Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Clash over Scots referendum coverage

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Media captionA 'scared and unsure' voter challenges both sides in the indyref campaign in a BBC Scotland referendum debate from Stirling

Key figures on both sides of the Scottish independence debate have clashed over media coverage of the campaigning on Scotland's future.

SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie hit out at "metropolitan sneering" by some journalists ahead of the vote.

But shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said the campaign for independence was looking for someone to blame in the event of a "No" result.

The exchanges came during a BBC Scotland TV debate from Stirling.

The debate came on the day a large crowd gathered outside BBC Scotland's Glasgow HQ to say its coverage was biased against independence.

The broadcaster said it believed its coverage had been fair and impartial.

Mr Hosie said output such as the TV debate in which he was appearing had shown "impeccable balance", adding: "However, we then get the metropolitan sneering of certain journalists."

'Reaching decisions'

The SNP MP added: "There are people who I know are voting, senior people who have not declared, who are now likely to declare publically because of their absolute outrage at the way in which certain parts of the media have chosen to portray this debate."

Mr Alexander, a Scottish Labour MP and member of the Better Together campaign to keep the Union, said of the claims: "What we've seen is another example of dog whistle nationalism.

On the "Yes" campaign, he added: "They want , after they lose on Thursday, to be able to say it was London-based newspapers, it was the BBC.

"We are smarter than that as Scots - we are reaching our own decisions."

Also appearing on the programme, actress and independence supporter Elaine C Smith said "The fact that we are actually neck-and-neck in the polls is nigh on a miracle I think at the moment, given one Sunday newspaper in Scotland - the Sunday Herald - has come out in favour of independence, and even then only a couple of months ago.

"I think the barrage of negativity, the barrage of things that are biased that have emerged through the London-based papers has really shamed us all, I have to say."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, also appearing on the programme, said broadcasters, under the rules. were giving both sides equal coverage in the run-up to the vote.

On newspapers, which are free to take their own editorial stance, Ms Davidson, a former BBC Scotland journalist, added: "I don't like the dog whistle nationalism that Elaine used talking about London-based papers.

"Scotland on Sunday, that's come out for 'No', is not a London based paper; The Scotsman, that's come out for 'No' is not a London based paper; The Sunday Post that's come out for 'No' just today is not a London based paper."