by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There is little doubt that the main opponent of Scottish independence is the UK media, in particular the BBC. While some people still trust this state broadcaster, events this week have shown yet again that there is a definite anti-indy agenda within the BBC. Whether this is deliberate or unconscious is beside the point.

This week saw Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, giving a speech about the damage Brexit will cause to Scotland. Yet anyone wanting to see the speech in its entirety needed to watch RT, the Russian news channel. Critics of RT will point out that RT is a Kremlin propaganda outlet and has a vested interest in promoting any event which criticises the UK Government. Given Nicola Sturgeon’s undisguised desire for Scotland to become a normal nation again, it is only natural that RT would want to give her publicity.

Yet, by the very same standards, why would the BBC and other UK broadcasters refuse to show her speech? If RT is demonstrating political bias by showing her speech, then we must assume that the BBC is showing a similar but opposite bias in refusing to screen the event. In other words, the BBC is not impartial; it is anti-independence. In fact, as has been documented on other pro-Indy sites, the BBC’s reporting of the First Minister’s speech was deliberately mocking.

Then we’ve had the so-called Vicargate scandal in which a woman who has appeared as an actor in several BBC programmes was a guest as an audience member putting forward a very strong pro-Brexit viewpoint. This has caused a fair bit of outrage on social media, and it would certainly be a scandal if the woman had been paid by the BBC to make her appearance and express particular views. However, it appears that this lady does indeed hold those views, so the problem is that the BBC misrepresented her by implying to viewers that she was a church minister. It turns out she is a self-appointed minister in her own "Church". Of course, she is entitled to hold any political views she wishes, but for the BBC not to disclose her true identity and background has left them open to criticism. It is similar to other audience members being specially selected in order to promote a certain view. The BBC may claim this represents some balance to the discussions, but it seems more than a little odd that their selected audience members always seem to put forward pro-Union, pro-Tory and pro-Brexit views. There may have been nothing untoward about the Newsnight audience selection, but the clumsy way the BBC have gone about it simply reinforces the view among many members of the public that the BBC has an agenda.

Then, as if having the state broadcaster against us isn’t enough, we had further evidence of the UK’s attitude towards Scottish independence when Theresa May made her flying visit to a Tory-supporting factory in Scotland where she was safely sealed away from meeting any members of the general public. Because The National, the only pro-indy newspaper, was not allowed to attend the press conference or ask any questions.

When you look at these events – and they are only a few of the most recent examples – it is hard to conclude anything except that the UK’s much-vaunted values of democracy and free speech are little more than a sham.

As this blog has said before, it is difficult to know what to do about this. The SNP have a media team, yet any criticism or rebuttal they issue is ignored by the media because it clashes with the pro-union agenda. This makes it very hard to get the word out to the wider public because pro-indy messages are simply ignored by the media.

Of course, the BBC and STV deny that there is any bias in spite of the constant evidence. We’ve seen Newsnight debates on Brexit with no representatives from outside England, we’ve seen reporters misrepresent the Brexit deal in an effort to conceal the betrayal of the Scottish fishing community who, despite being repeatedly let down by Tory broken promises, still proclaim their preference for Westminster rule, and have that opinion promoted by the BBC.

In England, many people are waking up to the bias in the reporting of news, with Radio 4 being heavily criticised for its pro-Brexit stance. In Scotland, we saw the bias in 2014 and it has not gone away. To think that there will be any change if and when IndyRef2 is called would be naïve in the extreme. If anything, we can expect even more bias, either by misrepresentation or omission. Social media may help counteract this to some extent by helping spread a different version of events, but we must be aware that not everyone in Scotland uses social media, and even if they do they may well be targeted with promoted stories tailored to influence them. The only way we can oppose the mainstream propaganda is by continuing to talk to people face to face and persuade them that the UK does not have their best interests at heart.