Newsnight Scotland accused of pro-independence bias - Press Gazette

Newsnight Scotland accused of pro-independence bias

An SNP MSP is demanding that a Labour MP be disciplined by his own party after an on-air row with BBC Scotland’s Newsnight presenter Isabel Fraser.

Sandra White has asked the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Johann Lamont, to discipline Ian Davidson and make him apologise to Fraser after he criticised her during a live interview on the late-night current affairs programme.

Referring to Newsnight as ‘News Nat Scotland’, the Labour MP repeatedly ignored questions and spoke over Fraser. He accused her of being biased and claimed the Labour party had made several complaints.

Davidson was being interviewed on his claim that the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to hold a referendum on independence without the permission of Westminster.

White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said: ‘This isn’t the first time that Ian Davidson has publicly embarrassed himself, but his extraordinary behaviour cannot simply be swept under the carpet – and he must now apologise to Isabel Fraser and BBC Scotland.

‘If he continues to refuse to apologise then Johann Lamont, as his boss, must make him. This was a bizarre rant from Mr Davidson, and his aggressive approach to the interview did him absolutely no favours. Making such ludicrous accusations was grossly disrespectful to Isabel Fraser and everyone involved in making the programme.”

Commenting on Davidson’s claim that his views were representative of the Labour party and that complaints had been made against Fraser, White added:

‘The revelation that the Labour Party apparently shares these views more generally – and has repeatedly complained about it – raises serious questions.

‘Does Johann Lamont share Ian Davidson’s outlandish belief that one of Scotland’s flagship political programmes is biased? If she does not then she must openly disown him for his comments and order him to issue a public apology.”

In the Newsnight interview, Davidson revealed that the anti-independence campaign’s calls for an early referendum had not in fact been based on anything other than political expediency, stating: ‘We want to have a speedy referendum… We want to have a referendum because we think we’re going to win quite frankly”.

The Newsnight interview began with Davidson saying: ‘I understand that [the position of ‘News-Nat Scotland’] is that the powers should be given to the Scottish Parliament, and that the SNP should do as they wish.”

This led Fraser to respond that it was ‘ludicrous’to suggest that she had predicated her question on a ‘preconception”.

Davidson replied: ‘I don’t believe it is. [There] is a general political view that ‘News-Nat Scotland’ is biased in favour of the Scottish Parliament handling all these powers themselves.”

Fraser interjected: ‘Perhaps it might be appropriate at this stage if you would like to apologise to me for suggesting that I have come into the interview in any way biased against your argument or for one political party or another.

‘Nobody in this programme works in that way and it is offensive that you should suggest that.”

Davidson replied:”Certainly not. I don’t believe that. I have already complained, as has the Labour Party, on a number of occasions about the way in which ‘News-Nat Scotland’ behaves.

‘I think you are clearly biased and have been for a long time against the unionist parties, and if that causes you concern then I’m afraid that you’ve just got to recognise that politics is about people exchanging views.

‘You are not above the fray. If you want to stand for election, do so. Otherwise, try to be more neutral.”

Fraser responded: ‘I absolutely reject what you have said and I think there is plenty of evidence to refute that.”