by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The new boss of BBC Scotland, Donalda MacKinnon, has a tough job on her hands. When first appointed, she announced that her intention was to rebuild trust in the BBC, but that isn’t going to be easy.

Most of us grew up believing that the BBC generally maintained standards of impartiality and balance in its news reporting, but events over the past few years, combined with easy access to alternative sources of news and information exchange, has led to a dramatic re-evaluation of the BBC’s attitude by a great many people in Scotland.

If Donalda MacKinnon is to keep to her word, she really is going to have to crack down on many BBC Scotland journalists who are going out of their way to perpetuate the biased attitude to which we have recently become accustomed.

As one current example of the continuing distortion of news designed to run Scotland down in the eyes of its own citizens, take a look at the BBC’s stance on NHS Scotland. Scottish Labour’s Branch Office is going out of its way to conflate the NHS crisis in England with NHS Scotland. They have churned out a series of stories about so-called crises in NHS Scotland which have turned out to be, at best, exaggerations of the facts. Online Yessers are usually able to put these stories into some context fairly easily by undertaking a little bit of research, yet BBC Scotland journalists simply repeat the Labour Press Releases uncritically, headlining them as if they were gospel truth.

Yesterday, the BBC stooped to the levels of STB’s Digital team by going onto Twitter to ask people affected by the alleged Maternity crisis in Glasgow to get in touch with them. Bearing in mind that this crisis consisted of two procedures being postponed because the Maternity Unit was running at full capacity, along with three mothers in labour being transferred to other hospitals which were not full, the BBC surely should not have been surprised if most of their responses were from angry Tweeters accusing them of ambulance-chasing in the hope of generating a story designed to undermine the hard-working NHS staff. Let’s face it, babies will come when they are ready, and you can’t always plan for a precise date. If any unit in a hospital becomes full, it is perfectly normal for new patients to be transferred to another hospital. They are not “Turned away", as the BBC claimed.

It may well be an inconvenience to be transferred to a hospital which is further away from your home, but it’s not a crisis by any stretch of the imagination. Scottish Labour are doing their very best to undermine confidence in NHS Scotland, acting as a tag team with the Scottish Tories to demoralise NHS staff. That’s pretty reprehensible in its own right, but when the State Broadcaster joins in, then it is no wonder people are sceptical of Donalda MacKinnon’s claims. If she really wants to rebuild trust, she’s going to have to tell her journalists to act like proper reporters, and she’s going to have to do it very soon.

However, it is doubtful whether she has any intentions of actually changing the anti-independence bias because her bosses in London won’t allow it even if she was minded to begin a more balanced approach to news reporting. For many of us, though, she’s too late anyway. Trust has gone, and it won’t be coming back.