Friday, 10 August 2012

Worse Than Chloe Smith...

At the end of June, we had supposedly an interview that was cringe worthy as much as it was car crash television.  It prompted a post here bemoaning the quality of political interviewers working in Scotland.  One of my work colleagues who saw the post asked why I hadn’t mentioned Isobel Fraser.  Thinking back, I suppose it was because she has only just reached the top rank of political presenters/interviewers at BBC Scotland, so I wasn’t sure of how good she is. 

I also thought that she wasn’t as aggressive enough with politicians as she needs to be (though to be fair, even Jeremy from Monkey Life would have struggled to control the party political leaders in that debate on “The Politics Show”)…


The first thing to say is that Fraser absolutely deserves every piece of credit going her way.  She questioned Ian Davidson’s views, it was, as Mrs Merton would say “a heated debate”, and did not bow to his ludicrous torrent of rage.  She’s not the first BBC interviewer to be openly accused of bias, most famously the former Today presenter Brian Redhead was accused on air by Nigel Lawson of bias, his retort was the legendary “Do you think we should have a one minute silence now in this interview, one for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote and secondly perhaps in memory of monetarism which you have now discarded”.  One can only speculate how Davidson would have responded to an equally intelligent retort, but in the circumstances Fraser did just fine.

Where Ian Davidson was right is to say that there is a bias at the BBC, but it is an institutional bias that would be imperceptible to everyone except Scot’s caught up in the referendum debate.  However BBC Scotland are not biased towards independence and Davidson got everything else in that interview so so spectacularly wrong.

Other bloggers have successfully managed to pick over the entrails of Davidson’s interview, where he is wrong on a legal basis and other things.  There is two things that stick out though.  Firstly, one very very bad late night interview is not going to swing swathes of people towards Independence as some pro-Independence supporters think.  For many people, the argument about the legality is just going to go over their heads.

More importantly though, it appears that “Scottish” Labour have fallen hook line and sinker for Cameron’s line that Westminster will look at more powers for Holyrood at a later date.  Polls show that the so called “Devo-Max” option would be a clear winner should there be a three option/two question referendum, yet all of the pro-Union parties have set their face against the settled will of the Scottish people.  Even more appallingly, the pro-Union parties have the air of being smug and self satisfied about the dog’s breakfast that was Calman.   They seriously think they have done a good job with the Calman proposals.

If “Scottish” Labour believe that they can sit back and take pot shots at Salmond’s Independence proposals, or as they put it Separation (see, Joan McAlpine did have a point about the Marriage break-up simile), with out any questions about their own position, they will hopefully be mistaken.  A chap called Tony Blair described Labour as being at it’s best when at it’s boldest.  The problem for “Scottish” Labour is that it now looks to be back in the grip of the conservative “Municipalist” wing. 

For those of us who want a proper debate about Scotland’s future either within our outwith the Union, this is very bad news.  Not for the first time (and probably not for the last) I find myself saying that we deserve better than Davidson’s contribution on Tuesday night.  That interview was, in many ways, so much worse that Chloe Smith’s appearance on Newsnight in June.

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