people-of-influence-whom-you-hardly-know-James Naughtie-BBC Presenter-Used To Be A Scot- Lost His Way-Now A Unionist


James-Naughtie-007James Naughtie


Alexander James Naughtie, (also known as Jim Naughtie) is a radio news presenter for the BBC.

Naughtie began his career as a journalist at the Aberdeen Press & Journal, moving to the London offices of The Scotsman in 1977. The following year he joined the paper’s Westminster staff, and became its Chief Political Correspondent.

He shared an apartment with his good friend Gordon Brown Labour Party MP, before moving to the USA In 1981, taking up a post with, The Washington Post as the Laurence Stern fellow on its national staff.

Naughtie joined The Guardian in 1984, and became its Chief Political Correspondent in 1985.

In 1986, Naughtie moved into radio presenting, presenting The Week In Westminster moving to The World At One in 1988.

In 1994 he became one of the main presenters of Radio 4’s Today programme. His practice is to ask long and complicated questions which is irritating nuance.

Shortly before the 2005 General Election he opened a question to Labour politician Ed Balls, “If we win the election”, which led to criticism that he was not neutral as required of BBC political journalists.

On 16 July 2013 it was announced that Naughtie’s presentational role on Today would be temporarily reduce, as he was to become a presenter of Good Morning Scotland for two days a week in the run up the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. Naughtie will return to his usual role on Today in time for the 2015 general election. So that’s Jim – cleancut and non-affiliated unless you think his comment of,”if we win the election” indicates bias.


10313359_632088540199769_6748727047123860742_nBBC Bias



The Today presenter James Naughtie was both congratulated and condemned after he accidentally introduced the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as Jeremy Cunt live on air today. The Radio 4 spoonerism sparked a flurry of online comments, which were refuelled just over an hour later when Andrew Marr – presumably in an effort to maintain editorial consistency – made exactly the same mistake on the same station’s Start the Week programme.


media-andrew-marr-3Andrew Marr



The former BBC Scotland broadcaster Derek Bateman has launched an online attack on one of its best known current ­affairs presenters, suggesting he is pursuing an anti-SNP agenda.

The interviewing style of James Naughtie on Radio 4’s Today programme and the political stance of the BBC has been criticised by Mr Bateman in a “satirical” blog. Mr Bateman, formerly the presenter of Good Morning Scotland (GMS), was irritated by the tone adopted by his fellow Scot Mr Naughtie when he interviewed a Tory MP and an SNP minister on the issue of defence in an independent Scotland.


p00sk29lDerek Bateman



A memo to Jim Naughtie on his return to Scotland:

“It has come to my attention that you planning to move north to cover the independence referendum, admittedly for only two days a week. Since you last worked in Scotland in 1977 a lot has altered that you might find at first a bit bewildering. Scotland has changed, not entirely in ways immediately apparent or straightforward. Some institutions which have the same names as 36 years ago have changed, nearly totally out of recognition. New bodies and different ways of things of doing things have emerged. To save you time and reading, considering that you are only here two days a week, here is a short guide to what’s changed and what’s not changed, and how to make some sense of the public life of Scotland. Edinburgh isn’t Scotland, nor is the Edinburgh Festival(s) even Edinburgh. Nor are Edinburgh and Glasgow combined, most of Scotland; they represent the BBC/STV version of Scotland.”




Arguments lamenting the loss of Scottish industry that poignantly reflect that we used to be ‘the shipbuilding capital of the world’, or that ‘all the jobs have gone’, are now caricatures and clichés. They also don’t reflect the dramatically different and in many places, dynamic nature of the Scottish economy today.

Some pro-union people ask when will the constitutional debate ever end. But part of Scotland’s debate is about how we share an island with the powerhouse of London and the South East, which will go on whether we are independent or not.

There is a problem with how the British Government comprehends and doesn’t comprehend modern Scotland. They occasionally get Scotland, but more often they don’t, or just plain forget us.

They don’t think Scottish independence is a serious threat to the union, and when they refer to ‘the referendum’ and ‘sovereignty debate’ they aren’t talking about Scotland, but about the UK and Europe.

Westminster is increasingly becoming a distant, untrusted body in Scotland. When asked which institution they most trust to look after Scottish interests, two thirds of Scots consistently choose the Scottish Parliament, and only about 20% or less Westminster.


gerryGerry Hassan


Now that James Naughtie is coming home for a wee while, he had better avoid a certain type of Glasgow pub or he will find himself the object of that city’s many talkative characters, Any inconvenience will, however, be temporary.

Whatever happens in September Mr Naughtie won’t be sticking around for the chaotic aftermath. There are limits to the length of foreign assignments. The first presumption behind the appointment or secondment, or whatever it is to be called, is that anyone, even someone of considerable ability and charm, can play a key role in the referendum – ‘one of the great stories of our time’ as Mr Naughtie himself has described it – from this position of professional semi-detachment.

Why two days a week? Why not five? One of the great stories of our time surely deserves a full-time commitment to Good Morning Scotland, and to Scotland in general, rather than this wandering in and out of the saga.

The second presumption is that it required a London ‘heavyweight’ – I imagine that was the term used when the appointment was being considered – to be parachuted into Glasgow for the purpose; and that there was no-one on the BBC Scotland staff, or indeed in the Scottish media as a whole, who was considered good enough to lead the coverage of one of the great stories of our time.

This presumption is decades old. It is merely finding a new form in the parachuting of Mr Naughtie. As these examples illustrate, parachuting is nothing new in the dispiriting annals of BBC Scotland. There must be a secret warehouse in west London where all the parachutes are kept, ready to be pressed into service for the great stories of our time.

