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« Scotsman column today: It's time to get angry | Main | Welcome to Salem, where it's Halloween every day »

October 29, 2010


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Isn't it just AMAZING how an avowed opponent of the SNP like Scunnert knows more about what the SNP is interested than they do themselves.

Or maybe he's fond of puffs out his hindermost parts.

Good as always, Joan.

If the BBC invites a leading politician from the Scottish government, he or she must be allowed to express his/her honest opinion as he/she sees it and not a doctored response for the whole of the British public.

This is one of the reasons why we must have independence, as the press and media are grossly unfair and undemocratic in denying a person the right to speak their own mind.

The Dimblebys are getting a bit too big for their own good.

Moan all you like; it'll have no more effect than a tinkers cuss to Westminster and its Establishments.

Time has proven the only minority that matters is the one that holds power. This is the paradigm of the Union and Scotland's only answer is independence.

Excellent stuff as usual GLG.

If you keep this up I might have to start buying The Scotsman.

Shocking ' thanks for this report

Here's a thought; even an ordinary TV can be installed and used to listen to the radio, I'm just thinking that maybe you don't have to be that careful about equipment selection.


All true and correct, but the fact that the BBC outsource the collection of their debts doesn't change the fundamental realities. Yes, you can carefully select equipment to circumvent the TV tax, but most folk want to watch live TV and are stuck with the equipment they have.


You are correct on the aggressive stance. That was my point really - that the SNP are too supine on this issue. A poll-tax style civic disobedience campaign seems entirely appropriate to me given the BBC's manifest bias. If only there was a national newspaper columnist, Joan, who was willing to pick up the baton!


As a matter of interest to you, I have now stopped paying my license fee, it is valid until April next year when I will then cease watching broadcast tv as it is broadcast, I have been reaserching and am confident that I am safe from any more colonial punative penalties.

People who work for the TV licensing authorities actually work for a private company called Consignia PLC and have no more rights than a double glazing salesman. You need only tell them you are not interested in their product, bye. They can only have you fined with this as an offence if they can prove that you watch broadcast TV as it is broadcast i.e. you sign their confession that you watch broadcast TV as it is broadcast without a TV license, when they come to your door. Now you wouldn’t do that, would you, especially if you are not.

Section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 only makes it an offence;

"to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they’re being shown on television"

If you do not use your TV equipment ("e.g. TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and DVD/VHS recorders") for that purpose then you are not committing a criminal offence.

You don’t have to; for example "If you are using the BBC iPlayer to watch programmes on-demand i.e. after they have been shown, you do not need a TV Licence."

All this equipment has many, many other uses doesn't it?

You wouldn't want to use your own equipment to beat yourself up with, would you, so why bother?


It's difficult to see the SNP taking an aggressive stance on payment of the licence fee as it would run counter to the party's current mo. It could also easily be presented as the party condoning breaking the law. If a non-payment campaign was undertaken it would have to come from individuals albeit working together.
One wonders where the unionists are on the BBC's behaviour. After all, the BBC is the flagship of the Union so why are unionists so invisible and silent on the matter? If I was a unionist I would be furious at its present conduct and demanding the BBC represents the whole of the UK fairly and equally.

It could be worse. We could have national newspapers in Scotland that have "columnists" writing for them that will be MSPs in around six months...wait a minute...

Posted by: What's with the faux rage

What a dipshit comment!
It's people like Joan we need in Holyrood.

Joan and Rog

On the TV Licence, I should say at the outset that I'm not a criminal lawyer (I'm a corporate lawyer) but this is what I reckon.

First, non-payment of the TV Licence is a criminal offence, much like non-payment of any other tax. So, the ancient abolition of jail for civil debt is a false analogy.

Second, enforcement of the criminal law in Scotland is devolved and so on paper it would be within the power of the Crown Office to simply not prosecute offenders. This would not be unprecedented - they have discretion. As an example, Wendy Alexander committed a criminal offence when she accepted a donation from overseas, yet she was not prosecuted.

So, on paper, KM could effectively decriminalise non-payment of the TV Licence.

Of course, there are complications and issues of principle to consider:-

1. The BBC might retaliate by becoming even more partial or closing down aspects of their Scottish operation. Of course, that would be contrary to their charter obligations.

2. KM might have difficulty persuading the Lord Advocate to sanction this sort of highly political prosecution policy. Of course, he could dress it up as a cost-saving measure - we must spend a fair amount of cash prosecuting non-payers, which could be more usefully spent prosecuting actual criminals.

3. Westminster remains sovereign, so they could re-reserve criminal justice. Which is probably politically impossible.

4. TV Licensing/the BBC could try to run an argument that, since payments are received in England, the crime of non-payment is committed in England. The English CPS could then initiate prosecutions of Scots miscreants. Again, politically difficult and depends on the Scottish police to make arrests, which is controllable by KM.

