Almost as bad as fake news is news that has already been decided. The incredible win by the SNP in the local elections has been marginalised in favour of what appears to have been a pre-determined news agenda.
In what is a carbon copy of Ruth Davidson’s mythical ‘win’ in the 2016 Holyrood election, the Scottish Conservative leader is being carried shoulder-high by a loyal media corps after coming second yet again.
I sat flabbergasted during the BBC’s coverage of the Scottish local election results. The narrative was being set even before the results were known. Ruth’s Tory party was to be declared the de-facto winner. It didn’t matter how many seats the SNP won.
News that the Tories had picked up a solitary council seat in Shettleston was enough to set the bandwagon rolling. That the SNP had got off to an even better start in the Glasgow constituency was simply ignored. This was “bad for the SNP”.
The focus of media attention in 2012 was of course Glasgow. Five years ago when the SNP failed to overtake Labour it became the motif for a media intent on presenting the SNP as having lost the election.
In 2017 Nicola Sturgeon’s party looked set to dethrone Labour yet this major symbolic moment was being downplayed. Indeed the SNP win would eventually be presented as a failure due to the party not having achieved a majority.
Make no mistake, this was a quite phenomenal result for the SNP. The party has been in power for over ten years yet is still unbeatable when it comes to national elections. In 2012 it won 425 seats on a 32.33% share of the vote. In 2017 the SNP actually increased its seat total to 431. Amazingly the BBC persistently reported this as a loss of six seats.
The numbers of seats lost varied from seven, to fourteen and at one point thirty. Below, thanks to Wings Over Scotland, are a few examples of BBC fake ‘facts’.
Reporting Scotland didn’t correct the misinformation. The graphic in the image to the right shows the SNP down seven seats.
The apparent ‘loss’ of SNP seats is down to boundary changes. The BBC has apparently ‘imagined’ what the party might have won in 2012 had the changes been in place for the last council election.
Reporting Scotland was as bad as could be expected. The programme actually led with the Scottish Conservative gains.
Ruth Davidson’s party dominated the item which you can view by clicking here. On radio it was much the same. The 5pm bulletin heard Andrew Kerr tell listeners: “The Conservatives have the biggest wins”. His Newsdrive colleague echoed his sentiments as you can hear below.
The SNP increased its seat tally, increased its percentage vote share, increased its actual vote [by 75,000], increased the number of councils where it was returned the biggest party and increased its winning margin. That, folks, is a massive success in anyone’s language.
Was Ruth Davidson’s party’s seat gain newsworthy? Of course it was. But in every election, if the leading party increases its seats and increases its lead over the second placed party then that is more newsworthy, not less.
The Scottish Conservatives didn’t make gains at the expense of the SNP. It made gains at the expense of Scottish Labour. Hard-core Unionism has simply chosen a new home for its support. It isn’t a surge, it’s a migration. That is the real story of the local election.
Labour now serves no purpose in Scottish politics. It has been reduced to a role previously occupied by the Lib Dems – it has become a subservient party whose only hope of power is alliance with a dominant force. The only party it can enter into any pact with is of course the Scottish Tories.
Ruth Davidson and Theresa May both made this local election a de-facto ballot on a second independence referendum. It may well have gained extra Unionist votes for their party but it didn’t gain enough. An honest media would have handed the SNP the election and indyref2 laurels.
But we don’t have an honest media. We have a corporate media that still punts the Unionist line. That’s why almost every media pundit who appeared on the BBC refused to challenge the narrative that had already been pre-defined. News of this election had already been written.
Second is the new first.Views: 19188