Blog: Devastating BBC Brexit poll should be a wake-up call for corporation – The National

This is arrogant and evasive nonsense – but, of course, it is not meant to address the problem, only to deflect attention from it. BBC spin wants us all to believe that the vast majority of the audience are satisfied apart from a few noisy malcontents, who are mostly nats.

The BBC will, however, have great difficulty shrugging off this devastating poll because it shows that there is a huge dissatisfaction with how Brexit’s effect on Scotland has been reported by them. In every part of the country, amongst every social group and within every political party there is majority concern, and even those who supported Brexit do not believe that BBC management is doing a good job.


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I say “management” because I know there are members of BBC staff who are as frustrated as the rest of us by the repeated failure of the BBC at the highest level to live up to its charter and its obligations as the world’s longest lasting public service broadcaster. The misreporting of Brexit is a symptom of that wider failure, because although the BBC is meant by law to be impartial, its partiality on all constitutional issues is now in built.

That is perhaps not surprising given the word “British” in its title but it is still remarkable – and highly discreditable – that 25 years after devolution, its news and current affairs output remains solidly metropolitan, being both unwilling and unable to cope with reporting fairly and accurately on different political systems and priorities in the different nations.

One of the problems is the very establishment nature of the BBC’s upper reaches. Even trusting to random chance would do better than the BBC in recruiting, for example, a chair of its UK board from Scotland. In a century of appointments, 23 in all, there has not been a single one from north of the Border.

Tory donors, yes. Scots, no.

READ MORE: Minister defends Robbie Gibb’s bid to limit BBC’s Brexit reporting

The National: Lord John Reith

And apart from the very first director general, Lord Reith (above), the surest bar to reaching the top management job is being born in, educated in, or having worked in Scotland, with the sole exception of Alasdair Milne who was fired by the Tories for being too left wing.

That pattern of privilege is a clear sign of institutional failure, but editorial failure as a result of political pressure, is also in play when it comes to reporting on Brexit.

Two of the nations of the UK voted against Brexit but that fact is rarely mentioned, nor is the fact that the majority of voters UK-wide now regard it as a mistake. Moreover, the predictions made by a wide range of people and organisations from 2016 onwards, backed up by evidence and detailed analysis – like the Scottish Government’s series of published papers – have been treated as if they never existed, even though all the anticipated problems have come to pass.

Indeed, every difficulty – such as the dire economic consequences of leaving the single market, the crippling labour shortages caused by abandoning freedom of movement and the deliberate refusal to stay in EU schemes like Erasmus which has helped thousands of young people – is , if mentioned at all, always separated from its cause and kept apart from the context of other Brexit failures. Often the problem is – falsely – attributed to anything but Brexit, an approach in lock-step with that of the Tory Government and, regrettably, the Labour Party too.

READ MORE: Starmer’s Brexit policy pushing Scotland to independence, warns peer

This poll confirms the fact that most people are no longer fooled by such deliberate establishment whitewash. Brexit was always going to be, has been and still is a disaster for Scotland and the clear evidence of that is all around. Pretending it doesn’t exist, like pretending that criticism is always invalid, no longer works.

It is time the BBC admitted to its severe problems and sat down with its critics to try to address them. Until it does so, polls like this will continue to present some very unpalatable truths.

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