Thanks to Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland for contributing this article.
The BBC’s Even Hand? One Egg-thrower and a Many Fascists Charge. BBC Scotland Monitor: Report 21/9/14
Reporting Scotland 19th September 2014: The George Square ‘Scuffles’
Remember the egg-thrower? Remember, the ‘vile’ Yes supporter who egged one BT speaker and forced him to cancel his talking tour…..well for one day anyway? Remember the Daily Record headline?
Labour MP Jim Murphy and cancer patient hit by eggs as …
The BBC then allowed Murphy to characterise one egg-throwing incident as:
“In the past 10 days or so, the Yes Scotland campaign has organised mobs to turn up at every meeting that I’m taking part in to try and silence undecided voters and to try and intimidate me.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28986714
Now contrast the coverage of an egg-throwing threat to democracy with that of the George Square ‘scuffles’. Here are images from the event described, by Reporting Scotland, as ‘scuffles’ between Yes and No supporters in George Square on the evening of 19th September, None of these images made the BBC coverage which huddled in the middle of the police bubble.
Reporting Scotland 19th September, from 6.30pm:
20 mins 15 sec in – ‘News is coming in of some disruption and scuffles’
What was reported in social media, as it happened, as a coordinated attack by Better Together supporters on Yes supporters, from both sides of the square and filmed timidly from a distance by BBC to reveal a dominance of Union Flags and the presence of aggressive adult and teenage males, is presented as scuffles involving both sides.
The reporter talks of a change of atmosphere twice but does not explain how this came about. He talks briefly of more union flags and a loyalist element as if this disconnects them from the continuum of Better Together support (see the images above). Was the same courtesy extended to the Yes campaign when the latter was accused of turning ugly after a few eggs were thrown?
The reporter mentions ‘people’ leaving after the ‘loyalist element’ came into the square. might these have been referred to more accurately as ‘peaceable Yes supporters’? When they (the ‘loyalists’) charged straight into the ‘crowd’, might that have been more accurately reported as ‘BT supporting fascists charge straight into formerly peaceful Yes supporters’?.
When we hear ‘the flares went off” wasn’t it clear these were red, white and blue flares?
The reporter finishes with ‘you get the sense it was almost well-planned’. Really? No, surely not? (irony).
In the studio we hear from Jackie Bird and two unionist politicians that ‘we don’t want that on our streets’ but no acknowledgement of where the blame lies for the attack.
The next day (Saturday 20th), the BBC website persisted with ‘Scottish referendum: Police separate rival groups in Glasgow’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland- politics-29288249), suggesting comparable violence by both sides’ quite contrary to the evidence. Those attacking Yes supporters are characterised as ‘people waving union jacks’ or ‘Union supporters’ despite the widespread wearing and carrying of Better Together symbols evident in the images above. Further, in the same report, we are told unambiguously that ‘Reports that the disturbance had led to a fire at the Glasgow Herald offices were also inaccurate.’ The Independence-supporting Sunday Herald, contradicts this the next day.
What’s missing? The BT elephant in the room is somehow missed. If egg-throwing is part of the behavioural continuum of the Yes campaign’s ideology, a yobbish element, then why are the fascist salutes and the charges not part of the behavioural continuum of the Better together campaign’s ideology? The so-called ‘loyalists’ wore Better Together and Labour for No badges/rosettes and stood below large BT banners as the made Nazi salutes. They clearly think they’re part of ‘Britishness’ with good reason because they are. They know the words of Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen. They’re the ugly face of British imperial ideology reminding us, in words and action, of what the Empire was, a protection racket based on bullying weaker people. Watch only the BBC News and you’d know nothing of this. Better Together’s image would be untarnished by contrast with those yobbish egg-throwing Yes supporters. Even the Sunday Herald, carrying images like these and with harsh words for the yobs involved, hold back from criticising BBC coverage. Attacking friends, former colleagues and school-chums cannot be allowed in the closed world of broadsheet journalism.
Professor John Robertson with massive help from friends on his Facebook page. Special thanks to Ann Browning, Lucy Noble, Karen Fisher and Murdo Macdonald for ideas and to John Carey, Calum Craig, and Col McGillveray for the incriminating Twitter pics. Who says Facebook friends are not real friends?
Footnote: After resigning, former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, speaks out, though in very restrained (too subtle) manner: ‘Alex Salmond criticises the BBC for its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum, saying the organisation does not know the difference between being a “public service broadcaster” and a “state broadcaster”.’ Channel 4, Published on Sep 21, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh8XDi5d-oE&feature=youtu.be