dimanche, juillet 05, 2015

GA Ponsonby: London Calling: The missing chapters - Debates, Diplomacy and Dunfermline

London Calling: 
The missing chapters - 
Debates, Diplomacy and Dunfermline
by GA Ponsonby

The following was intended to be chapter 3 in my book 'London Calling: How the BBC stole the Referendum'. It was eventually removed as part of the sub-editing process. I have reproduced it here and hope you find the contents thought provoking.

[...] Another seldom highlighted issue which led to an erosion of trust between the BBC and significant sections of the Scottish population were the well-documented links between the broadcaster and the Labour party. The head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland prior to and during the referendum campaign is a former Labour party member.

John Boothman has been a key figure at BBC Scotland for years. His partner is former Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon. He was handed the role of heading the news and current affairs department at the BBC's Scottish unit despite once having been reprimanded for seeking to provide media training for Labour party candidates. Also reprimanded was Tom Connor who would go on to take up a position in charge of online news for BBC Scotland.

In 1979 Boothman was Chairperson of Strathclyde University Labour Club. In 1980 he was Chairperson of the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students. He was also Chairperson of the National (UK) Organisation of Labour Students in 1981. Prior to heading BBC Scotland's news and current affairs department, Boothman had a senior position within BBC Scotland's parliamentary unit.

In October 2013 at the height of the referendum campaign Boothman was accused of acting at the behest of a special advisor to the Scottish Labour party who it was claimed regularly complained about the political content of BBC Scotland programmes. According to a former BBC broadcaster Derek Bateman, BBC Scotland’s head of news and current affairs questioned the political output of radio broadcasts after receiving complaints from Paul Sinclair.

Sinclair was the special advisor to then Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. According to Bateman, Sinclair was said to have had a special relationship with Mr Boothman through both men’s links with the Labour party. Sinclair regularly contacted the Boothman directly to complain about political coverage. According to Bateman, Sinclair and Boothman developed an unhealthy relationship, with the Labour advisor calling the shots.


How the BBC Stole the Referendum 
by GA Ponsonby