Ruth Davidson emerged from hiding this week.
The Scottish Conservative leader, who has refused to answer questions over the re-instatement of two councillors amid a racism and bigotry row, appeared on Reporting Scotland.
Davidson gave a brief statement to camera. The version that appeared on Reporting Scotland is shown below.
The clip that appeared on Reporting Scotland was a truncated version of a slightly longer clip that was published online. The longer clip is shown below.
OK, where to begin with this sham, for that’s exactly what it was. The first of course is the obvious. Where were the questions?
Ruth Davidson has been dodging interviews for months. It goes right back to the council elections when issues began to emerge over the suitability of some of her party’s candidates. Following this was her unavailability to address the controversial deal Theresa May hatched with the DUP. Her refusal to answer questions on a range of difficult issues came to a head this week when she again refused a request to appear on Good Morning Scotland to answer questions on the reinstatement of the two councillors.
When the BBC Scotland interviewer came face to face with Ruth Davidson he evidently hadn’t prepared a single probing question.
Why had Ruth Davidson refused to be interviewed on the subject of the two councillors? Why had her office told Good Morning Scotland she would not be available all week? Why had she only now revealed the ‘diversity training’ both councillors had apparently agreed to? Why had both councillors been reinstated before the training had completed? What moves had her party taken to ensure racism or sectarianism was not rife within the party given that she herself had been critical of SNP vetting procedures two years ago? When did her party contact the Nil by Mouth charity?
The interviewer could also have added supplementals, especially on the issue of the DUP deal which, given the sectarian baggage of the Northern Irish party, was particularly relevant.
But there was nothing. A political leader who had been running from microphones for weeks was allowed to make a statement unchallenged.
Ruth Davidson was effectively provided a platform by Reporting Scotland in order to mount a damage limitation excercise. The short item wasn’t designed to elicit answers, it was designed to kill the racism and sectarianism scandal engulfing the honorary colonel.
But it has backfired … on both parties.
Shortly after Ruth appeared on Reporting Scotland, the SNP MSP James Dornan posted the following message on social media.
If true, it meant the Scottish Conservatives had contacted the anti-sectarian charity ‘Nil by Mouth’ only hours before Ruth Davidson’s appearance on Reporting Scotland. It also called into question the claim by Davidson that both of the councillors had already “done part of” the diversity training that they “continue to do”.
Dornan’s claim was bolstered by an article in the Catholic Observer the following day. An excerpt from the article is reproduced below:
Dave Scott, campaign director for Nil by Mouth, a charity which works to end sectarianism in Scotland, said he was disappointed at the Conservative’s response.
“When this story emerged, we offered to work with the elected members concerned to help them understand why their tweets caused such controversy and upset,” he said. “A Conservative Party spokesperson indicated that the member involved would take part in such a meeting. Sadly, we have heard nothing from either the councillor or the party.”
NIl by Mouth later said that at the request of Conservative party officals they had agreed to meet with a number of elected officials to discuss online posting and attitudes to equality.
The comments by ‘Nil by Mouth’ call into question the veracity of the statement made by Ruth Davidson on Reporting Scotland. Unless there is a second organisation involved in providing the so-called ‘diversity training’ then Davidson’s claim that her councillors are already receiving such training is untrue.
It also calls into question the role played by the BBC in this growing scandal. If, as it appears, ‘Nil by Mouth’ was only contacted hours before the Scottish Conservative leader appeared in front of BBC Scotland cameras then by what means was this appearance on Reporting Scotland arranged? Who contacted who and when. Was there any agreement that Davidson would face no questions?
Far from closing down this scandal, Ruth Davidson’s appearance on Reporting Scotland has served only to add to the list of questions the Scottish Conservative leader now faces. However there appears no-one in the entire main stream media willing to ask them.
Moreover it calls into question the motives of those at the top of the BBC in Scotland who have handed Ruth Davidson a platform from which she was allowed to make an unchallenged statement. The Scottish Conservative leader has still to answer one question on this scandal. The bigger scandal is that she is unlikely to.
[This article has been amended. The original version wrongly assumed BBC Scotland reporter Nick Eardley had interviewed Ruth Davidson. On online exchange with Nick Eardley has revealed that an unnamed BBC Scotland colleague in fact interviewed Ruth Davidson. Nick Eardley says he presented the Reporting Scotland item “because I knew the story”.]
If you enjoyed reading this article please feel free to make a small donation.