How unsporting of Nicola Sturgeon to raise the issue of fiscal powers for Scotland on Question Time. During a discussion about the comprehensive spending review, she tried to explain this crucial aspect of her party’s solution to cuts in Scotland. Her point was ruled out of order by David Dimbleby who more or less told her to be quiet. “This is for a UK audience!” said Dimbleby imperiously. That didn’t stop the rest of the panel – all flown up from London – piling in with jibes about Ireland, Iceland and Scottish independence that Nicola was refused the chance to address, in Glasgow. It became even more extraordinary a few moments later when, during a discussion about the use of torture, Dimbleby himself raised the unrelated issue of Megrahi’s release from prison, and asked the panellists – except Nicola – whether the Scottish government made the wong decision. She did get to make her point, briefly, but not at the invitation of the chairman. It was eye-boggling to behold.
Why does the BBC make a big deal of holding Question Time in Scotland, invite the Deputy First Minister of the SNP lead Scottish government along, then (selectively) ban Scottish issues? A question about the economy ignored the recent Scottish growth figures which were very different from the quoted UK percentage. Large amounts of time were spent discussing the effect of housing benefit changes on central London and whether Mayor Boris used inappropriate language. Simon Schama made a historian’s joke about the Battle of Hastings. This programme was a perfect illustration of how the corporation don’t get Scotland. It’s worse than that. They seem to be pursuing their own campaign to deny Scottish difference, speaking instead to an imaginary and uniform country called Ukania. The terms of the discussion were clearly laid out – ie only talk about the “UK in Europe” or “Britain’s position on torture” or “the UK economy” etc etc. The BBC seem unwilling to acknowledge that in Scotland, all these subjects are set in a different context. At one point last night, a member of the panel mentioned the aircraft carriers being built on the Clyde, how useless they were, how the contract was fixed etc. The Glasgow audience – and Nicola Sturgeon as MSP for Govan – may have had a different perspective. But it was impermissible.