SNP Government success in suppressing covid-19 is very real but once more the Herald give space to these lies, from a Obituaries editor!


‘Andrew McKie is a political columnist for The Herald and former Obituaries editor of the Daily Telegraph.’

Described as a ‘Conservative voice‘ in David Torrance’s Whatever Happened to Tory Scotland (£0.99 in The Works, Ayr High Street), McKie is famous for his obituary of Roy Hudd, describing him as ‘a wide-ranging actor and comedian who was an expert on music hall and variety.’ Ah, I’m not going to read the full thing today. I’ll just deal with the headline which few will go beyond.

In the Herald today, he writes:

Opinion: Andrew McKie: There is no basis for arguments that Scotland has handled this crisis better

Oh, yes there is and it’s coming again below. McKie now joins Macwhirter, the FT and Murdo Fraser and a long line, including English liberals in the Guardian and the Independent, fighting desperately to stop Scots realising that their government HAS handled the crisis better.

I’ve rebutted numerous of these attacks so this will be easy.

Recent comments:

‘Scotland has much to be proud of in the way that the pandemic has been managed. I have no doubt that the death toll would have been greater without the unwavering support and close working relationship between the government and the clinical community.’

Dr Dr Stephen Cole, President of the Scottish Intensive Care Society

With death toll 6 times higher per capita than Scotland England is going too early:

Edinburgh Professor contrasts disregard for life in UK Government’s ‘muddled’ strategy with Scotland’s clear plan to protect lives:

Much much more from June 2nd:

How many times have I had to list this real evidence that the Scottsih Government HAS a better ‘covid record?’ So, once more:

The FT and Common Weal are just blinkered if they think these are just PR:

  1. Higher recovery rate
  2. Lower excess mortality rate
  3. Mortality among BAME groups is lower than in ‘white’ population
  4. Death rate in care homes is lower than in England
  5. Mortality among key workers is lower:
  6. Assessment centres protected GP surgeries
  7. Better staffing
  8. Cleaner hospitals
  9. Better Government leadership

Evidence (Facts, you know?) below:

  1. Higher recovery rate:

According to GlobalData Epidemiologist Bahram Hassanpourfard, the global recovery rate is 32%. Hassanpourfard drew attention to the ‘UK’ rate of only 0.46% but I suspect that is based on inadequate data coming from the ONS.

As far as I can see, the ONS is not recording recovery rates at all. Why?

The Scottish recovery rate is known, with 9 075 recovering from 13 486 cases and 1 857 deaths giving a rate of 67.3%.

Scotland Coronavirus Tracker

Given that Scotland’s population has the lowest life expectancy in the UK and one of the lowest in Europe, it seems reasonable to give NHS Scotland credit for this.

2. Lower excess mortality rate:

The z-score is effectively the number of standard deviations the measurement is away from the expected value….

…At the height of the pandemic, the top five in terms of peak z-score were England 42.75 (Wk 15), Spain 34.41 (Wk 14), Belgium 29.91 (Wk 15), Italy 22.16 (Wk 14) and France 21.17 (Wk 14)….

…England is also the worst-performing country on these islands. The peak z-score was 19.71 for Wales (less than half that of England), 8.90 for NI, 7.03 for Scotland and 3.95 for Ireland all in week 15.

3. Mortality among BAME groups is lower:

Only 4% of the Scottish population is recorded as one of the non-White ethnic minority groups. 98% of the deaths are registered as White so, crudely and not-too-reliably at this stage, the mortality rate among non-White groups is lower at only 2% [p34].

4. Death rate in care homes is lower and typical of Europe

data from research by LSE, reported on May 14th in Care Home Professional:

More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales have died during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research. In a new paper, the LSE said data on deaths had underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents as it did not take into account the indirect mortality effects of the pandemic and/or because of problems with the identification of the disease as the cause of death. The paper said current data only accounted for an estimated 41.6% of all excess deaths in care homes.

In Scotland, up to 17th May there were 1 623 deaths in care homes where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The population of England and Wales is 59 million, 10.7 times that of Scotland at 5.5 million so, all things being equal you might expect the death rate to be 10.7 times 1 623 or 17 366.

The actual care home death rate based on the LSE research is more than 22 000 and thus higher than in Scotland.

The Scottish care home rate is, sadly, just typical of the international pattern:

5. Mortality among key workers is lower:

The latest ONS mortality statistics for England and Wales show that 237 health and care workers and 47 teachers have been killed by the coronavirus up to 23 April – deaths in the three weeks since are not included.