Of course, this sort of thing is political dynamite and you could imagine the chorus of indignation from the Unionist media. However, the BBC has a long record of anti-Scottish bias which reached its nadir over the election debates. Surely as some point the SNP should be standing up and saying to the BBC "Enough is enough. If you don't treat us fairly, say goodbye to your Scottish revenues". Lots of non-SNP voters feel the same way, of course, so this would be politically popular.

That would get their attention and, with a Scottish election coming up, this would be a good time for Salmond to pick the phone up to Mark Thompson and issue that ultimatum.

As I say, I'm not a criminal lawyer so there may be additional complications/issues. Worth finding out though!


I think the problem with non-payment of the TV licence is that the licence fee would simply be 'arrested' from your wages/bank account/etc, so you would end up paying the fee anyway but also paying a fine that could be a substantial amount. The only financial loser in that scenario would be the non-payer of the licence fee. Going to jail, from a political point of view, would be much better for its symbolic value, etc although it might be a very unpleasent experience.

The EibbiE mindset regards Scotland as no more than a peripheral region.


I assume that you also have a problem with the BBC employed a former Labour Councillor to report on politics and use the term "we" when referring to the Labour party?

It would indeed; as it would make a fantastic addition to the election campaign, possibly even giving people the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to a new SBC :) I would be up for that;
I would gladly transfer my funding for the BBC to a new SBC, well I should say my ex-funding.

Re Kenny and license fee. I have no idea...but would be interesting to find out. Don't even know what the current position is. You cannot be jailed in Scotland for debt, so is it a civil offence rather than a criminal one?

Is it true that Kenny Macaskill has "the power to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, by announcing that the Crown Office will not pursue criminal proceedings against non-payers" as spoken of elsewhere?

Dear Faux Rage (what a fitting name!)

I am delighted that you expect the SNP to do so well next year that you are confident I will enter Holyrood from 4th place in the South of Scotland list. I guess that's why you are keeping your identity secret, because you do not wish to antagonise your own political bosses by recognising that the SNP are on course to win again.

Your suggestion that I am somehow posing as a columnist is a joke because I've been a journalist in Scotland for 20 years. Also, The Scotsman has said I am a candidate. The Scotsman opinion page also has weekly columns from John McTernan, a Labour party strategist and Michael Kelly the former Labour Provost of Glasgow, who remains a staunch supporter of that party. In addition to people such as these who are open about their affiliation, the media is home to quite a few journalists who have either worked for or been very close to unionist parties.

I am not a politician who writes, but a writer who has decided to become active in politics. I have worked for The Sunday Times, The Herald, The Record and The Scotsman at various times, have won awards for my work, and have good relationships with people across the profession and in all political parties. Now I want to further a cause I believe in. Oh, and I am willing to put my name to that, even if it damages my career.
It's a shame that you don't have the same courage of your own convictions - you are reduced to posting anonymous attacks on the internet. I pity you.


The British / Scottish media is unfortunately blantly biased. In attempting to bring some balance to any political debate can I ask that you (and indeed any other like minded people in the media) publicise NEWSNET SCOTLAND's web site.

"Watching Scottish Question Time from Westminster on BBC Democracy Live I was taken aback when Mundell affirmed that the Scottish Government's Thinktank on Broadcast Media had decided that this was better left a Retained power. This suggests to me that the SNP are in fact a Unionist party masquerading as an Independence party.

It's all just guff - the SNP aren't interested in independence - their agenda is quite different."

Posted by: Scunnert | October 29, 2010 at 03:12 AM

Scunnert, what on earth does all that mean? Do you mean FMQs. What programme did you see this on as I watch FMQs and never saw anything like you describe. Are you having a laugh? Were you in a pub, are you OK?

The SNPs policy on broadcasting is well known, and nothing like you have just described.


What do you expect? What irritates me almost as much as the BBC is the SNP's supine approach to the treatment they receive. They should be taking the BBC to task for their bias on a daily basis, and ruthlessly utilising the one piece of leverage they have - the fact that Kenny Macaskill has it within his power to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, by announcing that the Crown Office will not pursue criminal proceedings against non-payers.

£140 fiscal stimulus to every household!

A program hosted by David Dimbleby broadcast from Scotland, sorry the UK, with tones of anti-Scottishness, pure dead brilliant.
As for Hugh Henry - has there ever been such a clueless man present on a political program who seemed to know nothing about anything?
Is it surprising the Banks went the way they did with this guy invovled? Torture is fine according to him beause he lives in London and has three children. The BBC and Question Time hit a new low even by their standards.

Joan: A few observations:

The BBC is an Anglo-British Nationalist organisation that has responded to devolution with a palpable hostility, including promoting Scotophobia.

The core scandal for me is the fact Scots have to pay the same licence fee as the English but the BBC refuses to provide us with a national broadcasting service worthy of the name. Just compare Scotlnd with Ireland, RTE's funding is similar to what is raised by the licence fee in Scotland but the service provided is on a completely different level. For that matter, compare Scotland with England.

