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BBC Scotland, Question Time and Kaye Adams

dundee qtBy GA Ponsonby

Did you watch Question Time this week?  It was broadcast from Dundee.  Not the one on the east coast of Scotland, but some other mythical place inhabited by people who have never looked over the River Tay.

It was billed as ‘Scottish’ edition of Question Time.  These days applying the word ‘Scottish’ to any BBC current affairs show usually means it’s going to be an SNP bashing exercise.  That’s exactly what this edition of Question Time was.

Suspicious audience members, who turned out to be former Labour party candidates, posed as ‘concerned’ ordinary members of the public.  SNP MSP John Swinney faced a pincer-like attack from a panel rigged to favour Unionists by a ratio of two-to-one.  Despite being broadcast from Dundee, there was nary a local accent to be heard.

It led to an eruption of anger on social media.

hassan qt tweet

The programme has been dealt with in depth by Paul Kavanagh on his Wee Ginger Dug blog and by Stuart Campbell on his Wings Over Scotland website.  The BBC is, as you read this, fielding complaints.  They’ll be brushed off.

Kaye Adams

Question Time was broadcast on Thursday evening.  It took place over twelve hours after another equally one-sided programme was broadcast.  That programme was the Kaye Adams show.

Have you ever listened to the Kaye Adams show?  It’s a phone-in programme broadcast between 9am and midday.  At its best, the show is banal and forgettable.  At its worst it’s a political bigot-fest with some of the most ill-informed people you have ever heard, revelling in their own ignorance.  More often than not, these people are anti-SNP.

Listen to Adams’ phone-in when the subject is political and marvel at the amount of politically motivated misinformation that can be broadcast over BBC airwaves.  Speak to most independence supporting listeners of the show, those that still tune in, and they'll all say the same thing.  It’s a Unionist love-in with the host playing cupid.

On Thursday morning her phone-in was based around the GERS report.  GERS, for those who don’t know, is an annual look at the accounts of Scotland.  The report was created in 1992 by Tory MP, and then Scottish Secretary, Ian Lang.  It was propaganda, created in order to convince Scots that they really were too poor.

Adams introduced her Thursday morning show in typical fashion by regurgitating a raft of pro-Union newspaper headlines.

The pro-indy National received a quick mention, but only after the host had created a north sea oil-painting of Scottish debt and doom.  Almost immediately we were introduced to the studio guests in the form of pro-independence journalist Martin Hannan and Labour MSP Jackie Baillie.

Listen to the following clip in which Adams invites both to put forward their arguments.

If you listened to the whole clip you’ll have heard the BBC Scotland presenter interrupting Martin Hannan no less than seven times.  When not interjecting, Adams is very clearly signalling frustration at Hannan - she is poised throughout his contribution.  By contrast, Labour MSP Jackie Baillie is allowed to speak completely unhindered.

I switched off there and then.  I had already heard enough.


Adams is one of a small group at BBC Scotland who always seem to be at the centre of complaints involving the corporation’s coverage of Scottish politics.  Only Glenn Campbell, Eleanor Bradford and perhaps Douglas Fraser have attracted similar critical attention.

During the independence referendum I analysed a full episode of her phone-in show from start to finish.  Her attitude towards Yes supporters was markedly more aggressive than her attitude towards their Union supporting counterparts.  Interruptions peppered her exchanges with callers who backed Yes.

I recall one exchange with a Yes supporter that ended with an exasperated Kaye Adams quoting comments and headlines from a list of pro-Union sources as justification for BBC news reports which promoted the myth that Alex Salmond had lied on the issue of EU membership.

In another notorious broadcast during the referendum campaign, the same presenter falsely claimed statistics published that day showed a rise in anti-English attacks.  Scottish Government statistics actually showed a decrease in such attacks.

Institutional Corruption

Kaye Adams is a symptom of what I have consistently referred to as institutional corruption at BBC Scotland.  It’s a corruption that can be traced all the way back to the late nineties when devolution arrived but the BBC refused to adapt.

It’s a corruption that continually allows people with known links to pro-Union parties to be presented as though politically neutral.  It’s a corruption that leads to an over-representation of Unionists in debates and discussions.  It’s a corruption that presents pro-Union newspapers and their journalists as politically impartial and moulds a news agenda around stories harmful to the SNP.

So outdated is the BBC set-up that the SNP success is still seen as an aberration.  Labour is still viewed as the natural party of power.  Last year’s general election campaign witnessed a quite extraordinary exchange between Kaye Adams and Nicola Sturgeon.

