POLITICS

Alex Salmond Calls BBC 'National Disgrace' And Pantomime 'Wicked Stepmother' To Independence Supporters

06/04/2015 12:20 BST | Updated 06/04/2015 15:59 BST

Alex Salmond has called the BBC "akin to a wicked stepmother in a pantomime" for independence supporters because of its supposed pro-union stance, in an epic rant about the media.

The former SNP leader, who is poised to return to the Commons after May 7, defended the BBC journalist James Cook after he claimed to have received "vicious" online abuse for an interview he did with Nicola Sturgeon about claims in The Telegraph that a leaked memo showed she secretly wanted the Tories to win the election.

But he said Cook was an "exception" and said broadcasters were being led by "a totally biased press".

"It is difficult to stay impartial if you accept nonsense from The Telegraph as the basis of your story. Little wonder that Auntie BBC is now regarded by so many of us in Scotland as akin to a wicked stepmother in a pantomime. Our national broadcaster is a national disgrace," he wrote in an article for The National, the independence-supporting newspaper.

alex salmond

Alex Salmond on the campaign trail

Salmond's article was ostensibly a defence of individual journalists such as Cook. Salmond wrote that it was wrong to "tar all journalists with the disgraceful Telegraph brush".

He wrote: "Where are the real dirty tricks in the memo story which, over the Easter weekend, achieved the almost impossible and ran as lead story over the entire 24-hour news cycle?

"The conspiracy is in the leak to The Telegraph in the confident knowledge they would present it in the most damaging way possible for the national cause."

He added: "In the world inhabited by The Telegraph, the union is in mortal danger once again after Nicola’s brilliant performance in last week’s TV debate.

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"Something had to be done to blacken her name in the same way that they do to anyone who presents a threat to their cosy establishment club."

A BBC Scotland spokesperson said: “The BBC, along with the rest of the media, covered a story of legitimate interest fully, and indeed took it on further by speaking to those most closely involved in it to offer as much information for our audiences.

"To suggest otherwise is both misleading and untrue.”

Salmond has previously called the BBC "a disgrace".

According to his now-published independence campaign diary The Dream Will Never Die, the rang BBC Director General Lord Hall to complaint about its coverage a few days before the referendum, to say the broadcaster was "a disgrace to public service broadcasting".

He wrote: “Their replacement of their experienced Scottish correspondents by network numpties reflects a near-colonial attitude.

His diary said he told Hall it was "now difficult to tell where the BBC stops and the No campaign begins.”

He added: “This will do absolutely no good but I enjoy saying it.”

When Yes supporters protested outside BBC Scotland's Glasgow headquarters, carrying a banner calling for Nick Robinson to be sacked, Salmond refused to condemn it, saying: "I think there is a real public concern, in terms of some of the nature and balance of the coverage.

"You must allow people to express a view in a peaceful and joyous fashion. That is part of the democratic aspect of politics.