By G.A.Ponsonby

Did you know that the BBC has demanded an apology from Newsnet Scotland?  Well, OK not the whole BBC, just London correspondent Tim Reid.

Tim was upset by an article published by Newsnet Scotland the day before George Osborne made his speech in Edinburgh in which the Chancellor ruled out a currency union with an independent Scotland.

The article, based on a blog by Tim’s BBC colleague Nick Robinson, reported that the Chancellor would not, as was being reported by BBC Scotland, categorically rule out any currency union, but would instead rule out one defined by UK Treasury officials.

In the end up Mr Osborne couched his language well and cleverly left the impression that he would indeed rule out any and all attempts to form a currency union, without saying it in words that would leave no doubt.

I’m told that one of the Newsnet team considered telling Tim to submit his apology through our online form – and that we’d aim to reply to him within forty days – just like the BBC.  However the idea was rejected in favour of a short tweet explaining that in the opinion of Newsnet Scotland, Mr Osborne had in fact ruled out only the currency union defined by his own Treasury Officials.

You have to hand it to Osborne.  He knew just where to turn in order to get his story the widest possible coverage in Scotland … without even having to say anything.  A quiet word with BBC Scotland’s man in London and the story was off and running.

Rarely has so much coverage been afforded a speech that hadn’t yet been given.  BBC Scotland ran the ‘ghost’ story for two days before Osborne said anything, with headlines and bulletins as presenters interviewed colleagues and pundits.

I cannot recall the BBC running a story of such national importance on so delicate an issue, with nothing but an unconfirmed briefing.

Remember the Osborne briefing also ensured that two very damaging stories (for the No campaign) that had taken place were kept out of the headlines when Barclays and RBS both rubbished suggestions that a Yes vote would harm their businesses.

But the agenda had been set, and so Gordon Brewer on Newsnight Scotland set about grilling head of Yes Scotland Blair Jenkins and Gary Robertson tried to break Nicola Sturgeon on Good Morning Scotland.  The mantra was repeated – Osborne’s speech was a blow, it was a challenge to the SNP … What was Plan B? … Will you default on the debt?

It was all quite surreal as the SNP and Yes campaign found themselves being attacked by BBC Scotland and yet George Osborne had said nothing and answered nothing.  Incredibly, the No campaign faced little or no scrutiny.  What a lottery win.  It seemed that the BBC had geared up only to scrutinise the Yes campaign.

When Osborne eventually arrived to make his speech, he refused all but three questions and scuttled off in his chauffeur driven wagon.  In a show of contempt for Scotland, Osborne gave a virtual two fingered salute to STV who at least had sought to question the chancellor.

Perhaps Bernard Ponsonby could have a word with Tim Reid and ask the BBC man to pose the questions on his behalf.  That is if Tim actually bothered to ask any questions when he was handed the club with which the BBC was to ‘pound’ the Yes campaign.

And pound they did, as Thursday became the third day of coverage across the UK which now included views from the UK Treasury’s top civil servant Nicholas Macpherson.  Danny Alexander and Ed Balls also waded in.

No-one yet knows if the currency threat and the unholy alliance of Labour/Tory/Lib Dem will benefit the No campaign or turn people to Yes – it’s a gamble from Better Together.  But the beeb has ensured that the No campaign has been put under minimal scrutiny.

The media onslaught has resulted in a few panicky Yes voices urging the Scottish Government to change to Plan B – such a move would be madness and would play into the No campaign’s hands.  No-one yet knows how the markets will react to Osborne’s threats, and to ditch a sensible proposal because your opponents and their media pals are demanding you do, is not how to run a campaign.

One thing is clear though, the BBC is prepared to put its massive broadcasting resource at the disposal of those who oppose independence.

It’s a defining moment, most observers have opined, of the moves by the Westminster Government.  That is an understatement.

It has also served notice to those who think they will get balanced and informed coverage of the referendum campaign from the BBC.

If you doubt this, then ask yourself a question.  If, by simply briefing a reporter at the BBC of their intentions days hence, the UK Government can commend days of uncritical wall to wall coverage on BBC Scotland then what’s to prevent them doing it again?

Over to you Tim.


