JIM SHERIDAN MP comments on the furore surrounding Alex Salmond’s non-appearance on the BBC’s coverage of the Scotland vs. England rugby match.
Rugby fans will be aware that at the weekend Scotland and England faced each other at Murrayfield. However, behind the scenes another showdown was taking place. Alex Salmond, due to appear as pundit, was at the last minute pulled amid concerns his appearance would impinge the BBC’s rules intended to ensure political neutrality.
This move has incurred the wrath of Big Alex who no doubt hoped to use the event as a dry run in anticipation of his many hoped for TV appearances during the Commonwealth Games. Affronted at the temerity of the BBC to be so anti-separatist by not allowing Big Alex his fifteen minutes of glory he immediately set the SNPs media machine on the offensive, lambasting the BBC and all but calling Ric Bailey, the BBC’s chief political advisor, a Nazi.
Putting aside the offensive and deeply inappropriate language, I believe that Alex Salmond should not be using sporting events and sports personalities to further himself and his party’s separatist agenda. Perhaps I am wrong and maybe I am unaware that Alex Salmond is globally renowned for his knowledge of rugby and his feel of the game? Unless this is the case I much prefer to leave the pre-match & half-time discussions as well as post-match analysis to people who have a broad knowledge of the game drawn from years of playing for or managing rugby clubs.
At a time when Scotland is facing a great many challenges, many as a result of Big Alex’s Party’s mis-management I believe it far more appropriate that Alex Salmond stick to the job the people of Scotland have elected him to do rather than moonlighting as a TV personality. As a member of the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, I intend to write to the BBC expressing my support for the view that politics should be kept out of sport and that sporting events and sports personalities should not be used in such a crass way.
Jim Sheridan is the Labour Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North.