The Daily Telegraph
BBC speculation on independence ‘outrageous’
‘The monarchy transcends the Union. The BBC should not introduce the debate into the Queen’s death’
GORDON BROWN and the Scottish Secretary are deeply unhappy at the BBC for “politicising” its coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’S death in Scotland by introducing unrelated speculation about independence.
The Daily Telegraph understands that both the former Labour prime minister and Alister Jack were infuriated by a report on Monday’s edition of BBC News at Ten.
Allan Little, a special correspondent, alleged that Scotland had grown apart from the rest of the UK and speculated it could separate during the new King’s reign in a report about the extraordinary events that day in Edinburgh.
Thousands of Scots lined the streets of the city’s Royal Mile to pay their respects to the late Queen as her coffin was taken from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral, followed by her four children.
A similar outpouring of grief and mourning played out on London’s streets yesterday, with huge crowds gathering to watch the coffin being transported from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.
But Allan Little, a veteran BBC journalist who was born in Dumfries and Galloway, reported on Monday that the new King had returned to a Scotland “diverging from the rest of the UK politically for 40 years, where support for independence is as high as it’s ever been”. He warned the new King’s reign could be defined by the “eventual dissolution of the United Kingdom itself ”.
It is understood that Mr Brown was extremely unhappy at the claims, which echoed the SNP’S political narrative.
Questions were also raised about how the analysis tallied with the images of a nation coming together, both within Scotland and across the UK.
Sources close to Mr Jack said the coverage was “outrageous”. They said: “The monarchy transcends the Union. The Union of the Crowns in 1603 was more than a century before the political union in 1707. The BBC should really not be introducing the independence debate into the Queen’s death.”
Britain’s most eminent psephologist, Sir John Curtice, said Queen Elizabeth’s death and the commemorations in London and Scotland were unlikely to move the needle on support for independence.
He said most people who would vote “Yes” would prefer to abolish the monarchy, according to polling, but the issue did not drive support for separation. The BBC did not respond to a request for a comment.