The Referendum Murders (paperback)

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Nick Robinson - still trying to justify his actions and reporting of IECC spat with Alex Salmond

In the Herald Magazine's interview with Nick Robinson - a five-page spread - Marianne Taylor refers to Robinson's recent book Election Notebook and the referendum section and "the now infamous row with Alex Salmond" and recognises that his Edinburgh Book Festival appearance has probably sold out because of continuing interest in "the spat" and Robinson's two questions. I was there in the International Conference Centre and saw and heard the whole thing first hand. Robinson, then and since, presents a view of the exchange that is self-justificatory and inaccurate, e.g. 

Herald Magazine, page 9, para 2 and 3
"The phrase he didn't answer was clearly open to the interpretation that I meant he didn't say anything which is absurd, and it never occurred to me that people would see it that way .."

Robertson sets up a strawman defence here, apologising for something no sensible person is accusing him of. In point of fact - as the transcript of the live exchange at the IECC demonstrates - Robinson, in defiance of the reality of the FM's responses, repeatedly accused him of not answering the question, and his subsequent news report was deliberately framed and edited to sustain the fiction that Alex Salmond had not answered the question.

"What I was trying to point out to the viewer was that [Salmond] chose largely not to address the points I put to him, and to have  instead an argument about something else. God, I wish I could write that phrase again."

The above statement is, quite simply, untrue. What is true is that Alex Salmond answered very fully, but not in the "Have you stopped stealing apples - answer YES or No!" contrived formulation beloved by BBC interviewers trying to engage in a gotcha game. Robinson says he wishes he could write his phrase again, when in fact what he probably really wishes is that he could re-write the entire IECC exchange.

Unfortunately for Robinson and the BBC, others at the press conference observed and recorded the event, and the best full audio recording was made by Pilar Fernandez from Galicia. My thanks to Pilar for allowing me to use the relevant section of her full recording and enhance the clarity of the audio. Here it is yet again, offered in the certain knowledge that Robinson, the BBC and Herald journalists will ignore it, not wishing to be confused by the facts, especially the inconvenient ones. I hope it may provide some useful information for those attending Robinson's book festival event.

Herald Magazine 'FEAR' piece - Marianne Taylor - in full