The chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee appeared on BBC Scotland’s flagship current affairs programme to discuss its report on legal issues around an independence referendum.
He began referring to the programme as “Newsnat Scotland” and accused it of regular bias against pro-Union parties.
He then declined an on-air invitation from presenter Isabel Fraser to apologise for his comments and continued his attack.
Last night, he told The Herald there was simply “a robust exchange of views”.
He added: “I have been greatly heartened by views I have received from many in the party and elsewhere saying they welcome someone standing up to the particular assumptions the BBC often makes and the experiences of bias by them.”
However, his approach was criticised by many on the social networking site Twitter, including some who felt he had damaged the pro-Union cause.
His aggressive approach to Ms Fraser for some also served to fuel a reputation for anti-female bullying highlighted when an SNP member of his Commons committee, Eilidh Whiteford, resigned in protest amid claims about his manner.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Ian Davidson being unnecessarily rude to Isabel Fraser. No need for it.”
Former Labour press officer Andrew McFadyen said: “I don’t know why Ian Davidson chose to pick a fight with Isabel Fraser, but he comes across like a playground bully.”
SNP MSP Sandra White wrote to Labour’s Scottish leader – whose remit also now includes MPs – calling on her to discipline Mr Davidson by ensuring he apologises to Ms Fraser and BBC Scotland for his outburst.
She added: “Does Johann Lamont share Ian Davidson’s outlandish belief that one of Scotland’s flagship political programmes is biased?
“If she does not then she must openly disown him for his comments and order him to issue a public apology.”
The Glasgow South West MP was appearing to discuss his committee’s report which said the Scottish Government had no power to call a referendum on independence by itself.
The report had received a mixed reception, with many saying its case was, at best, arguable.
Davidson: I understand that Newsnat Scotland’s position is that the power should be given to the Scottish Parliament and the SNP should do as they wish.
Fraser: I cannot let you continue. That is a ludicrous proposition.
Davidson: That is a general political view, that Newsnat Scotland is biased in favour of the Scottish Parliament handling all these powers themselves. Now, our position is not that. You see, our position is we believe that Westminster have been given powers to deal with this matter by the Scottish people in the referendum. That’s where our legitimacy comes from. Our legitimacy comes from the Scottish people in the referendum. We have therefore got a responsibility to decide how these matters should be dealt with. We have the opportunity if we wish simply to hand over powers to the Scottish Parliament but we choose not to do so, and what we are saying in the committee is that the Scottish MPs and the Scottish Affairs Committee should have the responsibility for reviewing and supervising and assessing any Section 30 Notice that is proposed.
Fraser: Before we continue it perhaps might be appropriate at this stage if you would like to apologise to me for . . .
Davidson: Oh, certainly not
Fraser: . . . for suggesting that I have come into this interview in any way biased against your argument and pro one political party or another. Nobody on this programme works in that way and it is offensive that you should suggest that.
Davidson: Well I have to say I don’t believe that. I have already complained, as has the Labour Party on a number of occasions, about the way in which Newsnat Scotland behaves, and I think you are clearly biased and have been for a long time against the Unionist parties. If that causes you concern then I am afraid you just have to recognise that politics is about people exchanging views and you’re not above the fray, and if you want to stand for election, do so. Otherwise, try and be more neutral.
Fraser: I absolutely reject what you have said there and there is plenty evidence to refute that.
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