Dear Jonathon Dimbleby,
I have always considered you one of the best, one of the most fair broadcasters at the BBC, and the rest of Britain’s mainstream media. But the handling of last week’s Any Questions on Scotland left a lot to be desired.
Supporters of Scottish independence dismiss the BBC (as we do their competitors), north and south of the border as megaphones for the Better Together campaign. I expected you to resist such one-sided propaganda. Any chance we can all put last week’s performance down to experience. On your part, and on the part of everyone who works on Any Questions and Any Answers? I know you will reflect on what happened, and see to it that it never happens again.
What exactly went wrong? What is the nature of my complaint?
- You asked the Any Questions panel a question about Scottish independence without a single supporter there to challenge the Better Together prejudices. In what universe does this strike anyone as balanced?
- Did it not occur to you that Scots may be offended to hear Frank Field win massive applause from the audience when he told them Scots have no right to self determination, that the English and Welsh have an equal right to vote to deny us an amicable divorce? This didn’t strike you as in the least bit offensive? Why not?
- Even the question itself was framed as a calculated insult to the people of Scotland, as was the inevitable ‘hilarious’ applause it provoked: the English are better off without the Scots? That is a fair question, is it? This contempt on the part of the BBC is precisely what has alienated so many Scots from the English for generations. I expected better from you, Jonathon.
In the future, how about Any Questions sets a few ground rules vis-a-vis Scotland’s referendum:
- If no advocate for independence has been booked to appear on the panel in any given week, then there can be no discussion of the merits or otherwise of the case for Scottish independence.
- No one is allowed to smear Scots for daring to ask for our right to decide whether we want to be in a loveless marriage with the rest of the United Kingdom. At any rate, this is deemed unacceptable unless there is someone there willing to expose how reactionary such views are.
One final point. Laurie Penny did concede the right of the Scottish people to make up our own minds. But even she joined in with David Cameron’s so-called love bombing, pleading with us, telling us she hopes we won’t exercise our right to leave the UK. Laurie doesn’t want us to go because she fears England drifting off even further down the reactionary plughole without our presence. That is very kind of her. Nevertheless, despite it being counter-intuitive, Scotland becoming independent can help shift the English political center of gravity in a progressive direction. Such a case has to be heard on BBC’s Any Questions. Why is no one ever been allowed to make it?