McKenna goes too far this time and reveals himself as a Tory at heart

Two guys who know their way around a bull

I’d kind of given up responding to Kevin McKenna’s unconvincing hybrid support for independence, allegedly for it but hating everything the SNP do. Like Michael Fry and Iain Macwhirter, like all those big, worn, white males at the Herald and the Scotsman, who seem unable to cope with younger, more intelligent women in positions of authority, he surfaces angrily on family values, football chants or faith-based education to accuse the SNP of being totalitarian. Has he read anything on the history of the Vatican?

Anyhow, today he insists:

Douglas Ross is spot on — Nicola Sturgeon is trying to hide behind Covid crisis—-nicola-sturgeon-trying-hide-behind-covid-crisis/

Has he gone this far before, align himself with a Tory like Ross? Too far I’d say. So determined to get Nicola, he’s misjudged things.

Read it? No way. I know where he’s going again and I’ve answered the ‘thesis’ before so at minimum cost to me:

I guess if you don’t want to know something, you just don’t look but what does McKenna think she is trying to hide? Is it

  1. Higher recovery rate
  2. Lower excess mortality rate
  3. Mortality among BAME groups is lower
  4. Death rate in care homes is lower
  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, Ian) 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.

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

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


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.

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.

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. 

World Health Organisation tells Scotland ‘you are doing well’

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.”

I could find more but that’s enough for the moment.

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17 thoughts on “McKenna goes too far this time and reveals himself as a Tory at heart

  1. Excellent stuff, John, I’ll bet McKenna already has a dool of yourself to stick pins in!!
    He will be chewing the carpet .
    “Give me the facts, man – just the facts” – (with homage to Joe Friday!).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think you are a little unfair to McKenna. Most of what you cite concern how the pandemic was managed. I dont think this is McKenna’s target. Rather I think his point is that the FM prefers to point to how well she has managed this – “her no nonsense style” as he puts it – rather than engage with other issues.

    These include such as the recovery plan for the NHS, why the Army was only called in after it was being talked about some weeks ago (ie why the delay?), the National Care Service is basically some speeches (not that this could be expected to be in operation by this time- more like some time in the future).

    All of these could be said to be simply the negativism we have come to expect from Ross and Sarwar, but McKenna also brings in the unwillingness of the FM and the SG to engage with a wider public about their proposals. As he says consultations too often ” are presumptive, seeking responses to ideas already pre-determined.”

    While there are parts of McKenna’s argument which could be criticised and even rejected, I share his concern about the lack of engagement by the SG with the public. As he says, it’s all very well to consult the professionals, but what about the public. Too often consultations at this level are predicated on “this is what we are going to do, what do you think?”

    On the other hand this is a failing not unique to the SNP. About 20 years ago our local hospital – Vale of Leven Hospital – was to have its A&E closed and we would have to go to the RAH in Paisley. When A&E goes, other services follow and so it proved. There is a “Save the Vale” campaign which is used by Jackie Baillie to beat the SG. The motivation for closing A&E was a shortage of doctors – 20 years ago and how much has been done? The motivation for removal of services was that consultants – in order, we were told “to maintain their skills” – had to see a minimum number of patients requiring their specialty. The possibility of them coming to the patient – ie holding clinics in the Vale or at Inverclyde – was not an option. So this was the classic NHS “consultation” when we were asked what we though – “


    1. My oops – that last bit should be “though – “this is what we are going to do, what do you think?” Not much was the quick reply. For instance a woman giving birth has, in most cases (esp first birth) to get over to Paisley – not an easy job in the middle of the night without access to a car. But hey, it suits the health professionals and the accountants who just LOVE the economies of scale. “


    2. “the National Care Service is basically some speeches (not that this could be expected to be in operation by this time- more like some time in the future).”

