Friday, October 07, 2005

Scotland's oil wealth and the BBC

Douglas Fraser, in The Herald, 6 October 2005, reported on Scotland's oil wealth and the BBC.

According to The Herald, back in the 1970s, UK Labour government ministers worked with Conservative leaders and civil servants to intimidate the BBC.

They intimidated the BBC into blocking a series of programmes that were seen as encouraging support for the SNP.

This is according to secret government files.

Civil servants were ordered to find out the political leanings of academics taking part in the programmes, so that the BBC could be accused of bias towards the SNP.

The 1977 campaign to intimidate the BBC involved Michael Foot and John Smith, both of whom would go on to lead the Labour party, as well as Francis Pym, who was Conservative shadow leader of the Commons.

He was first to alert his opposite number, Mr Foot, to the programmes.

The civil servants involved in the campaign included a press officer in 10 Downing Street, and Jacqui Lait, who would go on to become a Tory MP and shadow Scottish secretary.

Helen Liddell, who became Scottish secretary and is now high commissioner in Australia, was involved in the operation as well. In 1977, she had just left the BBC and become general secretary of the Labour party in Scotland.

The five programmes were made by the corporation in 1977 to examine how Scotland might look by 1980 if it became independent.

At the time, the SNP had 11 MPs at Westminster, and the district council elections threatened Labour and Conservatives with a continued Nationalist surge.

The pressure on the BBC was successful in having the programmes postponed, though they were broadcast after the council elections.

Information released under the freedom of information legislation has shown how a Labour minister in the Scottish Office, Harry Ewing, now Lord Ewing, feared the implications of the broadcast were "serious enough to warrant intervention by the government at the most senior level".


No comments:

Site Meter