The ‘Railway Crisis’ nonsense appears to have run its course. The issue dominated First Minister’s Questions last Thursday but failed to make it onto that evening’s Reporting Scotland. Someone at Pacific Quay clearly decided after eight days they could squeeze no more out of a train breakdown. Humza has survived.
It was getting ridiculous. So pathetic was ‘train-gate’ becoming that run-of-the-mill problems were being presented as national disasters. The hype had led to near hysteria. Below is a tweet posted by GMS presenter Gary Robertson last Wednesday. STV turned the same over-head signal problem into a major news item.
The media, having created the witch-hunt, was ultimately left looking ridiculous as it was forced to feed the beast. If you’re telling people there’s a crisis then you damn well have to create one.
The diet of Labour inspired calls to sack Yousaf were supplemented with tales of a ‘catastrophic’ collapse in the reliability of Scotland’s rail network. That the performance of ScotRail [just below 89%] was above the UK average and better than at any time under Scottish Labour, was simply ignored. Indeed in terms of delays and cancellations, Arriva Trains Wales is worse than Abellio run ScotRail. Somehow I can’t see Welsh Labour calling for the resignation of Ieuan Wyn Jones.
It didn’t suit the media agenda to educate and inform the Scottish public. So much easier to create an illusion and let them ‘inform’ themselves. I mean respected BBC presenters don’t press ministers to resign unless there’s a good reason to … do they?
It was all part of the sham. Scotland’s Transport Minister was never meant to resign. The media created the train-crisis myth in order to satisfy a need for a few anti-SNP headlines. This was an attempt at applying indirect pressure onto the First Minister and divert from Brexit. The Unionist parties are all over the place on the issue.
Few will recall, but the day before a train ground to a halt outside Waverly Station on November 17th, Kezia Dugdale had just announced a massive U-turn. The Scottish Labour leader and her MSPs had refused to back a motion calling for Scotland’s Single Market status to be protected. That afternoon Dugdale published a blog in which she confirmed she was now reversing her pledge to back the First Minister in a bid at seeking a special deal for Scotland.
“The SNP submitted a motion that seemed to admit defeat on keeping the whole UK in the EU single market and asked us to take a leap of blind faith in an alternative approach yet to be revealed.
“It set the bar so high that it was likely to fail, as Scotland-only membership is undoubtedly going to be difficult – if not impossible – to achieve. Expert after expert has said as much since summer.”
The blog by the Labour MSP contradicted previous statements in which she offered support for the Scottish Government’s bid to protect Scotland’s EU status.
In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon in September, the Scottish Labour leader wrote:
“We have repeatedly supported your efforts to meet with Governments around the world to not only seek to find a way to retain Scotland’s EU membership but also to make clear that Scotland is open for business.”
In June the Scottish Labour leader said:
“The decision to leave the EU will cause untold damage to Scotland’s economy and standing in the world. Every possible avenue must be explored to not just mitigate the impact. The majority of Scotland’s voters backed remaining in the EU and it is vital that our parliament gives voice to that position.”
But Dugdale’s Brexit U-turn was buried. Instead the Scottish public was submitted to an eight day feeding-frenzy as the corporate media, led by the BBC, targeted Humza Yousaf.
The manufactured outrage, and it was manufactured, was based on nothing. It had no foundation save for delays and cancellations that were already widely expected. Weeks before the unfortunate train breakdown just outside Waverly Station, the company in charge of ScotRail had warned commuters to expect problems.
Abellio had taken some trains out of service in order to upgrade them. This temporary reduction in rolling-stock coincided with infrastructure modernisation works. The media and opposition parties knew this. Indeed BBC Scotland reported the warning from Abellio on the day it was announced.
The truth is that our media and opposition knew delays and cancellations were guaranteed to happen. They were already poised to attack Humza Yousaf when they got an early Christmas present in the shape of the train breakdown outside Waverly Station that fateful morning. They latched onto it.
The witchhunt endured by Humza Yousaf was the product of political and media corruption. The media feasted on a myth of its own creation. Unionist politicians too gorged themselves. What of the railways and its passengers? Mere pawns in a game.
These people don’t care about ScotRail. They care only that they can manufacture a ‘crisis’ that will lend itself to the drafting of some easy anti-SNP copy. Just so long as they all sing from the same hymn-sheet they all benefit. It didn’t suit anybody to tell readers and licence payers that ScotRail was actually one of the best performing networks in the UK. So they didn’t.
The ‘crisis’ will move on, as it always does. Who is next? Shona Robison is in the cross-hairs. The media has been trying to shoehorn the MSP into the vacancy left by Yousaf. A BBC Freedom of Information request last week put the issue of ‘avoidable deaths’ at one Scottish hospital into the spotlight. Two right-wing pro-Union newspapers picked it up on Sunday. Both featured on the Good Morning Scotland newspaper review on Sunday.
There is still decent journalism in Scotland. Of course there is. It’s just that it rarely makes it beyond a page or two of the newspaper it appears in.
For instance you won’t find the allegations of a multi-million pound corruption scam, currently engulfing North Lanarkshire Labour, being the lead item on Reporting Scotland.
Nor will you hear any mention of the Labour expense attack on the SNP [that backfired spectacularly] on GMS news bulletins. These stories are genuine news. Alas they don’t fit the #SNPBad agenda.
Meanwhile whilst the Scottish media has been engrossed in how late our trains are, the spectre of Brexit is still looming. Ach, what’s billions lost to the Scottish economy and tens of thousands of jobs disappearing?
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