Pro Labour Bias – Who Us?
A well respected and truly impartial journalist was asked if the perception that BBC Scotland was anti-SNP was, in his view, justified. “Put it this way,” he said. “It probably comes more naturally to them to attack the nationalists than to attack the union.”
But how is this the case? A wee bit of history. From 1946 to 1991 media affairs in Scotland were subject to the moderating influence of the, BBC Scotland Controller who effectively reported to the, “Broadcasting Council for Scotland”, on which many distinguished Scot’s served over the years.
That was abandoned and control of BBC output in Scotland was transferred to the Board of Governers of the corporation in England then onto the BBC trust Chairman, in London.
So what’s the problem?
The way in which BBC Scotland is run, the quality of care it shows for the many good people who work for it, the standard of what it does, the public service in Scotland ethos it supposedly represents are some of the more important questions facing the Scottish nation but it is doubtful they can be successfully addressed within the control systems that prevail at the present time.
The BBC fails Scotland when it is needed most. The two main blockages are in the minds of those who retain control of the state media output:
* The BBC, is part of the glue that holds together the very idea of Britain. Take it away and the whole package starts to fall apart and we are left to wonder at the fragility of the paste.
* The BBC is how we talk to each other, where we go in the morning. We need to trust it and to feel a personal investment in it. Otherwise it’s lost – and part of us with it.
Is the alleged bias in BBC Scotland endemic or confined to a few employees?
The huge number of unresolved complaints and public demonstrations all voicing concern and anger about a blatant lack of impartiality by the news reporting/discussion teams in the course of the recent independence referendum and since gives support to the public perception that there is an on-going agenda within BBC Scotland ensuring support to Labour Party ideals, to the exclusion of other political parties in Scotland.
Yes” campaigners “anti-bias” march on the BBC Headquarters in Glasgow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttDkVoTYpLA#t=18
The organisation also needs to be formally separated from London so that it can be truly independent. An over arching Scottish body, including members of the public, should be reinstated.
A Labour Party pedigree is a predominant requirement within the BBC Scotland senior management team and a number of line managers and reporters, are in place appointed through nepotism.
This needs to eradicated so that the BBC is enabled to fulfil it’s remit, to be impartial and accountable to the Scottish public.
The current “modus-operanti” cannot be allowed to remain in place and there should be a cull of management and media correspondents that have abandoned the Journalist’s Code in favour of their politically minded colleagues.
John Boothman & Derek Bateman
Nepotism/Cronyism & Protection of The labour party
John Boothman head of BBC Scotland News and Current Affairs, (formerly Editor of Elections and Political Output). In 1979 he was the Chairperson of Strathclyde University Labour Club, Chairperson Scottish Organisation of Labour Students in 1980 and Chairperson of the National (UK) Organisation of Labour Students 1981.
According to former BBC broadcaster Derek Bateman, Boothman questioned the political output of radio broadcasts after receiving complaints from Paul Sinclair.
Sinclair, (SPAD to Johann Lamont) is said to enjoy a special relationship and regular contact with Boothman through both men’s links with the Labour party.
Writing on his blog, Mr Bateman claimed that Boothman was “famous for his unrivalled network of contacts in the Labour movement.” adding that, “…Sinclair had a name for trying to interfere in BBC news decisions to influence output.” Such attempts at interference were, according to Mr Bateman, something all parties tried to do
However, according to the former BBC presenter, Sinclair and Boothman developed an unhealthy relationship with the Labour advisor calling the shots. He added: “But what I didn’t like about Sinclair – Boothman was the informal and insidious way it developed, so instead of old pals, it became almost one of master and servant. “Sinclair seemed to assume the right to call the BBC head of news to account. It was going on right up to the final weeks before my departure.”
Mr Bateman also claimed that Boothman had, on more than one occasion, questioned him about the political content of his radio programme after receiving complaints from Sinclair.
Susan Deacon & Paul Sinclair (labour Press Officer)
John Boothman is married to Susan Deacon: Former Chairman of Scottish Labour Students. She served on the Scottish Labour Party’s, National Executive. MSP and Labour government minister. Recently put her parliamentary career on hold to raise her family. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/bbc-chief-too-close-to-labour-claims-ex-colleague.22317694
John Boothman, Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont as students were actively involved in Labour Party politics at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
Curran is a Labour Party Executive member and MP. At university she was, Secretary of Glasgow University Labour Club, Secretary of the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students, Chair of that organisation, and Vice-Chair of the Labour Club(the biggest of its kind in the UK) at the time.
Lamont is an MSP and former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. At university she was an active member Glasgow University Labour Club.
Sarah Boyack (labour MSP)
Sarah Boyack; Labour Party List MSP. Attended Glasgow University. Active in politics as a student, (taken under her wing and promoted by Margaret Curran). Chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students in 1985-86
Catrina Renton & Susan Deacon
Catriona Renton: Reporter for the BBC Politics Show and BBC Presenter.
Renton is a former Glasgow Labour Councillor, who represented Kelvindale before losing her seat to the LibDems in 2003.
She was “Glasgow’s Youth Tsar” she is a product of Balliol College, Oxford who went on to represent Labour in both the 2003 Holyrood elections and the 2004 European elections.
She was apparently recruited by BBC Scotland’s parliamentary unit in 2006, where John Boothman, husband of Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon, was a senior producer.
