All posts by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

Vicious, visceral? Yes, but is it visible?

Brian Taylor said he hoped to play a new role in charting Scotland’s future
TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER JAMES GLOSSOP

Brains Taylor, on a free transfer to the Herald, writes as he spoke, with affected ostentatious flatulence.

He opens with:

SOME conversations stand out. It may be a significant disclosure – or a remark which subsequently acquires importance. It may be a single, startling phrase, recollected in tranquillity. To be frank, most chats are not of that nature. Rather, they are ephemeral, transient. All week, however, one past conversation has come, unbidden, to my mind. This dialogue took place after Alex Salmond was charged with a range of sexual offences, but before he was cleared in court. Before, indeed, his trial had opened. My interlocutor said calmly: “Alex is entirely confident he will be acquitted. And then watch out.” The consequence, according to my contact, was that there would be significant repercussions for those who had instigated the accusations. The talk, even then, was of conspiracy.

I can just hear him enunciate, sh-free, ‘significant repercussions for those who had instigated the accusations.

Like many others today, he’s feasting on what he supposes is the decaying corpse of the SNP, but it’s pure wish fulfilment.

Ipsos MORI told us yesterday, from their survey of 1036, only 5, less than half of 1% thought the Alex Salmond enquiry was an issue which will be very important to them in helping them to decide which party to vote for.

https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/support-scottish-independence-falls-back

And, a range of sexual offences? He makes it sound like a shop display.

Must go. Something has come, unbidden, to my mind.

When you take the piss out of a paralysed dog it’s called expressing the bladder

express

The headline is accurate. I did it more than 5 000 times for my lovely paralysed retriever, who lived 5 years in wheels. Now when I see the word ‘express’ I think of that. When I see the above, I think buckets of it.

Here’s what Salmond actually said:

Some people say that the failure of these institutions, the blurring of the boundaries between party, government and prosecution service mean that Scotland is in danger of becoming a failed state. I disagree. The Scottish civil servant hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed. The Crown Office hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed. Scotland hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed.

Salmond clearly disagreed with the Express view. Isn’t he saying Scotland is ready but, in his view, just needs a change of leadership?

Is the Express saying that all of the efforts of the millions to make this the kind of country with an economy, culture and political institutions demonstrably superior to those in many other European states, including England, are somehow discounted by this one case?

My dog’s bowel was not paralysed. Like the Express she could defecate freely, anywhere.

express

Surely Sarah Smith has broken some code of conduct and should resign too

I’m grateful to https://twitter.com/PWMartin_Leith for some of these these reminders.

In November 2020, she told BBC 1:

Also in November 2020 she platformed one barber to tell us that the Scottish Government’s pandemic strategy was ‘Rubbish!’ and undermine compliance:

In June 2020, she clearly enjoyed this one:

Image

In February 2020, she lied:

In July 2019, on drug treatment and the blanket refusal to allow safe injection spaces, she told us that, ‘of course it’s VERY convenient for the Scottish Government to argue that they’re being hampered by Westminster.’

In January 2018 she knew fine what she was doing:

Image

There’s more but, I’m tired.

Poll suggests gender recognition and Salmond enquiry having little impact but constitution matters most

News - The Student

In Ipsos MORI’s poll for 15th to 21st February 2021, 1 031 respondents were asked:

Looking ahead to the Scottish Parliamentary election, which, if any, issues do you think will be very important to you in helping you decide which party to vote for?

Two issues fascinating the media and activists on social media, ‘LGBT rights / equality / GRA (LGR)’ and ‘Alex Salmond enquiry (ASE)’, appear to be of very little interest to potential voters.

Only 7 out of 1 031 or less than 0.7% selected LGR and only 5, or less than half of 1%, selected ASE.

The issues that do seem to matter are:

  1. Scottish independence/devolution 394 or 38%.
  2. Education/schools 305 or 30%
  3. Healthcare 239 or 23%
  4. Coronavirus 199 or 19%
  5. Economy 163 or 16%
  6. Europe 127 or 12%.

Only one poll I know, but a full-size one and unlikely to be well out so, the message is clear. We need not worry about support being driven away by those two issues.

Salmond did not imply ‘Scotland wasn’t really ready for independence’

I’ve just watched open-mouthed as BBC Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall said:

An argument that was effectively being made by the former First Minister, Alex Salmond, the architect of the modern day SNP, someone who’d done more than anybody else to make Scottish Nationalism mainstream over the last two decades, effectively saying that as a result of this scandal, as a result of the political leadership that Scotland currently has, in his view, seemed to be intimating that Scotland wasn’t really ready for independence.

Here’s what Salmond said:

Some people say that the failure of these institutions, the blurring of the boundaries between party, government and prosecution service mean that Scotland is in danger of becoming a failed state. I disagree. The Scottish civil servant hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed. The Crown Office hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed. Scotland hasn’t failed. It’s leadership has failed.

I do not get what Goodall is trying to suggest here. Salmond clearly disagreed with his thesis. Isn’t he saying Scotland is ready but, in his view, just needs a change of leadership.

Is Goodall saying that all of the efforts of the millions to make this the kind of country with an economy, culture and political institutions demonstrably superior to those in many other European states, including England, are somehow discounted by this case?

Another archaic personality politics pundit.

