Ghouls and Nazis: BBC Reporting Scotland’s subliminal propagandising


It’s not ‘natural’ is it? They’ve done something to the images of Salmond and Sturgeon to make them look disturbing in some way. Sturgeon, in particular, looks almost ghoulish or even, diseased. The presenter looks suitably nervous. Why have they done this? Why have they modified the photographs? The report is about the imagined ‘civil war’ within the SNP so, I’m guessing, the producer wanted the images to ‘fit’ the story in some melodramatic but immature way. Remember this is not a student project or the work of the Sun or the Daily Mail. It’s in a mass broadcast by a public service broadcaster with a royal charter requiring it to inform us. What information is communicated to us by changing photographs to make those represented look unwell or evil in some way? Surely, the images unmodified, should have been used to more accurately represent the characters. BBC Reporting Scotland has ‘previous’ on this:


Why was this earlier shot taken from that angle, enlarged, cropped and reduced to black and white? Many commentators saw, instantly, similarities with images from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. I wrote to complain at the time but was fobbed off as if paranoid. Similarly, BBC Newsnight produced this image of Jeremy Corbyn:


There was much comment at the time with Labour-supporters angered by the all-to-obvious association of Corbyn with the Soviet Union and with its leaders such as Lenin. Once more, the BBC rebuffed all criticism as over-reaction and reading into the images messages they had not meant.

The mainstream UK media’ bias against, and the demonization of, Corbyn was to be empirically proven by the London School of Economics:

In Scotland, similar evidence of bias by BBC Scotland against the SNP, has been offered, in my own research:

Propaganda or Professionalism on Pacific Quay?

Why do these images matter? In its responses to the earlier images of Swinney and Corbyn, the BBC seemed to be suggesting that these are merely decorative or illustrative in a superficial way, but they are undeniably negative and reduced from the full colour and warmth of life. It matters because, unlike words which are absorbed slowly, with time for conscious deliberation, and which our conscious mind can resist with contrary evidence, there are no defences against these visual images. They are absorbed by our unconscious mind in less than a second and they impact centres of emotional processing directly and powerfully. We know how difficult it is to change someone’s opinions with a direct strategy using factual evidence, but this strategy enables ideas to bypass all rational defences as if they were not there.

This is not just my thinking. From a former professor of media studies in Canada:

‘Images are able to convey information quickly and evoke deep emotions in their viewers. This power of the image derives from its ability to convey a message all-at-once, as a gestalt or whole chunk of meaning. The way the brain processes images also contributes to their power: we can see, remember, and be moved by an image that we have not really thought about. It can enter into consciousness below our analytical radar–or be moving too quickly–and continue to influence us from our subconsciousness……[W]hen images are used for political purposes and disseminated through mass media, their power to persuade is increased dramatically.’

From the world of business, where the propagandising is unashamed:

‘Words actually don’t exist … to our brains, at any rate. We don’t see words as a series of letters. We see them as pictures. However, tests have shown that people can remember more than 2500 images with at least 90 percent accuracy for days after initial exposure.’

I’m sure you see the possibilities here. Where a ‘floating voter’ is subject to these images, in addition to the usual textual bias in reporting, a developing hostility to individual politicians, deep in the subconscious mind but influencing, almost determining, conscious thoughts and behaviour, the impact on voting behaviour becomes almost inevitably negative with regard to that politician’s party – SNPbad?



9 thoughts on “Ghouls and Nazis: BBC Reporting Scotland’s subliminal propagandising

  1. Alasdair Macdonald January 17, 2019 / 9:56 am

    There are two points here.

    Firstly, the ‘picture paints a thousand words’ idea has been around for a long time. Although the Nazis were eager users of posed and doctored photographs, it has been used by all political movements and by the media for as long as they have been in existence. I first came across the idea explicitly in 1964/65 when I was studying for my Higher English and we had to undertake an exercise whereby we illustrated a particular point of view in a partisan way by choosing particular photographs, cropping them and, sometimes adding bits of colour (using crayon – nae photoshop in these days, in fact probably only about 10 computers in the whole world!). Indeed, one schoolmate produced a montage of the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Wilson wearing a Russian hat against a backdrop of the Kremlin!

