SNP Government success in suppressing covid-19 is very real but once more the Herald gives space to these lies, from an 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.

Covid-19 How is the UK doing?

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.

Research estimates put ‘real’ care home COVID-19 death toll at over 22,000

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.”

6 thoughts on “SNP Government success in suppressing covid-19 is very real but once more the Herald gives space to these lies, from an Obituaries editor!

  1. This is O/T , I’ve been driven to it . . . .

    Was listenning to The FM’s Covid-29 update (For Scotland) on The BBC’s radio station targetted at Scotland. When after 3 to 4 mins the station cut to Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 anouncement on changes affecting England only.

    What use was that for a Scottish audience. What use is the BBC to Scotland.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I should imagine that Boris Johnson, aka Dominic Cummings, chose 12.30 PM to make his announcement because he knew that Ms Sturgeon always holds her press briefing at that time and that the BBC would favour him rather than her.

      It was such an obvious ploy on his part.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always watch the FM’s briefings on the BBC Scotland channel (9 on Freeview) as it doesn’t cut off mid-way as Radio Scotland does.
    Also, living on a west coast island as I do, means that Radio Scotland news bulletins on the half hour go to ‘News for the Highlands and Islands’. A result of this is that we miss the first few minutes of the FM’s briefings which includes the daily stats! Another reason for watching it on TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As you say John, the Britnat media, so called, and the ‘UK’ government in England are desperate that Scotland should not be seen to be dealing with Covid19 effectively, at all.

    The main reasons are to ensure that the SNP Scottish Government are not portrayed as, nor percieved as doing what any decent government should be doing in protecting their population as much as possible.

    For that to be made obvious to those who follow the Britnat media, both sides of the border, would be an utter disaster because it would reveal that Scotland’s own choice of government is doing a damn good job, and if with CV19, then they must be doing a better job for Scotland in other areas of policy as well.

    We just can’t have that can we. After centuries of portraying Scotland as backward, poor, stupid and a subsidy junkie, to expose the fact that when Scotland does things differently to their overlord neighbours, is to expose the fact that under the boot of the ‘union’, Scotland has been shackled, held back, kept poor and held hostage to England’s government whims.

    People in England won’t want to admit that Scotland is doing far better in major areas of government policy, because it would mean they have to wake up and make change, and not blame their Scottish neighbours for taking all their cash, etc etc.

    For Scotland to be seen as doing better, in any way whatsoever, goes against the divide and rule tactics of the Britnat government. The people of England would be saying, ‘why can’t we have that’? In fact many of then are asking that question.

    This is a good article, media lens on’ corporate media’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is with sadness that one reports the death of objectivity in the writing of Andrew McKie in the Herald. Objectivity in that organ has been compromised for some time and almost no journalist who works for the paper has been unaffected.

    It is evident that Mr McKie may have been suffering a loss of objectivity for some time. He is normally an obituary writer. That work requires not only creative and original writing but also the truth. There is certainly the possibility of some tension among such requirements.

    Some may question whether objectivity has truly died in Mr McKie’s writing.After all, deaths may not always be easy to recognise. Marx remarked, “Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.” Dorothy Parker, on hearing of the death of Calvin Collidge, asked:”How could they tell?”

    Sadly, Mr McKie leaves behind no profile or biography. It is impossible to say whether he has the journalistic qualities needed to keep alive his objectivity. This is the point at which it expired.

    It seems even more irrational to attempt to paint one government as shambolic, and another as exemplary, when we can’t even begin to make those comparisons with any certainty between countries in other parts of the world that have taken very different approaches.”

    It is evident from this single paragraph that creativity (though not originality) has overwhelmed truth.Yes, we can compare different countries and we can tell the reasons why some have succeeded better than others in handling the virus. Public health professionals have been telling us why.

    Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University, told The Telegraph in an interview that while Scotland has adopted a strategy to “contain” the virus, it was unclear what the UK Government aims to achieve

    “Scotland released a framework a few weeks ago and that clearly said two things: One was that no one will be intentionally exposed to this virus – that the goal is to reduce exposure.

    “And the second goal is to keep daily new cases as low as possible. That points to a containment strategy.”

    But the blueprint published by Boris Johnson’s Government last week – to a mixed reception – was “confused and conflicted”, Dr Sridhar added.

    “What struck me is that it’s unclear what the UK Government’s goal is. What is the strategy?” she said.

    “[The] document reflects that because a lot of words are given to shielding and trying to protect the vulnerable. This is what you would do if you wanted to let the virus run through the population – you use the 80 per cent with mild symptoms to protect the 20 per cent who don’t through shielding, or cocooning.

    “But then in the UK document, they also talk about testing and tracing – which you would do if you’re trying to suppress the outbreak,” she added.

    The “test, trace, isolate” strategy has been heralded as the gold standard by the World Health Organization since the coronavirus first emerged as a threat in January.

    Across the globe many of the countries that have most successfully tackled the pandemic – including New Zealand, Vietnam and South Korea – have taken approach.

    Dr Sridhar said that it was partly “British arrogance” that stopped us immediately introducing the same measures. Early on Government ministers and advisers appeared to favour a strategy of letting the virus spread so that “herd immunity” is reached – though Dr Sridhar suspects that this is still informing decisions.”
    Though the profile and biography is missing it seems unlikely that Mr McKie and his colleagues have the necessary journalistic qualifications to be able to cast doubt on what Professor Sridhar says and reasonably expect to be believed.
    We must mourn the passing of objectivity in the Herald, while marvelling at its inability to recognise the damage that the death of objectivity has done to its credibility and standing as a paper. What will be its epitaph? Is it in doubt that it will die? Though death was a good career move for Elvis, the same is unlikely for the Herald. What’s the worst you can get as a coroner? A pulse? The Herald is soon for the coroner’s office. No pulse.

    Dominic Behan hit the nail on the head about many of Scotland’s newspapers. “In a profession like publishing where simple accountancy is preferable to a degree in English, illiteracy is not considered to be a great drawback.”

    Great epitaphs. “Let’s do lunch next week.” “See you – what are you looking at?” “Did you hear about my operation?”
    This is for the Herald. “This sentance has three erors.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hasn’t MacKie been scribbling on and off for the rag for many years. I rember his photo having long hair. His articles have always been preposterous.
    Yeah the Herald the broadsheet that boasts of having Mark Smith (doesn’t like the saltire) and Andrew McKie . Woof.


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