The First Minister is making a very good impression in her Covid-19 briefings. On a daily basis she demonstrates clarity, honesty, compassion and morale-promoting qualities. She looks like a leader. Her Scottish rivals seem insignificant. The Westminster elite come across as evasive, callous, immature.
Recent Opinium opinion polls reveal high levels of approval for her among SNP, Lib Dem and Labour supporters. Even among Tory supporters around 1 in 5 approve of her performance.
When this trauma subsides and a return to constitutional affairs seems appropriate, she and her team will be very attractive to the electorate. It’s not just her. Freeman and Forbes seem much more competent and trustworthy characters than their shadows.
Leading members of the Unionist elites in politics and in the media sense the risk but cannot attack directly for fear of seeming insensitive or petty, at this time. Jackson Carlaw had a wee go at the FM last week but was then slapped down by leading Tory journalists for misjudging the moment.
Short of reliable ammunition, the leading media platform for the Union, Reporting Scotland, has used, over the last two days before today, two willing sources who are prepared to come on and say anything in an ill-informed rant, entirely evidence-free, some of which will stick in the minds of some viewers. Tonight they paired them up like a couple of ugly tag-wrestlers from 70’s TV.
Robert Kilgour, Tory donor and founder of an anti-independence group in 2014, was introduced as Chairman of Renaissance Care and prompted to speculate off the top of his head that care home deaths linked to to covid-19 were much higher than published figures, and then supported him in his claim that more testing was needed. The First Minister’s clarification of this issue today, that the testing was only really to reassure relatives and did not change the basic practice of social distancing which the care providers has a duty to implement, was not mentioned. Glasgow Live has quoted a care worker alleging a failure to do just that but Reporting Scotland does not, of course, rely on single sources, unless it suits them.
Immediately the reporter moved on to tell us that: ‘one trade union has accused the Scottish Government of failing to protect the care sector’ before we get a repeat of the previous day’s rant from Gary Smith, Trident supporter and mouthpiece of that most Unionist of unions, the GMB. Does Smith speak on behalf of the whole union anytime he launches into an attention-seeking rant? Remember his tirade about ‘Filthy Glasgow’ last year? It’s puzzling that the hard-left Smith does not accuse greedy care home -owners of failing to protect their patients but, I suppose for some, the Union trumps progressive policies.
Reporting Scotland’s pairing of these two and general disregard for the First Minister’s briefing comments is one of the more explicit pieces of propaganda we’ve seen since this the virus outbreak began.