Alex Massie Alex Massie

Yes, of course the BBC is biased against Scottish Nationalists

There are many reasons for this but let’s begin with the first and simplest: it is the British Broadcasting Corporation. Who could have imagined that an organisation that, rightly or not, sees itself as both creator and guardian of much of modern Britain’s identity and culture might think itself threatened by a movement hell-bent on destroying, or at least significantly changing, that identity and culture? I know, me neither.

Now of course the BBC is not consciously or deliberately biased against the SNP and against Scottish independence. It is scrupulous about ensuring ‘No’ voices are balanced by ‘Yes’ voices just as, in other areas and debates it does its best to be seen as an impartial, disinterested, referee.

I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating that the BBC’s news coverage is invariably suspicious of government initiatives. This is, in general, only proper even if it also inevitably means the corporation’s news coverage is infected by a bias towards the status quo. New ideas must be tested and known knowns are preferable to known unknowns.

A general election is a different kind of beast. Come election-time the BBC will, quite properly, subject the opposition’s proposals to scrutiny too. They will be asked to prove their readiness for office just as the government will be asked to justify their claims to another term.

But not all political debates are as clear as a general election. Not all choices are alike. It’s for this reason, among others, that the corporation views British membership of the EU as a good – and settled – thing and thus the burden of proof is upon those who wish the United Kingdom to leave.

The BBC gives UKIP plenty of airtime (partly because Mr Farage’s party exert a kind of appalling fascination and partly because BBC executives worry, deep down and just a little, that they might be missing something important) but you’d be hard-pressed to make a convincing case that it’s largely favourable coverage.

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