Question Time programmes from Scotland used to have mostly Scots on their panels, now it's invariably only the SNP representative who is Scottish.

There has been a surge of Anglo-British nationalist programmes not only on the BBC but the other British channels.

I see you already have a large number of comments on this subject and this is something that happens in other online forums. The BBC's provocative behaviour is creating an almighty backlash that waits to be harnessed.

It could be worse. We could have national newspapers in Scotland that have "columnists" writing for them that will be MSPs in around six months...wait a minute...

Apologies for typos - I was so vexed, I didn't watch my typing!

Scunnert - I have no idea where you got that idea from Mundell was probably talking about Calman I suspect which turned down a request for broadcasting powers.

The SNP Government want broadcast powers devolved to Scotland and this is set out in the white paper accompanying the referendum bill - in fact I think you will find we want the whole shabang back in Scotland with full Independence.

Joan, I can rarely have seen somthing on TV that has demonstrated BBC presenter's bias so clearly and I am bl**dy furious to be honest.

Whether we should cooperate with QT in future, I don't know. I suppose we have to. But someohow we have to get a policy change by the BBC, because last night was a disgrace.

If there was a movement properly set-up to bring as many protesters as possible together as a mass protest from Scotland against the bias of the BBC, by with-holding the licence fee I would sign-up to it.

Over at Newsnet Scotland we kind of pre-empted the event:

I don't find Dimbleby's Anglocentric approach particularly surprising, it's what I've come to expect from the BBC.

The gnashing of teeth about the unionist agenda of the BBC will continue until enough Scots wake up from their stupor and vote for independence.

Having been the recipient of a number of their "send the sonofabitch the bug letter" responses in the past I no longer even waste my time.

A few years ago they'd got so comfortable in their ability to make Scottish programmes palatable for a UK audience that they took our Hogmanay programme and literally removed all traces of Scottishness from it.

Dimbleby and the BBC do it because they can. The vast majority of Scots shuffle out to vote for Westminster rule at elections.

The BBC, like Call Me Dave's Government can truthfully say to Scots "well you asked for it".

The problem is that when trying to set up a purely Scottish issues orientated question time style debate many politicans simply aren't interested.

Westminster seem a lot sexier to your average politco despite many of the decisions that affect constituents taking place north of the border after devolution. Even 10 years later the message is still to get through to organisations such as Whitehall and the BC that Scotland is not a wee pretendy place where they discuss handing out free penny chews in parliament. The arrogance and pig ignorance is astounding.

James Kelly has written a good post about Question Time here

I agree with your analysis, Joan. Like one of your other correspondents I am an Englishman in Scotland and I think Question Time's occasional forays north of the border are an embarrassment to the programme.

I think I can further your argument by highlighting the contrast when Question Time is broadcast from Northern Ireland. When this happens, the programme is almost entirely given over to issues that only affect that part of the UK. Why the difference?

Like you, I am not inclined to see this as a BBC conspiracy. In fact, having seen Question Time recordings and witnessed the editorial control exerted by its formidable chairman, I am pretty confident that this is a conspiracy of one. David Dimbleby appears absolutely certain that he can determine what is and what isn't an issue which should be discussed.

Whether or not I'm right about the source of the problem, the BBC has its emphasis badly wrong and they need to seriously address this before the next QT visit to Scotland.

Joan, I totally agree with your comments. I was going to blog in a similar vein but was to tired and angry after watching that propaganda exercise last night. It was quite simply disgraceful, the worst yet. Dimbelby himself even appeared embarrassed. Hugh Henry looked and sounded like he was so in love with himself that he could barely string together a coherent sentence. If he were chocolate he would have eaten himself. This from a man who condoned torture, what a shocking example of a London Scot. God help us if he ever became a politician.

I will complain once more to the BBC, but will not even read the reply if they condescend to do so.

So glad you've highlighted this Joan. I was spitting tacks at Dimbleby's insulting remarks. Of course it's deliberate. The BBC's attitude has changed just in the past few years.

When it was broadcast from Scotland it was usually Scottish issues which were discussed. All Dimbleby could come up with was the matter of Megrahi. Shame on him.

Well said. Even as an Englishman living in Scotland, I was furious that Nicola Sturgeon got told to not talk about Scotland.

I sometimes wonder if the English who are more knowledgeable about Scotland and its political and cultural differences are worried that the general public in England might suddenly realise that maybe the Scottish are on to something!

"I have no wish to take Question Time off our screens..."

Well thank Goad fur that!

Watching Scottish Question Time from Westminster on BBC Democracy Live I was taken aback when Mundell affirmed that the Scottish Government's Thinktank on Broadcast Media had decided that this was better left a Retained power. This suggests to me that the SNP are in fact a Unionist party masquerading as an Independence party.

It's all just guff - the SNP aren't interested in independence - their agenda is quite different.

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