I took part in the peaceful (and fun-filled) protest outside BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay a few weeks ago, as did many many hundreds of other people who are as disgruntled at our state broadcaster as I am.
To be honest, it wasn’t just the reporting of the independence referendum that prompted me to attend, but rather the BBC News and current affairs programmes’ handling and reporting (or there lack of) on certain events over the last few months.
I was, and continue to be, disgusted by the mass coverage that Nigel Farage and UKIP received in the months before the EU elections. It got to the point that if I hadn’t seen a UKIP representatives’ face on my TV for 5 hours or so, I began to wonder if the entire party had been abducted by aliens.
UKIP were not a “major party” before the local council and Euro elections, but thanks to the constant barrage of coverage across the media, they are now a major player in the UK’s next General Election. In fact, opinion polls show them in third place on 18% of the vote share – which, quite frighteningly, is only 5 points short of the vote percentage which the Liberal Democrats received in 2010 (with 10 months still to go), and look what happened there!
When 50,000 people took to the streets in protest of the Government and their policies, which are destroying lives and killing people, our state broadcaster should have been jumping all over themselves to cover it. Instead, what the BBC did was ignore it until they received over 6000 complaints and became the focus of a social media frenzy.
I also completely disagree with the BBC’s continued membership of the CBI – the right wing lobby group – which several months ago spoke out against independence and endorsed a vote for no. The CBI may have withdrawn their registered support for the no campaign, but they nailed their colours to the mast that day, and in continuing their membership, so did the BBC.
Those of us who are campaigning for a yes vote don’t want to see any bias. We didn’t stand around outside Pacific Quay for those few hours so that the BBC would swing their reporting style towards yes. We just want fair and impartial coverage and reporting. The BBC say they do uphold their duty to be impartial, but sadly the abundance of evidence is to the contrary.
I found it extremely frustrating when I arrived home after the protest to see so many of my fellow yes supporters publicly decrying the days’ events alongside the Better Together types. It felt like a slap in the face. It was a completely peaceful demonstration, with the only misdemeanour being one person shouting “speccy traitor” allegedly at a member of staff entering the BBC building. I say allegedly because you cannot see the person doing the shouting, or who they were shouting at.
The general consensus between the Yes voting tweeters against the protest, was that the time would have been better spent canvassing and I can see where they are coming from. BUT the majority of Scotland will receive their news from the BBC and other media types, and as large and as diverse as the Yes groups are all over Scotland, we cannot speak to every single voter out there every time the BBC takes an “interesting” approach or has a media blackout on a referendum story.
My hope is that the coverage the protest did receive will maybe make some people wonder what it was for, spark something in their curiosity which makes them go and find out more information on their bias for themselves. If only a handful of people did that because of the protest, then in my humble opinion that was a few hours of my personal time well spent.