But it is especially depressing in this case. The anointed one – the one who will take us to the promised land; or, more likely, not – must have the sheen of metropolitan approval (‘a track record’ as it is otherwise known) and we ought to be jolly glad that our colonial masters have agreed to release him.

It is not being insulting to James Naughtie to state that we deserve better. If he had wanted to play a key role in the referendum, he should have suffered first – by actually living here for the last decade.

No doubt, with Mr Naughtie’s presence at the microphone, the listening figures for Good Morning Scotland will improve, but it will be at some cost to Scottish self-esteem.

I will not damage their prospects of career enhancement by naming the good people within and outwith BBC Scotland who are more knowledgeable about the political and cultural situation north of the border and who are more obviously committed to the future of Scotland within or outwith the union. Such people exist. Unfortunately for them, we kent their faithers.




Would his interviews with two leading figures from either side of the independence argument on the Today demonstrate that James Naughtie is likely to be scrupulously unbiased over the coming year – barring Freudian slips? Please listen for yourselves to both interviews. Listen to both interviews, they were very different.

The one with Alistair Darling was gentle, almost cosy, nearly a fireside chat compared to the tough, interruption-laden scrap with Nicola Sturgeon which followed. That was down to James Naughtie, and the tone he chose to adopt with each guest – collegial with Mr Darling, antagonistic towards Ms Sturgeon.

You would have thought that he would have sought to showcase his even-handedness on this of all programmes. He chose not to. It doesn’t bode well, does it?

The interview with Alistair Darling,

The interview with Nicola Sturgeon,




Is James Naughtie the most long-winded interviewer in broadcasting history? At one point during one of this morning’s interviews on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, I began wondering whether James Naughtie would ever get to the end of the question he was asking.

It reminded me of how often the garrulous Mr Naughtie has had this effect on me, and got me wondering whether I’m alone in wondering why the BBC lets one of their top interviewers ask questions that are often longer (and less coherent) than the answers he elicits from his interviewees.




2007: Just what is happening to the Today programme on Radio 4? While we are accustomed to the fact that the once great BBC is run by a clique of Lefties who came of age in the Sixties and haven’t had an original thought since, the Today programme stood out as one of the last bastions of unbiased integrity on the Beeb. No more.

Anyone listening recently might as well have been tuning in to Labour HQ, so much has it turned into the broadcasting wing of the Labour government. Is the Today programme biased towards the Left? Do bears have a particular fondness for the woods?

Take yesterday. A BBC political correspondent did a piece about David Cameron’s recent policy statements. There was, as usual, all the rubbish about a “lurch to the Right,” but then, in one of the most tortuous analogies I’ve ever heard, this reporter compared recent Tory thinking to the song Let’s Do The Time Warp Again. Eh?

This song was a very funny part of a very funny Seventies film called The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but what it has to do with current Conservative thinking could be written on the head of a very small pin. Today, in its galumphing way, was clearly trying to say that the Tories are dinosaurs who have not moved forward in the past 30 years, something that is grossly untrue but increasingly typical of what passes for reporting on the programme.

We’ve known that Today has a Left-wing bias ever since the ludicrous James Naughtie used the phrase “we” when talking to a government minister a few years ago.

But this is getting beyond a joke. The pathological hatred of all things Tory is marking the programme out. Everyone knows society has become more violent over the past decade, that educational standards are slipping and that our hospitals are now places where you catch a disease rather than the reverse.

But I have lost count of the number of times a news item about yet another crisis has been modified with the unchallenged and usually untrue, “Of course, it was worse 10 years ago” (ie, when you-know-who were in power). Oh yeah?




The BBC’s contrasting coverage of the party conferences seems to have been at its sharpest with ‘Today’. Here’s why I think that’s the case (at somewhat exhausting length!), concentrating on the Labour Party conference in Liverpool and the Conservative Party conference in Manchester:

A comparison of the, ‘Today’ programme’s coverage of the Labour Party and Conservative Party conferences reveals a significant degree of pro-Labour bias.

Though only a few items, such as the Danny Shaw report, screamed ‘bias!’, the cumulative effect of the different moods established by the two respective presenters, the severe skewing of the commentariat towards the Labour Party, the unhelpfulness of the reports towards one party in particular, the presence of other unhelpful items towards that party (in contrast to a helpful one towards the other party), the framing of interviews, and the programme’s initial agenda-setting (always followed through), all adds up to coverage that is much more favourable to one party than to another.

I have tried to be as fair as fair can be towards the programme here but there is always the possibility that my own biases are blinding me to flaws in my own study.






3 replies on “people-of-influence-whom-you-hardly-know-James Naughtie-BBC Presenter-Used To Be A Scot- Lost His Way-Now A Unionist”

But maybe as Wings is reporting today, even his tolerance level for obvious Unionist disingenuousness is being breached.


I know it’s long in the tooth, the beeb and all, but why do people listen/watch the obvious propoganda
and bias day in, day out? If I was from another planet and happening to land on earth, I would find it an alien concept that messages are piped into people’s homes and that they choose to accept that, especially when the leaders are controlling what is being spouted to the population, by and large.

Social media, online sharing of ideas and challenging the status quo is the way to go and has become for many the best way to work out how our present political and economic systems work, or not, and how they are controlled by the powers that be. TV and radio as a tradition are a tad yesterday and parasitical in relying on the willing audiences to take it all as gospel, you can tell the people anything, win win for westminster governments!


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