Rejoice! Huzzah! BBC Scotland’s got a new boss. Ken MacQuarrie is off to pastures new in his new role as pantomime villain in a production of No Good Scottish News Please We’re British. Now that there’s a change of leadership there’s going to be massive changes at Pacific Quay, in exactly the same way that there are massive changes to a branch of Scotmid when it gets a new assistant manager. The tripe and offal will still be on display, they’re just going on a new shelf.
Scottish audiences consistently report the lowest level of trust in the BBC out of any of the nations of the UK. This is of course the fault of the perceptions of the Scottish audience, and has nothing at all to do with a BBC whose spending priorities mean that Scotland gets the lowest proportion of BBC spending on programme making out of any part of the UK. There’s nothing wrong with the BBC. It’s our perception of it which is at fault. The problem with the BBC isn’t that there’s a problem with the BBC. It’s that people have noticed that there’s a problem with the BBC. So that’s alright then. All that needs to be done is to strap on the red white and blue tinted spectacles and all will be well.
A national institution is failing, but it’s the nation which needs to change. We’re just looking at it squinty and we jolly well ought to stop. Sit up straight and be happy that you’re being noticed at all, Scottish people. Nicholas Witchell is coming along to drown you in royalist treacle.
The loss of Scottish confidence in the BBC most certainly, absolutely, positively has nothing at all to do with a BBC which consistently reports on Scottish politics and the largest and most vital independence movement in the UK from a decidedly British viewpoint. It’s wrong of Scottish audiences to be upset by this, but the BBC is concerned to put Scotland’s concerns to rest, and it proposes to do so by sticking its fingers in its metropolitan ears and going la-la-la Strictly Come Dancing and oh look, there’s some flour based programming which is going to replace the Great British Bake Off. Crumbs. And if we’re really lucky, we might get an edition of Question Time from that part of Dundee that voted No in the referendum. The Scottish independence referendum that is. No one who counts cares how Scotland voted in the EU one. Only those Scottish votes which please the British establishment need to be respected.
So far it seems that the BBC in Scotland is going to adopt the same strategy that the Labour party in Scotland adopted when it discovered that it was having problems finding a receptive audience. It’s going to carry on doing exactly what it did before, only more loudly, more vociferously, and with even more oppobrium being poured on the independence movement. Because that worked so well for the Labour party. They’re going to listen. They’re going to learn lessons. They’re going to engage. And then they’re going to carry on doing exactly what they were doing before. Because they’re a branch office and their bosses haven’t given them permission to change.
You see, in the view from those down in the large and important end of the BBC weather map, which is the only viewpoint that actually matters, there’s not a problem with anything that the BBC in Scotland is doing. There’s just a problem with how they explain themselves to a bunch of ingrates who have unaccountably failed to appreciate just how damn lucky they are to be a part of this United Kingdom which has been so great to those in managerial positions down at the important end of the weather map. Which is another way of saying that us Caledonian types are too thick to appreciate all the wonderful red white and blue Great Britishness that the BBC bestows on us in an effort to raise us from the swamp of primitivism to which we’d be condemned without all those edumacatit types pointing fingers at us and then screeching that they’re being oppressed when we point out their short-comings. So that augurs well for the future of broadcasting in Scotland.
But to be fair, independence supporters complaining that the BBC is a decidedly British institution which is biased against Scottish independence is a bit like complaining that a shark acts like a shark and doesn’t respect the aspirations of fish. The BBC’s job is to preach Britishness and to maintain the British state. It’s the last remaining British civilian institution after the British establishment privatised all the others so it’s got the entire responsiblity of saving the Union’s arse. The Scottish independence movement has as much chance of being fairly represented by the BBC as there is of the Tory party extolling the benefits of socialism and Adam Tomkins tweeting something that isn’t snide.
As a British institution whose goal is to promote Britishness, the BBC is genetically incapable of understanding why so many of us want to get away from being an equal partner in this most perfect union. That’s because we’ve learned from decades of BBC programming that Scotland is equal in the sense that a chair, a sofa, and a toilet are all equally things for sitting on. It’s just that only one of them is regularly crapped on.
Despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament is supposedly one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, it doesn’t have control of broadcasting. There’s a reason for that. If the BBC really was as neutral and unbiased as we’re constantly being told it is, then there shouldn’t be any problem in devolving control of broadcasting to Holyrood and allowing Scotland to run its own neutral and unbiased public service broadcaster alongside the BBC. The same checks and balances which supposedly ensure the neutrality and lack of bias in the BBC could just as easily be applied to a public service broadcaster based in Edinburgh or Glasgow to one based in London. The fact that the Unionist parties fight tooth and nail against allowing Scotland to have what ever other self-governing devolved country or territory has – its own public service broadcaster – is because they know as well as we do that the BBC is an agent of the British state.
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