G. P. Walrus
2014-02-14 07:58

I hope you have offered Tim Reid the opportunity to write an article for NNS putting his side of the story.
2014-02-14 08:39

It is time to ramp up the pressure on the BBC with wall to wall demands for a Scottish news channel.
They will never concede us a channel, but we can at least get the people of Scotland made aware of the enemy in their livingroom.
The BBC was rattled by the academic proof of bias on a study that confined its parameters to early evening news when we all know that’s the tip of the iceberg. We should ram it down their throats and expose the cheats and liars for what they are.
2014-02-14 08:51

The negativity of the unionist bloc has been shameful for some time now (e.g. the constant denigration of Scotland and the capacity of the Scots to run their own country).

However, this latest episode is a sad day for democracy in these islands. The London based parties are acting like dictators. Instead of saying “We respect the right of Scots to determine their own future and will work constructively in partnership for the best interests of everyone in these islands”, they use bullying, intimidation and threats to further their own narrow-minded, backward-looking, imperial delusions.

At least we are seeing them in their true colours – so much for the self-styled “Mother of Parliaments” and democracy!
2014-02-14 09:28

Is the BBC’c conduct criminal? Let’s look.

1) The misuse of public monies to finance its political agenda.

2)The gifting of publicly owned resources used to promote the NO campaign is a campaign contribution. The fair market value of BBC andvertising for the benefit of the NO campaign must run into millions.

Those contributions violate laws that strictly limit how much can be donated.

The only way we’ll find out the extent of the corruption is by way of a public inquiry. The probable cause is there and while regulation of the BBC is not devolved, the authority to conduct a criminal investigation clearly is.

An inquiry can compel attendance, take testimony under oath, and require the release of documents, to include email, text, memos, and phone records.

Did employees of the BBC meet with Unionist representatives  , and did they conspire to advance the NO cause?

Enquiring minds and procurators fiscal wonder.
2014-02-14 11:02

Criminal, I don’t think so. In breach of their charter obligations of fairness and impartiality and amenable to legal action? Probably. But who will do it?

In fairness to the BBC I have no issue with them picking up on the story, it was a big one, deserved plenty of airtime. No issue there. The fact they then don’t put any scrutiny on any aspect of it whatsoever is what gets me. Moreover, look at the timing here. The polls are narrowing and in a week in which Osborne et al have been taking a pounding from their English voters about the floods, is it really surprising that they were quite keen to engage in some sabre-rattling to scare the Scots and look tough to middle England which is in a rage about the naughty Scots daring to think they can keep any of their ‘goodies’? (The Bank of ENGLAND, and the ENGLISH pound). The BBC have allowed themselves to be used.

I assume we can expect wall-to-wall BBC coverage of the leaked comments to The Herald?
2014-02-14 12:50…/…

Interesting discussion above. Essentially it is for the EBC Governor’s to take action. If they do not then and it involves a breach of the Representation of The Peoples then they along with the broadcasters might well find themselves in court.

2014-02-14 14:09

It wouldn’t make any difference to take the issue to court. There isn’t time for any verdict for one thing, and then you have the can of worms over jurisdiction, whether it’s a matter for the Scottish Courts or the English ones.
The best weapon we have, and it’s a good weapon, is public awareness married to the correct appreciation of what the BBC is doing.

Smash the broadcasting cabal, and then the YES arguments will deliver independence at the canter.

Our Government and YES have to get the alarm raised over the issue of pro union bias. Get the gloves off. Give people the alert and the evidence that their news is thoroughly manipulated.
2014-02-16 17:33


Get the gloves off. Give people the alert and the evidence that their news is thoroughly manipulated.

THIS! Pay heed, this is how they roll in Washington DC, from start to finish. Our media is subject to the same tactics, the same manipulation, because they’re completely owned by “corporations”, not the gov’t. Jaw-dropping, particularly this:


Rarely has so much coverage been afforded a speech that hadn’t yet been given. BBC Scotland ran the ‘ghost’ story for two days before Osborne said anything, with headlines and bulletins as presenters interviewed colleagues and pundits. I cannot recall the BBC running a story of such national importance on so delicate an issue, with nothing but an unconfirmed briefing.

This is the kind of thing they’ve gotten away with in the US for years. Don’t let this happen to you–you’re right, you’ve no time to address this with your courts. Get the word out now.


