A corrupt media and a corrupt opposition – Another ‘SNP Bad’ attack is coming

By Alan Knight

If you tuned into Radio Scotland this weekend you may have heard a discussion on Sunday’s Good Morning Scotland featuring journalists Robbie Dinwoodie and Lynsey Bews together with academic Gerry Hassan.

The discussion centred around the SNP, with unflattering opinions dominating.  Hassan seemed especially keen to air his ‘SNP Bad’ prejudices, hurriedly spitting out opinions as though being paid per word.

But one short exchange right at the end caught my attention.  Below is an audio recording of the segment.


The short exchange was prompted by an article in The Times newspaper.  The article was written by the former head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, John Boothman.

The article contained the following:

Nicola Sturgeon is facing a humiliating defeat at Holyrood, with opposition parties uniting to vote down national testing of primary one pupils, after evidence that they reduced some five-year-old children to tears.


In a rare show of unity, after a massive backlash from teaching unions and parent groups, senior Conservative, Labour, Green and Lib Dem sources confirmed their parties intend to back a motion to scrap the assessments.

This is the beginning of a coordinated attack on the SNP.  Fronting the attack politically will be Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie.  The media is going to be the conduit for this attack.  In the vanguard will be BBC Scotland.

The effectiveness of the attack relies on Unionist MSPs and Green MSPs supporting the aforementioned motion.  This is where political opportunism and media corruption will meet head-on.

What do I mean by political opportunism?  Well, if John Boothman’s sources are telling him the truth then the Scottish Conservatives are about to vote against a policy they themselves demanded.  Below is a short clip of Ruth Davidson speaking about standardised testing back in September 2015.

So Ruth Davidson not only backed standardised testing for primary school pupils, she actively called for such testing.  Below is a clip of Ruth Davidson doing exactly that in May 2015.  In the clip Davidson specifically highlights Primary 1 pupils.

Note the person over Ruth Davidson’s right shoulder nodding in agreement.  It’s Tory MSP Liz Smith.  In August 2015 Smith echoed Davidson’s calls for standardised testing to be introduced.

“These figures show that we have a chaotic, patchwork system of testing across Scotland’s primary schools which is undermining the ability of teachers to fully assess the basic skills of their pupils.

“The fact that local authorities are spending millions of pounds buying in tests from various providers across Britain tells us that many do not have sufficient confidence in the testing system in Scotland.

“At the end of it therefore, we are left without any nationally agreed standard tests which would tell us how schools and their pupils are performing across Scotland.”

The Scottish Conservative 2016 manifesto specifically called on the Scottish government to introduce “standardised tests” for Primary one pupils.

Last week Liz Smith changed her tune and argued that the very tests she and her leader had called for should never in fact have been introduced.

Thus, if John Boothman is correct – and the above tweet from Liz Smith appears to support his article claim – then the Scottish Conservatives are going to vote against national standardised tests for primary 1 pupils.  A policy they themselves called for.  A policy Ruth Davidson boasted of having called for.

This is political opportunism.  Indeed it’s probably more accurate to call it political corruption. In terms of newsworthiness, it is this and not the united opposition attack that is the real story.

Think about it.  Ruth Davidson and her MSPs believe standardised testing improves Scotland’s education system.  If they vote against the policy, they will – using their own logic – be voting to damage that same education system.  Education is thus collateral damage in a bid to attack the SNP.

But the media has no intention of highlighting this political corruption.  The Scottish media has already signalled its willingness to run this coordinated attack.  The goal has nothing to do with improving Scottish education or closing the attainment gap.  The goal is to undermine Nicola Sturgeon’s administration.

In the coming days and weeks you’ll see newspaper headlines proclaiming the “SNP Government” is under pressure to scrap these tests.  Similar headlines will appear across broadcast media.  STV will ape the BBC’s coverage.

Good Morning Scotland will carry the story in its news bulletins.  Gary Robertson and Hayley Millar will read out scripts prepared for them.  Discussions will take place featuring newspaper journalists and other trusted pundits.  They will all say the same thing.  There will be media unity.

SNP politicians will face aggressive interviews asking if they will respect the ‘will of parliament’.  Opposition MSPs will launch attacks on the SNP demanding the tests be scrapped.  Reporting Scotland will lead its programme with the ‘growing pressure’ Nicola Sturgeon is ‘coming under’.

Glenn Campbell, Brian Taylor, Andrew Kerr and Gordon Brewer will all dutifully echo the narrative.  There will be no dissenting voices.  No one will highlight the actions of Ruth Davidson and her MSPs.

As I have already explained.  For this attack to succeed requires the Scottish Tories to vote against a policy they themselves called for and for the media to refuse to cover this act of political corruption.  In short, it requires a marriage of political corruption with media corruption.

