By Mark Piggott 
For a lot of independence supporters, Saturday 26th May 2012 was a day we crossed the line, exiting the online world and out into a bright, very hot, Glasgow.
Destination - the headquarters of the BBC in Scotland at Pacific Quay.

This is the first campaign that seeks to hold the BBC to their own self-imposed rules of “impartiality”, a word they throw back at anyone who dares question their authority and perspective on all matters political.

They consider themselves ‘The Untouchables’ of world broadcasting.  Perhaps once, but sadly the internationally respected franchise faces being tainted by the actions of those in charge of BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs unit.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent to those of us who have observed the BBC’s interpretation and presentation of the constitutional debate that here is an organisation that is now being used to perpetuate the myth and righteousness of the Union.

True, the BBC is still capable of entertaining and informing.  Its Natural History programmes, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, are amongst the best in the world.

It’s still capable of producing excellent drama – both period and contemporary, and I include River City and Eastenders in that category.  But as the rest of the UK wide BBC has flourished, Scotland seems to languish in a broadcasting doldrums.

The irony is that the more Scotland has sought to re-assert its cultural and political identity, the more the BBC seems to resist any such changes itself.  Indeed BBC Scotland appears to have erected a wall around its Glasgow HQ  and is trying to stem this tide.

Since the rebirth of our Parliament in 1999 and the emergence of the SNP as the dominant party in Scotland in 2007, the corporation north of the border seems to have gone into evolutionary reversal.

2007 saw the first minority SNP administration elected, to widespread predictions of doom and disaster.  After four years of relatively successful Government, the Scottish electorate rewarded Alex Salmond’s party with a majority win in a system specifically designed by Labour to be prevent such a happening.

If May 2007 was a kick in the backside for Scotland’s Unionist dominated institutions, May 2011 was an in your face challenge to their hegemony.

Since that memorable day, just over a year ago the unthinkable has now become the thinkable; for many like myself, a lifetime’s ambition is now attainable.

For every action there is a reaction and this has taken the form of rabid, at times poorly informed rhetoric from media outlets the length and breadth of the UK.

Scotland’s so called quality newspapers are losing credibility faster than they are losing readers.  They are it seems, not alone as evidenced by the apparent worst excesses of tabloid journalism that is passing for news coverage at BBC Scotland.

But is this true? or are they just a media outlet doing the job of holding “the government of the day” to account?

We think there is a problem and our campaign is the beginning of a grass roots attempt at challenging those in control by highlighting the more blatant manifestations of this problem.

Yesterday [Saturday] a few of us got there early and laid the groundwork, putting up tables with clips of web pages showing examples of where we think the BBC is going wrong.

People started turning up from 11am, and by around 12:30 there were over 100 of us present, Saltires flying in the breeze and more great placards that demonstrators had made.

There were people from all over Scotland, and beyond, who'd made their way to Pacific Quay.  As some left others arrived and over the whole day over 150 people showed up to lend their support.

We had a few speeches about the lack of balance evident in BBC political coverage, the closing of the online comments as well as a plea for a reprieve for Newsweek Scotland, Derek Bateman's Saturday morning Radio show.

At about 1:30 we had a great photo shoot where everyone put tape over their mouths with the letters 'BBC' to highlight the closing of the political blogs on the BBC's Scottish websites.

Throughout the day a lot of networking went on and a series of filmed interviews with various people who were at the demo to find out their views on what the day was all about.

The experience infused those who were there and the overall consensus was that it was a great success and a worthy campaign.

It was decided unanimously that there would be more events and that next time we would take the protest into our communities and public spaces so we can engage more of the public who are, we feel, being treated with contempt by the BBC.

All in all a great start to raising awareness among a wider section of the public as to what is going on within an institution that is supposed to protect that most cherished of all human rights – the right to untainted information and knowledge.

The sunburn was worth it.


# Suomi 2012-05-27 13:10
Have the BBC or other MSM made any response to the demonstration? Anyway,congratu lations and thanks to those who did turn up.While there are excellent journalists at the BBc,such as Isobel Fraser,there is also a lot of unbalanced reporting,and that does need to be challenged.Just be careful to focus on the institution rather than the journalists.What is the next phase of this protest?
# Clydebuilt 2012-05-27 16:12
Quoting Suomi:
Just be careful to focus on the institution rather than the journalists.