      Can you honestly blame them for not spelling out what their plans are? How demoralising must it be to set out detailed policies or even ideas to then have then torn to shreds, subject to weeks of undermining on Radio & Reporting Scotland, phone ins with all the usual critic experts on standby while on the other side allies accuse them of not doing enough, moving too slow or not being radical

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well there is a question of when engagement and dialogue becomes “getting torn to shreds”. I agree. But that is most likely to be the usual suspects – we all have a list, dont we? But what about the great unwashed, the Scottish public? Why not engage with them in a meaningful way – ie find out their views before taking the decision and only then asking us what we think?
        As I noted above, its not just the SNP – it seems to be a governmental flaw in the UK generally. But politics is about difference – if we were all the same (or even nearly so) we would only need a single party. Being criticised is part of the game. I agree it has degenerated to nihilism, but either you come out and fight it, or get into the bunker. My own view would be that the current SG is a bit close to the bunker.


  3. I’m sure Kevin will be jumping on the Tory bandwagon to say NS is blaming the covid crisis for SNP failures in education, health, policing, land reform, immigration, drug deaths, sectarianism and possibly even the weather. It must be hard for Kevin & others to see their points of view being more or less ignored as the polls continue to show solid support for SNP policy generally and NS in particular but you have to wonder, do they ever even try to compare & contrast with Westminster?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The NHS, while each nation is in charge of their own, has broadly similar funding and operates in the same jobs market for recruitment.
    Outcomes and staffing should be fairly similar, and it is here that the lack of proper context from commentators (like McKenna) and professional journalists (all the media) is most noticeable.
    Scotland has a better performance than other NHS systems, with staffing levels at a higher level.
    We dont enjoy the same degree of general good health as in areas where heavy industry wasnt the main employer. And we “enjoy” a bevy and fast food too much.
    However if I go down to the old graveyard in Ochiltree, there were plenty of people who lived into their 80’s and 90’s a century or more ago.
    This was balanced out by the high mortality of their children.

    But if you lived into your teens, then, you could expect to live longer than my generation, it seems.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Or it could be that last months Herald’s circulation figures have further bombed and the staff that remain have been told to “up their game”.

    Perhaps Kenny can reveal the Heralds current circulation figures or are they being hidden?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephen
      I can assure that The Herald,s circulation
      Numbers would be going through the roof
      If it were not for the shortages of Drivers to deliver the raw materials to the printing works or lack of fuel

      Any excuse for the realty of actual falling
      Circulation will do as long as it does not involve the incompetence of Etonian Scum as the root cause
      Whilst on the subject of said scum one can but wonder how they will do without a pigs head for purposes of amusement and in some instances satisfaction in areas of procreation and its requirements

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As one of the great unwashed I very rarely respond to the consultations or even the attempts of local snp groups reaching out for folk to get involved.. Political dialogue isn’t easy, and for a governing body risks complications but don’t you think we all have a lot more scope now to have a say? I’m OK with folk having different ideas and views but there has to be a point where views are condensed or broadly categorised if a party or government is to function effectively. And as for criticism, if its applied fairly to all fine but otherwise you need to take steps to protect yourself and if that means keeping your cards close to your chest I think it’s understandable

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Brob
          Personally as far as I am concerned one should only ever engage in criticism when it is of a constructive nature
          But with regards our Union as far as Scotland is concerned it is impossible to
          Be constructive in any form or manner
          Rather akin to a dwelling that is beyond repair and has no method of constructive repair to make it habitable
          Consequently the pen is only any use when being deployed as wrecking ball in the form of a vote for any who will release the catch holding back the wrecking ball
          With a most precise aim

          Liked by 1 person

  6. The National should avoid a pro independence article from McKenna the next time as he flits from one position to another depending on which paper is paying. They should save their cash.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Labour loving Tory.

    The electorate gets their chance to have their say every Election Day. Five in the past 13 years because of Tory unionist mismanagement.

    The electorate have their say and overwhelmingly vote SNP. Massive victories never seen in the UK before. Despite an electoral system imposed by unionists. 1million votes go in the bin to let 3rd unionist losers in. FPTP there would be hardly any unionists in Holyrood. Especially Tories who want to close it down.

    It must be annoying for unionist so called ‘journalists’ who do not want to face the facts. They report biased propaganda. Not half as annoying for the electorate who have to be aware of the journalistic nonsense. They reject it. Readership going down, down, down. Into oblivion.

    Liked by 1 person

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