In Scotland:

As at 5 May, we have been notified by Health Boards or the Care Inspectorate of 7 deaths of healthcare workers and 6 deaths of social care workers, related to COVID-19. We are not able to confirm how many of these staff contracted COVID-19 through their work.

The UK has 12.6 times the population of Scotland so, pro rata, we might expect 12.6 times the deaths, 164, but it is 284.

6. Unique policy initiativesAssessment centres to protect GP surgeries

In a bid to alleviate the pressure on GP surgeries, as of Monday this week, NHS Boards across Scotland started to use a unique system for treating patients experiencing symptoms. Today they have 50 dedicated coronavirus assessment centres set up across the country.’

And from Glasgow Live:

The new Community Assessment Centres (CACs) will be appointment-only hubs which will maximise the number of symptomatic people who can be cared for within the community. It will ensure that hospital capacity is used for those with the most serious illnesses and reduce the exposure of patients at GP surgeries and allow GPs to focus on providing care to patients with other complex health issues. A central CAC has opened on Barr Street and is operational from 8am to 10pm, with a view to moving to 24/7 when necessary. Other centres are expected to open in the city soon.

7. Better staffing

Scotland has 50% more nurses per head of population than NHS England:

Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK, research commissioned by the BBC shows. Analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank shows there are 76 GPs per 100,000 people, compared to a national UK average of 60.

8. Cleaner hospitals

From Health Protection Scotland on 13th December:

The provisional total of laboratory reports for norovirus in Scotland up to the end of week 49 of 2019 (week ending 8 December 2019) is 798. In comparison, to the end of week 49 in 2018 HPS received 1367 laboratory reports of norovirus. The five-year average for the same time period between years 2013 and 2017 is 1385.

Sepsis deaths recorded in England’s hospitals have risen by more than a third in two years, according to data collected by a leading safety expert. In the year ending April 2017, there were 15,722 deaths in hospital or within 30 days of discharge, where sepsis was the leading cause.

From NHS England:

The NHS is calling on the public to heed advice and stay at home if they have norovirus to avoid passing it on, as hospitals in England have been forced to close more than 1,100 hospital beds over the last week.Top medics are concerned about the spread of the winter vomiting bug this year and the impact it is having on hospitals and other services.

9. Better Government leadership

A special envoy to the World Health Organisation has said he is impressed with how Scotland is handling the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr David Nabarro said Nicola Sturgeon’s prudent approach to easing lockdown restrictions was a good policy.

He said he admired the approach by the Scottish Government and the public health authorities.

Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy for Covid-19, told the BBC: “Comparing Scotland with other parts of Europe, other parts of the world, I’d say you’re doing good because you are tackling it carefully and logically.

The chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Andrew Buist states:

Our NHS is changing, and at the forefront of that change is the primary care response. …..  There is a huge amount of work being put in from the Scottish Government and across the system and now is the time for us to pull together, for clear thinking and strong leadership.”

NONE of the worst NHS scandals since devolution have been in Scotland

As BBC Scotland plan a campaign around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital again, this is worth repeating.

The Tusker: 'Getting your news from BBC Scotland is like getting your drinking water from the toilet bowl' (after Mark Doran)

In the Herald today:

‘Health secretary Jeanne Freeman has been accused of lying by the outgoing chief of a controversy-hit NHS board – while opponents have accused her of “playing politics with one of the worst NHS scandals since devolution”. Brian Houston, the former chairman of NHS Lothian, quit the organisation in January, citing “fundamental and irreconcilable” differences with Ms Freeman.’

First, the outgoing ‘chief’ of an NHS board responsible for an overdue new hospital build resigns and then when his boss criticises him, he has a hissy-fit. Methinks he doth etc…The Herald publishes it.

More expensive and longer hospital build delays in Liverpool and Midlands have triggered complaints against contractors and boards but politicians have not been accused of anything because, of course they weren’t responsible.

The ‘opponents’ accusing Freeman are, of course, members of the UK parties with small branches in Scotland. The Herald has a paywall so…

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Hors de Combat

The Rag-man's Bugle


It is common knowledge that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a great admirer of Winston Churchill. He has written a biography of the wartime leader, and it is reputed that his relentless drive to become leader of the Conservative Party, and thus PM, has grown out of a desire to emulate the great man.

Watching his daily press briefings during the current health crisis, I cannot help wondering whether, somewhere in his secret heart, Boris is relishing having a situation to manage which has been described as ‘the most serious since World War II.’

These thoughts were further stimulated by hearing his choice of metaphor in a recent broadcast: according to our national leader at Westminster, we are ‘at war’ with the virus.

Unfortunately, Boris’ rhetorical style does not match up to that of his erstwhile hero. Instead of a clear and measured delivery, our PM provides…

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Is this real research or just a commercial activity?

