By Mark Piggott
For a lot of independence supporters, Saturday 26th May 2012 was a day we crossed the line, exiting the online world and out into a bright, very hot, Glasgow.
Destination - the headquarters of the BBC in Scotland at Pacific Quay.
This is the first campaign that seeks to hold the BBC to their own self-imposed rules of “impartiality”, a word they throw back at anyone who dares question their authority and perspective on all matters political.
They consider themselves ‘The Untouchables’ of world broadcasting. Perhaps once, but sadly the internationally respected franchise faces being tainted by the actions of those in charge of BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs unit.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent to those of us who have observed the BBC’s interpretation and presentation of the constitutional debate that here is an organisation that is now being used to perpetuate the myth and righteousness of the Union.
True, the BBC is still capable of entertaining and informing. Its Natural History programmes, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, are amongst the best in the world.
It’s still capable of producing excellent drama – both period and contemporary, and I include River City and Eastenders in that category. But as the rest of the UK wide BBC has flourished, Scotland seems to languish in a broadcasting doldrums.
The irony is that the more Scotland has sought to re-assert its cultural and political identity, the more the BBC seems to resist any such changes itself. Indeed BBC Scotland appears to have erected a wall around its Glasgow HQ and is trying to stem this tide.
Since the rebirth of our Parliament in 1999 and the emergence of the SNP as the dominant party in Scotland in 2007, the corporation north of the border seems to have gone into evolutionary reversal.
2007 saw the first minority SNP administration elected, to widespread predictions of doom and disaster. After four years of relatively successful Government, the Scottish electorate rewarded Alex Salmond’s party with a majority win in a system specifically designed by Labour to be prevent such a happening.
If May 2007 was a kick in the backside for Scotland’s Unionist dominated institutions, May 2011 was an in your face challenge to their hegemony.
Since that memorable day, just over a year ago the unthinkable has now become the thinkable; for many like myself, a lifetime’s ambition is now attainable.
For every action there is a reaction and this has taken the form of rabid, at times poorly informed rhetoric from media outlets the length and breadth of the UK.
Scotland’s so called quality newspapers are losing credibility faster than they are losing readers. They are it seems, not alone as evidenced by the apparent worst excesses of tabloid journalism that is passing for news coverage at BBC Scotland.
But is this true? or are they just a media outlet doing the job of holding “the government of the day” to account?
We think there is a problem and our campaign is the beginning of a grass roots attempt at challenging those in control by highlighting the more blatant manifestations of this problem.
Yesterday [Saturday] a few of us got there early and laid the groundwork, putting up tables with clips of web pages showing examples of where we think the BBC is going wrong.
People started turning up from 11am, and by around 12:30 there were over 100 of us present, Saltires flying in the breeze and more great placards that demonstrators had made.
There were people from all over Scotland, and beyond, who'd made their way to Pacific Quay. As some left others arrived and over the whole day over 150 people showed up to lend their support.
We had a few speeches about the lack of balance evident in BBC political coverage, the closing of the online comments as well as a plea for a reprieve for Newsweek Scotland, Derek Bateman's Saturday morning Radio show.
At about 1:30 we had a great photo shoot where everyone put tape over their mouths with the letters 'BBC' to highlight the closing of the political blogs on the BBC's Scottish websites.
Throughout the day a lot of networking went on and a series of filmed interviews with various people who were at the demo to find out their views on what the day was all about.
The experience infused those who were there and the overall consensus was that it was a great success and a worthy campaign.
It was decided unanimously that there would be more events and that next time we would take the protest into our communities and public spaces so we can engage more of the public who are, we feel, being treated with contempt by the BBC.
All in all a great start to raising awareness among a wider section of the public as to what is going on within an institution that is supposed to protect that most cherished of all human rights – the right to untainted information and knowledge.
The sunburn was worth it.