DO FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond and former BBC political editor Nick Robinson come out of the recent spat over the broadcaster’s coverage of last September’s independence referendum with any credit (your report, 24 August)?
People have the right to protest peacefully outside the organisation’s Glasgow HQ at Pacific Quay; Mr Robinson is entitled to quiz senior politicians in as vigorous a way as the viewers might expect. Neither of these events had a significant effect on the outcome of the vote. It is likely the overwhelming majority had made up their minds long before they happened.
In the two years before the referendum, the BBC in Scotland covered so many debates on independence that it could credibly be charged with concern about little else on the political front. Nearly all of these were carried out with impartiality; the only real complaints related to inability of the chairs, on occasion, to prevent either side shouting the other down.
Mr Salmond can hardly complain if he felt he got the worst of some exchanges with the media in the campaign’s latter stages. It was perhaps the fortunes of political war and not a systematic attempt by the BBC to take one side or the other.
The referendum was lost because not enough people saw the case for change in the constitution, too many people feared for job security in the defence and financial sectors, too many people were uncertain about issues such as the currency, Scotland in Europe, citizenship and the cost of living. Any perceived bias in the BBC’s coverage in the latter stages of the controversy pales into insignificance beside these matters. Cooler heads that those of Messrs Salmond and Robinson should prevail.