    Secondly, is to endorse the view that you are advancing. The BBC has chosen to illustrate these reports by using doctored photos or montage which undoubtedly create a mindset which predisposes the viewer to a particular perception of the words being spoken, unless, of course, we give close attention to the actual words. For a broadcaster which is specifically charged with being even-handed and which has a imperative to ‘inform and educate…’ The choice of the specific images – and many others over the years – which you have shown was manifestly for purposes of bias. The BBC has clearly shown that its ‘mission statements’ and ‘principles’ are hypocrisy.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Bugger (the Panda) January 17, 2019 / 11:06 am

    The BBC is going for broke here.

    They know their Goose is cooked in an Indie Scotland.

    Nothing to lose.

    It will worse, much worse before it is closed down.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Bugger (the Panda) January 17, 2019 / 11:36 am

    Just occurred to me that the Sturgeon / Salmond photo is what is called “washed out”

    Taking the pish subliminally now

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gavin January 17, 2019 / 3:56 pm

    The BBC that operates in Scotland is indisputably colonial in nature. No “Scottish news” is ever based entirely on what happens in Scotland. They now go immediately to London (after the news at 1, and the “English 6”) to David Porter who informs us of everything that’s happening with Labour and Tories parties ( normally a Treeza speech given big licks) at Westminster.
    Gordon Brewer has always been more concerned by London issues than Scotland, and his guests are mostly Brit Nats.
    Todays the after FMQ’s talk segment was taking over by—-yes, “London Talking” in the form of Corbyn and May–he said, she said. No one from Scotland largest party, the third largest at Westminster, was given air time.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Robert Graham January 17, 2019 / 4:41 pm

    Not much more i can add about this BBC in Scotland , once you learn their tricks you wont ever believe anything that comes out of Pacific Heights , their childish antics have well and truly been rumbled , its a sad situation because one day they will broadcast something really important and half of Scotland will sigh and say aye f/k off thats how bad this has got now .

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ludo Thierry January 17, 2019 / 5:36 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that beeb Scotland have time and space for all this childish ‘photoshopping’ malarkey and all their ‘civil war’ guff but can’t, somehow, manage to cover this important ‘good news’ story on their website? (leastways I couldn’t find it) – snippet and link below:

    Positive progress on equal access to higher education.

    A record number of full time first degree students at Scottish universities were from the most deprived areas in Scotland last year.

    New figures show that, in 2017/18, 15.6% of students entering university were from the 20% most deprived areas. This is (just) 0.4% short of the Government’s target for 2021.

    Last year also saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities.

    The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show the latest progress in the drive to widen access to higher education.


    Between 2016/17 and 2017/18:
    • Total Scottish domiciled students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) increased by 1.2% to 160,875
    • The number of students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish HEIs increased by 2.1% to 247,110
    • Entrants (undergraduate and postgraduate) to Scottish HEIs increased by 3.2% to 104,520
    • EU and non-EU domiciled enrolments to Scottish HEIs increased by 1.7% and 5.1% respectively
    • Qualifiers from Scottish HEIs increased by 2.4% to 76,595

    Following the Commission on Widening Access, a target was set that, by 2021, 16% of students entering university will be from Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds, increasing to 20% by 2030. At 15.6% for 2017/18, this is just 0.4 percentage points off the 2021 target.

    The latest UCAS statistics from the 2018 End of Cycle Report showed an increase in acceptances for 18 year old students from deprived backgrounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ludo Thierry January 17, 2019 / 6:01 pm

    Meant to add – the strange beeb washing-out photoshopping of the Nicola and Alex images has left the puir beeb Scotland lady ‘news’ reader looking like some kind of Donald Trump impersonator such a glowing tan does she have in comparison!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Contrary January 17, 2019 / 9:04 pm

    Have to agree with Alasdair. And Bugger(the panda),,, and Gavin, and Robert ,,, and of course Ludo (haha)

    I’m not really too good at this being contrary stuff, you can assume I am, Contrary to expectations, quite agreeable.

    Liked by 1 person

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