This morning, we heard from BBC Scotland news, six times between 6 and 9am:
‘Scottish Fire and Rescue has a backlog of almost £400 million in vehicle and property maintenance.’
According to the BBC report, Audit Scotland have described the funding gap as ‘insurmountable’.
The above information was extracted from the 5th statement in the summary on page 5 of the report. Missing from the BBC broadcast was any reference to statements 1 to 4 or the opening to statement 5, which include these key points:
- The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) continues to deliver emergency and prevention services while progressing a complex and ambitious programme of reform.
- The board continues to work well, with real strengths in the quality of discussion and scrutiny and challenge of management. The board and management display mutual respect, a constructive tone and genuine shared ownership of the issues facing the SFRS.
- The SFRS has an ambitious vision that involves significant changes to make it a more flexible, modern service. Progress with developing and implementing the plans for transformation has been steady but slow, due to a range of contributing factors.
- The SFRS has continued to make progress with integrating different ways of working but has not yet achieved full integration. Harmonised pay and conditions for firefighters were agreed in April 2018, placing the SFRS in a good position to complete integration of the service.
- The SFRS has strong financial management and has developed a good approach to long-term financial planning. It is now in a position to progress with transformation.
This is a classic scare story which was likely to be all the more scary given the time of broadcast and the repetition of one negative aspect from a more complex and balanced document. For a reminder of the evidence for a theory of the Power of Early Morning Nightmares see this:
Early morning news can more effectively propagandise than the same news offered at later times when we are more ready to deal with life’s challenges:
Dr R Fletcher, ‘Surgeon to the Lunatic Asylum near Gloucester’ 1833 (p.206) wrote this in 1883. I know it’s not a recent and reliable source, as we used to say in Higher Education, but I think it shows that we’ve known about this effect for some time. It was no accident, he wrote, that medieval monks and more recently, private school boarders, got started with their religious indoctrination before dawn so as to catch them anxious, fearful and absorbent of the required sense of superiority and deep racial prejudices necessary for the conquest of lesser peoples.
Making these early hours particularly effective for indoctrination, they often follow on from nightmares:
‘Nightmares tend to occur during the early morning, as opposed to late evening with night terrors, and patients usually have good recall of the events of the dream.’ (Science-based Medicine, 2014)
Moving forward to Scotland in the years after Referendum 2014, as we watch the early news from ‘where you [people] are now’, on BBC Breakfast, does the above matter? Well….
‘I would like to re-emphasise the importance of “bad news” in the genesis of psychopathology, as this does not seem to be generally recognised. Bad news, of deaths and other disasters, is not available to our primate cousins, who are not equipped to exchange gossip, but has been available to our ancestors over the last few million years since language evolved. Since these ancestors lived in groups of about 150 individuals, the amount of bad news they could generate was limited, even if we add in bad news from neighbouring groups. Now, we have available the bad news of many billions of people. Since news of death or other disaster may presage the nearby existence of a predator or of raiding parties from neighbouring tribes, or of disease, it must have been adaptive for bad news to increase anxiety and promote activities to ward off occurrence, such as increased washing, checking of security arrangements, and the advantageous territorial constriction of agoraphobia.’
See that last phrase there? Is that a way of saying ‘Better Together?’ Is Unionism a kind of agoraphobia, a fear of autonomy and wide-open EU spaces?