would stop all together.

  5. tarisgal

    I wholeheartedly agree about the review of the papers. It is unmitigated propaganda for the UK government and most certainly during the elections these ‘reviews’ should be stopped. There is no doubt that the BBC reviews in favour of one side of the political argument only – the government’s side. Surely that is against the Election Commission rules? And what about declaration of expenses when it comes to advertising for the WM parties? Surely the Commission cannot condone the cost of BBC advertising??? Because that is what the ‘paper review’ most certainly is!

    I wish I knew more about how the regulation of elections expenses worked but I’m sure that this ‘review’ is not being counted though should be!! Time that this whole practice was stopped!!!

    We returned our TV License fee in with a polite (okay – it was a little sarcastic, I grant you) note to say that we no longer wish to receive their blatant propaganda and will not watch ‘real time’ viewing any more. That was the end of that. They wrote back accepting our explanation – and even sent us a rebate! 🙂 You don’t need to pay for services if you do not watch in ‘real time’. I hardly ever watch BBC (or Channel 4) & anything I do watch, I watch later on i-player. It is going to become law that even that will be covered by the license fee & you will need to have one to watch it, but that is when I will say goodbye to BBC forever.

    If it grates on you that you to pay for propaganda, send your license back. It’s easy to do & you’ll feel SO MUCH BETTER, I promise!

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