by Colin Campbell
I BOUGHT Andrew Neil’s book Full Disclosure, his account of his time as Sunday Times editor under Rupert Murdoch, when it first appeared 20 years ago, and still look back over passages in it. He was only 34 at the time, and although it was an interesting read, he came across as a rather pompous, self-obsessed and even self-pitying character.
But that was then and this is now. He has since matured, developed a biting sense of humour, and is the most fearsome interviewer of the age. His pre-election grilling of Jeremy Corbyn last December is an all-time classic, matched only by the evisceration by Emily Maitlis of “it was only a shooting weekend, an ordinary shooting weekend”, Prince Andrew.
He is now in the process of launching GB News, a new TV channel. And there is one target that Neil, from Paisley, clearly has in his sights, the SNP.
On Spectator TV, available on YouTube, he recently reduced the biggest brain they’ve got, Andrew Wilson, leader of their Growth Commission, to smouldering ruins, exposing the fact that on currency, mortgages, pensions, the deficit, trade, the EU, a hard border with England and so much else the “free Scotland” party have no clear answers on anything.
The SNP are getting an incredibly free ride on these questions. If Boris Johnson dares to set foot in Scotland the media here fall in line with the SNP’s depiction of it as yet another misjudgement by a blundering buffoon. It’s headline news everywhere. As is any other mistake the Prime Minister whose UK government secured the vaccine for us all is perceived to have made.
Meanwhile the SNP sail on virtually untroubled by any tough, rigorous questions on how an independent Scotland would look.
Someone as ill equipped and bloated with his own self importance as Drew Hendry feels able to go public to try to trash an objective report on the true costs of independence by top economists and has the media landscape all to himself. His ex-councillor rebuttal secures more attention than the report itself.
Too many newspapers are scared of challenging the SNP because they fear a boycott and sales losses they can’t afford from SNP supporters, as has happened in the past.
The BBC cancelled the daily Sturgeon Show but then under relentless pressure from the nationalists reinstated it a couple of weeks later, enabling them to claim a massive victory over the state broadcaster and encouraging them to keep pressurising the BBC to cover the news they way they want it covered. Sometimes they don’t succeed but far too often they do.
Two weeks ago, on the morning after Sturgeon’s illegal referendum declaration, I listened to a BBC radio phone-in show. The presenter introduced two main guests. The first was all for Sturgeon and I automatically assumed the other would be dead against her. But no. He also agreed another referendum was necessary, but he didn’t think she’d got the timing quite right. Talk about bias. I couldn’t believe my ears.
There will be none of that craven subservience on GB News. Not before time we’ll have a broadcasting outlet capable of exposing the SNP nationalists as the clueless shysters they are.
Fearing tough questioning, they’ll probably decide to boycott it. But that would be a profound admission of weakness in itself. And it would give a new twist to their arrogant claims that the UK government and everyone else who opposes another appallingly divisive referendum is “running scared”.