“Kirsty Wark is hosting a BBC documentary on the Alex Salmond case, and Dani Garavelli is presenting a ‘civil war in the SNP’ programme on BBC Radio 4. How fucking desperate are the BBC?” Fiona Kabuki
The tweet above from the independence supporter, Fiona Kabuki, pretty well sums up the reaction to the news that the BBC’s black propaganda arm is still at war with Scotland’s political hopes. It is broadcasting a television documentary and an opinion programme on radio prior to, and during, the Scottish Parliamentary Enquiry to be conducted by a committee of Holyrood MSPs. How’s that for rubbing noses in dog pee?
I adhere to ‘enquiry’ because an ‘inquiry’ usually has judicial fangs that can inflict sanctions, fines and the like on conspirators and congenital liars. This committee can’t get the administration to cough up ‘missing’ documents they’ve been asking for, for months. Not a single journalist has written castigating the disrespect, not one. And the women called to testify are asking they come as a group and not be questioned separately. That’s how scared are the dislocators of Scotland’s body politic. They think it a joke.
Membership of the parliamentary Committee consists of: Linda Fabiani (convener), Margaret Mitchell (dep convenor), Alasdair Allan, Angela Constance, Alison Johnstone, Maureen Watt, Jackie Baillie and Alex Cole Hamilton. (Land reformer Andy Wightman was added later when one member became ill.)
The committee is charged with looking into events and motivations that forced two failed court cases on Salmond and the Scottish nation. Laying aside the surprising gender imbalance, and that the four SNP MSPs were all ministers appointed by Alex Salmond, removed by Nicola Sturgeon, at least two of the committee have spent most of their shallow political existence picking their nose and flicking the contents at Scotland’s parliament, namely Baillie (Labour) and Cole-Hamilton (Liberal-Democrat), the latter neither liberal nor a democrat, more a Tory in a cheap second-hand car.
Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem, they live off their fat parliamentary salary and expenses paid by us to denigrate this nation’s humanity. They pretend they are fighting for the poor, the ‘disadvantaged’ – a word that removes the smell of excreta – a class they walk by and around when it is sitting there outside their local mini-market, cap in hand. Will they see their role as giving witnesses, called to give evidence, as much slack as possible? Of course they will. That is their function. They smirk knowing they have the weight of the British state behind them, ready with the ermine robe and a line of political cocaine.
The SNP administration does not have a majority, courtesy of the ‘gamed’ in advance D’Hon’t voting system, hence it cannot appoint a committee of SNP MSPs. The BBC will take note of the proceedings and then generalise in their Scottish provincial news items, where fast aging journalists and newsreaders pickled in aspic pretend to be impartial.
BBC Scotland’s ‘Nine’ will have two callow youths give extended opinion banter as if they bring a life’s experience and wisdom to the issue, but in reality have cost next to nothing to book, lured by the false glamour of being ‘on the telly’. Adult viewers will switch channels looking for a soap or a game show. If only the sandcastles the BBC fashions were made of cement. I’d love to see them kick them over.
George Orwell spent a miserable time working for the BBC propaganda unit during the Second World War, 1941-43, until he got a bad taste in his mouth and threw in the tea towel, taking his typewriter with him. Having worked as a policeman in Burma, he was given the responsibility to broadcast work to ‘overseas’ nations. His health shot to pieces after fighting in Catalonia – he took a bullet to the throat – and, tuberculosis eating his lungs, aged 38, he became a talks assistant in the Overseas Empire Department, based in 55 Portland Place, London. “Empire”, there’s a title that gladdens an Englishman’s heart.
We got his intensely bleak political novel Nineteen Eighty-four out of his BBC experiences, his Ministry of Truth, (written on Jura) where truth is rewritten to suit a government’s agenda of the day.
When invited to give a BBC broadcast, his reply was careful: “I will do the talk if I can be reasonably frank. I am not going to say anything I regard as untruthful.” He had scruples, did Orwell. That saw him a penniless novelist most of his days.
