Letter to The National, 16/09/15 (unpublished)
Michael Gray in his column on Tuesday said that the protests against the BBC’s political coverage were a “significant, if not especially glorious moment in Scottish history.” I’m sure that many Scots would disagree with that assessment, and would argue that it pointed to, if anything, a significant and not especially glorious moment in the BBC’s history. The reasons for the protest were twofold. One was the by then clear exposure of the bias being displayed by the media in general and the BBC in particular: the study by Professor John Robertson was instrumental in putting meat on the bones of that particular argument, making the BBC’s denials all the more galling. The second reason for the protest was that the people were forced into saying what senior figures in the Yes campaign wouldn’t: that there was open bias by the BBC. Who of us can forget John Swinney being asked repeatedly whether there was bias in the BBC, and his flat refusal to say what was blindingly obvious and obviously true? Professional politicians’ unwillingness to back the people for fear of offending an already biased media was, for me at least, one of the most infuriating aspects of the Yes campaign.
The BBC protests were carried out peacefully and within the law, and called only for fairness in BBC reporting. Unfortunately the reasons for the protests remain as valid now as they were then, with no sign of the BBC having mended its ways, and if our Yes supporting politicians and talking heads fail to speak up on the subject, then it will again be left to the people of Scotland to speak up for themselves.