Reporting Scotland: Relentlessly slanted … Relentlessly negative

What’s the point of Reporting Scotland?  It’s a genuine question of a programme that seems incapable of finding anything positive to say about the nation within which it broadcasts.

On Tuesday the so-called flagship evening news programme took to the air with news on the Scottish NHS, the Named Person scheme and Scotland’s streets.  All three items were a feast of negativity.  More on that later.

Three Speeches

In this article though, I’m going to begin by highlighting something that happened last month and involved speeches given by the leaders of the three main parties at Holyrood.

On Monday, February 13th, Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale both travelled to London to give speeches.  Both, not surprisingly, attacked the SNP and the idea of independence.

Both speeches were covered on that evening’s Reporting Scotland as you can see below.

Significant resource was assigned to coverage of the speeches as the clip above evidences.  Graphics were produced especially and camera crews were despatched to film Davidson and Dugdale.  The speeches from the two Unionists were treated as a significant news story with over four minutes of air-time allocated.

So what?

Well on February 28th Nicola Sturgeon gave an equivalent speech.  Given her status as the First Minister of Scotland you would think that Reporting Scotland would allocate, at the very least, an identical amount of time and resource.  You’d be wrong.

No camera crew was despatched to film Nicola Sturgeon and there was no resource in terms of graphics in order to visually help the viewer appreciate the point the First Minister was making.  Instead we had a summary from Glenn Campbell.  The whole item lasted just over one and a half minutes, which was nearly three minutes less than that enjoyed by Davidson and Dugdale.

There’s no obvious reason for the lack of parity.  All we know is that a speech by Scotland’s First Minister is deemed less worthy of time and resource than those of her pro-Union rivals.

On the same day Nicola Sturgeon gave her speech, another story was doing the rounds courtesy of BBC Scotland.  The story involved calls from Orkney council for ‘self-determination’ for the islands.

Incredibly, a camera crew was despatched to the islands so that viewers could hear Graham Sinclair promote an idea that seems to crop up whenever the subject of Scottish independence is current.

The story is of course a re-hash of a similar piece of nonsense that surfaced during the 2014 referendum campaign.  The clip below is from Reporting Scotland in February 2012.

Bad News

Let’s move on now to Tuesday evening’s Reporting Scotland which was as negative a programme as I can recall.  The programme started off with two items, one on attempted murder and one on a murder … then it moved onto politics.

Before you view the first clip from the programme it’s worth noting some statistics released that day by the Information Services Division of the Scottish NHS.

  • Staffing levels in the Scottish NHS are at record levels.  Nursing is at a historic high.
  • Scotland’s A&E waiting times during January was 91.8%. In England it was 82% – worst in 13 years.
  • There were 5,170.3 WTE medical and dental consultants in post, an increase of 1.7% (88.2 WTE) since December 2015.
  • There were 59,709.1 WTE nursing and midwifery staff in post, an increase of 0.7% (421.7 WTE) from December 2015.
  • 6.8% (377.0 WTE) of consultant posts were vacant.  This compares to 6.0% at 31 December
    2015 and 7.0% at 30 September 2016.
  • 4.1% (2,525.5 WTE) of nursing and midwifery posts were vacant. This compares to 3.6% at 31 December 2015 and 4.3% at 30 September 2016.

The positive far outweigh the negatives.  Indeed the only negative to be found is the consultant and nurse vacancies.  Both have increased since December 2015 but both are down from September 2016.  In other words it’s a bit mixed.

OK, now you have an idea of what the overall picture is, let’s first see how Reporting Scotland introduced the item.

Let’s leave aside the decision to lead with the only negative aspect of the statistics just for now.  Listen again to what Jackie Bird says.

“A big increase in consulting and nursing vacancies in the NHS in Scotland …”.  The vacancy aspect is presented as a statement of fact.  There has indeed been an increase in both.  Whether it is “big” is open to interpretation.

Bird then adds: “… but the government says there’s more staff than ever.”  This is presented not as fact but as a claim by the Scottish government.  The question is why?  Below is what the ISD report says:

The number of staff employed by NHS Scotland continues to increase gradually. The headcount of 162,302 staff represents a rise of 0.5% over the last year. Adjusting for part time working, the WTE has risen by 0.7% to 139,262.0. Over the last 10 years the WTE has risen by 9.6%.

If BBC Scotland has information that proves the Scottish government ‘claim’ wrong then why not produce it?  The reason is that there is no such information.  Reporting Scotland has cleverly ensured the viewer will cast some doubt on what is in fact true.

The full item that followed Bird’s introduction has to be contrasted against the essentially positive report issued by NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division.

It’s quite incredible.  If you took the same approach to a football match report you’d criticise a team that had just won the match because it conceded too many corner kicks.

The negativity continued on the programme when the issue of the Named Person scheme was covered.  I’m not going to dwell on this save to show you a clip of Ruth Davidson making claims which this time are demonstrably false.

Named Person wasn’t ruled unlawful.  The court didn’t rule against it.  The UK Supreme Court ruled that the policy was legitimate but insisted concerns over information sharing had to be addressed.  The scheme has been delayed in order to allow time for the law to be amended.

