WHAT have Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel, Lewis Goodall and Andrew Marr got in common? The answer is that they are just the latest amongst the BBC’s better journalists who have quit for what I can only assume are better jobs at Global, which is the national radio network whose premier news broadcasting service is LBC. They join others who made the same journey a little earlier, including Eddie Mair and Sheila Fogarty.

At this point I should declare an interest. I have contributed to BBC radio and television – and have been paid to do so – for about fifteen years. I am also these days a pretty regular contributor to LBC. So, I have a foot in both camps, although LBC have never paid me, as yet. What this experience suggests to me is that I can understand precisely why the best journalists at the BBC want to quit.

Most of those making this move are probably already well enough off for pay not to be their motivation. Instead, I think it likely that what really good journalists want to be able to do is the job they always imagined themselves doing. That is reporting on the news as they find it. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing that the BBC now seems to want to do and so people are quitting in droves.

I hardly need tell a pro-independence audience about BBC bias in Scotland. It is legendary. But the reality is this is not the only issue where it is readily apparent that the BBC publishes a far from objective view of the world, despite its supposed public interest obligation to report without bias.

In fact, at the very core of the BBC’s problems with which I am quite sure the journalists who have quit have issues is this obligation to be neutral. Whatever the issue might be, however obvious is the story, and however overwhelming might support for one side of the debate be, the BBC feels it has almost no choice but to roll out someone who disagrees with a BBC guest wanting to present a calm and well-reasoned argument on an important issue.

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Brexit was, and remains, an example of this. There are now no identified economic advantages of Brexit. Those who want to claim they exist have had long enough to identify them, and none have been found. However, the BBC still thinks itself unable to really debate this issue, let alone do so without bringing on someone suggesting we just need to wait a little longer for all to be revealed.

The National:

Global is not like that. Although LBC’s main morning presenter, Nick Ferrari, is a well-known fan of Brexit and certainly leans to the right when it comes to political issues, he interviewed me recently and let me suggest that some of the really big challenges we face in our economy now come down to Brexit. The video of the interview was watched more than 200,000 times on Twitter and what Nick let me do was develop my argument, pretty much without interference. I presume that was because he thought the listeners might want to hear it.

And that’s what the BBC would not do. I have been on the Today programme, BBC Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman (below), and have been appearing on the Jeremy Vine show for more than a decade. And what never happens is that you get an uninterrupted chance to explain your views. After a 30-second soundbite it’s over to the other side.

The National:

Too often, in my case, that other side has been represented by a person from one of the more right-wing think tanks who the BBC seem all too willing to platform without ever asking who might be funding them, and what actual biases they might be bringing to the programme.

As a result, the BBC is alienating everyone who wants to hear meaningful discussion. Too often the viewer or listener is denied the chance to hear anyone develop an argument. Instead, the world is reduced to almost meaningless soundbites.

That’s especially problematic when the Government almost invariably gets over-exposure in any media outlet. When the one we have in Westminster is only capable of talking in soundbites and has no apparent arguments on anything, the impression we’re left is with journalists unable to get to the answers they want, precisely because the BBC’s soundbite approach does not permit it.

If you want an example, see how Andrew Marr has changed since leaving the BBC. He was thought for some time by many on the left to be a closet Tory because of the line of questioning that he was obviously required to take with ministers on the BBC, but now he has a daily programme on LBC he is offering regular, reasoned criticism of government policy of the type that people want to know exists when all that is happening in Westminster is mad.

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So of course someone like Lewis Goodall, an obvious news geek with a passion for facts that he wishes to weave into a narrative, will wish to leave the BBC. When his own bosses have criticised him publicly for not being sufficiently Tory he wants to work somewhere that he can tell the truth as he sees it.

We need more of that type of journalism. This paper tries to do it, but the need is for stronger Scottish voices willing to challenge the BBC stranglehold in radio and television as well. I have no answer to how to do that. But Scotland needs it to happen, badly. A National radio station would be the ideal answer. Anyone up for it? Some surprising journalists might be.