Gordon Wilson … Another BBC Scotland ‘Agenda Day’

gordon-wilson-bbcI’ve written before about what I term ‘Agenda Days’ on BBC Scotland.

These are days when the news narrative has already been planned and nothing, bar a catastrophic event, is going to shift it.

Last week saw just such an Agenda Day when BBC Scotland exaggerated the importance of a moderately successful petition.  On October 18th the ‘Thirty Eight Degrees’ train petition appeared across every BBC platform.  It was on radio, online, the morning phone-in and the evening news.

The petition had in fact been covered nine days earlier as you can see here.  But that didn’t matter to BBC Scotland.  The broadcaster ran the story as though it was new.  Look out for trains becoming a media issue over the coming weeks.

Gordon Wilson

This weekend we had another ‘Agenda Day’.  On Sunday I tuned into Radio Scotland to be confronted by yet another so-called ‘Long Form Interview’.  These half-hour set-pieces are generally worthless indulgences that serve the ego of Gordon Brewer.  Sunday’s was more of the same, but with a twist.

The guest was none other than Gordon Wilson the former leader of the SNP.  Wilson is a figure from the past as far as Scottish politics is concerned.  He has no influence within the party he once led and is seen as a bit of a bitter maverick by the contemporary party faithful.

Wilson, like another former SNP leading figure Jim Sillars, is regularly wheeled out by the pro-Union media when criticism of the current party or its leadership is required.  My alarm bells went off when I heard Brewer invite Wilson to give his views on a second independence referendum.  Needless to say, Wilson obliged.

Within minutes of the pre-recorded interview ending, a summary of the interview was leading Radio Scotland news bulletins.  Listeners were told that, according to Wilson, a second independence referendum “could be a waste of time”.  As though to underline the news agenda, the bulletin featured Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also attacking the idea of Indyref2.


Subsequent news bulletins also featured BBC Scotland’s interpretation of the Wilson interview, this time garnished with classic referendum ‘issues’ of Scotland’s so-called budget deficit and currency.


former-snp-leaderMy suspicion that BBC Scotland had planned to use the Wilson interview to push its news agenda that day was confirmed when first he appeared on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics Show, then an article appeared on the BBC Scotland online news page.

Someone who long since had ceased to have any influence within the ranks of the SNP and had no relevance to Scottish politics, was being paraded by BBC Scotland as though important to the issue of Brexit and a second independence referendum.  Gordon Wilson was being granted a platform way beyond that which he should have deserved.

But why?  The reason of course was that Wilson offered an opportunity to undermine Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to Downing Street the following day.  On Monday October 24th, the First Minister will meet Prime Minister Theresa May in the first face-to-face since their meeting in Edinburgh immediately after the EU referendum result.

By headlining Gordon Wilson’s criticisms, the BBC has ensured the mood-music surrounding the First Minister’s visit is not as positive and harmonious as it might have been.  The broadcaster has deliberately used Wilson in order to undermine Sturgeon.  And it had to be deliberate else why invite Wilson to give his views at all?

wilson-udi-bbcBut there was more to the BBC handling of Wilson who was warning of the dangers of holding a second independence referendum.  Back in May 2015 Gordon Wilson argued that Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will was enough for the SNP to call UDI.  This colossal piece of strategic idiocy was headlined by … yep, you’ve guessed it … the BBC.

In doing so Wilson and the BBC handed the SNP’s Unionist opponents a nice wee stick with which to beat Nicola Sturgeon’s party in the run-up to the 2015 UK General Election.

Yet barely eighteen months later and the BBC was prepared to headline Wilson saying almost the complete opposite.

Gordon Wilson also turned up on Reporting Scotland again as a kind of warm-up act for Kezia Dugdale.

A man who represents nobody but himself had by now featured on every single BBC Scotland news outlet.  He had appeared on Good Morning Scotland, Radio Scotland news bulletins, Sunday politics Scotland, BBC Scotland online and the flagship TV news programme Reporting Scotland.

Gordon Wilson is yesterday’s man.  He has little or no relevance in today’s Scotland.  His opinions are deemed newsworthy only because he is prepared to attack the party he once led.  Like Jim Sillars and to a lesser extent Alex Bell, he has become a pro-Union media court-jester, repeatedly performing the same little parlour trick for his ever grateful masters.