What purpose was served by allowing Ruth Davidson to make false claims is beyond me.  It did though ensure that the relentless negativity of the programme continued, right into the next item which was about Scotland’s dirty streets.  If you really want to see that item you can watch it here.

I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again, BBC Scotland is institutionally corrupt.  There is a serious problem within its news and current affairs department and it isn’t going away.

What can we do?  Nothing … save for making people aware of it.  You can help do that by ordering one of these ‘London calling’ DVDs.

If you enjoyed reading this article please feel free to make a small donation.

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14 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland: Relentlessly slanted … Relentlessly negative

  1. Lochside

    Thank God for your diligence Mr P!…I wondered when you would produce your chracteristic well researched and forensic dissection of the BBC’s blatant and incessant attack on democracy and freedom of speech in Scotland. I have been watching with mounting anger and incredulity as the one sided attacks on made up ‘issues’ regarding the Scottish Gov and the SNP are piled on day by day.

    The desperation to undermine the imminent wipeout of Unionism at the Council polls is written large with every comic cuts attempts to smear Scotland and her people with the ordure that should be projected at its real culprit: Westminster and the Tories criminal dismantling of the welfare state and the UK economy all in pursuit of their pathetic self seeking careers.

    The complete lack of SNP spokespeople from OUR GOVERNMENT is unbelievable. Every time I see Glen Campbell’s quisling fizzog I grue and spit blood. Why is this man still working for the BBC years after he ripped up the SNP manifesto on screen?…an act that should have been tantamount to a public resignation if it had been visited on any other political party.

    I have given up asking at my branch and on these sites when are the SNP going to challenge the BBC and its latest branch manager puppet Donalda whitshername for an answer as to how they can justify this suffocation of Scottish democracy?
    We can’t complain…we can’t comment….we can’t even organise a nationwide boycott of the BBC and its tax….I don’t pay it and thousands of other don’t likewise….but it’s farting against thunder…we need leadership….bring back Tommy or somebody with a backbone!

  2. brobb

    Tuesday night did hit a new low. I watched with growing disbelief as I’d already read the positive NHS facts online, thinking surely they couldn’t avoid some mention but of course they did. The Ruth Davidson stuff mirrors how the BBC promoted UKIP just by regularly including them on any political programme and making sure UKIP views got plenty of publicity – talk about contributing to grievance politics and division! To top it all the dirty street report allowed another dig at cuts to council funding and there you have the BBC agenda led out bare –
    The SNP are failing in the day job
    Ruth Davidson should be the next First Minister (since Labour are pretty rubbish at the minute)
    and vote anyone but SNP at the council elections

    All pretty sad for a once respected institution. Trouble is their actions are so blatant they simply harden the resolve of the 45% + of Scottish people already committed to seeking independence and give us plenty of fodder to help persuade others to consider yes – do the BBC really think the 2014 no voters are too stupid to notice what they’re doing? Possibly the only bonus of having the predominantly English news coverage from 6-6.30 on first is that everyone in Scotland watching sees the mess of things down south.

    Thankfully we’ve got Netflix and the internet, no need to pay for this propoganda!

  3. Big Jock

    I have never known a legitimate democratically elected government to be treated in this way by it’s own media. When they attack the SNP they are at heart attacking Scotland and defending the UK. The BBC in Scotland are anti Scotland. This is the level of it.

    They should be backing their country and interrogating WM and London about cuts and lies. Instead they blame the SNP for not managing to retain the same levels of spending with year on year cuts. Of course there is less funding that’s what happens when your pay is cut every year. But you can’t blame government when it can’t control it’s own income. It’s a minor miracle that the SNP government have still maintained the services they have. That should be the story.

    All along we have known that the way the Yoons attack the SNP. Is by saying look we gave you all these powers. You can’t blame us anymore. Except the powers are next to useless when your budget if allocated by a third party who keep cutting it. Taking £200 off someones salary in 2016 and then giving them a tenner more in 2017 is not an increase. It’s moronic and insulting.

    The idea is to do the damage yourself and then shift the blame to the messenger delivering the front end service budget.

    1. Ken

      When Cons believe their own propaganda they cannot accept the real reasons for election results in Scotland. They think they can make the SNP unpopular by giving it the kind of powers that involve the “Stick” but none that have the “Carrot”. That is why they constantly want the SNP to use tax powers.
      To have responsibility without all the controls is like being given a car with no wheels. Or with no petrol. Or with breaks but no accelerator .

  4. Dan Huil

    The bbc in Scotland has given up any pretence it once had for balanced broadcasting. The good thing is that because of excellent sites like this one the more the bbc indulges in unionist bias the more people in Scotland realize what pathetic jokes the bbc and the so-called unied kingdom are.

  5. David Mooney

    Yet again GAP nails it. Blatant manipulation of the facts to paint a picture of the SNP governments supposed failure in Scotland.

    On the 30th of March the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee meets in Hollyrood. The “Draft Royal Charter for the Continuance of the BBC” is on the agenda. Surely Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP should be lobbied with regards to the BBC’s unbalanced reporting.

