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The Bad and the Sad

I take the BBC's decision to appoint a "Scotland Editor" as an admission that the corporation's coverage of the Scottish Independence Referendum was a mess. I only heard what passed for the BBC World Service coverage and it was a disgrace. I suspect it was pride that induced the decision to use "national" correspondents to explain to the rest of the world what was going on and why the population of Scotland might vote to leave the United Kingdom. While many of these "national" reporters might know Westminster and the Home Counties like the back of their hands, their grasp of Scottish affairs was dismal. Much of the coverage was ill-informed. Or patronizing. Or, most often, both. Their degree of ignorance and lack of grip when it came to the issues involved was both appalling and embarrassing. It was worse that the World Service was involved, because it regularly subjects its listeners to correspondents who can barely speak English and whose impartiality is highly suspect. Many are either related to the families who run the Third World countries they report from or, at the other end of the spectrum, to exiled opposition factions. On many days it is hard not to conclude that the only qualification to be a BBC World Service reporter is membership of the most privileged section of society in the country being covered. Most appear to have been brought up in privileged Western-lifestyle compounds and to be privately educated. They seem to have little idea of how the majority of their fellow citizens live. The same, sadly, appears to be true of the sad crew the BBC sent to Scotland for the referendum. It is just a shame so many of them lacked the courage to say they did not feel qualified. I know I would urge anyone who wanted to assign me to cover Welsh politics to seek someone with a better knowledge and grip instead. I can remember only one Scottish voice - Colin Blane. He was also almost alone on the World Service in actually knowing what he was talking about. I nominate Colin for the post of Scotland Editor.

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