Did you see Newsnight? They did a report at the top of the programme about Cameron getting real about the referendum and making a speech to invoke the spirit of the Olympics to wake up Britain to the risk of independence. But they used Alan Little to do the job of correspondent and he really hit it hard, pointing out how Downing Street was rattled, the polls were closing, Better Together was failing because it was too negative and Darling wasn’t up to the job. Cameron has a dilemma because of 59 MPs he only has one in Scotland and the Coalition is hated. At last some realistic hard-hitting journalism from the BBC, telling like it is.
I hear there was a move to appoint Little the BBC’s referendum corr but it was opposed by vested interests in the newsroom. On this basis, they made a mistake. He was right in form and hard-hitting. And he got a story Newsnight in Scotland doesn’t have – or at least aren’t doing. Yet, you know what, this has the sound of some ice-breaking, like the realisation is dawning that things are changing and once we start to hear that message on the BBC, the skids are under the No lot and they know it. If the tenor of Little’s report is right and if this is how the BBC reports from now, the ground is beginning to shake. Cameron suddenly gets it, he beings to implore the rest of Britain to help him and how long before their case against monetary union collapses? The logic is, as he gets rattled, he starts conceding. The more the previously reluctant BBC bites his legs, the more he will squeal. This report had a new tone, a sense of change, of panic of fear that maybe the Scots really are going to do it. Once that gets around, everything changes. And the worse the No message has been, the more difficult it is for them to claw their way back by being nice and conciliatory. Who’d believe them now?
This morning on Radio Four James Naughtie appeared giving his view on the Cameron speech and struck a totally different tone to Little. He sounded as if he was downplaying it and far from the No side getting rattle, he said them polls were still far apart and it was interesting how two BBC London-based correspondents could sound so different on the same story. Also they had Tessa Jowell – brought up and educated in Scotland – and rather imploring us not to vote for our own government “because she had a Scottish background”. This is a constant theme…MPs with tartan ties and peoples saying: But my wife is English. IT DOESN’T MATTER….it’s not about where you come from…it’s about those of us living here deciding to take control of our own affairs – all of them and keeping those unions and associations we, and they, choose. And didn’t Sturgeon give a pasting to Naughtie…poor Jim is no match for her and you know, it puzzles me why he is doing all the political interviews when there are experienced Radio Scotland presenters in the same studio. It’s a big assumption that a man who has lived in London for 30 years and wallowed in Westminster culture can really ever catch up with the rapidly moving scene in Scotland and it’s nuances. It’s not working for me, fine broadcaster that he is, he sounds a bit overwhelmed and retreats into rambling upsums of the situation as he sees it, a clear sign he is stuck for a rejoinder…as he was years ago when he berated John Prescott for revealing details about a colleague only to be told by Prescott: “But that’s what you do…you ask people like me to dinner and then write about the private stuff we tell you…” words to that effect. Jim went silent and blustered something like: “Oh, come on now….”
This is going to get hot and I’m not convinced it is going to be the glory gig Jim anticipated.