Anger at SNP call to ‘control broadcasting’

The BBC has come under fire from SNP activists at the party conference. Picture: John Devlin
The BBC has come under fire from SNP activists at the party conference. Picture: John Devlin
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A SENIOR SNP figure sparked anger yesterday when she said gaining control over broadcasting could be “crucial” in helping Scotland become independent.

Linda Fabiani said the party had to “move forward in every way we possibly can” to achieve independence adding that broadcasting could be key.

She spoke out as the SNP conference in Aberdeen unanimously backed a resolution calling for broadcasting to be devolved to Holyrood.

“Of course Scotland should control its own broadcasting, of course Scotland should be an independent nation,” said Fabiani, the MSP for East Kilbride who represented the SNP on the more powers commission chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

“We have to move forward in every way we possibly can to get Scotland to achieve that independence and broadcasting is crucial to that. We recognised that in 2007 when we became a minority government.”

Her remarks were criticised by Labour and the Conservatives.

Labour said the BBC should not be used for the SNP to campaign for independence.

Claire Baker MSP, Scottish Labour’s democracy spokeswoman, said: “The BBC is not the plaything of any politician and it is certainly not a vehicle for anyone’s political ­campaign.

“This weekend we have seen the BBC again become a target of nationalism, and today we have a senior SNP MSP suggest that Holyrood should have control of broadcasting in order to make the case for independence.

“The BBC is under attack from the Conservatives and being squeezed by the SNP, despite being one of the most valued national institutions north and south of the Border.”

Baker added: “The future of the BBC should be led by audiences, not politicians. Scottish Labour wants to see a stronger BBC Scotland with more investment in programming and services here.”

The Scottish Conservative culture spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “It’s no secret that the SNP use the BBC as a political football in their obsession with independence.

“Scottish viewers enjoy lots of national programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Match Of The Day.

“People in Scotland will be flummoxed as to why the SNP want to rip up a cultural service, which provides so much entertainment and information.”

The BBC has come under fire from SNP activists throughout the conference with many expressing anger at what they perceived as biased coverage during the referendum.

A stormy fringe meeting on Friday saw BBC executive Ewan Angus heckled while the corporation was accused of peddling more “half truths and lies” than the Germans during the Second World War.

Speaking in yesterday’s debate the Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said she wanted “a bold and radical alternative to the out-of-touch structure and decision-making of the BBC”.

She told the conference: “The BBC is barely playing catch-up with devolution, let alone leading from the front, and they know it.

“Their news and current affairs does not satisfy the audience, with over 50 per cent saying it doesn’t reflect Scotland properly.

“We propose a federal structure for the BBC, for governance, for editorial and management and commissioning; internal transfers of decision making and budgets can and should happen.”

The culture secretary added: “Scotland demands a better service from the BBC and Scotland must have a better service from the BBC.”