Have a look at the profile afforded Wilson on the BBC Scotland online news page and how he quite remarkably leapfrogs the First Minister’s calls to Theresa May which slips down the news agenda.  Note also the very low profile afforded Patrick Harvie [circled green] who very publicly backed a second independence referendum in an interview with Gordon Brewer that same morning.


This is why BBC Scotland remains the Yes campaign’s most formidable opponent.  It’s why the real alternative media and the real grassroots independence movement is working to minimise its effectiveness in readiness for Indyref2.

It’s why I continued writing after it became clear Indyref1 had not killed off the Yes campaign.

If you enjoyed reading this article please feel free to make a small donation.  I should add that my laptop is on its last legs and it’s past time it was replaced.

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9 thoughts on “Gordon Wilson … Another BBC Scotland ‘Agenda Day’

  1. Iain Ross

    You know Gordon Wilson is entitled to his opinions and without doubt he makes some reasonable points, what I do not understand is why he walked straight into this.

    It is obvious as day turns into night what would happen if he went onto a unionist mouthpiece like the Beeb and said the things he said. The Beeb and the other Unionist rags are simple going to start firing all those bullets he just gave them. If fact more than that, like you point out, they just set him up as part of a bigger agenda.

    What a fool. Can you imagine any of the old big Labour beasts (Brown, Darling etc) rocking up to a dubious media outlet and giving a warts and all interview? No, me neither. As much as I respect principles politics is also a game. Wilson is like that bloke getting in the swimming pool and failing to notice it is filled with sharks.

    Yes the lesson here is that the BBC are a formidable obstacle (funny how it always YES / SNP that are on the back foot with them and never, ever the reverse) but there is also a lesson here for all of on the YES side and that is to think before you engage your mouth.

  2. Andy McKirdy

    As my auld maw would have said
    “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all”
    Hasbeen attention seekers never learn!!!

  3. Clydebuilt

    I felt that at one point GW felt he had said too much, and tried to get a grip.

    But what is his game. On the one hand he’s undermining the FM. On the other is he creating a way out of holding a Ref. if required?

    Certainly providing ammo for the Yoons.

  4. Cadogan Enright

    At what point will Wilson realise that he is being used and that those who used to admire him have been watching aghast for some considerable time?

    Has he no friends to advise and help him? Surely there must be some one who knows him and can help?

    I suspect there is no hope for Sillars

  5. Robert Graham

    As soon as Gordon brewer give him free reign without the usual 2 second in interruption as is BBC Scotland’s normal format for anyone involved with the SNP government i sensed a set up ,well done Mr Wilson , there is a reason you are not part of the leadership now this interview confirms the good sense of the current leadership .
    Gordon Brewer must have thought he was on a roll when he next turned to Patrick Harvey this was where he hits the proverbial wall , and gave the game away when he continued to press Harvey to drop support for independence in favour of Green objectives , nice try Gordon but we see your agenda and the BBC’s unhinged support for the Union .

  6. Clydebuilt

    O/T …. Re KayE’s moan in , virtually every day her show is dominated by issues affecting women. This morning it’s Kirsty Wark and the MENopause.
    Is it that Kaye’s a sexist, or is it that women are less certain about Indy, than men, and she’s out to control the thoughts of the ladies.

  7. millie

    Sorry O/T.
    Re: Nissan/ Brexit.
    Article from New statesman by Stephen Bush – quote-

    *“I am told by a well-placed source that Nissan did indeed receive guarantees about the future of the plant from the government.
    We can expect to see a lot more of that sort of thing in the future. As I’ve written before, the government’s best-case scenario involves not cutting, but likely increasing the amount that it pays both to the European Union and to the EU27 for a level of access to the single market that allows the City of London to maintain its primacy as a financial centre. It’s striking that Theresa May has kept a firm line on increasing British sovereignty, by getting out of the European Court of Justice and freedom of movement, but not on reducing the size of the United Kingdom’s contribution to the Brussels budget. “ *

    So, does this mean the government is willing to aid Nissan to offset tariffs etc. Will they effectively give aid to an area (Sunderland) for Nissan, and other areas that voted to leave, at the expense of tax payers in Scotland? – Will we be paying for this? We voted ‘remain’.
    What is David Mundell’s view on this- is he ‘standing up for Scotland? – Just keep the head down David, and follow instructions?

    What are the views of people like Jim Sillars and Tom Harris?

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