Is Sarah Smith paid by us but working against our safety?

Why trust or confidence matters in ensuring compliance:

We know that trust or confidence in a government’s decision making has been critical in ensuring compliance in measures aimed at suppressing the virus.

By June, the Nuffield Foundation found a disturbing and significant increase in concern about misleading information from the UK Government. They did not look at any of the devolved governments.

In October, a study of 51 000 UK adults found that confidence in government to tackle the pandemic was the only significant factor in compliance. There was little evidence that mental health, worries about the future, social isolation and loneliness made a difference. There was no devolved nations breakdown of the results.

One study looked specifically at Scotland. Published in the BMJ in July, with the positive testing figure then at 0.5% and new cases in single figures, it suggested:

A third component of Scotland’s approach is a high degree of trust in government and in the leadership of the first minister Nicola Sturgeon to manage covid-19 effectively.

This conclusion had been based on a University of Edinburgh survey of 12 000, in May, finding that: 62 per cent had confidence in Holyrood’s ability to prevent a second wave of the virus but: a majority of respondents in both Scotland and England – 62 per cent and 68 per cent respectively – lacked confidence in the UK Government’s ability to prevent a second wave of Covid-19. 

Also in May, a YouGov poll in the Times, reported: 85 per cent of SNP voters, 84 per cent of Liberal Democrats and 70 per cent of both Conservative and Labour supporters are happy with the approach taken by the Scottish government. Just 19 per cent said the virus was being handled badly in Edinburgh.

The only major study comparing confidence and compliance, published in the Lancet in August was clear. Confidence in the UK Government decreased significantly after the Cummings incident and confused messaging, but did not do so in the devolved areas and that these failures by the UK Government led to: a decrease in people’s willingness to follow rules and guidelines.

Today, the consequences are clear. The daily new infection rate in England is twice that in Scotland. Over the period of the pandemic rate, the death rate in England has been 40% higher.

As we experience a second semi-lockdown, confidence in government is more critical. The more ‘stubbornly high’ infection levels in some areas of Scotland suggest a reduction in compliance from the first lockdown.

What can be done to make sure those not complying fully understand the measures being taken and see that they are not being punished unfairly? Clear, consistent, messaging must be a major part of the response. Where does that messaging come into homes from?

The Role of the State Broadcaster:

Research from Birmingham University in May, contrasted the behaviour of RTE in Ireland with that of the BBC and found that the former worked to help the population understand and to act in ways to collectively fight the pandemic. In sharp contrast, the BBC in the UK neglected its educational remit and had: a focus just on holding others to account combined with human-interest stories.

That last reference to human interest stories brings us neatly to BBC Scotland and to Sarah Smith.

The Smith Effect:

So, last night:

After headlining the BBC News at 10, the latest developments from Scotland were to be explained further by their Scotland editor Sarah Smith. Readers will remember Smith’s previous revelations of her jaundiced views, having to apologise for suggesting the First Minister was: enjoying setting her own lockdown rules.

You see there, Smith enjoys, can only, politicise any event.

Smith immediately interviews a sequence of small shop-owners who , in Glasgow, will have to close under the new Level 4 measures there, aimed at reducing infection levels and saving lives, mind you , and lets them moan about it and imply a lack of fairness in government actions.

Smith never attempts to engage these folk with the public health evidence and find out how they understand or do not understand that. It’s as the Birmingham University research revealed: a focus just on holding others to account combined with human-interest stories

Then we’re on to a simple factual description of what the levels mean before the First Minister is allowed a few lines to explain the rationale in terms of protecting the NHS and perhaps enabling a more normal Christmas but, before those key messages can settle, an excited Richard Leonard gets time to cast doubt on the competence and fairness of the measures, representing them as somehow discriminatory and punitive.

Back to the unhappy shopkeepers and to finish that section of her report, a smiling Smith enjoys a barber telling us its: Total rubbish. Rubbish!

Finally, in the studio, and Hew, clearly primed by a smug Smith, reminds us that the pandemic is: at the root of recent debate about devolution. Smith enjoys chatting about party politics and the PM before finishing off by reminding viewers that the PM didn’t mean that devolution itself is a disaster but that the SNP Government is a disaster.

There is of course no mention of the lower infection and death rates achieved by that disastrous SNP Government.

So, once again, no educational content of the kind contained within the research I began this with, just human interest stories chosen to unsettle and undermine confidence with inevitable consequences for compliance and then back to Smith’s comfort zone, the constitution and the sounds from the Westminster bubble.

To quote the Glasgow barber:

Total rubbish. Rubbish!

Sources:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.19.20215376v1

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2669

https://www.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-infectious-diseases/covid-19/covid-19-news/most-scots-trust-holyrood

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-in-scotland-vast-majority-support-sturgeons-handling-of-crisis-wptwzljwn

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31690-1/fulltext

8 thoughts on “Is Sarah Smith paid by us but working against our safety?”

  1. Part of this report was on ABC Scotland 18.30 news including Wee Willie’s and Leotard’s PM questions but this time Nicola had the last word interviewed by Laura Miller.
    In parliament Ruthie’s questions were (for her) unusually sensible but were not included by ABC. ABC obviously decided she hadn’t been sufficiently critical!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “IS SARAH SMITH PAID BY US BUT WORKING AGAINST OUR SAFETY?” – Absolutely, but as with others of her ilk, it’s simply politics.

    The SGP poll specifically questioned BBCS reporting on the IMB with damning result, doubtless similar results would obtain irrespective of the subject, PQ’s agenda is far removed from neutral. Their problem is that their “balance” has become a standing joke, but they play a dangerous game when it involves a pandemic.

