Nicola Sturgeon’s revelation that she suffered a miscarriage in 2011 came right out of the blue. A brave decision for any woman to relive what must have been a traumatic experience, least of all someone so firmly established in the public eye.
The media, for the most part, handled the news with respect. From what I heard and read there was no attempt to present this as anything other than what it was. Unionist politicians too responded in a manner that was commendable. Kezia Dugdale was especially supportive of her political rival.
There was though some unsavoury reporting. The Sunday Times was criticised after it published a sidebar image of “childless politicians”, which included Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Angela Eagle, Ruth Davidson, Natalie Bennett and Justine Greening.
The insensitive and crass Sunday Times image was similar to another image published by the New Statesman magazine in July 2015 that was criticised at the time by none other than Nicola Sturgeon.
Perhaps the worst reaction to the news that the First Minister lost an unborn child five years ago came on Sunday morning during the newspaper review on Good Morning Scotland.
The clip below contains ‘analysis’ of the story by journalist Andy Collier.
A former speechwriter for the SNP, Collier has become a regular guest on BBC Scotland in recent months. The journalist’s appearances increased in frequency after he defended the BBC’s coverage of Scottish politics in a recent article, describing claims the corporation was pro-Union as a ‘cybernat delusion’.
“To these people at the medicated end of the national cause, newspapers and broadcasters are the full-on, cask strength enemy. They’re viewed as working together enthusiastically in a common battle for the obliteration of nationalism and all it stands for, with editors and journalists maliciously crawling over each other in order to earn their knighthoods and CBEs.
“This grand cybernat delusion has become something of a cottage industry. Complaints and theories choke up social media. Crowdfunding has been employed to feed the beast. An entire book has been written obsessing against the BBC. There are even, God forbid, now plans to make an independent TV documentary on the alleged bias (not, presumably, to be offered up to Pacific Quay).”
Collier’s rant was published by STV and spawned headlines in the corporate media.
When Collier foolishly decided to push a ‘politicking’ line when asked to comment on Nicola Sturgeon’s dreadfully sad revelation, he was I believe clumsily providing the broadcaster with the kind of anti-SNP narrative it often requires. Indeed he was effectively set-up to do this by a presenter who invited the kind of analysis he provided. Collier I suspect now regrets his words.
The episode highlights what is a recurring theme of guest punditry at BBC Scotland. The invite of someone who can be presented as ‘pro-SNP’ but who, for whatever reason, will provide analysis that is often critical of the nationalists.
The most well-known of these types of ‘SNP’ pundits is of course ‘former SNP deputy leader’ Jim Sillars. Sillars has long been a thorn in the side of the SNP and actually backed one of its opponents, RISE, in the last Holyrood election.
Did you know that days after the European referendum, Sillars was invited onto the Saturday edition of Good Morning Scotland where he argued that Nicola Sturgeon did not have a mandate for a second independence referendum?
Collier, like Sillars and other ex-SNP staffers like Alex Bell, will continue to field invites from BBC Scotland not least because it allows the station to claim neutrality and balance when accused of favouring pro-Union guests. “Look!” It will reply. “We invited all these former SNP big-wigs. How can we be biased?”
I suspect Andy Collier just picked the wrong subject when giving his ‘impartial’ analysis on Sunday. I do hope he had the good grace to contact Nicola Sturgeon and her husband and offer a private apology afterwards. Even better if he issues a public one.
As for the Radio Scotland presenter who invited Collier to make his comments. Perhaps a moment of reflection might be in order. Oh, and if you think BBC Scotland presenters wouldn’t stoop to this kind of thing then have a listen to the clip below.
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