Monday 6 April 2015

Say what you see

(Our next PM, OMG!, taken from The Independent)

This morning's Today, much to my disappointment, didn't have a good chuckle about Ed 'the happy warrior' Miliband, following the falling of his prep notes (for last week's ITV leaders' debate) into The Sun on Sunday's fragrant hands:

me versus DC. decency, principle and values.

(Self-praise is no praise, Ed).

Still, as Alan at Biased BBC notes, they did have time for a David Had a Little Lamb feature.

This concerned indecent, unprincipled, value-free David Cameron and his photo-op with a cute lamb, about which John Humphrys was drolly sceptical.

[John Humphrys, however, also mentioned the 'bacon sandwich' scandal regarding Ed Miliband (see above) - the mere mention of which usually prompts the Labour wing of the ITA (International Twitter Army) to scream 'BBC bias!' at the top of their very busy fingertips.]


And Today most certainly had time to mention...and re-mention...and then re-mention once more...that infamous memo (obtained by the Telegraph) which so infuriated the SNP... infuriated them, in fact, that I imagine them acting like those anti-obscenity protestors in that notorious episode of South Park, hurling themselves from giant catapults against BBC Scotland's Glasgow HQ, and splattering themselves, bloodily, in the process. I'm thus envisioning hordes of dying SNP supporters piling up outside Pacific Quay. 

OK though, back to that memo....

....the one where, at third-hand, an unnamed Scottish Office official (so it transpires, apparently) relates that someone told him that Nicola Sturgeon told someone else said she'd prefer DC to win and that Ed M wasn't up to being prime minister - even though the same official who wrote the memo also worries (privately - or so he {or she} apparently believed!) that such public forthrightness from the Scottish FM doesn't sound right and that something could have been "lost in translation". 

The SNP and the French (i.e. all of those present) strongly deny any such thing was ever said.

However, many canny observers suspect, at least in theory (and, probably, in practice), it could have been said, given that the SNP would surely relish having a hated Conservative UK government in power at Westminster (whether minority or majority) in order to absolutely clinch their case for leaving the UK.

Others also suspect that Nicola Sturgeon might well think that Ed Miliband isn't up to the job - given that most other people seem to think that too! - and that she could also have said it.

Speculation, speculation everywhere and not a fact to drink...a subject to which I'll return later!


(Nicola, Queen of Scots, looking more happie than krankie)

Is the BBC biased over the SNP though? And, if so, in which direction?

Alan at Biased BBC (no fan of the SNP) thinks the BBC's failure to report BBC reporter James Cook's comments about how senior SNP figures have told him that a Tory government would suit them better shows BBC pro-SNP bias. 

Countless furious cybernats, and former BBC presenter Derek Bateman (most definitely a fan of the SNP) would strongly (and probably abusively (though not Derek)), disagree about that and find little but BBC pro-establishment, anti-SNP bias here

In terms of numbers, the cybernats win - but does quantity of accusation also equal quality of accusation?

Honest answer = I don't know. Some BBC programmes/presenters seemed to be trying to rubbish the story while others seemed to be going full steam ahead with it (as noted in an earlier post).

Whether that means that the BBC (getting complaints from both sides) is getting it about right or getting it completely wrong in more than one direction is hard to say...

...though forcing myself off the fence, I'd say that this morning's Today and its continuing focus on a story that SNP supporters loathe hearing about ('UKIP scandal'-like) tends me (slightly) towards the Nats' position.

If the BBC was really pro-SNP they'd have buried this story by now.

Also inclining me towards that view is the way SNP MP Stewart Hosie's understandable reluctance - under sustained pressure - to say that Labour's Ed Miliband would make a splendid PM was then spun, in the following news bulletin, thanks to Norman Smith, into a headline story. (As I said before, who in God's name, actually does think he'll make a great PM?). Norm said the SNP were being "less forthright" about the matter.


(A Labour-biased pooch, plus the BBC's always-impartial Norm)

