Taxi for Dimbleby

Much has been said on this already over the past 24 hours, but the more voices that are heard, the better.

Question Time, the BBC’s flagship political debate show, is tonight demonstrating why the programme, and indeed the whole organisation, is so hugely out of touch with the citizens of Scotland.

It’s not a Scotland-only show, and we must respect that fact. However, to host an ‘independence special’ in front of an audience made up entirely of 16 and 17 year-olds, and to then skew the balance of the panel massively in favour of the unionists (4:1), including two politicians who neither represent Scottish constituents or indeed have ANY elected party representatives in Scotland, is simply disgraceful.

What insights into the independence debate will the delightful Mr Farage bring to the table? This is the man whose party actually want to LESSEN democracy in Scotland. And what of George Galloway, that ‘fighter’ for the right of peoples around the world to run their own affairs? What part of his ego-centred intellect can account for the one exception to his ideology: Scotland? Neither are relevant, neither should have been invited to be guests.

The Scottish Greens and the Lib Dem’s are notable only by their exclusion from tonight’s show. Both parties have representation in both the Scottish Parliament and on local councils. Why are Farage and Galloway being asked their indefensible opinions instead? Is Farage be on simply because of his recent, much-publicised visit to Edinburgh? 

Lesley Riddoch, journalist and political commentator, will be the sixth member of the panel. As a previous advocate of devo-max/plus/a-wee-bitty-more advocate, it will be genuinely interesting to see what side of the fence she eventually comes down on, and she will certainly add a bit of credibility to a rather lacking panel.

A BBC spokesperson recently revealed that they are under absolutely no legal obligation to represent the referendum debate fairly or objectively, and their coverage thus far has certainly done nothing to suggest that they have considered that there might be a moral obligation, if not a legal one, to reflect both sides impartially and with sufficient coverage.

On April 30th, I used the BBC’s online complaint page to lodge my disbelief at their not having reported Ian Taylor’s donation to ‘Better Together’. I am lead to believe that Glenn Campbell made a fifteen second reference to it during a Reporting Scotland piece, but he might as well have muttered it under his breath for all the impact it had. Fifteen seconds on television, no coverage at all online.

It’s six and a half weeks later now, and I’ve yet to receive any response. Here’s a screenshot of their own webpage, outlining their normal turnaround time for handling complaints:

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What percentage of complaints are not dealt with within six and a half weeks, I wonder?

Continuing down the page, I read their ‘get out clause’, or why they won’t respond to certain complaints:

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The complaint I sent is recorded here, word for word. I certainly don’t consider that the subject of my complaint could be perceived to be minor, misconceived or hypothetical, nor is it repetitious or vexatious. The wording was, in my opinion, entirely courteous. I did state that I did not renew my tv licence – a direct result of their failure to report on the debate objectively – but this should not stand in the way of responding to my complaint. Hundreds, if not thousands of Scots have done similarly. I’d suggest that they address our concerns properly if they expect us to pay for their jobs, rather than ignore us. Anyway, I digress.

The BBC is, in my opinion, making an absolute mockery of the idea that they are a fair and impartial organisation, and they are making fools of those who continue to pay their licence fee. £145.50 we are expected to fork out every year, to have entirely biased views pushed down our throats. That’s about how much money I get in total per week, so I, and others in my situation, are expected to pay 2% of our annual income to pay journalists and editors to lie to us. We have no opt-out available if we own a tv – we can’t permanently delete BBC channels, more’s the pity. The licence fee is a tax in all but name, somewhat akin to the ridiculous window tax.

The BBC also has an upcoming independence debate in which the studio audience will be made up of women only. As women are continuing to be polled as less keen on independence than men, I can see the reason for doing this. But are we likely to see a reasoned debate there? Should we be perhaps expect to see a panel including entirely irrelevant guests like Louise Mensch and Sarah Palin??

What I think we learn from tonight’s show is this: the BBC have no desire or feel any need to provide substantial, objective or quality programming regarding the independence debate. This episode exists purely to create reaction and seek attention. Is this really what we should expect from our public broadcaster?

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