    I would propose that Donalda MacKinnon should be called to answer questions about the reporting bias prevalent in Reporting Scotland and other BBC news outlets. This article and possible a couple of others (eg any SNHS or any number of the Police Scotland articles). Could be used as examples and possibly GAP could be called to walk through them, with the Director of BBC Scotland in attendance.

    Of course she will deny any such bias but that will be her opinion. This and other articles are based on facts. Facts that cannot be denied when presented in the way they are here.

  6. Dennis Bartholomew

    why do the bbc keep on about referendum dont they listen to what the snp say instead of all those unionist parties and jackie bird who thrives on running down the snp every week at fmqs the tories the lab party the libs keep going on about referendum they give the inpression that they want independence more than the snp the fmdoesnt even mention referendum the fm hasnt even given any indication of a second referendum all she says is the alternative is on the table that being Scotland being in the eu me for sure when i hear the commentators on the telly going on about it i feel like throwing something at the telly the bbc are so bias remember its the scottish PEOPLE who put the snp into goverment

  7. Kenny Higgins

    Excellent article well research but sadly its a statement of what so many already know is a corrupt and biased institution fuelled by lead presenters skilled in pitching deliberate negativity and twisted reporting in support of the Union. The corruption is there for all to see so blatant and obvious even to neutral observers, that it is regularly the topic of casual chat down the local.

    Countless complaints have gone to BBC – several from myself and responses are so pathetic in denial claiming that they do not hold any Union bias or anti Independence traits.

    Our missing 10+% in favour of Independence to take us to 60% I fear has been duped into believing the BBC Propaganda that was also so prevalent for almost a year prior to Independence 1 in 2014. It resulted in thousands refusing to pay TV licences and Thousands more protesting outside BBC Scotland HQ. Even that was wrongly reported as a hundred or so protesters – Real estimate was between 1000 – 1500 for I was there to witness it.

    Our voices of complaint seem to have drifted into the ether and desperately needs to resurface again. The GAP article and its evidence would be fantastic outline and content for a documentary titled – the missing 10+% for that I am sure is the BBC secret strategic target.

    The power of the Media is significant as we have seen in the US presidential election and the BBC in Sotland and elsewhere, have undisputed honours in corruption, deception and Bias that needs to be constantly challenged. Enjoyed your article GA P thanks

  8. Ann Rayner

    Thanks to David Mooney for flagging up the Culture,Tourism and External Affairs Meeting at at Hollywood on 30th March to discuss the BBC Charter. Can we organise a demo the? I’m certainly up for going along. Does anyone know what time it will happen?

  9. Fiona McGregor

    Perhaps presenting this evidence to the BBC Ombudsman Editorial Standards would be useful. their purpose as set out on their webpage is:
    The Trust is responsible for approving the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. These Guidelines are the key foundation for the maintenance of high editorial standards in everything broadcast or produced by the BBC. They cover a range of standards including impartiality, harm and offence, accuracy, fairness, privacy and dealing with children and young people as contributors. Through the links below, you can find details of the various ways the Trust seeks to ensure that the BBC lives up to these standards, such as acting as final arbiter on complaints and by holding impartiality reviews on specific topics.

    Reporting Scotland appear to be breaching the “impartiality….accuracy, fairness…” elements.

  10. Alex Beveridge

    Many thanks to all who still watch B.B.C news. I gave up years ago.
    The answer to why they are so committed to lying to the Scottish people is quite simple. They are the most effective way of espousing British state propaganda to the masses. Along with their accomplices in the print media, their sole function is to try to prevent the truth reaching the Scottish electorate, and despite their falling audience figures, they remain a powerful enemy.
    Although when you see the latest opinion poll, it seems we are getting there, gradually.
    What depresses me is the statistic that it’s my age group that is most against independence. As someone who has lived through the rejected Scottish Covenant of the 1940s, the gerrymandered Scottish Assembly result of 1979, and our last Independence Referendum, I would have thought that the penny would have dropped by this time with more of our senior citizens.
    And it’s probably this age group who still get their news from the likes of the B.B.C, or the newspaper they have bought for years.
    The State Broadcaster is never going to change. It can, as it’s being doing probably since its inception, lie with impunity, and, unfortunately, no amount of protests will make any difference.
    The one matter we can be certain of, is, that once the date of the next Scottish Referendum is announced, the propaganda will reach an intensity never seen before in these isles. And it’s the media who will be our greatest obstacle to gaining our independence.

  11. Joe McAdam

    It has to be remembered that RS is essentially a London news service aimed at Scotland’s English community. This is why most of its reporters are English, they speak mostly to English people in interviews and most stories revolve around areas in Scotland with high English presence. Jackie Bird herself has that Anglo-hybrid accent we’re hearing more and more of around Scotland.

    As there’s currently half a million of them living here, it’s not surprising the BBC wants to cater for their needs. The red, white and blue intro graphic they use to announce names at the start of a piece says it all, really. I guess STV is the more Scottish service.

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