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Friday, 4 October 2013

Scotland – the Invisible Country (from the perspective of BBC Daily Politics and UK educational Establishment)

There is only one Daily Politics programme on BBC, and it purports to address the whole of the UK.

There is a Sunday Politics and a Sunday Politics Scotland, from the same Andrew Neil stable, and there is a Newsnight and a Newsnight Scotland, to the all-too evident frustration of Jeremy Paxman.

Under normal circumstance, one would therefore expect the Daily Politics to reflect Scottish affairs regularly, in proportion to population at least, and to pick up on Scottish stories of special interest to Scotland and the UK as a whole. After all, the first B in BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation!

But we are most certainly not in normal circumstance – we are living in perhaps a uniquely challenging period of history for the integrity of Britain - i.e. UK  - as a political entity. Scotland is 348 days away from a referendum that will determine, not only the future of Scotland but of the United Kingdom, and which will have major implications for the EU, for Scandinavia and for US/UK NATO strategy.

A YES vote will effectively end UK, the British Empire and quite possibly spell the end of the UK nuclear deterrent.

THE DAILY POLITICS 4th October 2013

Today’s Daily Politics addressed the impact of tuition fees on UK universities and students. I repeat - on UK universities and students.

This was evidenced by the presence of Dr. Wendy Piatt of The Russell Group (“Our universities are to be found in all four nations and in every major city of the UK”), Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK (“Universities UK has offices in Edinburgh (Universities Scotland”) and Toni Pearce of the National Union of Students (“We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95% of all higher and further education unions in the UK”)

One of the great policy divides, reflecting widely different social values and priorities of two nations growing increasingly further apart – Scotland and England – is tuition fees and education policy.

1. There are no tuition fees in Scotland.

2. There will be no tuition fees in a devolved Scotland while the SNP is in government.

3. It is almost a negligible possibility that there could ever be tuition fees in an independent Scotland, regardless of which party or coalition governed. (The likelihood of a Tory Government regaining power in independent Scotland with a policy of tuition fees is zero.)

4. Free education in Scotland poses major problems for the UK Government and impacts on the EU and the world – the world comes to Scotland to be educated.

Despite this, the Daily Politics managed an entire 14 minutes discussion, (preceded by a report) chaired by Jo Coburn, without once mentioning Scotland (except for a fleeting mention of “their English members” at  1m30s mark) despite the presence of three representatives whose organisations and roles purport to have a UK-wide remit, and who have Scottish universities and students as members.

There are only two credible explanations for this extraordinary omission -

The BBC, the Daily Politics - and the participants and organisations they represent - regard Scotland as a marginal region somewhere north of the Watford gap which merits no real attention whatsoever.


To discuss the reality of the situation would have pointed up one important aspect of the widening gulf between Scotland and England and would have assisted the cause of a YES vote.

If this is the contempt in which Scotland is held before the 2014 referendum, one can imagine all to clearly the utter contempt in which it would be held after a  No vote.

Vote Yes for Scotland!


  1. If the Scottish electorate vote 'No' we will have earned their contempt. What a depressing thought.

  2. I think, at this point, one simply has to concede BBC bias. Whether it is a co-ordinated intentional bias, or simply people being blinkered by their own presumptions, it exists. Derek Bateman has described ed his former boss as "taking orders from a Labour spin doctor". The palpable disgust on Kirtsy Wark's face after the audience vote on her "Borders" debate didn't go her way ("Of course, it's not scientific!") - after she had spent most of the debate that she was suposed to be impartially chairing giving the NO case at every opportunity and sneering at a future Scottish currency - "Will it be the pibroch?" don't exactly communicate impartial journalism. On a separate issue, that of the whistleblower, Snowden, she was given an object lesson by her American reporter interviewee on what a journalist's job should be as she pathetically ploughed on pushing the UK and US Govts. views. Hardly impartial. Definitely the mouthpiece of the UK state.

    1. Bob,

      I don't concede a generalised BBC bias, because it is grossly unfair to the many balanced journalists and the many programmes and debates mounted by BBC that gave us all such insights into the referendum debate.

      That doesn't stop me being critical on specifics (as I have here) and analysing in as much detail as I can the nature of such instances of unbalanced or blinkered coverage.

      I currently have over 700 YouTube videos running, the vast bulk of which are BBC programmes, made by and presented by journalists who have illuminated the great debate for all of us. In my view it is counter-productive to write off great swathes of BBC valuable coverage under a "shoot-the-ref" analysis.

      It also has needlessly alienated many good, hard-working journalists who have been subject to a torrent of abuse by tweet and email and who are inhibited by contract and practical considerations from defending themselves.

      If the BBC's legion of critics spent as much time analysing and rebutting the arguments of our opponents as they do dissecting the composition of panels and the loyalties and extended families of journalists, we would have had - and can still have -a more productive campaign.


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  4. I feel at times with the BBC its and emperors new clothes situation -therefore if they carry on as if we are all together situation and nothing is going to change and Westminster is and always will be more important and powerful --then IN THEIR EYES AND MIND everything will be okay -they believe if the pretend it will all work out perfectly for them .