As I finish writing this article, news emerges that Labour MSP Iain Gray has lodged the motion which reads “That the parliament believes that standardised assessments for primary one pupils should be scrapped.”

The Scottish Tories are going to support this motion.

The marriage of political convenience is about to give birth to the next ‘SNP Bad’ story. Here it comes.


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24 thoughts on “A corrupt media and a corrupt opposition – Another ‘SNP Bad’ attack is coming

  1. John

    Excellent assesment of Scotland’s “Better Together To Hammer The SNP ” Party , and “The Media To Hammer The SNP Alliance Party ” .
    Agree with every single word , well done ! .

  2. Patsy Millar

    Why are the SNP not getting out reminders of Ruth Davidson’s call for testing in the primary school? They need to show up this hypocrisy and surely they could get something out there in the National for example.

  3. Independent Woman

    This is not ‘testing’ P1 pupils; it is ‘assessing’. Every teacher assesses her (or his) pupils on a daily basis. If the assessment in P1 is causing distress then I would question the teacher and the parents of distressed pupils.

    If you don’t have assessment you cannot measure progress. I don’t believe that Willie Rennie et al don’t know this. SNPBAAAAD.

    I am about to shoot off letters to Davidson and Rennie asking for their views and in the case of Davidson asking her to square what she says now with what she said then.

    1. Mike Lothian

      I’d love to know if you get a reply from Ruth or not

      I’m pretty sure she has one of the worst records out there for dealing with her constituents

  4. Lochside

    Spot on article. Yet again, our corrupt media pretend amnesia and demonstrate deliberate faux misunderstanding of a policy that is aimed at improving (and assessing not testing as Independentwoman says) our children’s life chances. All in the name of venting yet more of their morally corrupt and politically bankrupt hatred on the SNP.

    These treacherous, indolent, callous abusers of democracy, deserve to be dumped into the dustbin of history at the first electoral opportunity. Ruth Davidson fawned on yet again by BBC Scotchedland as a ‘mother’ in a news bulletin is treated as the anointed one by her chums at Pacific Quay. John Boothman discredited bully and propagandist leader of the Indyref1 pops up again like the excresecence he is. Yeah the gang’s all here…cos’ it never went away…and like all gangs, it bullies, and it intends on handing out another doing to the SNP in an united front,.one that includes the untrustworthy Greens. Will the 55% never learn?

  5. Jockanese Wind Talker

    Greens gonna do the same as they did with the OBFA and put point scoring over what is best for the country?

    Can’t wait for the next election to see those sleekit buggers punished.

    The split of the Constiuency vote won’t happen again.

    1. Contrary

      Thing is, and I certainly don’t agree with the Greens ‘politics’, but they were likely the only party that were voting on actual principle (their own warped version of free speech). They are a minor party and should not have had that much influence and should have been allowed to keep their principles – the problem is the rest of the parties. Still, splitting the vote their way, or any way, seems like a bad idea. Being in support of independence does not automatically mean they are decent politicians, we are just lucky the SNP have made themselves into good administrators.

      I am still fairly enraged about the OBFA vote – we are told the people of Scotland are sovereign? This law, not a great one maybe, had overwhelming public support – so why was it repealed?? Not only have we no say in westminster policy, it is getting eroded in Scotland too. We keep hearing stories about councils forming coalitions on an anti-SNP stance – to our detriment. It is us that suffers from BritNat parties playing unionist politics and I’m getting sick of it. But that’s their plan isn’t it? ‘Vote SNP and you will suffer’ type message. Well, the only solution I see is for more people to vote SNP – they are the only party that seems to care about people’s actual opinions.

      So, I wouldn’t say the Scottish Greens are sleekit at all, they just have a lot of really weirdo policies (it isn’t just about environmental stuff), so voting for them is fine if all you are voting for is independence – because they will stick with their principles on that one too I’m sure – but not if you want a pragmatic approach to how your country is run. That is, they care more about their internal (rather fanciful) party policies than they do about you.

      We need overwhelming majorities of SNP politicians, and we need out of this toxic union with their toxic parties. Whichever opportunity comes first.

  6. Scott

    Wow a reply from a Tory.

    Thank you for your email.

    May l be very clear: it is only Primary 1 testing about which we have a disagreement with the SNP. This is nothing to do with political opposition but because evidence tells us that at age 5 the tests to do not provide meaningful results.

    We support the SNP policy of testing at P4, P7 and S3.

    The recent media coverage has largely been about Primary 1 testing not the more general issue.