Her personal facebook has listed the following as friends: Jackie Baille Labour MSP, Yousuf Hamid Labour Activist, Tom Harris Labour MP, Mike Dailly Labour Activist, David Martin Labour MEP, Frank McAvetty Labour MSP, John Robertson Labour MP John Park Labour MSP, Steven Purcell Labour Glasgow Leader, Dave Watson Vice-chair of the Scottish Labour Party.
At the centre of a bias storm after an item broadcast on Sunday 18 October 2009 she attributed views to senior SNP MSP Alex Neil that he had not expressed.
When filming at the SNP conference in Inverness, Catriona Renton had claimed on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show that Alex Neil had confirmed the SNP’s desire to see David Cameron become the Prime Minister at the next general election.
The recorded interview with Mr Neil that followed Ms Renton’s claim contained no such confirmation. The BBC were forced to issue a personal apology to Alex Neil.
Tom Connor; BBC Head of Online News and Sport. Long term friend and colleague of John Boothman, Department Head. Responsible for ensuring the continuation of censorship and blockage of comments to BBC Scotland political blogs, No adding comment or disputing views with the likes of Brian Taylor or Douglas Fraser accounts anymore.. Yet england/wales and Northern Ireland blogs all allow comments.
Tom, together with his boss John Boothman was censured a number of years ago for offering Media training to Labour candidates!
John Boothman, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, is being shifted with immediate effect to join the team overseeing the BBC’s preparations for charter renewal next year, staff were told on Tuesday by the controller of BBC Scotland, Ken McQuarrie.
It was revealed that Boothman had lost a grievance complaint against him taken out by Zoe MacDonald, a BBC camerawoman and daughter of the late nationalist politician Margo MacDonald, after she recorded him being abusive about her and her mother in February.
An internal staff survey had meanwhile confirmed there was widespread unhappiness in BBC Scotland’s newsroom about management decision-making, while a health and safety survey commissioned by the National Union of Journalists found very high levels of stress in the department.
The BBC survey showed that only 19% of news and current affairs staff believed bullying complaints against their managers would have a “positive outcome”, only 20% felt bullying would be fairly dealt with and only 16% had confidence in Boothman’s decision-making.
In a letter emailed to BBC Scotland staff, MacQuarrie said: “We are now entering the most important period of work ahead of the forthcoming charter review discussions as we shape our plans for the future of BBC Scotland.
“I am writing to let you know that John Boothman, head of news and current affairs, will be joining the team working on Scotland’s proposals for charter review. Working [for] Bruce Malcolm, he will play a key role focussing on service development for Scotland including our news offer for audiences for the new charter period.
“Pete MacRae will take on the role of head of news and current affairs on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made.”
Boothman had had a private discussion about Zoe MacDonald and other BBC staff with a personnel executive, who has since left the BBC, in a broadcasting gallery at its Edinburgh studios without realising the microphones were live.
MacDonald was eating lunch in the next gallery, and overheard their conversation, recording it on her mobile phone. Backed by colleagues and her stepfather, the former Scottish National party MP Jim Sillars, she made a formal complaint against Boothman.
The complaints were raised earlier this month with Tony Hall, the BBC’s director general, during a meeting with unions, where Hall requested a written summary of the grievances circulating within BBC Scotland.
Paul Holleran, the national organiser for the NUJ in Scotland, said there would be “palpable relief” in the newsrooms after the announcement and said the union believed that industrial relations at BBC Scotland could be “turned around very quickly” after Boothman’s transfer.
“The NUJ welcomes the transfer of John Boothman out of his current role, he has overseen a period of damage to the health and morale of many of our members which we believe has affected the quality of news delivery during his tenure,” Holleran said.
“We have seen industrial action including strikes and work to rules; stress levels have gone through the roof as highlighted in union and BBC surveys and mainly because of his management style there has been a complete breakdown in industrial relations at times.”
Boothman offered MacDonald a “fulsome” apology last week, more than a month after he lost the grievance hearing, after the NUJ and broadcast union Bectu told management of growing discontent amongst BBC Scotland journalists and camera crews.
The crisis culminated on Friday in a tense meeting between the NUJ and BBC management, where the NUJ warned that unless Boothman was moved, the union would ballot BBC Scotland journalists on taking industrial action.
They were surprised that MacQuarrie, who oversaw the BBC’s investigation earlier this year into bullying allegations against Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, had not acted earlier. Staff sources say there had been a series of conflicts and grievances involving Boothman and journalists.
Senior staff at BBC Scotland feared the controversy has potentially significant political implications for the corporation after it came under intense criticism last year from nationalists for alleged bias against Scottish Independence.
Regarded by some colleagues as a gifted political journalist and news editor, Boothman is also married to a former Scottish Labour MSP and minister, Susan Deacon, fuelling nationalist claims of bias by the BBC.
Fiona Ross: Freelance broadcaster, (Produces television and radio documentaries for the BBC and commercial channels).
Ross is the daughter of former Scottish Labour party leader William Ross. She has particular knowledge of political and public sector organisations, and trains CEOs , Chairpeople , and senior management at Britain ‘s most successful companies.
During her distinguished broadcasting career Fiona has won many awards and has been involved in the reporting of crises and disasters such as the Lockerbie air crash of 1988, the collapse of BCCI in the early 90′s, and the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
While Political Correspondent at Scottish Television Fiona interviewed every leading UK political figure and Prime Minister including Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair.
Fiona now works as a freelance broadcaster, making television and radio documentaries for the BBC and commercial channels.
She presents TV and radio programmes and also works as a media skills trainer and consultant to political and business clients in the UK and the Middle East. http://www.media-mentor.co.uk/fiona-ross/