That would imply that the attitudes are all down to the institution. Whilst there are a few balanced journalists at the BBC . There's a clear majority who are all to happy to push the Unionist case, whilst enthusiasticall y stamping on nationalist interviewees.

Whilst the institution can be blamed for allowing biased journalists a free rain. Those journalists can be accused of a level of prejudice beyond that required to keep their job at the BBC.

Consider the likes of Ken Macdonald, Isobel Fraser and Derek Bateman they manage to hold down their jobs whilst being fairhanded with all subjects and interviewees.

It is fair and reasonable to hold any person to account for the fruits of their labour BBC journalists are no exception.

So from now till referendum day Gary Robertson. Gordon Brewer, Glen Campbell, Kirsty Wark and the rest. your work will be scruitinised.
# chicmac 2012-05-28 15:32
Aye Clydebuilt but if I can paraphrase what Murray Ritchie, ex political editor of the Herald said after retiring "The history of Scottish journalism is littered with examples of those who treated the cause of independence fairly suddenly finding life becoming "unusually complicated"'

And that was in the days before the U-takeover of the Scottish media was complete.

Should those who see normal levels of self determination for Scotland as not some two headed monster, then leave? or stay and work from within and await their moment? It is a bit of a dilemma

Time will tell shortly whether and how many of such there are.

Those on the dark side will fight tooth and nail to maintain the union, because they will assume that after independence their own jobs might be at risk. I think the assumption of retribution on their part is quite nonsense. Merely a projection from U-thinking onto others.

However, I do feel a good few could lose jobs simply because they are operating above their capability levels on the back of their U-qualifications.
# Clydebuilt 2012-05-28 21:26

Good analysis.

Should presenters who go
beyond the call of duty re. Nat Bashing reasonably expect to retain their jobs after independence?
# chicmac 2012-05-28 23:16
I don't think those who are into 'Nat bashing' do expect to keep their jobs, but I think those who are competent will and should.
# Caledon 2012-05-27 19:40
To ignore a protest on your doorstep is really quite something given that they are a tax funded organisation and we are the tax payers. All we want is the truth!

No MSM comments at all, why am I not surprised.

Anyway, I enjoyed participating and met some great people and look forward to the next one.

Vote Yes!
# velofello 2012-05-27 20:09
For the next protest how about a short march down Sauchiehall Street to assembly at George Square in Glasgow? I'm sure Glasgow City Council will be happy to oblige.
And some traditional music would draw the crowds.
# Weegiewarbler 2012-05-27 20:16
Quoting velofello:
For the next protest how about a short march down Sauchiehall Street to assembly at George Square in Glasgow? I'm sure Glasgow City Council will be happy to oblige.
And some traditional music would draw the crowds.

Whit? GCC organising one of their pals' flute bands, d'ye mean.....? Jist askin.

BTW. Kudos to all who showed up on a sunny Saturday.
# Union City Blues 2012-05-27 21:10
I wish I could have been there. Congratulations to so many people making the effort? It is a start that will waken up many people to question what they hear on the BBC.
# velofello 2012-05-27 22:40
Nah Weegiewarbler, I was banking on you warbling tae us.
# gus1940 2012-05-28 06:33
I hope the protests become a weekly occurrence with ever increasing numbers attending.

If only a permanent presence could be achieved with the help of retired people and those unfortunate to be unemployed with enhaced demonstrations at weekends.

We need something along the same lines as the Devolution Hut and camp outside St. Andrew's House in the 90's.

