I SUSPECT most nationalists in Scotland, on hearing of Nadine Dorries’s plan to starve the BBC of funds in preparation for cutting it off without a penny, would have responded in much the way that a Highland crofter did when confronted by the Duke of Sutherland recruiting for the Crimean War during the clearances.

“Since you have preferred sheep to men,” he is reputed to have said, “let sheep defend you”.

The present state of the BBC in Scotland – untrusted (and worse) by a large section of the population – can be blamed on both the spineless and craven management apparatchiks in Pacific Quay in Glasgow and the more senior hard-faced, Tory-supporting ones in Broadcasting House in London. They have consistently preferred sheep to men in their approach to the British establishment, but to be fair their predecessors were pretty hostile to Scotland too as their actions during the first independence referendum demonstrated.

READ MORE: Nadine Dorries is in a dizzying spin cycle over BBC licence fee freeze

At least print journalists and commentators are honest about their prejudices. BBC management dresses their dishonesty up in all sorts of threadbare clothing about balance and journalistic standards, yet still unfairly weights audiences for programmes like Question Time.

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I have spent a good part of the last 30 years trying to change that situation but I now accept that rather acute analysis by Alex Massie in a column in 2014 – in which he argued that the BBC is, by duty as well as inclination, bound to defend the Union because it is a creature of the Union. Until that Union is dissolved, therefore, we can expect nothing better even though the BBC’s journalistic impartiality – unlike that of the written media – is meant to be guaranteed by law.

However – and hear me out please – it may be that standing aside whilst one of the least bright members of the most corrupt government in our lifetimes demolishes the structures of public service broadcasting (no matter how inadequate they have become), whilst tempting, is not the response that will serve Scotland best.

Scotland lacks a competent, reliable public service broadcaster but it needs one now and will need one after independence. Those who argue that such an idea is old fashioned and that the market can be relied on to provide all that consumers wish are of course puffing their own interests (usually right wing and always mercenary) at the expense of the wider citizenry and the interests of democracy.

A real public service broadcaster must be rigorously and ruthlessly impartial. In the Reithian tradition it must exist to ensure that “nation shall speak peace unto nation” and it must have as its core principle a duty to educate, inform and entertain – and none without the others.

But whilst having legal protection (something a written Scottish constitution needs to provide) a public service broadcaster must also be accountable – not operationally, but in terms of policy, just as other public bodies observe that distinction. That requires a strong independent supervisory structure with legal checks and balances to ensure that it can never be subject to party political control. Appointment to that should be on the basis of keeping politics and political views out of the matter and always as a result of broad agreement across parties. Yet the opposite is currently true as we have seen again and again, first of all in the selection of the BBC’s governing body and now even in the appointment of its senior management.

This is of course all a precursor to removing from the BBC the last vestiges of independence, impartiality having already withered on the vine. And then of course, when it is too late, we will see the full horror of what the Tories and their fellow travellers intend to allow to take its place.

Hints of that are already clear. Rupert Murdoch is alleged to have told Johnson that he must “get rid of” the BBC and Murdoch’s motivation for that will be his usual desire for more money and more political influence. He is already, of course, preparing to launch his own talkTV channel in the UK.

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Meanwhile the anti-Scottish ravings of GB News are now firmly ensconced in the broadcasting ecosystem and this week Baroness Davidson (above, the busiest person who ever claimed she wanted to spend more time with her family) was recruited by Times Radio, clearly fearful that there weren’t enough anti-SNP Tory views being heard on the airwaves.

Nation won’t be speaking peace unto nation when UK broadcasting is privatised and Balkanised in the way foreshadowed already. Indeed there will be a refusal to accept that the Scottish nation even exists.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson hits back at Nadine Dorries over BBC threat

Instead choice in broadcasting will be narrower than ever to match the narrow options in the print media, and little if any of it will reflect the fact that more than 50% of Scots already want to live in a different society and vote that way at election times.

Without public service broadcasting all we will have is what the media moguls want us to have and their ambitions will be the same as Murdoch’s – money and influence with the people only as sources for the first, and victims of the second.

That is why, whilst it sticks in the craw, we must at least try to be heard in the current BBC debate. The BBC cannot be defended for what it now is, but plurality in the media depends on having a fixed, independent and impartial public service centre – which is what the BBC should be and is what a Scottish Broadcasting Company must become.

Remove that from any democratic society and there is nothing but a grubby, self-interested media free-for-all.

In Scotland the future lies in creating our own public service broadcaster that will carry foreword the best traditions and the highest standards which, alas, have been deserted by current BBC management.

That doesn’t have to wait for independence, but it is more likely to come about because of it.