    Liz Smith MSP

  7. gareth allan

    liz smith why the lies its in ur manifesto to assess p1 pupils or dont u think a manifesto should be fulfilled and if not u should be on air telling the fools that voted for u that u lied and you didnt mean a word u said

  8. Anne Grigor

    As long as testing is supported by politicians teachers are entitled to have a bench mark as a starting point , p1 pupils enter the system with an age difference of up to 11 months .The maturity, language skills,understanding, social skills and cognitive development of these children vary widely. Our pupils are not a uniform “product ” we then process to an acceptable level as in a factory. Education should not be used as a political football, it is too important to each individual child.

  9. Jack collatin

    Well, I hope the Greens are happy that they sided with Kelly, WATP Two Jobs Tomkins and that serial political failure The Queen’s Eleven Murdo Fraser in giving the SNP a ‘bloody nose’ by scrapping the OBFA despite it being supported by 80% of the Plebs, you know who I mean, the idiots who actually gave you their vote to these tossers believing that they has at least some principles and sense of justice.
    Now we have Stabbings, a burger bar trashed and staff beaten up, the ‘Famine Song’ and ‘Ooh Aah Up the ‘Ra’ belted from the poinsonous terracings.
    Now they are liying that 5 year olds are being reduced to tears because they are undertaking simple innocuous assessments.
    The Lib Dems are an utter disgrace. five gravy trainers coining it in for doing nothing other than clogging up the works, holding up essential legislation, and smirking like wee schoolboys who had just let off stink bombs in the dining hall.
    Roll on Independence. Only then will we rid ourselves of this quite alarmingly poor third class jumped up councillor level bunch of Proudscotsbut chancers.
    I could not be in the same room as any of them.
    I am outraged at their behaviour.
    They don’t give a feck about Scotland, or our children.

    1. Jockanese Wind Talker

      They will NEVER care about Scotland or her people.

      That’s because they believe we are all ‘North Britons’ Jack.

      And the North has to be shittier than the South of Gweat Bwitan because Jackie Burd and the rest tell them that’s the way it is.

      “Scotland Shit, ‘cos EssEnnPeeBaaad”

      I’m with you, Roll on Independence.

      Then we will rid ourselves of 3rd Rate ‘Politicians’ and a corrupt and broken media who represent and propagandise for a foreign country rather than their own.

  10. Robert Graham

    Lost count of the people who have said it’s way past time the SNP started being pro active rather than reacting to what Westminster does , and why the reluctance to openly challenge the BBC at every turn, Get a bloody grip this could be the last chance for many people to see independence in their lifetime .

    1. Jockanese Wind Talker

      Aye, what has happened to the SNPs Rapid Reaction Rebuttal Unit/Service?

      It should be primed and ready to go within the hour of a bullshit EssEnnPeeBaaad story (‘cos we all know it is rinse and repeat SNHS, Education, Polis Scotland, Scot Rail or whatever is shite in England according to latest report/survey etc.)

      If the Rebuttal Service isn’t up to it then Keith Brown should subcontract it out to Stu Campbell ASAP.

      Time is running out and every second counts.

  11. Scott

    An update from Liz Smith regarding P1.

    I am agreeing wholeheartedly with Ruth Davidson when she says we need more rigorous testing. Her reference to Primary l testing is in relation to what the international evidence has said in that regard (and you will be aware it is mixed) and l support looking at that evidence. I am personally not persuaded of standardised testing at Primary 1

    I believe an important debate is to be had on this whole issue which l will be happy to lead next week.

  12. ceebee

    this whole thing it nuts . when i went to school i cried . not because i was tested just the fact i was expected to go to school . no one started a national debate on why or what should be done . should they have asked possibly this child should not go to school as she clearly is upset about going . . children react to all sorts of things in different ways … usually by crying as it is something that we all learn to do when something happens or is presented to us we dont like or want to do or feel threatened by . surely the fact that the whole classes of children being tested are not all crying when asked the questions should put some common sense into this . as an add on when i went to school in later years we had a teacher who shouted and hit us she was a horror .no one did anything about her other than she eventually retired . .i think as usual that the ..whole thing is blow out of proportion by the partys involved . … why dont they actually do something worthwhile for scotland other than bitch and bully the snp at every moment . you only have to watch fmq to see all that going on . where is the parliament we were told we would see when it was set up it should be a cohesive effort not a them and us situation that is very evident ….get on with the day job ?? they never let up its amazing what nc does get on with given the constant barrage of negitivity that is like a solar wind fired her way … the soon we get independance the better .

  13. Bellend Pete

    Alan’s piece is another hilarious example of not knowing jack shit about journalism, broadcasting, print or guidelines. This is the equivalent of a crayon drawing by a backward toddler. Keep going Alan – smart Yessers need the laugh

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