Why is BBC website talking-up Scotland’s prospects in the North Sea? Is it just repressive tolerance?

This isn’t the first time that many of us have noticed differences between the BBC Scotland news reported on the website and that reported on Reporting Scotland or Good Morning Scotland. While the latter two remain horribly imbalanced and often utterly dishonest in their creation of a climate hostile to independence, the website is often pretty-fair, balanced, and even prepared to report on good news for Scotland with no ifs or buts.

I’m not the only one to put this down to a strategy whereby a captive older audience, getting nearly all of its news from the TV, radio and the press, can be scared off independence while a younger audience, getting most of its news online from diverse sources, cannot. However, many of my online friends and supporters are, I know, ‘silver surfers’ like me, who are perfectly capable of accessing those more diverse sources. That they both voted Yes and are confident internet users suggests, I suspect, that it is a personality unafraid of change rather than age which counts in their cases. However, are they, perhaps, exceptions to a pattern which might be revealed in statistics?

The BBC website reported today:

‘Hundreds of jobs are set to be created during the construction of a vessel which will be used to redevelop a North Sea oil and gas field. Shell said between 300 and 400 jobs, mostly in Scotland, would be needed to support construction of the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel for the Penguins field. Once operational, the vessel is expected to support about 70 jobs.’

They even allowed SNP Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to make a statement without inviting the Unionist parties or Douglas Fraser, to remind us a range of ‘ah buts’ so that we didn’t get too carried away with optimism. He said:

‘This significant investment is further evidence of rising confidence in the future of the region and it will offer a significant boost to communities across the north east of Scotland, along with boosting the wider Scottish economy.’


The report finished there on this high note in manner unheard of in broadcasts.

So, back to the opening question of why the website is clearly not part of the No campaign. Have a look at the statistics represented in these two figures:



YES                                                                            NO



There’s a fairly strong correlation between age and voting Yes or No for independence and there’s an equally strong one between age and internet-use. Silver surfers over 75 are not really that numerous and BBC propaganda is geared quite accurately to its audience. Allowing the website to be less biased also means that they can pretend to an overall balance of reporting, across their whole output. It’s what Karl Marx called ‘repressive tolerance.’ As long as views contrary to the establishment view are relatively rare and with a small audience, freedom of expression and thought can be claimed.


12 thoughts on “Why is BBC website talking-up Scotland’s prospects in the North Sea? Is it just repressive tolerance?

  1. William Henderson January 15, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    Off-topic but possibly of interest is that the BBC World Service over the past 24 hours has been broadcasting short pieces indicating that Brexit is undesirable and may not happen!!! One quote was of Boris Johnson saying that no Brexit would be better than the anticipated ‘crash-out’.

    And by the way, this commenter is over 75, is a full supporter of repeal of the Acts of Union and would find life difficult without fast broadband.

    Regards – and do keep up the good work, John.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. macgilleleabhar January 15, 2018 / 6:54 pm

    Interesting statistics for someone who is weeks away from the end of the allotted three score years and ten who started using computers in the form of industrial programmable controllers forty years ago and is excited about the possibility of the Scottish Government changing to ultra secure internet voting on desk top, tablet or mobile phone. The digitally uninformed group starts at only four years older than me! Does that mean that demographics are catching up very quickly on on the UK?
    Couple that to a voting system like Estonia or Switzerland making extensive use of voting by internet where young people are more likely to use their mobile phone to vote and things are looking up for Indy!
    According to YesDayScotland the advantages of voting on line are quite considerable from the point of security and cost. The old bugbear of identity is seemingly quite easily overcome by giving each person control over their own identity, not government plus the 2014 and 2016 referendum and election could have been done at 2% of the cost and no chance of some people getting a look at the postal ballot before the count!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald January 15, 2018 / 7:14 pm

      With blockchain well advanced now – and Scottish IT businesses are pretty cutting edge in this – it should be feasible to introduce online voting pretty quickly. Arrangements could be made for those who do not have the technology or are hesitant about using it or who just like putting a cross on paper.

      Liked by 2 people

      • William Henderson January 15, 2018 / 7:38 pm

        I’m curious to know if the available forms of online voting, whether involving blockchain technology or not, can be made compatible with the notions of secret ballots and voter anonimity. Also, can their results be subject to independent, on-demand recounting?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ludo Thierry January 15, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    Hi John – Like you I was surprised at the sheer candid optimism of the article on the Shell FPSO vessel and its positive implications for the Scottish Sector. Things do seem rather less biased on the website. I wonder if the website reporters are on lower general earnings than the broadcasting staff? I suspect they will be. I noticed in The National that the new Tory Westminster Culture Secretary (somebody called Hancock) was calling for beeb salaries to be pegged at PM salary level: (see below):

    THE BBC could follow the public sector by ensuring none of its staff earn more than the Prime Minister, new Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested.
    He said the corporation had “missed a chance” to bring in similar measures, as he contrasted the salaries of BBC foreign editors with those of ambassadors.

    I would wholeheartedly endorse Matt Hancock’s suggestion on this (after all – Indy supporters are prepared to listen to good ideas wherever they come from). I think, however, that Mr. Hancock needs to get his own cabinet colleagues in line first: (see below comments regarding cabinet salaries from the oaf Boris from last October):

    Boris Johnson ‘says Cabinet minister’s salary of £141,000 is not enough to live on’
    • Niamh McIntyre
    • Sunday 1 October 2017
    Indy Politics
    Boris Johnson has told friends his minister’s salary of £141,405 a year is not enough to live on, according to reports.
    The Foreign Secretary told friends his annual earnings were insufficient because of his “extensive family responsibilities”, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
    The Tory MP has four children with his second wife, Marina Wheeler. He also fathered a daughter during an affair with arts consultant Helen MacIntyre, failing to get an injunction to prevent the reporting of her existence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alasdair Macdonald January 15, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    I think the higher status/salary of the actual broadcast journalists relative to the online ones, possibly has something to do with it. The former, probably, predominantly come from the private school/Russell group universities background or, like Mr Andrew Neill (Paisley Grammar and GU) had shown via their student politics that they were ‘sound’, to use Mrs Thatcher’s word.

    I suspect that another reason might be a ‘McLuhan hot/cold media’ one – TV and, to a lesser extent, radio viewers/listeners are more passive receivers, whereas those who go online are much more active about seeking what they want to find out and are adept at checking via a variety of sources.

    As William Henderson and Macgilleleabhar and myself are beyond the three-score-and-ten it is clear that many of us codgers find the internet liberating and creative. is there a correlation between IT enthusiasm and YES amongst the superannuated?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Holebender January 16, 2018 / 9:58 am

    Regardless of its relative neutrality I treat BBC internet output as BBC output and avoid it like the plague. Once the blinkers are removed and you see the BBC for what it is it’s nigh impossible to go back to trusting any of it.

    I think what I’m saying is that the BBC is on a hiding to nothing if it thinks unbiased web output will be attractive to the audience it has lost for its broadcast output.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald January 16, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      Holebender, unfortunately, it is not as simple as you say. While most of the news and political reporting is increasingly and increasingly uninhibitedly biased, and while a lot of the arts/culture/sport is presented from an England/Britain perspective, there are actually a lot of nuggets within the various nooks and crannies. As someone, who for more than 50 years has tuned to the various stations at odd hours I have found myself being well-informed and often wonderfully entertained.

      When I hear blanket condemnation of the BBC, I tend to become a bit tense and worry about, admittedly few and small, babies being thrown out with the bathwater.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    I’ve met a few of their younger researchers who were Yes supporters.


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