By Hamish Mackay

April 16, 2012 | 3 min read

A Scottish news website is carrying videos that have been released on YouTube which it claims ...“have appeared to cast significant doubt on the willingness and ability of the BBC to cover the [Scottish] independence referendum in an impartial manner”.

The leaked videos feature in-house presentations by four senior BBC presenters giving explanatory background briefings on the referendum question.

Newsnet Scotland says the target of the videos ... “is believed to be an audience of junior BBC staff.”

Newsnet Scotland, which admits strong nationalist leanings is part of its editorial policy and seeks full fiscal autonomy or independence, alleges: “The presenters, including BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor, are shown attacking the fairness of the SNP’s proposed referendum question and claiming that Alex Salmond is ‘not impregnable’.

“The First Minister is also accused of wanting a devo-max option on the ballot paper in order to give him a ‘parachute’ should Scots fail to back independence.

“In the presentations, Scotland is described as being in financial deficit and requiring subsidy. Claims are also made that the SNP are ‘changing policy in order not to frighten the horses’.

“Brian Taylor is shown claiming that Alex Salmond wants to delay the referendum in order to ‘sow dissent’ amongst Unionist parties, and says: ‘He [Salmond] wants a contest as close as possible to the next UK general election because he believes that by then his Unionist opponents will be fighting each other rather than fighting independence and Alex Salmond. He wants to sow dissent among them’.

“Mr Taylor also claimed that the Scottish government’s proposed referendum question was not straightforward and simple. The BBC Scotland man suggested it was designed to elicit a positive response.

“On the proposed question: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’ Mr Taylor says: ‘Straightforward, simple – except it’s not.

“’The word ‘agree’ according to psephologists is a welcoming word, it draws people in. People like to agree, they don’t like to disagree so the word there is good.”

“Mr Taylor added: ‘Why does Alex Salmond favour a second question, devo max, and devo plus, why not just go for independence, which is the one he has the mandate for?

“’He wants a fall-back, he wants a parachute should independence fail to win’.”

Also featured on the videos is BBC TV political commentator, Andrew Neil, a former editor of The Scotsman and the Sunday Times, BBC TV's UK political editor, Nick Robinson, and BBC TV's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders.

At the time of writing, The Drum was awaiting a comment from BBC Scotland over the matter.

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