A permanent and persistent presence cannot be ignored indefinitely by the MSM.
# Suomi 2012-05-28 07:10
I agree with what you are saying Clydebuilt.There are even handed journalists who give everyone a hard time.There are also poor journalists who do not treat everyone the same and can barely conceal their bias.My point was that biased journalists get away with it because the institution is inherently biased when it comes down to matters relating to the British state which it tends to view as a country,rather than a political union of different nations.This is evidenced by frequent reference to the country (singular) rather than the counties (pleural).In such a culture it is easy for those biased towards maintaining the status quo,to that context I really admire the excellent Isobel Fraser.

moridura's blog has frequentely pointed out that in spite of the lack of balance,the BBC has served the SNP well,especially since they became the Scottish Government.To some extent I accept his premise.As a veteren SNP activist,I do remember that there was a correlation between attacks on the SNP and electoral success.If you were doing badly,they ignored you.Peter has also suggested that we take care about how we tackle incidents of lack of balance,since there is a risk that it could be counterproducti ve.

i have no idea about the best way to take this forward.I am hoping to learn that from sites such as Newsnet Scotland.I admire people who were at the recent demonstration but what other tools are available to highlight bias in a manner that does not look like whinging?I can still remember Helen Liddell saying:They would say that wouldn't they?

It will be interesting to see whether the playing field is more level during the referendum debate.The problem for the BBC will be that no longer is this an SNP thing.The Yes Campaign draws people from the whole political spectrum and all walks of life in Scotland.It is also a multi-ethnic movement.This means that instead of political parties being lined up against each other,we will(for example) see labour people on both sides.Thus a lot of the anti SNP rhetoric will be rendered impotent.I'm not sure if the BBC can understand a campaign that has moved away from party political politics.I am hopefull that this will lead to more fairness but I wont hold my breath.I really believe that some BBC journalists are incapable of understanding how things have is not just about bias,some of their journalists lack ability.
# Clydebuilt 2012-05-28 21:46
re moridura's blog. I read one of his articles recently. Was left with the impression that if you are exposed to BBC bias over a long period of time you start to accept it or react less to it.

"Peter has also suggested that we take care about how we tackle incidents of lack of balance,since there is a risk that it could be counterproducti ve."

That's worth thinking about.

"I admire people who were at the recent demonstration but what other tools are available to highlight bias in a manner that does not look like whinging?"

I don't think the line taken by NNS. comes over as whinging. They have factually reported on BBC presentation.
The only gripe I would have is that joe public won't read through long detailed articles.

Other tools: On an individual basis we have to get the word out. print of articles push through letterboxes. email contacts ask them to pass on. Take part in future "demonstrateagai nst" events.
# Islegard 2012-05-28 08:11
If you Google BBC demonstration you get 1 post. It's this Newsnet report and it comes 8th on the list. It isn't mentioned anyhere else by anyone.
# davidferguson1 2012-05-28 12:16
Well done to those who took part.

The bleak fact remains that outside the Newsnet readership and those who were there, nobody in the country knows or ever will know that this demonstration took place.

They will never hear about this, or any future action. How do public demonstrations work, when the public is denied all knowledge of their existence?
# H Scott 2012-05-28 09:19
Hopefully only the start. A good event to target would be the Edinburgh International Television Festival as this sees senior BBC figures coming together with broadcasters from other countries. It's an opportunity to internationalis e protest and the BBC treasures its international reputation. This year it's held on 23-25 August.
# gus1940 2012-05-28 12:09
Great idea.
# chicmac 2012-05-28 14:51
I suggested that last year when one of the topics to be debated was the responsibilitie s of state broadcasters.
Nae takers.
# H Scott 2012-05-28 18:00
Sorry, I missed that. I think the new 'organisation' and their demo on Saturday has changed things and what didn't happen last year could happen now.
# chicmac 2012-05-29 23:23
# Jamieson 2012-05-28 09:53
It's too bad that a day was picked when there were other demos in Edinburgh and London and it was such a hot day. However well done to those who attended
Just to know that we are not alone in the fight against BBC bias the following is worth a read.
# jafurn 2012-05-28 13:28
Is this BBC /Government censorship? The video in question was there about an hour ago but now it's gone...


Guido Fawkes ‏@GuidoFawkes
BBC have managed to remove Craig Oliver bollocking video from YouTube. Don't panic I have my own copy. Back up soon.

further update..
This is getting interesting now....

