Not fooled!

Once again we see the British media churning out one of their ‘Isn’t Scotland awful!’ tales by selectively quoting statistics. If there is a way of making things look bad, they’ll find it. And the gullible will fall for it every time.

But the British state’s propaganda machine is running up against a problem. Increasing numbers of people aren’t passively accepting what they’re told. Because there are now alternatives to the establishment media, people are becoming more discerning. They are becoming active consumers of media product. They are asking the awkward questions.

The mainstream media operate on the assumption that their audience is stupid or lazy or both. They don’t cope well with people who think for themselves.

People aren’t stupid. They are perfectly capable of realising that presenting figures for two periods can be deceptive. It can give a totally false impression and tells us nothing about longer term trends.

People aren’t lazy. They are willing and able to seek out the important facts that the media omit because those facts don’t serve the malicious spin. For example, this article tries very hard to give the impression of a deteriorating situation. But people have learned not to trust the media. If some mercenary hack is putting a lot of effort into peddling a particular impression, people are immediately suspicious. They ask awkward questions. Such as, “Is this true?”

Look again at the few solid facts in the article. For all the talk of GP practices closing, there is not a single example of any having been dissolved. An increase in the number of surgeries being run directly by health boards is presented as ‘evidence’ of a worsening GP recruitment situation. But practices being taken over by health boards is not unusual. And not, in itself, evidence of anything as there can be a whole range of reasons for this happening.

Look too at what is missing. For all that the whole point of the piece is to paint a picture of a GP recruitment ‘crisis’, there are no actual figures given. Why? because the facts would not serve the negative spin.

The reality is that he Scottish Government has pumped resources into primary care. As recently at March, BMA Scottish GPs committee chair Alan McDevitt was welcoming the latest substantial increase in funding for GP services.

And, contrary to the impression given in this and other articles, the situation is improving. By October 2016, a total of 276 people had taken up GP training posts in Scotland. A 15% increase on 2015.

Some of us will recall a Herald article from that time which took the recruitment of 37 additional GP trainees – over and above the usual annual quota – as a decline in recruitment because, up to that point, the recruitment drive hadn’t brought in the 100 extra trainees being sought.

There are at least three easily identified reasons for this ongoing denigration of NHS Scotland. It distracts from what is being done to the NHS in England and lessens the impact of comparisons between the two health services.

The attacks also serve to undermine public confidence in the NHS. Portraying them as ‘failing’ is commonly the first stage in the process of handing healthcare services to profiteering corporations.

But most of all it’s about politics. The politics of British Nationalism and the British establishment’s imperative to subvert the Scottish Government, weaken the Scottish Parliament and marginalise the SNP because, together, these have become a threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

Remember this every time you see one of these ‘Isn’t Scotland awful!’ stories.

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6 thoughts on “Not fooled!

  1. Proud Cybernat

    “Portraying them as ‘failing’ is commonly the first stage in the process of handing healthcare services to profiteering corporations.”

    Nailed it right there, Mr Bell.

    Excellent article.

  2. bringiton

    The “failing” narrative from the London based parties with respect to devolved matters is setting the scene for taking back control from Holyrood to Westminster.
    Devolution has failed blah blah blah.
    The London based media have to talk about devolved matters in Scotland because the only prospectus from their political parties north of the border is “no more independence referendums”.
    Scotland is not a country in their minds but a precious possession which allows them to continue to pretend that the British empire still exists and their continuing importance in world affairs.
    After Brexit they are in for a big wake-up call.

  3. George Clark

    The other point, which doesn’t seem to have occurred to those who peddle this rubbish, is that their readers, or their reader’s close family or friends, will have had genuine and positive experiences of NHS Scotland, and be well aware of the fallacies being presented to them.

  4. Colin Brown

    Excellent analysis of the ambivalence of the “British” Medical Association on Scottish GP numbers. Most of its senior members and GP leaders are pro-Union by default of corporate loyalty. This and the Foodbank Nurse row are good examples of the public confusion about what is or not devolved.
    We need a policy on how to deal with Devolution Confusion, something like:
    Wherever the devolved issue has some parts Reserved – the default position for anything not specified to be devolved – it’s only that part that is relevant to a UK-wide GE, and should be diverted to pro-UK sources to explain. In these cases, professional education, training and regulation are reserved to UK-wide bodies, and SG can proclaim credit for improving the deal for Scotland by funds from genuine efficiency savings in running the NHS as a public service, without wasteful competition with private corporations.
    These details of the devolution “settlement” are not well understood but problems in Reserved areas must be called out before they can be turned into support for full powers as only provided by independence.

  5. manandboy

    It also deflects from the massive interest payments under PFI into the pockets of the rich, crippling hospitals as well as schools.

    Nicola really ought to be reminding the Unionist parties about PFI everyday.

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