Should the National have denied the BMA the chance to spread anxiety about NHS Scotland?


The National reports uncritically on the latest British Medical Association’s loyal Scottish branch as it uses unreliable data to undermine NHS Scotland.


The National is denied access to report critically on the PM’s last-minute Northern campaign.

I’ve written before expressing reservations about recent converts to the cause such as Kevin Mckenna and Michael Fry, who have found shelter at the National. McKenna’s fluidity enables him to continue to write for the Herrod, Observer and Guardian regardless. I’ve doubted the effectiveness of the ‘intellectual’ and ‘professional’ strategies of those such as Common Space and the Herrod’s Iain Macwhirter. I’ve defended the Yes movement’s wild and hairy but impressively analytical and effective, shock troops at Wings, against the accusations of an unhelpful lack of good manners by some of the former. I’ve been characterised as a narrow zealot by the former and told to ‘up your game’ by the Rev Stu at Wings.

The National’s first editor, now Editor Emeritus, Richard Walker, made it clear they would have space for criticism of the SNP. While still editor at the Sunday Herald, he had refused to report my 2014 research, insisting that it had not demonstrated bias at the BBC to his satisfaction. Richard maintained warm connections with BBC Scotland throughout and appeared often on it. My colleagues at UWS who worked with the BBC were told to stay away from me if they valued those links. Richard, as explained by Chomsky, is a member of those media elite groups interlocked with other elite groups across the establishment. He and other senior staff in the National/Herald teams are, an at least Shetland-sized, Trojan Horse presence, within the Independence movement and remain so, even though they may feel they have reinvented themselves at the conscious level as pro-independence. Their positioning depends primarily upon a deep need to self-preserve and is fluid enough to adjust to changing circumstances. Should we fail, watch them slide back into some, no doubt subtle, but in essence, Unionist place. Should we succeed, watch them slither into positions of influence in post-independence Scotland their last surface traces of Unionism shed.

I have been and will be again, accused, of paranoid, even deranged thinking here, but that’s how establishment figures, even lesser ones, work to destroy any who dare to criticise them: ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.’

Hahaha, he’s comparing himself to Gandhi! What next, Christ? Can lesser figures not use the quote? Is it reserved only for the greater heroes? I have lost quite a lot of weight but do not yet sport a beanpole.

This report in the National required me to doubt the National editorial team focus on the core target of winning independence. The BMA report is almost certainly unreliable and even if it were not, giving it space seems a dubious decision if you are aligned wholeheartedly to the cause of Scottish independence.

The key points in the National report of the BMA survey:

  1. The British Medical Association (BMA) surveyed 999 doctors across Scotland and almost three-quarters (72%) said they think targets are given higher priority than the standard of care. More than two-thirds (68%) thought the same of finances.
  2. Some 71% said overall patient services have worsened in the past year, with just 2% seeing improvement.
  3. The vast majority (97%) believe NHS resources are inadequate and affect the quality of patients’ care, with 66% saying the impact is significant and 31% that it is slight.

We’ve been here before, several times, with the BMA and BBC Scotland presenting unsound research findings to undermine the reputation of NHS Scotland and, by association, the SNP administration.

I’ll keep this short. Why is the BMA ‘research’ of little value in informing us about the true state of NHS Scotland?

  1. The BMA is a trades union, like Unite or the RMT. Its ‘research’ is designed to produce results which it can use to campaign for more staff and more money, regardless of objective needs. Would an RMT survey of railway workers wanting more pay and resources be given comparable respect or prominence by BBC Scotland?
  2. We’re not able to see the wording of the questions used in the ‘research’. Leading questions are common in a partisan survey like this and completely invalidate the findings.
  3. The research sample was self-selecting. In such samples, typically, those with a grudge or with a negative disposition are more likely to respond. The results don’t tell you what the majority of doctors think.
  4. The research sample was small. There are around 13 000 doctors of various kinds in Scotland. The sample was 999 or 8% and not all responded.

To conclude, why did the National report this and report it uncritically? Whose side are they really on?



9 thoughts on “Should the National have denied the BMA the chance to spread anxiety about NHS Scotland?

  1. dondeeflugs November 28, 2018 / 11:48 am

    Spot on, the National is a trojan horse and I wouldn’t trust them an inch; just look at their list of columnists.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gerry Roberrtson November 28, 2018 / 7:05 pm

    I have bought only two copies of the National. I was very suspicious of why this paper was launched as it seemed at the time it was for commercial expediency only rather than an editorial desire to put over an alternative viewpoint and combat other media bias. I have not changed that view.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. John November 28, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    The National is a pretendy independence paper , they omit when they should be printing , they print when they should be ommiting , what they don’t do is tell us anything we don’t already know from other sources! .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Contrary November 28, 2018 / 10:05 pm

    You seem to get an awful lot of criticism John, what on earth do you do to noise so many people up? A zealot of all things eh? Well, I guess that could be true 😀

    I admit to never having liked newspapers, just reading one paragraph of a daily record article would send me into incandescent rage, so I stopped bothering buying any decades ago – I bought the Times on a Friday for a few years after that right enough, for the prize cryptic crossword and the etiquette problem page, but when the guy that wrote that died I stopped buying it (did you know that ‘coupe le nez’ of a cheese when you are a dinner guest is terribly impolite? So educational, and hilarious). Decades ago. There is just something about the way they are written that irritates me. Not sure why I find blogs reasonably engaging. I used to read the new scientist fine, but kind of gave up on that too.

    Anyway, it sounds like even though these people at the National claim to be pro-independence, they have no clue about how to go about enabling it and are still slaves to their heritage and training. Like the BBC, they probably think having a regular crackpot extremist spouting nonsense indicates balance. Using a non-credible source for data to demonstrate falsely that things are shite really doesn’t indicate balance or non-partisanship, it just shows that their moral compass is seriously skewed, that they are trying too hard to prove a point when they don’t know what that point even is. Is this how journalists are trained? It doesn’t have to be all roses and skipping though sunny meadows, they just need to be reasonable, rational, and to try and imagine how normal people think and live.

    Now, obviously on this blog as indicated by the TuS title, we should all be looking at the positive side of any story, but I wouldn’t say that even here you shy away from mentioning things that aren’t so good, but no whinging and no making up stuff,,, actually, the stuff you make up is usually pretty great, I’d do more of that if I were you. It may all turn out to be true anyway, like Clair Ridge that never existed before it did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 November 29, 2018 / 6:17 am

      Slaves to their heritage? Good, good. What would Jesus do? He was a bit zealous. Off to check calibrtion of my moral compass.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Contrary November 29, 2018 / 8:53 am

      If the stories are to be believed, Jesus involved himself in a whole lot of grandstanding and stunts for PR. You could try that right enough.

      Self-reflection on a regular basis is always good, step back and consider whether you are going in the right direction for you. Calibration.

      Thing is, any writing has the aim of influencing. When writing, you need to consider your audience, who are they? What do you want to tell them? What kind of reaction do you want to achieve? The newspapers claiming they are only giving us news can never be true, even if blandly informing the public of facts, the action of blandly informing says something in itself. Informing of facts without context? How much context do you need? Have you made the logical choice in context, have you included for anything possible? How long does the article need to be? There are a million decisions made before an article is published and it is always for the purpose of influencing other people. For instance, I ramble because I try to put context and indicate how my thought came about, but it often comes out as a muddle and likely defeats the purpose of writing in the first place! But I’ll never be a professional writer. I think the best that can be done is to declare the stance from which you are writing and what your interests are in doing so, as you do John! Your moral compass is good, keep up the good work 🙂


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