What I thought of LONDON CALLING: BBC bias during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum

G. A. Posonby’s book London Calling: How the BBC stole the Referendum is a fine account of media bias during the Scottish independence referendum. The focus of the book, and now, documentary, though was the BBC which when put under any sort of objective scrutiny, clearly lost any sort of objectivity during the referendum campaign to the point where outright propaganda was the norm, rather than standing out like a sore thumb.

The problems with the documentary though are more than niggling. Building a case against the BBC means using examples is fine and as it should be, but then to use Russia Today clips (and indeed, RT mouthpieces like Max Keiser) without mentioning the fact that RT is a massive propaganda exercise is creating an open goal for critics. Same goes for when the documentary slips into the realm of conspiracy theory, which to be fair, is easily done, but the often menacing music and direction distracts from telling the facts here and there’s a large reliance on talking heads rather than outline the actual examples, or include those examples for added impact.

However, the film does work. There’s a clear narrative of how the BBC, with the aid of the then Tory/Lib Dem coalition government with the aid of their proxies in Scotland, the Labour Party as well as ”grassroots’ groups supporting the Union helped manipulate opinion. After all there’s still a number of people who don’t get their news from the internet, or the root sources, and will rely upon the BBC for all their information and when the BBC decides to work on behalf of the establishment, or even push an agenda to help shape opinion, they’ll do so. The example of Nick Robinson skewing reality to make it look like Alex Salmond didn’t answer a question during the campaign is by far the most famous example of BBC bias, and when the documentary deals with things like this it tends to be superb.

On the whole, London Calling is a fine documentary that deals with not just establishment propaganda, but post-truth politics which with Brexit and Donald Trump’s election is something we should be aware of as the simple act of telling the truth and letting the public decide is gone.What we have now are narratives, and it’s whether we trust those narratives or not which for democracy is dangerous as it means those with the ability to control those narratives controls how democracy is shaped. In 2014, the people who shaped the narrative were the UK establishment and this film is a brutal reminder of how we need to fight to ensure democracy isn’t crushed.

3 thoughts on “What I thought of LONDON CALLING: BBC bias during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum

  1. “to use Russia Today clips (and indeed, RT mouthpieces like Max Keiser) without mentioning the fact that RT is a massive propaganda exercise”
    I liked your review but think the above is a bit strong. We have a close to 100% (Tory) establishment media in this country channeled through the BBC to the rest of the world; I personally welcome the opportunity we have to triangulate the news due to the existence of alternatives like Russia Today & Al Jazeera. To tar Max as an RT mouthpiece is especially unkind; most of the footage was from non-RT speaking gigs, he was a great supporter of the Yes cause for entirely rational reasons & we are rightly reminded at the start of every Keiser Report not to confuse his opinions with those of RT.
    Wishing You & Yours a Groovy Yuletide :o)


  2. The thing is though Keiser works for RT, which suggests he’s perfectly aware of what RT is, what it’s supposed to do and who exactly funds it.

    If you build an argument about the BBC funding propaganda you have to deal with building up an argument which isn’t tainted by using a state funded propaganda broadcaster.

    RT is an unreliable source, and Keiser is an unreliable mouthpiece even if he does support independence. We’ve got to be careful to not switch off our critical thinking when faced by people who support a goal we’re pushing for.

    It doesn’t distract from the overall impact of the film, but it leaves an open goal.

    Anyhow, thanks for the Christmas greetings and have a good one yourself.


  3. The only thinking I have is critical which is partly why I’m such a Max & Stacy fanboy; noone else in anything like the mainstream articulates in detail what my gut already tells me is the case which is that our financial system is a hypercriminal scam. Anyways, I certainly don’t want to argue viewing preference, my real reason for replying again is to note your handle & wonder if you are a PKD fan.
    All The Best
    loving the snowfall background :o)


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