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BBC Scotland must end this politicising of tragedy – Towards Indyref2…

BBC Scotland must end this politicising of tragedy

This week we learned that two babies died in a Glasgow hospital.  They died after contracting a blood infection.  The infection wasn’t the sole cause of death.  According to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, it was “one of a number of contributing causes” in both deaths.

Both babies were born “extremely premature”.  This won’t minimise the sense of loss felt by the parents, but it does provide some context and a partial explanation for the deaths.  Premature babies have an immune system that has yet to develop.  They are born extremely vulnerable.

As tragic as the deaths are, they are an unfortunate reality in cases of extreme premature births.  The three major causes of neonatal deaths worldwide are infections, premature birth and suffocation [Source].

The infection itself was caused by Staphylococcus aureus, which is a bacterium that is commonly found on the skin and mucosa – moist tissue that lines certain parts of the inside of the human body – without causing any problems.

This type of infection has fallen in the Scottish NHS by 93% in the last ten years.  Scotland leads the world in infection control.  But you’d be forgiven for thinking that Scotland’s hospitals were an infection ridden death trap.  That bugs were rife in wards the length and breadth of the nation.

This is because the deaths of two babies, and death of a child in another hospital, have been politicised.  Unionist politicians are seeking to make capital out of tragedy and what’s worse, BBC Scotland is aiding and abetting the sick ghoulish behaviour.

Within 35 minutes of the baby deaths story appearing on BBC Scotland online, two Unionist politicians had issued statements that attempted to make political capital out of the tragedy.  The statements from Tory MSP Miles Briggs and Labour MSP Monica Lennon appeared in the BBC online article.

Briggs stated: “Four deaths have now occurred in recent times under circumstances like these, and it’s time for the SNP government to get a grip on this situation.”

Lennon’s comment was less strident: “The health secretary must urgently provide the reassurance the public needs.”

The bigger issue though is not the attempt to make political capital out of tragedy by Unionist politicians, something they have become adept at ever since the SNP won power at Holyrood, but the willingness of BBC Scotland to join in and promote this reprehensible practice.

BBC Scotland has pushed this politicisation of the tragedy in TV and radio news bulletins.


It’s all the more questionable given that the practice is all but non-existent south of the border.  The BBC in England does not politicise tragedies in this manner.  Look at articles on the BBC website that refer to tragic deaths in English hospitals and you won’t find politically motivated comments from opposition MPs.

Last August new figures revealed that deaths as a result of sepsis in English hospitals had risen by a third in two years.  The BBC article was in depth and detailed.  But missing was any attempt to politicise the story.

In January this year it emerged that the baby death rate in Manchester had risen by 40% in a decade.  Again the BBC article was mature, informative and devoid of any politicisation.

Search for any English NHS story on the BBC website and you’ll be amazed at the lack of politicisation. Only today [Jan 31st] a story about the sudden closure of an NHS midwifery service in London was reported on without any politicisation.

The BBC coverage south of the border, in terms of NHS issues, is precisely what you’d expect from a public service broadcaster, sober, mature, detailed and informative.  In Scotland however a different template operates.  The BBC’s Scottish template encourages Unionist politicians to see political opportunity in tragedy.

Coverage of the baby deaths by BBC Scotland has bordered on political sensationalism.  The impression being given is that Scottish hospitals are filthy, that the deaths were easily preventable, that the cleaning regime is inefficient and that the Scottish government is negligent.

Thursday’s Good Morning Scotland witnessed two senior Scottish health professionals appear on the programme and battle to correct this grossly misleading impression.



There is an obvious problem within BBC Scotland.  Most non-Unionists who digest its political output know only too well how serious this problem is.  The politicisation of tragedy is a consequence of this problem.

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