2014-02-14 10:05

Wstminster politicians seem to believe that democracy is theirs’s to grant or take away.
The latest pronouncement seems to assume that the UK will continue after Scotland votes for independence and that it will be up to Westminster to decide whether they allow us to have self determination.
If Holyrood rescinds the Treaty of Union after a Yes vote,then the Union of parliaments will cease to exist and Westminster will no longer have any authority over Scottish matters.
We are not a colony of England despite what Westminster may think.
The threat to ignore our democratic mandate should Westminster not like the way things are going (us not taking what they regard as a “fair” share of their debt) has no credibility.
Of course,in the time honoured manner of the British establishment,t  hey can always threaten violence should we not agree to their terms.
What democracy ?
2014-02-14 10:57

As the article says this seemed like a planned and orchestrated attack on Scottish independence by the BBC and the UK government. It is astonishing that Osborne didn’t even give one interview yesterday to defend his threat, yet at the same time Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon were but under enormous scrutiny.

On another disturbing note Wings Over Scotland is pretty much unusable just now due a consistent and ongoing DOS attack. It makes you realise what kind of country we’re living in, a pretty scary one.
2014-02-14 13:14


Wings Over Scotland is pretty much unusable just now

That is a grossly exaggerated statement. I go to Wings regularly and there are only a few minor glitches even though according to Rev Stu it is still under attack.
Statements like yours will discourage people from going to Wings which is an essential contributor to the YES side.

2014-02-14 15:57

I get 503 errors pretty regularly. Sympathetic to the problem, and the frustration, but what can we do to help?
Now it might well be deliberate interference from the men in grey, but it might also be someone attacking the server.
I hope the Rev gets on top of it, and he’s doing well so far, but I don’t know what more I can do, or anybody else either.

2014-02-14 11:07

Over on wings the Rev was suggesting within Osborne’s speech, there was a veiled threat that if Scotland voted Yes that Westminster would veto iScotland’s access into the EU and generally make life difficult for a fledgling iScotland.

Better together…Aye right!

Oh remember the farmer that covered his local bank with slurry when he felt the bank weren’t supportive…Any angry farmers fancy a wee job at Pacific Quay? We could crowd fund it?!…/…
2014-02-14 12:49


The media onslaught has resulted in a few panicky Yes voices urging the Scottish Government to change to Plan B – such a move would be madness and would play into the No campaign’s hands.

They are anything but ‘panicky Yes voices’. They are entirely pragmatic and AlexS and NicolaS obviously agree since they both began to talk yesterday about the other options available for a Scots Currency which are set out in the White Paper.

It would be completely incredible to continue with a strategy which requires the opposition’s agreement and which it has categorically ruled out, regardless of what might actually happen. YES MUST have its very own strategy which it alone will decide.

Dundonian West
2014-02-14 13:03

Don’t despair—today I was in a group of six people. The ‘loudmouth’ amongst us surprised me by mentioning the Referendum and the pound. I really did think he was asking for trouble—but no— every single person turned on Osborne and Balls. I was amazed.
The ‘loudmouth’ says he’s voting Yes and the others in the group were dithering but totally unfazed by a Yes result!
However they did say they wanted to know more about the White Paper but were not afraid of an independent Scotland.
Perhaps ‘Scotland’s Future’ can be produced in an abridged form?
I believe Westminster has scored an own goal.
2014-02-14 13:40

Dundonian West:

The government have produced a summary of Scotland’s FUTURE (ISBN:978-1-78412-069-6). Short and to the point! You can get it via the usual channels.
2014-02-14 14:25

I wonder if Mr Salmond is a Labi Siffre fan. The whole song lyric is pretty apt, but in particular;

Brothers and sisters,
When they insist we’re just not good enough,
When we know better,
Just look ’em in the eyes and say,
I’m gonna do it anyway,
I’m gonna do it anyway…

We’re right behind you Mr Salmond.
2014-02-14 17:09

I believe Gideon Osborne has much to be thanked for! for judging by the reaction on this mornings “Morning Call” on radio Scotland. Scottish labour supporters are finally seeing their party leadership for the selfish tories that they are.

It was hugely entertaining to hear caller after caller say they were now going to vote YES.

Well done Scotland you certainly showed those Red & Blue tories who makes the decisions for Scotland.

Vote Scotland, Vote YES.
2014-02-14 17:49

Osborne – He came, he spoke, he fled.