Adams is symbolic of a BBC that simply cannot handle the rise in support for the SNP and the emergence of a more confident Scotland.  I’ve said many times that BBC Scotland doesn’t reflect our emerging nation, it tries to pretend the political evolution isn’t happening.  Pacific Quay is the broadcasting equivalent of a British embassy.  It is a colonial outpost with its own governor general in the shape of Kenneth MacQuarrie.

On Sunday morning Radio Scotland replayed what it described as a review of some of the week's news highlights.  The clip below was the first one played.

Last week’s Question Time caused quite a stir amongst Scotland’s chattering classes.  But it shouldn’t have.  This is how the BBC has been behaving for years, and how it will continue to behave.  The corporation will not change because it is the biggest weapon in the British establishment’s armoury.

The SNP had a successful conference this weekend.  Watch what stories make the headlines on BBC Scotland next week.  I’ll lay odds the SNP will find itself under attack. 


I'm curretly involved in a modest but hopefully influential project of which I can say very little.  The project will add to what most term the alternative media.  Currently the small overheads are being shouldered by myself.  If you enjoyed reading this article then please consider making a small donation.  The cash will go towards the project expenses.  You can donate using the small donate button on the right hand side of the home page.


# ScottD 2016-03-14 19:33
First time I've heard that exchange between Adams and Sturgeon. Quite remarkable
# Ian Grant 2016-03-14 20:59
Bl***y h**l. I'm amazed by the Adams/ Sturgeon exchange. Adams is even more blatantly biased than I thought- and that's difficult.
# John H. 2016-03-15 11:17
Right from the start, before Nicola Sturgeon even spoke, I could hear the contempt in Kaye Adams's voice.
# hamish e budge 2016-03-15 17:38
You can just sense Kay sneering at Nicola as she ranted with a verbal blockade of anti SNP rhetoric.
# MJack 2016-03-15 19:06
I'm starting to feel that their are some people who should not be welcome in an independent Scotland and told to FO!
# Cuilean 2016-03-16 01:33
kaye Adams sounds like a frothing lunatic when interviewing Sturgeon. Instead of allowing the leader of the SNP to answer, Adams rudely talked over her guest & kept repeating herself. Adams was sounding a clarion call for the defence of Labour in this interview. I have never heard anything so biased since last week's QT!

Adams' anger & hatred of the SNP was palpable. You can actually hear Adams quickened breath on the tape, she is so agitated. It was totally unprofessional and, completely bizarre. Any normal broadcaster would have sacked an interviewer for bringing their neutrality into disrepute. Not only did Adams keep her job I assume she received a bonus for her snarling rant from BBC Scotland.

And the best of it is that Adams was promulgating a completely false premise. English voters were not frightened of an SNP/Labour deal in the 2015 General Election. Quite the opposite! Labour increased its English MPs from 191 (in 2010) to 206 English labour MPs in 2015 What gave the tories victory was NOT fear of the SNP by English voters, it was English Liberal Democrat voters abandoning their party to vote Labour, which split the Libdem vote and allowed the Tories to clean up on former English Liberal democrat seats. In the 2010 General Election the Libdems won 43 English MP seats and in the 2015 General Election it won only 6 English MP seats.

Kaye Adams is no politics expert. She should leave politics to people who actually know what they are talking about, people like Nicola Sturgeon.
# Cuilean 2016-03-16 01:48
I'd also like to say that the abandoning of its party by English Libdem voters whole sale abandonment of their party was not the most startling aspect of the Gen Election in England in 2015.

For me, it was the incredible inroads made by UKIP in the north of England in traditional Labour areas.

For that reason I am absolutely convinced that England will vote to leave the EU, that Scotland will vote to stay in the EU, as, I think, will Northern Ireland. Wales may be evenly split.

That's my prediction for what it is worth. Just putting it here.
# carreg 2016-10-27 12:28
wow, you were almost spot on....
# Sandra 2016-03-16 11:07
BBC Radio Jockland is the most cringeworthy channel and these phone ins are just sloppy, cheap filler with no value except to allow the insane and bewildered an uninterrupted platform for their half baked opinions. The 'presenters' don't even appear to make any effort or do the most basic research whatsoever. I once heard a phone in about the EU Referendum where the host, an alleged journalist, had never even heard of TTIP when a caller mentioned it.
# Clydebuilt 2016-04-06 21:51
Good article George...... A while back WoS revealed some poll results that showed only 3% of Scots tuned into the Morning Moanin...(a few weeks back heard KayE tell listeners the show isn't a MOANIN)... So not many are being influenced by her amateur dramatics. Seems to me that the lesson Unionists took from the Referendum was Liar's Win ...... They're getting bigger and more frequent.....

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