Part of the problem

There is no “wrangling over whether BBC Scotland is biased”. There is only obdurate denial in some quarters that it is. The only meaningful debate concerns the nature and extent of that bias.

Nicola Sturgeon was certainly right to distance herself from claims of “institutional bias”. The problem is organisational. The bias is a failure of management. As I wrote elsewhere,

It would be more apt to describe BBC Scotland as organisationally, or structurally, biased. Over time, a self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing process has led to the organisation being populated with people drawn from, or with intimate connections to, a Scottish political establishment that was, for a formative period of decades, the almost exclusive province of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). BBC Scotland is stuffed with people who still regard what they like to call “Scottish Labour” as rightfully the dominant force in Scottish politics. Many are inclined to treat it as if it still is. They genuinely see nothing wrong in packing every studio panel with BLiS worthies because they cannot accept how irrelevant the pretendy wee party has become.

Given that Donalda MacKinnon is part of the management that has failed, what possible reason can there be to believe that she might be the one to effect the changes necessary if public trust is to be regained?

It is ridiculous to deny the pro-British bias of the BBC. How could this integral part of the British establishment be anything other than biased in favour of the British establishment? What has happened is that, because of the divergence of political cultures, being pro-British has tended to become increasingly anti-Scottish. Or at least anti- that part of Scottish opinion which does not accept the superiority of all things British.

If anybody wants to deny the anti-Scottish element of BBC bias, let them explain why it is that licence-fee payers in Scotland are uniquely prohibited from commenting on articles on the BBC Scotland website.

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About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. None of my attitudes are immutable. None of my conclusions are final. None of my opinions are humble.
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2 Responses to Part of the problem

  1. daibhidhdeux says:

    First things first, bliadhna mhath ur – a guid New Year to you and yours as we continue to go forward to re-independence in 2017, and many thanks for all your insights.

    They have been and continue to be of inspirational and analytical value beyond measure.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for this one, also, and I understand why our ScotGov and FM continue to handle this issue with care; however, I remain unconvinced by the likes of yours and Mr (Derek) Bateman’s exegesis which seems to border on the casuistical, Sophist, and Thomasist in its critique with shades of St Augustine thrown into the mix.

    Whether the BBC is “institutionally” or “”organisationally” biased seems to almost redolent of the medieval stushies in philosophy and theology centred around the number of angels jigging on a pinhead, or the very early Christian Fathers rammying over doctrinal purity with the Arians and Anasthasians going hammers and tongs at each other over said purity and wording.

    The institution in question is British as in the name on the tin and is charged to defend British values of the British state, whatever they are, under its WM granted charter and that seems to be prime facie evidence of its systemic bias both institutionally and organizationally from the get go (allowing for the imperfections of all institutions and organizations which inadvertently allow for things under the radar “infecting” their fringe interstices – BBC Alba a splendid example of this accidental infection. Individual professionals with integrity of whom there are many, another; but these accidents happening, they are permitted to continue to exist within the host body as long as it politically suits the latter – in the footsteps of Machiavelli – until they are turfed (and the BBC is not alone in this practice)).

    That such state sanctioned broadcasters and their print allies are recognized as enemies of the popular democratic will and are appropriately dealt with during popular revolutions worldwide seems to evidence that the BBC is not somehow a special case and above and outside this global phenomenon despite the hubris of exceptionalism which seems to infest their mindset and predominate their broadcasting output (see multiple studies not only my Mr Ponsonby and Prof (retd) John Robertson as well as by the Glasgow Media Studies Group at the University of Glasgow and many other studies by other academic and other institutions vis a vis discourse analysis, semiotics, etc, et al).

    Usually, the state broadcaster is seized as a primary target in the uprising because folk are not daft nor blind as to its inherent pro-state placemen and placewomen stacked organization as well its in with the bricks, chartered, institutional, pro-state remit.

    This avenue I am not suggesting for a moment in Scotland given our own historical circumstances and the peaceful ingenuity of the citizens of Scotland in the struggle to repatriate our popular sovereignty, but we cannot bind our democratic hands and will as good and progressive democrats when and if contending with future, changed circumstances.

    Anyhoo and to echo Toodleoothenoo at PQ, a wee personal anecdote regarding this intrinsic BBC bias which I believe is both organisational as well as institutional when these auxilliaries of the British Army’s Brigade 77 (as it is now formally constituted) were still at QM Drive in the mid 1970’s:

    I attended an interview at QM Drive after graduating from Glasgow in application for a trainee journalist’s position. All had been going swimmingly upto that day and friends who were already at the Beeb were waiting for me in the canteen before we would post-interview repair to the BBC Club across the road.

    However, during the very pleasant and positive interview, there was an interruption and I was requested to go for a wee chat with a very nice, urbane gentleman in a small office in the vicinity.

    I was duly and politely escorted there.

    In turn, this chap and I had a brief but very pleasant blether primarily pertaining to my background and activities at the university.

    He politely thanked me and bade me well.

    I did not return to the formal interview room but was shown to the canteen to meet my friends.

    I subsequently received a lovely letter sadly declining my application.

    Gutted but no problem as competition was incredibly intense.

    However and subsequently, I was advised on the QT by a BBC journalist friend that the delightful chap I had talked with was a British security services “attache” to this institution.

    A most intriguing experience.

    Thus my aforesaid points about the aforementioned organisational/institutional chicken and egg conundrum being somewhat – forgive me – obscurity existential for the chicken lays its eggs and so what we have is a chicken and its chicken eggs.

    Again wishing you and yours all the best for this new year of forward progress and many, many more of your articles in the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment part two of the ongoing series



    • Peter A Bell says:

      The question of whether the BBC is institutionally or organisationally biased is crucial. It pertains directly to the matter of whether and how the the problem can be rectified.

      A guid New Year to you and yours.


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