In September last year I published an article in which I highlighted the Scottish media’s refusal to pursue Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson on several controversial issues.
It was clear to me that blunders and gaffes committed by the MSP were not resulting in damaging headlines or difficult questions.
The article, Protecting Ruth, contained the following paragraph.
All leading Scottish Unionist politicians enjoy a ‘blind eye’ approach from the traditional Scottish media. Most of course, given the party’s domination of Scottish politics then its place as the main Unionist opposition to the SNP, have been from Labour. Ruth Davidson has inherited the mantle of ‘Unionist saviour’ and the ‘media privileges’ that come with it.
Having replaced Labour as the main pro-Union force at Holyrood, the Scottish Conservative leader was now enjoying the trappings of ‘office’.
These ‘media privileges’ were best demonstrated when it emerged a Scottish Conservative councillor had posted sectarian messages on social media.
Not long after Alastair Majury hit the headlines, it emerged another councillor had posted racist messages.
The two councillors were suspended by Ruth Davidson’s Conservative party, only to be reinstated weeks later. The Scottish Conservative leader claimed each had apologised, although to whom has never been fully clear.
The councillor who posted the racist messages eventually left the party after refusing to apologise for his tweets.
Did you know that Ruth Davidson hasn’t faced one solitary question on camera in relation to these councillors? She hasn’t been doorstepped by anyone from BBC Scotland. No one has thrust a microphone in her face and posed a searching question. The only time Ruth Davidson has appeared in front of camera was in order to make what appeared to be a pre-prepared statement.
That’s as far as it went on Reporting Scotland. There were no follow up questions despite the fact that the charity mentioned in her statement later appeared to challenge Davidson’s version of events.
Davidson did appear on Good Morning Scotland [GMS] days later on September 1st. The radio interview was scheduled to coincide with a housing policy statement the Scottish Conservatives had issued that day. GMS presenter Gary Robertson had to deviate from the expected line of questioning in order to ask about the two councillors. A clearly flustered Davidson didn’t handle the situation well as the short clip below demonstrates.
During this period other Scottish Conservative councillors have hit the headlines. On September 22nd Kathleen Leslie was struck off the teaching registry after it emerged she had posted abusive tweets targeting Nicola Sturgeon. On the same day, another of Ruth’s councillors, Michael Jamieson, was charged over child abuse images.
Interestingly, when BBC Scotland published the ‘child abuse’ story, the word ‘Tory’ was missing from the headline. Now why would they do that?
The damaging headlines haven’t been restricted to local level. On September 28th Tory MSP Alexander Burnett was barred from asking written questions at Holyrood for two weeks.
The millionaire Tory had omitted to declare a personal business interest before asking questions about a proposed housing development in his constituency.
What’s more this wasn’t the first time Burnett had been in breach of the Scottish Parliament’s rules. The MSP had already did the same thing earlier that month.
Throughout all of this, Ruth Davidson has carried on unencumbered by difficult questions from the BBC. She has popped up on Reporting Scotland several times commenting on a range of issues. The latest was on the eve of the SNP conference.
The item above was based on a lengthy interview Ruth Davidson gave to Nick Robinson on Radio 4.
But why was Ruth invited onto the BBC on the weekend of the SNP conference given that she had already enjoyed positive coverage the previous weekend due to her own party conference? Could it be something to do with the ongoing media campaign that is seeking to present her as the next UK Prime Minister?
Some BBC presenters aren’t even trying to hide their fondness for Ruth Davidson. Take a look at the clip below which was broadcast on the very day the SNP conference began.
In the space of two days, as the SNP’s conference got underway, Ruth Davidson has been invited on to two separate BBC current affairs programmes. She has been feted by both presenters, fielded little more than pat-ball questions then allowed to give lengthy, unchallenged statements in response. Both have led to leading news bulletins.
There’s definitely something going on at the BBC where Ruth Davidson is concerned. She isn’t being pursued with anything like the vigour and robustness Nicola Sturgeon regularly endures. Even baseless smears will see BBC Scotland despatch its top reporters to confront the SNP leader.
So eager to promote Ruth Davidson has been the BBC that some people have began comparing her to Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader who managed to appear on BBC Question Time almost every other week.
Like Nigel, Ruth has managed to cultivate an image of a good-for-a-laugh, tells it like it is, down to earth politician. Like Nigel, dig deeper and you find a rather unpleasant character with equally unpleasant party members. A stench of Xenophobia hangs in the air.
From where I’m sitting there’s no appetite within BBC Scotland News and Current Affairs to do anything that might tarnish Ruth’s carefully-crafted image. They appear to treat her as though she, and not Nicola Sturgeon, is the real First Minister. Not surprising I suppose. Ruth won the general election in Scotland remember.
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