After the predictable media frenzy by our universally unionist media where yesterday’s speech was made out to be a disaster for YES it would appear that in the cold light of day the whole thing is boomeranging into a spectacular own goal for Project Fear.
2014-02-14 19:11

I haven’t heard anybody describe in detail what the Treasury gains through not having a currency union with an independent Scotland.
Let’s assume they can accommodate the loss of Scotland’s exports to the balance of trade in Sterling, and survive the corresponding run on the pound, and the jump in interest rates when lenders get nervous about the UK’s staggering debt.
I’m at a loss to understand what the rUK gains by this. It appears to be nothing greater than sticking two fingers up to Scotland for petulant spite which threatens to turn up the gas and burn down their own economy.
2014-02-14 19:42

I don’t think there was any significant economic content to Osborne’s speech.It was purely political and probably based on polling data showing a significant shift to Yes.
No doubt the same Tories who are saying that they will only recognise Scottish independence on their terms have been demanding that Cameron and Osborne do something.
Get up there and frighten the plebs back into line or words to that effect.
The pattern of sending a politician up from london for a day to make a speech which the compliant media can then print for consumption by the plebs continues.
No questions permitted which might deflect from the propaganda message.
Scots are getting fed up being told to be very afraid by a procession of Westminsterites and I think their propaganda is beginning to work against them.
2014-02-14 19:43

I’d go with the Rev’s interpretation of this over at WoS…/

Gideon was trying it on and getting nowhere.

This Westminster faux-pas is now receiving MSM coverage of a magnitude that even the BBC won’t be able to conceal.

2014-02-14 21:24

Agreed, but that’s what I meant. It was just an act for the pure badness of it. It’s not even defensible on the grounds that the treasury had or has anything of particular to gain.
2014-02-15 08:51

With typical arrogance Westminster has used the currency union issue to reinforce its assertion that rUK will be the continuing state after Scotland votes YES to independence. Osborne opportunistical  ly drove home that assertion in his claim that Scotland has no right to use the £ after gaining independence.

The Herald reported that an unnamed source close to Cameron and Osborne later threatened that if Scotland tried to negotiate terms after a YES vote that Westminster did not like, that Westminster would not allow independence to happen. The threat was made based upon Westminster’s arrogant assumption that rUK would be the continuing state and thus able to dictate terms to Scotland.

The Scottish Government should be challenging the Westminster claim to be the continuing state otherwise it will continue to be used by Westminster to issue more threats during the debate and also seriously disadvantage Scotland in post YES vote negotiations.
2014-02-15 12:20

If Westminster refuses to recognise the referendum result, despite the Edinburgh Agreement and despite enabling Westminster legislation to allow it to happen and make it binding, then Scotland will simply bring and urgent case to the ECHR and the EU and the UN because our basic human right to Self Determination will be being denied us.

If you remember No 10’s initial reaction to the referendum proposal was to deny that it could possibly happen. It was a straight NO. Then they had another thought and we had the Edinburgh Agreement as a result and enabling legislation passed in Westminster. Why the change? Advice that they would lose in the ECHR on Self Determination grounds.

It’s posturing and threats again.
The Catalans will win their referendum from Madrid by this route, eventually. Basically Spain will be told that their constitution notwithstanding they must enable the ability to secede.
Mad Jock McMad
2014-02-15 12:41

The facts are Osborne came, vacillated and wiped 51 points off the value of stocks and shares in the City of London … while lifting support for a Yes vote.

The international money markets have told Osbourne – currency union or the City of London and Sterling is screwed, the Scots are saying – we do not buy your patronising bilge.

I think that’s a result …

[Admin – Note for several posters. There is no letter ‘u’ in the UK Chancellor’s surname.]
2014-02-15 22:53

The mention of court action earlier,is something I have been thinking of for a few months, In taking the BBC to Small Claims Court as an individual against the TV licence in part the claim would be against the mis-use in funding a political campaign
What you couldn’t do is go above the licence fee,amount wise,
Please don’t dismiss it as lunacy,it is viable
Have a think about it seriously. remember what happened with the banks and penalty charges ,,
2014-02-16 11:37

Perhaps Osborne was ‘up here’ flying a hopeful Unionist kite?
2014-02-16 11:52

The BBC had an article regarding the FM addressing Scottish business over Osborne’s & the currency union.

The article “Salmond to ‘deconstruct’ Osborne currency case” didn’t last long on the BBC.

Here it is

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