Scottish musician brands UK Government 'beyond pathetic’ over plans to axe BBC licence fee

One of Scotland’s leading musicians has branded the UK Government “beyond pathetic” over plans to freeze funding for the BBC and scrap the licence fee by 2027.

Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite has praised the public broadcaster’s “unparalleled” support for culture and said its output was “an absolutely bargain” for the current licence fee.

He also suggested the BBC was being shut down because it occasionally asks hard questions of the Government.

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Other high-profile critics of the Government plans include the Scottish writer, director and producer Armando Iannucci, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker and actor Hugh Grant.

Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite. Picture: Euan Robertson

Braithwaite, a long-time supporter of Scottish independence, told his Twitter followers: “The Tories trying to shut the BBC down because they VERY occasionally get asked a hard question is beyond pathetic. As a cultural service, it is unparalleled. Their mission to turn the UK into a rainy USA is as clear as day.

"Lots of folks [are] siding with the Tories because they don’t like BBC news. I haven’t watched it in years personally.

"I do, however, listen to the radio and watch the amazing TV output they provide. You don’t have to like 100% of the BBC output for it still to be an absolute bargain.

“One of the main reasons that so much good music has come from this country is because of the support and coverage that the BBC provides.”

Scottish writer, director and producer Armando Iannucci's credits include The Day Today, The Thick Of It and Veep. Picture: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

It emerged on Sunday the BBC was facing huge funding cuts under plans to freeze the £159 licence fee until April 2024.

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UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries later tweeted: "This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over.”

Iannucci responded: “If you really think your Government can win back the public by tossing out a panicky weekend threat to the BBC, then you under-estimate the level of support, admiration and respect the public has for it.

"First you come for @channel4 because you don’t like its reporting of events. Now you come for the BBC because you don’t like its reporting of events. Have you ever considered whether it’s the events themselves that are the problem?”

Lineker said: “The BBC is revered, respected and envied around the world. It should be the most treasured of national treasures, something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government, whoever is in power.”

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Grant said: “The BBC is something the whole world admires with envy. It’s entirely appropriate that the insecure, spittle-flecked nut jobs of this government want to destroy it.”

Scottish cultural commentator Pat Kane, singer with the band Hue and Cry, said: “Like most indy supporters, I’m schizophrenic about the BBC. Its cultural, dramatic and scientific content is often brilliant, innovative and progressive.

“But its news and current affairs content has entirely lost its nerve, turning from ‘serving the public citizen’ to ‘legitimating the British state’.

"Indeed they’ve often actively constructed the charisma of characters like [Nigel] Farage and ]Boris] Johnson, part-enabling all their destructiveness.

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“On balance, I would defend the BBC and its funding against utter barbarians like Dorries and Murdoch.

“But I yearn for Scottish independence, so we can have a first-principles rethink of what public service broadcasting should be about.”