Herald and Dundee prof trumpet 0.02% drop. Our expert comment by stewartb at bottom of post. Warning: Heaveee!

The Tusker: 'Getting your news from BBC Scotland is like getting your drinking water from the toilet bowl' (after Mark Doran)

In the Herald this morning:

‘SCOTTISH children are no longer the best at reading across the UK and Ireland – after being knocked off the top spot in a “stinging blow” toeducationleaders. The largest literacy study ever conducted in the UK, written by Professor Keith Topping from the University of Dundee, has revealed that Scottish pupils are now joint second in terms of their level of reading comprehension – on a par with England and behind Northern Ireland.’

I can find no sign of ‘proper’ peer-reviewed research, published in a credible journal, but only this press release on the Dundee University website:

‘The What Kids Are Reading Report 2020, written by the University of Dundee’s Professor Keith Topping for reading practice and assessment provider Renaissance UK, showed thatScottish youngsters have slipped behind Northern Ireland and have come joint second in terms of level of reading comprehension…

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Fireworks as leading researcher watches third misuse of research in one morning to report Scotland down

I’d just finished reporting on BBC Scotland’s misrepresentation on research on business confidence and on wildlife decline when Sally McNair said:

It follows mounting public concern about irresponsible use [of fireworks] including emergency services.

My not always reliable recall immediately said ‘No, fib!’ I had a quick search and found this from November 2018

Now if there is mounting concern about the irresponsible use of fireworks, I’d like to see a source. BBC editorial guidelines require one. However, even if there was such evidence, it would be misjudged because the irresponsible use of fireworks is unambiguously in decline:

From Police Scotland:

Police in Edinburgh have praised the support of the public and partner organisations following a successful Halloween and Bonfire Night policing operation.

Between Wednesday 31st October and Monday 5th November, reported antisocial behaviour in the city fell from 747 incidents in 2017, to 552 incidents in 2018. This equates to 195 fewer calls and a reduction of 26%.

In the North East, a 53% reduction in calls relating to Bonfire Night offences were received on Monday 5th November, with the North West recording a 35% fall in antisocial behaviour during this evening, in comparison with Bonfire Night 2017.

While there were a number of reported incidents where attempts were made to target police and other emergency service personnel, no officers were injured, and no police vehicles were damaged during the evening.

Sunday 4th November 2018 saw 56 reported ASB incidents and 19 fireworks offences, compared to 157 and 146 respectively for Sunday 5th November 2017. This equates to a 64% reduction for antisocial behaviour and an almost 87% reduction for crimes involving fireworks.


We’re moving! New URL

(Note: Owner of the image above, let me know how I should credit it)

After years of defending the url we’re moving to

Though I stand by my position on thought control in democracies, too many have said to me that they do not share posts because they and the potential recipients perceive the term as paranoid or conspiracy theoristish. So, pragmatically, 50 years after Neal Ascherson woke me, TuS is moving to become Talking-Up Scotland II (Scottish Research Group).

I think that sounds like it has the kind of gravitas Neil Lennon wants for Celtic FC and I hope the SRG doesn’t sound too Rees-Moggy.

Do follow and update your bookmarks.




Is there nothing Scotland CAN do? ‘Experts’ say Scottish plastic bottle return scheme is RUBBISH but for 250 million people it works and for England…..?

Above from Scottish ‘experts’ and below from the Scottish Parliament:

As of 2017, more than a quarter of a billion people live in places which run modern deposit return systems. The newest system is Lithuania’s, introduced in February 2016, with New South Wales scheduled to introduce deposits later in 2017.

A refundable deposit payable on drinks containers is not a new idea. An earlier version of this approach was introduced in 1905 in Scotland, when drinks manufacturers came together to agree a half penny deposit on empty bottles. Although this simple system worked well for refillable bottles for more than 50 years, proposals to extend it to cover single use cans and plastic bottles were defeated in Westminster in 1981.

And, from the Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs:

If introduced, we anticipate that a DRS will help reduce the amount of littering in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, boost recycling levels for relevant material, offer the enhanced possibility to collect high quality materials in greater quantities and promote recycling through clear labelling and consumer messaging.

Does the Scheme Threaten Scotland’s Progress on Child Obesity?

