When women dare to speak out in Scotland

Professors Sridhar and Bauld, FM Sturgeon, Health Secretaries Robison and Freeman

At 8:36pm on January 2nd, Professor Linda Bauld tweeted:

Abdication of responsibility at UK level during the most recent weeks of this crisis. Devolved nations cannot adequately protect their populations. Borders & limited powers are the main constraints. Decisions (or lack of) in England affect all of the UK – really worried.

Within seconds, angry rebuttals appeared accusing her of being ridiculous, unscientific, non-academic, playing politics, and a member of the ‘Sturgeon fan club’. After two hours, there were 64 accusations including, most offensive for her, that she was making these comments in the hope of getting funding for her research. Months earlier Professor Devi Sridhar had received similar attacks but from more establishment sources. 1 600 had liked Bauld’s tweet and 684 had retweeted it. A handful defended her against the comments of accusers.

Bauld’s comments had been prompted by those of English professor Christian Pagel at 7:30pm

This is what is it like to be abandoned by the state. The cabinet is not worthy of the name, abdicating their responsibility for leadership, honesty and difficult decisions just when it is needed most. I find it hard to forgive.

Unlike Bauld, Pagel received few accusations of being inappropriately political and many supported her attack on the UK Cabinet.

In July and August, another Edinburgh professor of public health, Devi Sridhar, had experienced similar social media attacks to those of Professor Bauld, last night. On that occasion, Sridhar felt obliged to block one of the worst trolls, Murdo Fraser MSP.

In July, Sridhar had infuriated Unionists by writing in the New York Times:

For now, Scotland’s approach has made it a bright spot in coronavirus-ravaged Britain. New cases have dwindled to a handful a day, and deaths to a trickle. If Scotland maintains this progress — a big if, given its open border — it could stamp out the epidemic by the fall, public health experts say. Such a goal seems fanciful in England, which is still reporting hundreds of new cases and dozens of deaths every day.

It seems to me that Sridhar is now wary of saying too much in favour of Scotland’s handling of the pandemic.

Bauld had seemed careful too, until last night’s comments.

More careful, even than the two professors, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has avoided any suggestion of the slightest satisfaction in Scotland’s relative success in managing the virus. Despite the infection and death levels, over the pandemic, being 50% and 30% higher in England, she has refused to be drawn into comparisons. Perhaps due to this apparent passivity, numerous male accusers, from Macwhirter to Marr and the former academic, Pennington, have lined up to use, at best selective data to suggest that she is all presentation and no substance. The idea has been repeated so often that it has stuck in the minds of even more reasonable or otherwise objective commentators at the Guardian and Channel 4 News.

In a similar light, the media treatment of Scotland’s last two women health secretaries has been unremittingly harsh and personal with both seemingly forced out of office.

Looking back at the response to the English academic Pagel, and the apparent reluctance of English and Welsh journalists to go for the PM or the FM of Wales or for their health secretaries, all four men, who are now responsible for horrific levels of infection and death, it’s hard not to conclude that in Scotland, prominent women commentators and leaders are subject to ‘special treatment.’

12 thoughts on “When women dare to speak out in Scotland

  1. I took a look at Twitter and yes the onslaught of what are mostly insulting comments from BritNats in attempting to undermine Dr L. Bauld’s professionalism, and an attempt to deny her the right to make known the seriousness of the situation in England and how that should be being handled to save lives. Dr. Bauld is right to point out the difference in approach by the ScotGov and the consequences when working within constraints of the UK EngGov s’ lack of competence and coherence.
    Thanks for articles on this, it needs exposure and the media will not of course dare to condemn Dr. Bauld by printing what she actually said because that would make the reality more public in Scotland. The Twitter trolls and or BritNats must be incredibly peeved that the truth sometimes can’t be denied, no matter how hard they try.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This has been “a benefit” of the Union since it’s creation,
    Your career will rise and fall in direct proportion to your blind loyalty to the Union.
    TV presenter, Newsreader, Comedian, Academic etc etc. Your future depends on your public comments and this is made very clear to ALL by example.
    The minimum demanded is silence and this is in order to keep your position but the real rewards await those who embrace the Empire.
    As with the Roman Empire loyalty will be rewarded with Citizenship of Rome (London) and doors and opportunities will open.

    Divide and Rule. Carrot and Stick. How else can Empires flurish?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is impossible to interview a haystack that just waffles on without answering any question. We are all supposed to swoon and admire his upbeat, cheerful outlook and ignore the incompetence.

      He was clear on ONE answer…no Referendum! The Scots should accept their place and shut up.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a very expensive haystack, the guy is an embarassment, I bet the EU 27 are delighted to be shot of him.

        To think this cabal are in charge at such a dreadful time re the pandemic, and also when Scotland desperately needs to escape the UKOK or be ruined, scary. Seeing this eejit given a voice on the airwaves where there should be someone with integrity, intelligence and empathy, as well as state-person-ship, is utterly nauseating, and incredibly cringeworthy.

        Liked by 1 person


    But then tories and their cohorts are always lying cheating misleading
    The Scottish People who pay their wages

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly, nasty trolling is the experience of most women in the public eye and it occurs as much in the mainstream media and at Westminster as much as on ‘social’ media. Every time Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh spoke in Parliament, Nicholas Soames barked like a dog. Routinely, the murder of Jo Cox MP is ignored as we are told about the ‘lack of violence’ during the Brexit referendum.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This will probably get lost and be unread. One does not have to be a “woke” supporter or opponent to recognise the indifference/hostility of UK gov to the rights of women.


    “Goodhart, the new EHRC commissioner, has been a vocal supporter of the “hostile environment” policy that led to the UK’s Windrush scandal; Butcher is on record as saying that women who are subject to workplace discrimination should find ways round the problem rather than bringing formal complaints. Nobody reflecting on the values and agenda that led to Butcher’s appointment can believe that the government which gave Stock an OBE has a serious commitment to the interests of women.”


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