    As the Brum Uni study exposed, the BBC has been appalling in terms of conveying public information, but this is largely dictated by the BBC generally following #10 policy on tight control of information for political ends.
    Yet can PQ be observed as following SG policy of freely available public information ? Two differing policies for two different populations, yet PQ adopts the agenda of #10 complete with it’s political aspirations.

    PQ is not in the business of gauging public opinion but forming it, they are not interested in holding government to account but changing that government, as Sarah Smith’s final flourish “that the PM didn’t mean that devolution itself is a disaster but that the SNP Government is a disaster” eloquently exposes…
    The only gratifying aspect of PQ’s political agenda is that following the longest propaganda barrage in UK history, Scots are wise to it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I hope your last sentence is correct Bob. I vividly remember the crushing disappointment of being at our count in 2014 and realising that we had lost, although our region voted Yes. I think what made it worse, was the fact we had been going around the doors for over a year, and getting a good response, so we were quite confident that at least in our area, Yes was going to triumph.
      I still believe that the brainwashing we are undergoing at the moment, is only a prelude to what will be unleashed on us once the date of the next Scottish Independence Referendum is announced.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Fair comment Alex, but the intervening 6-7 years forced many to face not only that they had been conned, nor the extent of the collusion involved in executing it, but to recognise it when they saw it again and there has been plenty.
        Think back to the furore over incontinent pigeons and homicidal shower heads, it persisted only in the media while the public went “Did they, aye”, it gained limited if any traction.
        Yet it the pandemic was the tipping point, not just how well SG handled it (particularly in contrast to England), but because the “State” thought it perfect timing to turn up the propaganda wick beyond blatant.
        Increasing Indy support is a fairly good measure of not just how badly misjudged this was, but the contempt which the media rightfully earned in Scotland.
        And this ultimately is their problem, brainwashing only works if you have an outlet and a receptive audience, with credibility shot, whatever they “unleash” now will meet “Did ye, Aye” coming straight back at them.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The head of the BBC is a card carrying Tory.
    The head of BBC Scotland is from an Ulster Unionist family. Why did he get the job? Scotland only has 5% of overall BBC staff, but a substantial proportion of BBC Scotland and Radio Scotland are NOT Scottish—in spite of a directive about “local” recruitment/training.
    Sarah Smith is from a Red Tory family–and it shows.
    The BBC has been threatened by David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Its output is now shallow, Tory-friendly British nationalist lite.

    We cannot change this; but we should highlight this partisan bias as loudly as we can. Tell the public this organisation omits some news, amplifies other news and, basically, tells lies.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Indeed Gavin, which is why we all visit Prof John’s site. 🙂
      S. Smith calls into question the competence of the ‘SNP government’
      to suit her own political agenda, blatant as hell, on a state broadcaster. She should be sacked. Smith really has a huge problem, she can hardly hold back her utter hatred of the SNP, the democratically elected party in government in Scotland. She should not be in that job if she cannot be objective, as is the case with others who are paid massive sums by the
      actual people subscribing to this dreadful propaganda platform. Imagine, it must be the biggest scam, make people pay to be lied to, or at least, con them into believing they have no choice.
      It just does not bear thinking about what would be happening in Scotland right now if a BritNat party was at the helm, it would be utter chaos and people would be dying on trolleys in hospital corridors. Well that’s the hospitals they didn’t dismantle so they could sell the prime land to their pals that is. Imagine Edinburgh and outskirts having just one hospital, the ERI, if Labour HQ’d in England had managed to close down the Western Genera as they plannedl!
      So the BritNats have done health, and education, then full swing round again, them poor students locked down, imprisoned with nice food etc..
      what else, now it’s just blanket the ‘SNP government’ is a ‘disaster’. This is all leading up to an attempt to question the legitimicy of the SNP in government. Powerful countries who demonise another countries government, do it for a reason, and it’s because they want regime change, which is code for taking complete control of that countrys’ government, land and resources for themselves.
      Smith’s comments are unprofessional and incredibly, blatantly biased, but also sinister, she is a disgrace to honest journalism, utterly despicable.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Where is the state broadcaster on brexit? The covid crisis could not have happened at a better time for the WM gov as it will be cover for the utter devastation of the economy being caused by brexit, the effect of which will severely hamper the recovery of the economy. It will be a convenient deflection though.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sky News in full ‘attack the SNP/Scotsgov’ mode as well.

    Earlier, they had tory tit Tim Montgomery, who Sky actually presented as a ‘Conservative Commentator’ spouting pish about how the ESSENPEE were actually just as rubbish at dealing with the Covid crisis, but had been “better at PR” during it, “making the FM look better tgan she was.

    Susie Boniface, labour supporting ‘churnalist’ at the Daily Mirror, sits on the other screen nodding her way through Montgomery’s pish dribbling rant.

    Sky then cuts to a story headlined:

    “Are the ESSENPEE latest travel restriction laws, enacted later today, even legal”

    Switched off at this point for the sake of the tellys wellbeing !!

    Lets not fall into the trap of thinking that the BBC is the only state sponsored, anti SNP/SCOTLAND, propganda channel.

    EVERY tv news channel in the uk and EVERY Print Media (bar one) Title, is an Enemy of Scotland.

    Thankfully, polling is showing that Scots ain’t buying the shite they are trying to sell us.

    They are all in with a 7 – 2 off suit (for poker fans out there) and desperate for Scots to Fold before their desperate bluff.

    We call the bluff, we win. Simple as that.

    We fold now, we deserve to lose everything.

    Like

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