What did he get from the BBC? (I ask myself the same thing as I near the end of my career.) For one thing, he believed himself to have been wasting his very finite time. For my part, moving from television production to radio in Scotland, I found the turnover of material daunting, forgotten in a day. Ninety percent was banal chat. Still is.
I tried to start a hard-hitting and lively socio-arts programme, chaired by myself, but though it got good ratings for three one-hour shows, the BBC thought it too intelligent for ‘Scottish housewives’. I should have dumbed it down. BBC Scotland’s daytime radio is dominated by the Entertainment Department which is why you’ll not hear anything serious about Scottish culture, beyond the ephemeral ‘what’s on’ and what book to buy. You are treated as a ‘punter’. If you are going to make every hour small talk, make it intelligent small talk.
“The controversy over freedom of speech and of the press is at the bottom a controversy over the desirability, or otherwise, of telling lies. What is really at issue is the right to report events truthfully, or as truthfully as is consistent with the ignorance, bias and self-deception from which every observer necessarily suffers.” George Orwell, The Prevention of Literature, published in ‘Polemic’, Jan 1946.
Orwell detested BBC bureaucracy, as I did, the ferocious discipline of broadcasting to audiences who take risks to listen and who hear what we choose to tell them. Some learned to like us. (I married one of my fans.) Again, like Orwell, I learned how to edit and cut. He too learnt the innards of propaganda – all of this is in Nineteen Eighty-four. He thanked the BBC for not interfering with what he wanted to say. I didn’t get that respect, I got a daily list of deadlines and hours to fill. Then again Orwell wasn’t broadcasting to a Scotland awakening from 300 years of political suppression.
What Orwell spotted from his BBC days was the decay of the English upper class to govern well, and how the BBC covered for the government of the day and did its bidding. We witness the apogee of Etonian rot in fumble bumbler Boris and before him, vainglorious David Cameron and his third-rate bully boy pal, George Gideon Oliver Osborne. Osborne was the chancellor who, like Boris, told Scotland to jog on before he ran off, tail between his legs, to catch his chauffeured car back to London. There was no fridge he could hide inside to avoid the press in the Conservative Club on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, a kind of panelled wall transport cafe for the capital’s well heeled.
This week the BBC is doing its best to toss Alex Salmond reputation in the air and whip away the blanket under his fall. Broadcasting anything pseudo-analytical at the moment of the Parliamentary Enquiry is outrageous.
You can bet your bottom dollar Kirsty Wark its presenter had a programme in edit based on a ‘guilty’ verdict and moved swiftly to rehash it rather than waste money and lose fees. Wark, friend of Union Jack McConnell, was the journalist shell shocked and showed it when Salmond and the SNP were elected to govern. I have no idea why a journalist thinks being close palsy-walsy with politicians keeps them impartial.
At the time of writing this I have not seen the contents of the BBC documentary, but I know it will be a case of reminding the public why Salmond found himself in court. Keep grubby sex the main element. The programme is bound to be packed with base opinion, conjecture and judgement. The black art is a sly craft. You can get an eager stooge to say things that, if you said them, get you accused of bias. To paraphrase Mark Antony, we come not to praise Salmond but to bury him.
Two programmes to stir up bad memories and provide flatulent newspaper columnists with an excuse to dig over the bones and extend the negativity. This from the BBC that commissioned the dramatisation of a crap novella by the Tory Douglas Hurd depicting the nascent SNP as thugs and terrorists, broadcast prior to the 1979 referendum on devolution. The BBC apologised for it, but the damage was done. With uncanny timing, the Herald has already popped up with a bogus poll claiming Salmond is more unpopular than tripe and onions boiled in milk. Shock and horror. Don’t let granny read it.
Realising the vulture and hyenas are out to squabble over a carcass, and time was critically running out, I penned a letter to Lord Hall, the outgoing director general of the BBC, and a former Tory politician. Aye, there’s that BBC impartiality again, a former Tory politician, now a member of the unelected House of Lords. Marked ‘Very Urgent’, on his desk special delivery, I kept the letter short, to the point, diplomatic – you get nowhere telling someone they are an arse and then asking them to do the right thing – and I addressed him by his diminutive. After all, he has to use the toilet, same as the rest of us.
