Kevin McKenna’s plot: lost or still laser-sharp?

Kevin McKenna: It is time to stand up to those who wish to criminalise  faith | HeraldScotland
McKenna’s true cause

A long time ago, I was a fan of Kevin McKenna’s writing, appearing often in the Guardian. On issues of social justice and economic compassion, I thought him the most articulate and persuasive.

Then his initial responses to the Yes movement, equally articulate and no doubt persuasive for many but, of course, just wrong like most Labour supporters of the time. Unlike George Monbiot then, he did not appear to get that this is a leftist movement or that the SNP is clearly to the left, on taxation, benefits and human rights of the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.

Then, wow, he turned, in strong support of independence but like some others reserving the right to have a pop at the SNP as a matter of journalistic principles. Leaving aside the absurdity of the latter in corporate or state journalism, this led many of us to be suspicious of him and others like Macwhirter and Fry. I don’t have the sources, perhaps a reader does, but I feel sure that plots to undermine radical movements with placemen (?), apparently within the movement but constantly undermining its leadership have been tried before.

Many of us will have reservations about some aspect of SNP policy, it’s NATO/USA, for me, but if most of your writing energies are spent on this infighting and not attacking the Union, then it’s no wonder if many of us begin to become suspicious of your true intentions.

Alleged hostility to Catholics/Irish, ‘family’ values and paradoxically, ‘women’s rights’ are among McKenna’s favourite if evidence-blunt weapons.

Today, he pops up again in the Herald with: Kevin McKenna: Why SNP are fast becoming the enemies of independence and tells us:

You see what he’s doing? Regardless of evidence, he repeats the opposition parties’ lies to undermine the SNP Government and in so doing weakens the whole movement because there is no victory without the muscle the SNP has.

These are, course repeats.

In September 2021, I responded:

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.

Scotland Coronavirus Tracker

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.”

On exams, I’ve written several rebuttals. See

Right, I’m off to consume something.

Kevin McKenna: It is time to stand up to those who wish to criminalise  faith | HeraldScotland

6 thoughts on “Kevin McKenna’s plot: lost or still laser-sharp?

  1. It’s odd how some who purported to be Indy reverted to copying Unionist arguments and attacking the Yes movement. An infamous blogger and a past leader had their run ins with the police and computers confiscated. Suddenly they are anti SNP and The FM and leading and goading their followers into dark, angry, ugly misogynistic waters ! It’s almost as if they were ‘got at’. And who is to say they weren’t. The Establishment wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they allowed the Indy movement to get an upper hand and crush their previous Union.
    Every activist group is infiltrated by agent privateers, are sources on and put plants in their midst. We are the greatest threat to their status quo and the rift that could crash the elites power and prosperity. Blackmail would be the ultimate control of those who had done wrong and found out. Or maybe just threats are enough for those without conviction.
    On the other hand journalists earn a living out of writing about politics. They do what they are told and where the money lies. They have no qualms.
    So yes I agree with you. Some have been had and some never were.


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