This is about to be a very angry blog. A bloody livid blog in fact. It is ten o clock on a sunny Sunday morning and I had no plans whatsoever to feel this way. But I do and here’s why.
I woke up early, read the papers online, smoked, drank coffee and wrote 1500 words of my latest novel, ‘Toxic’. By 7.30, the sun was streaming in through the window to such an extent that I thought sod the writing. I collected up my two collie dogs and headed out into the early summer beauty of
And all was pretty much well with the world.
I decided on five miles and mentally lined up three podcasts to accompany me. I kicked off with the ‘Anfield Wrap’ which is basically a bunch of Koppites talking all things Liverpool Football Club. Then for half an hour it was BBC 4’s ‘Friday Night Comedy’ which is always good for a laugh.
For miles four and five I chose another offering from Radio 4 – Jonathan Dimbleby and ‘Any Questions and Any Answers’
By the time I got to mile four of my walk, any semblance of my Sunday morning good mood had evaporated to nothing. Had I had access to a flight of F16 fighter bombers, I would have quite happily given them the co-ordinates for Broadcasting House,
and told them
to give it the full ‘Shock ‘n Awe’ treatment. And then I would have sent along
a few unmanned drones to use their Hellfire Missiles to mop up anything that had
managed to survive. London,
Harbouring such destructive feelings toward the BBC is not a usual thing for me. I’m 53 years old and for the vast majority of those years I have paid my licence fee more than willingly. I like the BBC. I think the BBC is probably the best of British institutions. I have always liked the fact that oppressed people all over the planet tune into the BBC to find the truth their oppressors keep from them. And right up to this morning, I have always liked Jonathan Dimbleby and his ‘Any Questions and Any Answers’
So what changed? Here’s what. I will get the basics out of the way first. The show was recorded in a village ten miles out of
Dundee so it was clear from the get go that the
Referendum was going to play big.
The BBC acknowledged this fact by setting up a panel with two from the ‘Yes’ camp and two from the ‘No’ camp. Quite right too.
In the ‘Yes’corner was Keith Brown MSP and a guy with a concrete business called Laurie Clark.
In the ‘No’ corner were two Scottish Westminster MP’s – Margaret Curran from Labour and Michael Moore from the Lib Dems.
I will be honest, I don’t much like either of the ‘No’ guys, particularly Michael Moore. This is based on nothing much. I have certainly never met him and I know little about him.
On the other hand I have met Keith Brown only a couple of weeks ago. He invited me up to the Parliament in
to hear about the First Base
Veterans Project. I was favourably impressed and let’s face it, it can’t be a
bad thing to have an ex marine who served in the Edinburgh Falklands
in charge of looking out for Scottish Veterans.
So I started out pretty biased and there is nothing unusual about that. I cannot criticise the efforts of either of the ‘Better Together’ MPs. They did their level best to paint positive pictures and at no point did they descend into the kind of bullying arrogance that we have all become so accustomed to. When they were asked what they thought about the pathetic, patronising and insulting Lego based ad campaign from Project Fear, they called it pathetic, patronising and insulting.
So, fair play to both of them.
And both of the ‘Yes’ guys did every bit as well. It was a down the line, 50/50 debate. Well I saw it that way.
So what about the questions which the BBC selected? Well, there was nothing wrong with them either. Was Obama right to stick his oar in? Are the people of
being confused by so many conflicting sets of statistics? Was the Lego thing
childish? Nothing wrong whatsoever. Scotland
So why am I dreaming of reducing Broadcasting House to a heap of smoking rubble care of an F16 air strike?
The bloody audience.
There are a few things about the campaign for
surely indisputable. The main one of these self evident truths is that it is
going to be a very close run thing. The polls narrow by the week and if it
isn’t quite 50/50 yet, it is certainly close to that. Independence
All of the enthusiasm and passion seems to be on the ‘Yes’ side. All over the country new ‘Yes’ groups pop up every week. Most meetings now need extra chairs. The likes of Tommy Sheridan, Jim Sillars and Dennis Canavan are filling Town Halls and Community Halls that haven’t been filled in years. Obviously it is easier to generate this kind of energy when promoting the idea of ‘Yes’. ‘Yes’ is all about hope and change. ‘No’ means hanging onto a status quo which is never going to get anyone’s juices flowing. The ‘Yes’ campaign is gathering in an energetic, younger, more passionate type of supporter. ‘No’ attracts an older, quieter demographic who keep themselves to themselves. That is why there are virtually no ‘Better Together’ meetings and so many ‘Yes’ meetings.
We know this. ‘Yes’ is noisy and very visible. How many people do you see walking the streets with ‘No’ badges on their lapels? Or ‘No’ stickers in their car windows? Not many, right?
‘Yes’ is visible whilst ‘No’ is invisible. ‘Yes’ is noisy whilst ‘No’ is quiet. ‘Yes’ is younger whilst ‘No’ is older. ‘Yes’ fills halls and hits the streets whilst ‘No’ stays at home and watches the tele.
Surely nobody would argue about this. And in no way, shape or form does this offer any kind of guarantee that
is about to vote ‘Yes’ on
September 18th. Scotland
So what was wrong with the audience who attended ‘Any Questions and Any Answers’ last week?
Just about everything.
As soon as Michael Moore answered the Obama question, the roof nearly came off with applause. I very much doubt that Michael Moore has ever received applause like that in his whole life. I guess Margaret Curran will have got a few home town Glaswegian Labour supporters out of their seats in her time, but surely never to extent that the good people of that small village outside Dundee acclaimed her. Did either of them answer the Obama question with a JFK panache? Not remotely. They were competent and no more.
When the only non-politician, Laurie Clark, gave his view, there were a few muttered jeers and the tiniest smattering of applause you have ever heard.
This set the tone. The ‘No’ side were roared on whilst the ‘Yes’ guys were sniped at and jeered. I listen to ‘Any Questions and Any Answers’ most weeks and I have never heard anything like it. The only time I have ever heard anything remotely similar was the way the audience laid into Nick Griffin when the leader of the BNP made his one and only appearance on Question Time.
Someone at the BBC must have worked very hard indeed to secure t audience. Sure it would have been quite possible to engineer an audience that was split 60/40 in favour of ‘No’. If the polls are to be believed, them that would be an approximation of the way things stand. But it is an altogether different task to dig out 60% noisy ‘No’ people to drown out 40% of mouse quiet ‘Yes’ people. In fact, I think I am being far too generous when I talk in terms of 60/40. The way that audience sounded it was much nearer to 80/20.
At one point Keith Brown brought up the McCrone Report and how the secret of
oil wealth had been hidden away for thirty years. He was hissed at and booed.
Usually only politicians who say particularly nasty things about immigrants or
gay people are hissed and booed in this manner. The audience reaction was
beyond bizarre. Just imagine a Scotland Liverpool audience jeering a local MP for mentioning the
Hillsborough truths which were hidden away for 25 years. Or a Londonderry
audience jeering a local MP mentioning how the 30 year rule had buried the
secrets of Bloody Sunday. The way that audience reacted made no kind of sense.
Nothing will convince me that the audience wasn’t completely fixed. And for that, the BBC should be thoroughly ashamed. Not that they will be. Over the last few days we have watched the D Day vets return to the
they saw their mates give up their lives to guarantee our freedoms. How dare a few
grossly overpaid beaurocrats besmirch the memory of their sacrifice by such
disgusting behaviour. Normandy
Somebody, somewhere ordered the hand picking of that audience. There is no other logical answer. There is no other plausible explanation.
And it makes me really, really mad.
Christ, we really do need to win this thing.