At a press conference late last week, BBC political editor Nick Robinson asked Alex Salmond about what would happen to the tax revenues of an independent Scotland should RBS relocate. Salmond gave an answer, Robinson pressed him further, Salmond made a diversionary joke. So far, so what – this is a set-up that happens in politics virtually every day. Except that through the lens of an emotive week, leading up to the possible breakup of the United Kingdom, things are not as simple as that.
There was a pro-independence, anti-BBC rally in Glasgow over the weekend, protesting what the Yes gang saw as impartial treatment by Robinson towards the First Minister. They chanted “stick your license fee up your arse” and demanded Robinson’s sacking. Now, whatever your viewpoint on what Robinson did (it seems to me he was just doing his job, but what do I know), you have to admit that these two things, the license fee chant and calling for the political editor of the BBC’s P45 to be issued, are psychologically very interesting.
In the minds of these people, isn’t Scotland going to be, with details still to be ironed out of course, an independent country in three days time? Therefore, why bother chanting about license fees being inserted into orifices when it will be effectively irrelevant? You won’t be part of Britain anymore, so one would assume that how TV works in your new country would have to be worked out anew. The folks in White City will certainly not be the beneficiaries; that much is certain. The psychology of this follows on neatly with the asking for Robinson to be sacked. He’s the political editor of what will soon be a foreign news channel. Would the Yesers have organised a rally in central Glasgow to ask for the sacking of TV2 in Denmark’s political editor if they thought that he/she were being unfair on Salmond?
It seems like even those calling for independence as loudly as possible cannot envisage Scotland not being part of the Union in any sort of real, meaningful sense. They can’t even imagine not having to pay a TV license fee for Christ’s sake. It’s as if the whole thing were some sort of temporal protest against the Tory government, as if voting Yes on Thursday were not the irreversible decision that it actually is. If you want Scotland to be independent, fair enough, here’s your chance. But part of that package is surely realising that it means that the rest of the UK will become a foreign country with all that entails. From what I saw over the weekend, this does not seem to have sunk in very deeply.
A Taylor says
With respect, Mr Tyrone, you’ve missed a bit. People were angry at the presentation of the encounter you described, and the editing which portrayed Mr Robinson as the victim. His piece on the 10pm news was somewhat melodramatic in tone. And I agree, that doesn’t fully address the main premise of your article. But if independence results from the vote, it won’t take effect as of 19th September, so in the transition period we need to be sure, for all our sakes, that the ‘national’ broadcaster we will continue to pay for, represents high standards of reporting. It’s no less than we all deserve
Poorly written and researched piece. Nick Robinson lied on a national news broadcast stating that Scotland’s FM failed to answer a question. The question was answered in a 5 min reply to Robinson that he edited out – it can be seen on you tube. For your information, Scotland will make a decision on Thurs 18/9 whether to become indy. If Yes, it will begin a process which will take around 18 months (not 3 days that you mention).
Brian B says
Wrong! They DIDN’T sing “Stick your license fee up your arse.” That just doesn’t scan. It was “Stick your license up your arse.” Get it right!
Mark Ross says
This is the sheer, worrying factor for me in 3 days time, ignorance winning. Please God, let the union prevail. Let good people work hard and prosper their lives. Good people tend not to blame anyone and everyone for their inadequacies and errors ie westminster, tories etc etc….for the record I am a labour supporting person. When I make mistakes I take responsibility, if I fall down I pick myself up, if things don’t go well I work harder to try and make them well etc etc , some of these people should try it, or are they just assuming we will have the Dubai lifestyle come Friday….To many scary delusions on the yes side, what a frightful few days we have left indeed.
Edward Knight says
I have posed various questions (to the BBC and Alex Salmond) regarding the future of the BBC in Scotland….also questions upon the capability (or otherwise) of Scotland’s defence forces. To date, I have had no reply…thus I welcome articles like the Spectator’s piece of today.
I am an Englishman living on the Orkney archipelago (soon to be an “Englishman Abroad”?)
Regards & etc.
Heather Harrison says
That’s right were all flag waving non thinking oafs Nick Robinson and the BBC were 110% wrong and that’s a shame because you used to be able to trust the BBC ….. Or so we thought thank goodness for social media and the real truth. Hoodwinked no more!
Annie Harrower-Gray says
This piece seems to have missed the point. The demonstration outside the BBC wasn’t all about Nick Robinison, it was about BBC bias toward the ‘Yes’ campaign, which I don’t think anyone can deny exists eg five lead stories on the news all about ‘No’, not one about ‘Yes’ or ‘the big pro-union campaign’ that the BBC forgot to mention was the Orange Walk. The demonstration yesterday was to fire a shot across their bows in the hope that their coverage of the next three days might be just a little bit more balanced.
Nick Robinson’s piece seemed biased to me. You only have to search youtube to see how his question was answered. And yet that was not what was presented on the BBC. But that’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. Personally I didn’t think the BBC protest march was in any way helpful. I don’t think anyone is really going to hold a grudge against Mr Robinson after passions die down.
And passions are very high in Scotland right now.
To understand why, you need to understand is how this looks from the perspective of a Scot voting for independence. If you see Scotland as a country, then denying independence is denying that country its chance to win democracy. Quite possibly, the only chance it might have in a generation. The stakes could not be higher.
This is why any perceived bias in the press can stir such emotions. It is almost akin to an invasion of your human rights. From that persepctive it’s very easy to understand why people demonstrated. But it must look strange if you are watching from the perspective of someone who sees Scotland as a part of their country, the United Kingdom.
The closest analogy I can think of would be (and it’s a bit of a stretch, but bear with me) is this: Imagine France said it wanted to take over the power from Westminster. All UK taxes would go to Paris, and the UK would get back a grant. Some powers would be devolved to London. And this would be in all of our interests because UK and France are better together. Pooling and sharing helps us all. Obviously this is the reverse of the present situation with Scotland, but the emotions would be much the same.
To get down to nuts and bolts the UK will continue to exist until 2016 after a yes vote.
Presumably Scotland will still have to pay the licence fee until then?
This is an interesting analysis – there are a lot if people who can see no further than “kick them out” and “hell mend them”. I have called this the ontological campaign as the yes side seem to be working in the principle of if it can be thought and said it will be. There is a worrying lack of understanding or complete unwillingness to accept that if the country votes yes then there will be significant readjustment and unpicking of the status quo – should this have to happen significant energy and creativity and funding will be diverted to thus end rather than solving current problems. If I could find an acknowledgment of this amongst yes voters I would rest easy as it is I am terrified that we will sleepwalk into independence and a hugely uncertain future. Never has the ability to see us as others see us been mire needed.