And talking of Norman Smith and speculation...'s Norman's take on this in the final hour of this morning's Today:
It matters very obviously because any suggestion that privately, secretly, Nicola Sturgeon favours David Cameron would be devastating to the SNP's campaign in Scotland where they're desperately trying to win over Labour voters...
["devasting", "desparately" - Good old Norm and his hyperbole, and not exactly SNP-friendly. The SNP, as per the polls, don't seem to be "desperately" trying to win over Labour votes at all. They seem, simply, to be winning them over - though time, and the actual results, will tell. One for those who claim the BBC is anti-SNP, I think.] 
...but I think Sarah's interview may have, actually, provided us with half an answer to how this memo potentially came about because Ms Sturgeon, the French ambassador, the French Consul General have all vehemently, categorically, 100% denied that Scotland's First Minister said she would like David Cameron to remain in Downing Street.
...where they've been much more reticent is whether she expressed any sceptical views about Ed Miliband's leadership abilities and we could hear it quite clearly there from Stewart Hosie that they are not terribly enthused about the prospect of Ed Miliband as a potential prime minister and it seems to me, therefore, that, perhaps, Ms Sturgeon did venture some doubts about Mr Miliband's leadership qualities. That was then reported to the Scotland Office and there, maybe, that was overwritten, over-interpreted as reservations about Ed Milibands equals preference for David Cameron.
Now, that might explain why then that memo was written suggesting that somehow she favoured the Conservatives remaining in government when, in fact, what she might have simply stressed was her doubts about Ed Miliband as a prime minister.
I'm speculating slightly but I think that could explain how it is that everyone has been able to 100%, categorically deny that she wants David Cameron to remain prime minister while being much less forthcoming about what she might have said about Ed Miliband.
[Well, yes, Norman, you are speculating here - but far, far more than just "slightly" though. You're actually massively speculating. Put mathematically: No facts + pure speculation = "I'm actually speculating exponentially."] 

It matters because she wants to say to Labour voters in Scotland, "Relax, you don't have to vote Labour to kick the Tories out. You can vote SNP and you can be absolutely sure I am more hostile, more anti-Tory, than any Labour voter. I would, in fact, vote down the Tories even if they were the largest party."
If there is the least scintilla of doubt that she is being slightly economical with the truth and that undermines that whole pitch to voters.
[Does it really "undermine" her "whole pitch to voters"? Labour might like to argue it does, but would it really? Wouldn't most Scottish voters realise (as most English voters would probably realise too), if they thought the SNP - for 'realist'/'Machiavellian' reasons - wanted the hated Tories to rule over Scotland from London - that the SNP would only be using the Tories to get rid of the Tories - they'd hope - forever?]
Added to which, I suspect there is a sort of hard-headed view among some people that actually, well, it would be rather good for the SNP if David Cameron remained in Downing Street because it enables them to highlight the differences between England and Scotland, because Scotland, presumably, won't have many Tory MPs. But, more than that, if David Cameron goes for an EU referendum and Sturgeon has already said, that that could provide a potential trigger for yet another independence referendum if England was to vote to leave the EU and Scots were to vote to remain to stay in.
[Just the line James Cook was advancing on Twitter. So at least there's some BBC consistency there.] 
So you can see, in a very hard-headed way, although it's been utterly denied, why the SNP might, actually, benefit from a David Cameron government.
[Email to Norman Smith from Labour HQ: "Thank you Norman" - and much of the praise he got for this piece came, at least on Twitter, from Labour Party supporters.]


(Somewhere Scots Nats regard as Propaganda Central)

Now, personally, I'm a unionist. I'm part-Scottish, but mostly English (extremely Northern English to be precise). I want the two parts of my self to stay whole by means of the UK staying whole. And, therefore, I find myself in the (very) peculiar position (for me) of hoping that Labour won't do as badly as the polls predict and that the SNP will feel let down on polling day...

...but, as a dogged and, hopefully, honest watcher of the BBC over the past seven years, including monitoring some of BBC Scotland's output (on my old blog), I really don't think the BBC is 'institutionally' pro-SNP.

Yes, the cybernats can be hysterical, and the BBC can - from what I've seen - swing both ways and, moreover, some BBC reporters/presenters clearly try to be fair, but overall (as I see it) the corporation seems to swing (somewhat) against the SNP.

Maybe that's my own anti-Labour bias coming out, but I remember what I monitored in the run-up to the 2010 election and what I've monitored, on and off,  here at ITBB (and there are two links included there, so please keep clicking!) and I've not found the BBC to be, by and large, in any way sympathetic to the SNP or Scottish independence. Quite the reverse.

It's a rowdily controversial subject area, of course, but all a blogger can do is say what they see. 

1 comment:

  1. This has legs because nobody thinks Miliband is up to the job, not even most Beeboids. Sturgeon needs a reasonably solid economy going forward to help the next move to independence, and nobody thinks Miliband and Balls can provide one. Even the little neo-Marxist herself is canny enough to realize that a Tory-led Government will be better able to keep sterling comparatively strong and other people's money flowing into Scotland while she sets up the next referendum.

    We'll never know if she said it or not, but let's face it: she didn't really have to, and that's what stings.


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