The Telegraph's doughty Alan Cochrane today echoes Andrew Neil's concerns about the BBC's attitude to the SNP government at Holyrood, observing that the BBC’s main day-time news bulletins, in London and Glasgow, “contained not a word” about Sarah Smith's experiences at the hands of abusive SNP supporters or “the massive controversy her comments had engendered, certainly in Scotland.”
He says it's “highly unlikely” that here bosses didn't know what was happening to her, “but BBC executives have never been that keen on shining a spotlight on the SNP – even in defence of their own journalist.”
The station’s unofficial line has always been to tread a cautious, even timid, path in its relationship with the Nationalists. At times it’s almost as if, with most newspapers opposed to Sturgeon’s independence demands, it regards itself as the one organ which can put the record “straight” by essentially parroting the SNP line.
Thus, critics have complained that controversial stories are invariably “neutered” thanks to the way the BBC, in both local and network reports, always seems to give too much weight to the SNP position, no matter the circumstances – a situation seldom adopted by the Corporation’s political reporters at Westminster.
He thinks that Nicola Sturgeon’s political control “verges on” being an “elective dictatorship”...“which is why it is so important that the BBC is able to report freely on events in Scotland. Its journalists should not be subjected to abuse just for doing their jobs.”