Dear Tony Hall
I hope this letter arrives in time to delay broadcasting – in days – the documentary on the Alex Salmond trial, a work presented by the journalist, Kirty Wark.
I believe the timing highly prejudicial to fair justice.
I am not alone in being alarmed at the broadcast of a programme that not only has no contribution from Alex Salmond – he declined – yet is scheduled to be transmitted during the Scottish Parliamentary Enquiry into the shenanigans that cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds for two trials, each resulting in Salmond’s exoneration.
I add to this plea journalist Dani Garavelli’s programme of a similar nature on BBC Radio arguing a “schism exists in Scottish politics”. She has championed the women’s side. No matter one’s politics, or opinion of the court cases, to broadcast in advance of the Enquiry’s findings opens the corporation to charges of political bias at a delicate time in Scotland’s history, and the BBC’s perceived role recounting Scottish politics.
I urge you to reconsider the broadcast date. Delay it to give the documentary’s producers the scope to include material and conclusions from the Parliamentary Enquiry, and transmit both television and radio programmes when appropriate.
The BBC knows how critical it is to be mindful in these troubled times, the corporation under incessant attack from vested interests. The BBC claims it exercises strict impartiality in political matters. Well, here is a supreme issue to prove it.
Gareth Wardell Former BBC Executive Producer
Thank you for your letter dated 12 August. I regret to say that due to postal delays it has only just reached me.
I am sorry to hear of your concerns about the two programmes relating to Alex Salmond, on BBC2 and Radio 4, which you raised before their broadcasts. I hope you have now had a chance to see The Trial of Alex Salmond and hear Scotland’s Uncivil War for yourself.
As you will know, all our output must adhere to the BBC Editorial Guidelines. If you feel any parts of the programmes were in breach of these then I would ask you to raise this formally through our complaints process which is the appropriate way for us to consider this and respond accordingly.
Tony Hall Director-General
My letter was sent special mail, next morning delivery and signature, marked ‘Extremely Urgent’. Hall didn’t read it until the day of his letter of reply.
This is as predicted, a standard BBC reply. There is no reference to the furious public backlash to a documentary which failed the honesty and integrity test – and the viewer’s trust – in so many ways, leaving it wide open to justified condemnation it was in actuality a Retrial of Alex Salmond, censure which it duly received.
What the BBC is saying without saying it, it will broadcast what it wants, when it wants, although if pro-Scottish material it might be delayed indefinitely if they receive a private call from the Cabinet Office and there’s a referendum in sight.
Incidentally, and as an aside, the director-general acknowledges I was a former executive producer, a fact that a certain Scottish gossip columnist calling herself a film critic tried to deny and stirred up attacks on my integrity. She subsidises her living as BBC Scotland’s Radio movie critic but you won’t learn much from her if already a well-informed movie buff. (Let’s leave her nameless.)
So, we see the proverbial courteous brush-off, the lack of real accountability by a public corporation, content in its comfort the horse has bolted from the stable. One gets sucked into the Kafkaesque nightmare at your peril sparring with BBC Complaints, letter after letter, reply after reply, until you are told the correspondence is at and end, closed down.
I hope Alex Salmond finds cause to sue the BBC.
Meanwhile, if readers want to learn more of the BBC’s pronounced skill at the black arts, I recommend, among other essays on the Corporation, the following:
- How the BBC Erases Complaints: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-15z
- The Basterdisation of the BBC: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-HE
- Video – Wark interviews Salmond: https://youtu.be/VOKAnBqOD1E
The programme was transmitted at 9pm on BBC2. As predicted, Wark via her husband’s production company produced it prior to and during the trial. As I guessed, it had all the appearance of a rehash originally planned on the basis of a guilty verdict. No witness for the defence was interviewed. It was padded out with trite commentary from Wark, gossip, dubious one line comments from other journalists, multiple shots of her flicking her iPhone, and no mention of the jury finding all the accusers liars. Wark placed her self in the centre of the documentary as the ubiquitous investigator. An outpouring of abhorrence and outrage from members of the public followed the rotten transmission.