TODAY is the first of April – April Fools’ Day – when the British media traditionally publishes ridiculous and implausible stories in order to prank the public.

The Guardian claimed that Tory MPs were lobbying the UK Government to hand over one of the superyachts seized recently from Russian oligarchs to be given to the royal family for their personal use. This April Fools’ story failed the ridiculousness test because it was not implausible at all.

Conservative MPs do indeed fall over themselves to give the royals expensive baubles, usually at public expense, and this would certainly not be the first time that the royal family have taken something that didn't belong to them. In his recent book, … And What Do You Do?, former cabinet minister Norman Baker details how the estates of the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster were originally state property which the royal household annexed to itself with the collusion of successive sycophantic British governments.

Meanwhile, The National reported that BBC Scotland's Debate Night programme earlier this week had a ridiculously biased audience.

You might expect that in a city where all the constituencies were won by the SNP in an election just last year and with opinion polls showing that the SNP would win them all again in an election tomorrow, there might be a couple of people in the audience who were supportive of the Scottish Government.

According to whoever it is who selects the audiences for BBC debate programmes in Scotland, balance consists of finding audiences who don't criticise the Conservatives but who are eager to parrot the SNPbad attack lines that are a staple of Scotland's overwhelmingly anti-independence media.

It would be nice to say that this was an April Fools’ Day story, but this is a joke that the BBC plays on the people of Scotland all year round. It seems that every time an election is looming, the BBC manages to present a ridiculously one-sided panel or audience that is biased against pro-independence parties. 

This is, of course, according to the BBC, entirely a figment of our imaginations. The BBC will claim, as it has always claimed, that the audience was carefully selected in order to represent a wide range of Scottish public opinion. 

Just as predictable as a BBC current affairs programme being stacked against supporters are the BBC denials that their programming is biased. A spokesperson for the BBC maintained that the episode in question was not biased, saying: "As with all editions, last night's Debate Night audience was carefully selected to ensure that a range of viewpoints and perspectives were heard and debated.”

And this would be true – the BBC took great pains to make sure that the audience contained members of the public who hate the SNP, members of the public who loathe the SNP and members of the public who think that Nicola Sturgeon is the Bride of Satan.

There are angry independence supporters who claim that the BBC is exactly the same as Russia Today.  This is untrue. Russia Today is a blatant propaganda channel which has a policy that comes from the top of censoring all views contrary to the Kremlin. This is not what goes on with the BBC. What we have with the BBC is far more insidious. There is no overt censorship or any deliberate conspiracy to suppress views inimical to the prevailing British nationalism of the modern British state.

Instead, there is a form of management group-think which sees support for British nationalism – whose defining characteristic is a refusal to recognise itself as nationalism – as the norm, and anything which diverges from it is regarded with critical suspicion. The result is that the views and assumptions of support for Scottish independence are questioned and criticised in a way that the views and assumptions of British nationalism are not.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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