Some things in life are entirely predictable – like the universal stretching of the fabric of space time which is slowly pulling apart all matter and which one day, billions of years in the future, will leave only formless disjointed particles of nothingness lost in the cold dark vastness of the cosmos; and then there’s BBC Scotland which manages the same job in about half an hour. There a wee sciencey joke for you Ken son, hope it cheers you up, because you must be sick about what your bosses have done with your programme.
I tuned into BBC Scotland’s new Crossfire programme, the replacement for the popular Headlines programe. This is the programme that Kezia Dugdale became unavailable for at the last minute, because she’s been too busy recently complaining to the Daily Mail about people being nasty to her. The Daily Mail know a lot about being nasty to people, and so does Kezia so it’s a match made in heaving – and quite a bit of retching too.
Or at least I tuned into Crossfire for about five minutes, which was more than enough. You’re not going to get a proper review because listening to the show’s heid pounding shoutiness was like suffering all the symptoms of a hangover, which is not really something you plan to experience on a Sunday morning unless you got rat arsed the night before. And if you were rat arsed the night before, you’re not going to be getting up on a Sunday morning to have your heid nipped – unless it’s by your significant other. If I had wanted to spend my Sunday in the company of shouty people yelling at one another, I’d have gone and visited my sister and her teenage offspring.
The programme seemed to consist of swapping sound bites from press releases and very little else. There was precious little in the way of insight or informed commentary. For most of the few minutes I was listening some woman, whose name I didn’t catch and don’t want to catch in order to spare her embarrassment, was following in the footsteps of Magrit Curran and talking a lot of mince over the top of everyone else. Though it’s probably viciously sexist to point that out. The only thing anyone has learned from Bit Whore Tag Udder in this referendum campaign is that it’s bullying and abuse to criticise pro-Union misinformation when it comes from women, carers, mothers, lesbians, gay men, straight men, ethnic minorities, disabled people, elderly people, English people, authors of fantasy fiction, warmongers, Westminster politicians, members of the Labour shadow cabinet, Slovenians with a persecution complex and OCD, Labour MSPs and cooncillors, members of the House of Lords, lizard space aliens, garden gnomes, and stuffed toys – that would be David Mundell.
Feeling caught in the destructive and non-illuminating crossfire of political dogwhistles, I tuned out and turned on the kettle instead. It made a reassuring whistle when it boiled and I had a nice cup of tea, unlike the Crossfire programme, which just boiled and steamed away and made a mess all over the floor of the BBC studio. The used teabag ended up in the bin, which is where Crossfire’s stewed bag of vegetable matter with the taste leeched out is likely to end up very shortly too.
You’ve got to wonder about BBC Scotland management. Is it possible to be this incompetent by accident? Or are they doing it on purpose? It is a possibility that BBC managers are playing their part in a devilish strategy to produce such crap programmes that no one will engage with the referendum debate, but that assumes a level of guile, intelligence and cunning which there’s no evidence that they possess. But it does take a very special kind of moronic incompetence to produce a radio progamme that would actually have been more listenable if it had had Kezia Dugdale in it.
Please send your questions about BBC Scotland’s descent into irrelevance on a postcard to Ken MacQuarrie. You won’t get an answer, but Ken’s looking to add to his collection of smutty seaside innuendo. It started after a BBC staff member archly asked him if he was going to continue with the cock ups, and Ken thought it was a recommendation to look at dirty postcards.
Meanwhile in news you may have missed because the BBC’s Crass Weirdness has left you bleeding from the ears, the Sunday Herald reports that Davie Cameron’s Tories, lost and friendless in the European Parliament, have now formed a new grouping of MEPs together with the Flemish centre right N-VA party. Mainly because no one in Europe wants to be seen dead with the Tories either.
It’s possibly cruel to point out – and naturally that means I’ll be pointing out with glee – that the Tories’ new pals in Europe support the independence of Flanders from Belgium. They’re also pretty keen on Scottish independence too. In order to have any significant influence in the European Parliament, Davie’s boys and girls now find themselves reliant upon the support of a party who cheer for Alicsammin. That’s gotta hurt.
In April this year, the party’s online magazine carried an article by one of its leading MEPs, Mark Demesmaeker who sits on the European Parliament’s external relations committee. The article extolled the Scottish Yes campaign and praised Alicsammin’s speech in Bruges. It’s all in Dutch, but the article is titled YES SCOTLAND! in English, which kinda gives you a clue as to the sentiments expressed within it.
The article goes on to explain that in the view of this N-Va politician, there should be no difficulty with an independent Scotland rapidly acceding to full EU membership in its own right, and agrees with the assessment that Scotland will be able to negotiate its membership in the period between a yes vote in September, and the formal declaration of independence some 18 months later.
The Tories were hoping that Yes supporters in Scotland hate foreigners as much as they do and won’t pollute their eyes with texts which are not in English. But the Nederlands-challenged can get the gist of the piece courtesy of Google Translate – which is apparently the same service the Scotsman newspaper used to mistranslate Pope Francis’s comments on independence for Catalonia and Scotland.
The N-VA’s online magazine also carried a recent piece by Dr Dirk Rochtus, a professor of politics and social sciences at Leuven University and a senior fellow of the Centre for European Integration based in Bonn in Germany. Dr Rochtus has a long and respected list of publications in the field of independence movements and international politics.
Dr Rochtus wrote an article looking at the issues facing an independent Scotland which seeks membership of the EU. The Dutch language article, entitled Een onafhankelijk Schotland: automatisch EU-lid of niet? (An independent Scotland: Automatic EU entry or not?) was published in the N-VA party magazine in January this year.
Dr Rochtus recognises that there are questions about Scottish membership, but notes that the objections raised by No campaigners in Scotland – he cites Alistair Carmichael – are politically motivated and politically based. The professor notes that they have no basis in EU law. He goes on to make a number of interesting points. Scottish membership of the EU may not be automatic – but Scottish expulsion from the EU is not automatic either, contrary to the opinions proferred by the likes of the Alistairs. In fact, the expulsion of Scotland from the EU throws up far more complex and thorny legal issues than Scotland’s automatic accession to full membership. So it’s not going to happen.
It’s a safe bet that the opinion of a professor who specialises in the study of independence movements and who is a senior fellow with the Centre for European Integration is probably somewhat weightier than that of a solicitor in Kirkwall. Dr Rochtus appears to be of the view that any issues in the way of an independent Scotland gaining EU membership are solvable and can be surmounted. Here’s a link to a (mangled) Google Translate English language version of the article. (Sorry, but my Dutch is nowhere near good enough to translate it myself.)
So we have the Tories to thank for this new support for Scottish membership of the EU. If they hadn’t formed an alliance in the European Parliament with the N-VA, it’s likely that no one on the Yes side of the Scottish independence debate would have gone looking for the opinions of the Tories’ new best pals in Europe.
But now we know. In order to secure his much wanted renegotiation of the UK’s terms of membership of the EU, Davie Cameron must rely upon the support of a party that’s strongly in favour of a smooth entry into the EU for an independent Scotland. That’s an even bigger screw up for the No campaign than the launch of yet another PR disaster for BBC Scotland.