by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot
X / Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider
I come from a generation which was raised to believe that, while you should not believe everything you read in a newspaper, you could trust the BBC because, unlike news agencies from other countries (which usually meant Russia), the BBC was fair, balanced, impartial and trustworthy. How that all changed as I grew older, and especially when I saw what they got up to during the IndyRef campaign in 2014. And even though they helped keep Scotland changed to their beloved Union, they are still at it, with constant denigration of anything positive about Scotland, especially if that thing was introduced by the Scottish Government or an SNP-led Council.
I will admit that I am probably too antagonistic towards the media in general and the BBC in particular, and I sometimes take umbrage over news reports which, when viewed with less passion, might appear reasonable Yet their bias is so ingrained, that my own response is to see that bias even in articles which may, on the face of it, be impartial and accurate. But then, as comedians used to say, it’s the way you tell ‘em.
This past week has been another classic for the UK media in Scotland. To begin with, Michael Matheson’s resignation gave them precisely what they wanted, and at one point the BBC had no fewer than three separate headlined articles about him, most of them raking over the same story. Now, I do believe Mr Matheson was foolish to claim for his extraordinarily high browsing charges against his expenses, and he should never have done that. Nor should he have taken so long to repay them himself. This whole matter could have been avoided if he had done the right thing and paid the whole lot himself at the outset. His silly mistake has provided the media with what they crave – a chance to portray the SNP as venal, with the criticism extending by insinuation to the wider Indy cause. Pro-Indy politicians really ought to know by now that they need to be squeaky clean at all times to prevent this sort of thing happening. And then there was the Scottish Tories and their ridiculous plan for saving the NHS in Scotland, a plan which was reported without criticism by the media even though it is obvious to anyone who has been paying even the slightest bit of attention that it is the Tories in Westminster who have deliberately engineered a crisis in the NHS. Despite this, the situation in Scotland is significantly better than it is in England’s NHS, although that’s not a very high bar, and it is no reason to become complacent. But the hypocrisy of Dross, the Scottish Tories’ part-time leader in between his main job as a football assistant referee, is breathtaking. The media, though, let him get away with it, and when SNP MP and former surgeon, Dr Philippa Whitford, issued a superb takedown of the nonsense contained in the plan, most of the media somehow failed to report it. Funny that. Perhaps the word, "balance" doesn’t mean what I thought it meant.
On other issues, I am perhaps being too picky, but the BBC has been quick to print reports which portray ULEZ in a poor light, despite evidence that reducing emissions is good for people’s health. But, much like the baby boxes, the fact that the idea was introduced by an SNP Council means it must be criticised.
Finally, there was a headline which caught my attention about the newly-introduced ban on pavement parking which is being enforced by Edinburgh Council. The article was, I suppose, accurate, but the fact that it claimed drivers had been hit by large fines gave me the impression that this was somehow a bad thing. It was only at the very end of the piece that the article mentioned that the ban had been introduced in order to improve safety for vulnerable pedestrians. I know that Edinburgh Council is not run by the SNP, but the powers to enforce the bans was introduced by the Scottish Government, so again it seems it is viewed within the BBC as inherently bad.
OK, maybe I’m being too critical, but the BBC’s constant denigration of Scotland really does get me down. I no longer watch any TV news programme, and even reading news websites is about all my blood pressure can stand. And even if I am being overly sensitive to perceived bias, I believe that the media will be our strongest opponent as we strive to become a normal, self-governing country.