Guido Fawkes ‏@GuidoFawkes
Warning to BBC lawyers: You're wasting public's money trying to suppress video of two public servants discussing matter of public interest.


Guido Fawkes ‏@GuidoFawkes
The Video They Don’t Want You To See: Warning to BBC lawyers: You’re wasting the public’s money trying to suppr...
# Dundonian West 2012-05-28 14:22
Watched it!
Spinner Unspun.
BBC don't like it Captain Manwairing.
Into my Favourites/bookmarks.
# jafurn 2012-05-28 14:27
Guido now says ....

Guido Fawkes ‏@GuidoFawkes
Senior BBC source - who would be in a position to know - tells Guido thinks BBC didn't request removal of Craig video from YouTube.

Who does that leave ???
# Dundonian West 2012-05-28 14:32
Did BBC ask their northern outpost BBC Scotland?
# xyz 2012-05-28 14:59
So what is this? .. a number ten official lambastes a BBC presenter over BBC bias. Did anyone see the report in question? Spider web graphic and all?

So if the BBC are biased in their report against Cameron's close dealings in the B sky B bid. They can no longer be condemned as a poisonous anti Scottish Westminster propaganda machine?

Ah .. .. but not in respect of the Scotland independence debate.

I would say that a spider's web depicting the web of cosy relationship between Cameron's Torys and the Murdoch press is appropriate. (oh and Labour before they fell out)

How has Cameron got away with appointing Hunt to the position after he had already lobbied on behalf of News international? Maybe Cameron's non-stick shiny complexion just does not let the mud stick.
# cjmasta 2012-05-28 14:48
I think there`s a lot of people wishing they had made saturdays demo, we need to get the numbers up folks then they cannot continue to ignore us. We need to start a debate on The whole of the media in Scotland which will highlight to many who don`t realise the pro-union guff they are spoon fed. The BBC is the best place to start. Lets get people on our busiest shopping streets supplying info to the general public. We have two years to change public perception and get folk really interested in the countries future.
There will be many issues to discuss and debate with until referendum day and the media needs to be one of the most discussed in the land.
# Triangular Ears 2012-05-28 16:07
I'm afraid to say that I meant to go, but didn't manage to. I should probably have made more of an effort. :(
# velofello 2012-05-28 17:48
The next demo could reasonably extend to protest at the standard of the Big Debate.
Why not an on/off switch to each of the panel's mikes? Ah, Health and Safety issue. Head girl Ruthie's would likely overheat and burst into flames.
Anas' mannerisms and speaking style are like Murphy's. Monotone; expressionless; drawing something with the right hand:; and of course al a Stairheid Curran " we have big decisions to make". Lamont - she who will not appear - at least she has a glower and a blue jaiket.
Labour just cannot get anything right. Correction, their policies are right of the Tories.
# mato21 2012-05-28 18:18

Can anyone shed any light on the report from BBC at lunchtime that urgent repairs were having to be undertaken on the M74 opened just under a year ago According to the report it was sinking!

Nothing on the BBC website and no mention on newsdrive or the news at 6.30

Surely they haven't taken to making up stories
# xyz 2012-05-28 20:26
There's this from evening times
# Barontorc 2012-05-29 08:16
I recall a digger driver telling me that in the Dixon's Blazes site the earth was glowing green when turned over. He said it was covered up not taken away for disposal - fact or fiction - is this chickens coming home to roost?
# UpSpake 2012-05-29 16:30
Newsnet. You simply cannot make an ommlette without breaking some eggs.
Bad eggs must be thrown out if you are to make an edible ommlette.
Are you supporting the inclusion of bad eggs ?. My arguements are supported by a legitimately registered political party in Scotland. Are you considering moderating them off as well ?.
# pete_w 2012-05-29 16:31
So have the BBC commented on whether the drastic post-election reduction in coverage of Salmond's alleged dealings with Murdoch is purely coincidental? Surely our national broadcaster wouldn't contravene its own charter by blatantly attempting to influence the outcome of an election? [/sarcasm]
# Robabody 2012-06-02 17:43
Just back from EU parts -so missed the event. Well done everyone - "Mighty Oaks etc"

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