I have a number of good friends in the SNP and no doubt they will do well in this election, but two separate reports in Monday’s Scotsman raise serious doubt about how illiberal Scotland would become under its care.
First, Alex Salmond’s demand that the SNP should have control over the BBC reminds us of the unpleasant attacks on the corporation’s political editor Nick Robinson during the referendum for having the temerity to raise difficult questions.
Second, the new rule that SNP MPs should not “publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group” is an unprecedented restriction on the role of an MP. Future Tam Dalyells in the SNP (if there be such!) will have to write not “the importance of being awkward” but “the importance of being subservient”. Few of us wish to live in a country run by such control freaks.
From its earliest days the BBC has been a beacon for the nation, highly regarded all over the world.
Its current charter requires it to be independent, accurate and impartial, providing reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth.
It must, at all times, remain free of any political influence.
With his demand that BBC Scotland should be devolved to Holyrood Alex Salmond has shown that he is wholly unfit to hold office in any democratic government.
Should the SNP become a force in Westminster, it will, interestingly, become the first party in such a situation whose mandate is based primarily on a geographical location.
This is worrying enough, but the recent evidence of a policy of increased centralisation and control over their own MPs, police and now the BBC is especially concerning.
How can a party so commited to detailed control over one part of these islands be seen as providing a balanced, informed and sensible opinion within the National Assembly?
Those of us who treasure the idea of an open, inclusive and more representative society can only become more and more worried as politicians with one principal agenda look for more and more control over our lives.
To what end? One hesitates to say look back to Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall to see how limiting and stultifying was a centralised, over-legislated idealistic and watchful society.
No-one really saw that coming either, or if they did, they were quickly silenced by the party, removed by law enforcement and ignored by state media.
Alex Salmond claims the BBC is biased towards his party; little heed needs to be paid to this as politicians have been claiming this forever. In a democracy politicians cannot control political content of a TV company, so whether the BBC is run from London or Edinburgh it is of no significance. Why then is Salmond calling for control of the BBC to be moved to Edinburgh?
It is difficult not to be slightly worried about this, because surely the only conclusion to be drawn from his comments is that he wishes to control political content here – is this not anti-democratic? Incidently, who exactly is calling the shots within the SNP these days?
Bo’ness, West Lothian