BBC Scotland once more hide SNP Government’s policy success to create scare on obesity in women

‘Experts predict Scottish women less likely to be obese than those in England and Wales’ ‘BBC Scotland try to scare Scottish women with fears of obesity’ Combined male/female figures At 06:26am and repeated six times throughout the morning: ‘Cancer…


Embracing sustainable aviation just latest in Scottish Government’s 200 plus efforts to counter Tory Brexit disaster

As the opposition transport spokespersons spend their days digging for any old evidence of something bad which they can feed to Reporting Scotland, The SNP Transport Secretary covers the ground to get something going for the Scottish economy:

Scotland’s Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, today visited Cranfield University on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the latest technological developments in sustainable aerospace and aviation. On the visit, the Transport Secretary heard from Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University, about their work on ‘Project Fresson’ with Loganair which aims to develop the world’s first electric-powered passenger flights on island-hopping routes between Orkney and Kirkwall. Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, said: “I was delighted to show the Transport Secretary around Cranfield’s global research airport with its unique facilities. We are already seeing Scotland embracing sustainable aviation through developments such as ‘Project Fresson’ and it was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to Mr Matheson what more could be achieved through technological developments.

Project Fresson:

As revealed in the Press & Journal, Scottish airline Loganair is working with aerospace experts at Cranfield University to convert a nine-seater aircraft for use on short journeys between Kirkwall and Orkney’s other islands. Aberdeen-born Professor Iain Gray, director of aerospace at the Bedfordshire university, said a proposed consortium had been formed for the £10 million project, which has been named after 20th-Century Highlands and Islands air pioneer Captain Ted Fresson. Professor Gray said he believes Scotland has a “very significant role” to play in the development of electric aircraft and that the island-hopping services offer “an ideal introductory route for such an aircraft”.

Previous reports of Scottish Government getting on with day job:

From the Arctic Circle to India: Scottish Government gets on with post-Brexit strategy

November 19, 2018

An earlier example of cultural exchange? From the Scottish government website today: ‘Deputy First Minister John Swinney will visit India next week to further strengthen ties between the two countries. The visit will focus on Technology and Life Sciences, promote…

SNP make second visit to Arctic Circle Assembly as part of post-Brexit strategy to save Scotland. Loyalist parties and media CGAF?

October 20, 2018

I’ve reported on many earlier initiatives at: Scotland moves closer to the Arctic Circle Scottish Government pushes on past 200 initiatives to counter Tory Brexit damage Now: ‘External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will reaffirm Scotland’s commitment to growing links between Scotland and…

As Scottish Tories fiddle with themselves SNP have met possible economic partners more than 200 times

May 27, 2019

From yesterday: ‘First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will highlight Scotland’s growing political, cultural and business links with Ireland and explore the potential for further investment during a visit to Dublin. The First Minister, who will meet with the Taoiseach during…

Scotland’s energy production to link with Norway

January 15, 2019

There have been several reports here of the Scottish Government’s plans to link Scotland, economically and culturally, with Scandinavia and the wider Arctic Circle countries. See: Scotland’s Nordic-Baltic Co-operation SNP Government making new links to North and East in preparation…

Scottish Government pushes on past 200 initiatives to counter Tory Brexit damage

August 21, 2018

In May this year, I was able to report: ‘More than 200 engagements between Scottish Government ministers and European governments, institutions and organisations have taken place since the start of 2017. The ‘strong desire’ to connect with Scotland…

Getting on with the day-job? First Minister is in Brussels for 201st attempt to counter Tory Brexit damage to Scottish economy

May 28, 2018

From Insider today: ‘The First Minister will officially open Scotland House and also meet Michel Barnier to raise fears about Brexit’s ‘damaging uncertainty’. Nicola Sturgeon is set to officially open the expanded Scotland House in Brussels…

Scottish Government makes 200 European links in effort to counter damage from Tory hard Brexit. BBC Scotland says: ‘eh, what, when?’

May 10, 2018

I’ve already reported on individual initiatives by the Scottish Government to reduce the impact of Brexit and to protect Scotland’s vital trade and cultural links with, especially, Scandinavia, the Arctic Circle, the Baltic and Ireland. See: Scotland to…

Scottish Government pushes ahead to strengthen trade links as a bad Brexit looms.

October 30, 2017

On October 4th, I reported on the First Minister’s visit to Dublin to meet with the Taoiseach and deliver the keynote speech at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. Scotland to strengthen links with Ireland as well as Scandinavia…

SNP acts to maintain and enhance Scotland’s trade surplus

September 8, 2017

As you know, Scotland is the only part of the UK with a trade surplus Deficit/Surplus in 2016 England           -£120 038 000 000 Wales              – £55 000 000 Scotland          +£2 148 000 000 N Ireland         – £4 039 000 000…

8% of the people 20% of the space sector jobs

May 11, 2019

From Government EUROPA yesterday: ‘The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced the Scottish space sector is projected to be worth up to £4 billion (€4.63 billion) by 2030. Scotland’s space industry comprises a significant proportion of space…