Film Preview: London Calling – How the BBC stole the Referendum
The Scottish Independence Referendum captivated a nation for over three years. When Alex Salmond’s SNP won a majority in the 2011 Scottish election it signalled the start of the most electric political campaign in UK history. That campaign ended on September 18th 2014 when Scots voted to remain part of the Union.
But how did a small lead for Yes turn into a 10 point triumph for No during the last 14 days of the campaign? Why was a backbench Labour MP given access to BBC airwaves in order to issue pledges he had no authority to make? Was a Scottish Labour party special advisor allowed to influence the content of BBC Scotland political programmes?
The media’s role in the referendum campaign has escaped scrutiny, until now. This book shines the spotlight on the biggest media beast of all – the BBC. It chronicles the descent of the BBC in Scotland from a once trusted broadcaster to an organisation so despised that thousands of ordinary Scots marched on its Scottish HQ in protest at what they saw as its anti-independence bias.
The book takes the reader on a journey that begins with the arrival of devolution and culminates in the No campaign’s triumph in the referendum on September 18th 2014. The journey is signposted by several key political events and the BBC’s coverage explored:
- The Vow: the promise of extensive new powers for the Scottish parliament
- Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life would relocate to England
- Nick Robinson’s claim that Alex Salmond hadn’t answered his question on RBS
- Alex Salmond offering a cup of his own tea to Chris and Colin Weir at Bute House
- Alex Salmond’s “lies” about EU legal advice
- Alex Salmond’s “regret” (a word he never used) over support for Fred Goodwin
- Alex Salmond banned from interview at Scotland v England rugby game
- Alex Salmond’s Ryder Cup trip cost £470,000
- Alex Salmond apparently laughing at John Swinney – a crude video edit
- Rupert Murdoch’s support for Alex Salmond in the context of NOTW phone hacking
- Eleanor Bradford’s claim about closure of NHS A&E departments
- Closing down BBC Scotland blogs (removing the right of reply)
- Jackie Baillie’s claim about Scotland the Superbug capital of Europe (under Labour!)
- Samsung’s £100 million investment in renewables: good news presented as bad
- The use of pejorative language: “separation” and “break up” for independence
- Nicola Sturgeon did not say Scotland would have “relied on” England to bail out RBS
- Jose Manuel Barroso and Mariano Rajoy’s statements on Scotland joining the EU
- Irish Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton on Scotland being thrown out of EU
- The “anti-English” vandalism of a car festooned with English flags in the Gallowgate
- The hate-filled outpouring of “Cybernats”
- Ratings agency Fitch quote “neutral effect on credit” became “use of the pound unstable”
- Denis Healey’s admission of having “downplayed the value of oil” in 1979
- Sir Ian Wood‘s own 25 billion barrel estimate of oil reserves becomes “an exaggeration”
- Scotland’s contribution to the UK re-calculated to reduce it by £400 per head
- Standard & Poor’s statement that Scotland would qualify for their highest economic assessment
- CBI Scotland identified itself as a No campaigner to the Electoral Commission (then asked to nullify it). Despite that, the BBC refused to resign its membership of the CBI.