In December you were 10 TIMES more likely to catch Covid in an English hospital

NHS England have been keeping ever so quiet on the level of hospital-acquired Covid infections but the Guardian today revealed them to have been typically around 25% of the total admitted.

That’s a shocking rate. Why? Well, for one thing the rate in NHS Scotland in the same period has been dramatically lower.

In December 2020, for example, the rate in Scotland was 1.9% definite cases and 0.9% probable cases, at worst 2.8% and thus only just above one-tenth of the rate in England.

https://beta.isdscotland.org/find-publications-and-data/population-health/covid-19/hospital-onset-covid-19-cases-in-scotland/30-december-2020/

Hospital-acquired Covid falls for second week

Figure 1: Epidemic curve of COVID-19 cases with first positive specimen taken during an inpatient stay, by onset status: week-ending 1 March 2020 to week-ending 31 January 2021 (n=13,509).   Figure 1 is an epidemic curve of COVID-19 cases with first positive specimen taken during an inpatient stay. The length of the bars are the counts of COVID-19 cases during each week, from week ending 1 March 2020 to week ending 31 January 2021, with the bars broken down by hospital onset status: non-hospital onset (day 1 or 2 of in-patient stay), indeterminate hospital onset, probable hospital onset and definite hospital onset. The chart shows a steep increase in overall cases and definite hospital onset cases until a peak on week ending 5 April. This is followed by a decline in overall cases and definite hospital onset cases since this peak; few cases were observed during July and August. An increase has been observed in overall and definite hospital onset cases since week ending 30 August, plateauing towards the end of 2020. There has been a further recent increase since the end of December.
https://beta.isdscotland.org/find-publications-and-data/population-health/covid-19/hospital-onset-covid-19-cases-in-scotland/

I’m standing in for BBC Scotland’s Lisa Summers to report another fall in the level of hospital-onset cases of Covid infection to only 2.6% definite and 1.3% probable.

Lisa has promised to be right there for me if the number goes up again.

The two researchers in England who have promised to update their figures for 2020, when the rate was up to 25% in English hospitals, have not replied to my recent emails.

Readers who point out that the falling number of cases simply reflects falling numbers in wards, may have something there but if that didn’t explain Lisa’s panic about rises, then I’m not using it to explain the fall.

Ipsos Morons?

Between Ipsos MORI’s November poll, support for independence has fallen by 3 points from 51% to 48% but any pollster surely knows that to talk of a trend, as they do above, you need more than two polls.

There have been six already this year and dozens in 2020. Here’s what they show:

Here are the trends:

  1. Support for independence has flattened in 2021 so far after a steep climb into clear lead in 2020. It has NOT fallen back.
  2. Support for the Union has continued in a very steep decline in 2021 after falling steadily since the end of 2018.
  3. The number of undecided has increased in 2021.

It’s easy.

Why Scotland’s Attorney General can be trusted more than rUK’s

Official portrait of Suella Braverman MP crop 2.jpg
Suella Braverman, Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland

By stewartb

There have been a number of ‘prominent’ people opining that the Salmond affair is revealing fundamental weaknesses in the structuring of Scotland’s institutions. There can appear also to an implication here that such concerns – and perceived weaknesses – are present in Scotland but do not exist within the Westminster system. Unsurprisingly this, in my inexpert opinion, seems to be false.

For anyone interested in views on not dissimilar issues facing institutions within England – over the dual role of government law officers, their independent status and the publication (or not) by a government of its legal advice – I suggest reading this for useful perspective. Apologies for the length of this post but if like me you have little or no prior knowledge of the subject, you may find the information on England’s/Westminster’s practices interesting.

Source: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/commentary-and-opinion/advice-from-the-attorney-general-does-not-attract-privilege/5068625.article.

In England’s different system, as the article explains: “The Attorney General fulfils a number of constitutional roles: superintending the prosecution agencies together with a number of functions in relation to criminal proceedings, being the arbiter of the public interest in that role, and representing the public interest in civil proceedings.

“Most importantly, … , the Attorney General is the chief legal adviser to the government, and as such he has access to Cabinet and Cabinet papers. He is also a senior minister of the government.”

(The current Attorney General is The Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP.)

__________________________________________________________________________

Ed: She is member of a religious sect accused of sex abuse and has been accused of anti-semitism:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/15/new-attorney-general-suella-braverman-in-controversial-buddhist-sect

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/tory-mp-braverman-under-fire-for-using-term-peddled-by-neonazis

_____________________________________________________________________________

“The current Attorney General is a member of the House of Commons, with separate duties and responsibilities to those he represents and all Attorneys General take the whip of the party forming the government.

“The Attorney General is therefore a public servant, with a duty to the public, but as a member of government he is responsible for government policy. There is an obvious tension between these roles.”

The author explains this ‘tension’ further: “.. when the Attorney General provides advice to the government, can the government truly be said to be his client, and he an independent legal adviser so that the advice he gives may be said to be legally privileged, or is the fact that the advice of the Attorney General to government is not disclosed save in exceptional circumstances not a result of legal privilege, but rather of parliamentary convention?

“In other words, can it thus be said that such advice does not have the unassailable quality of communications covered by legal privilege? In answering this question it is necessary to remind oneself of the context in which legal privilege may arise, and the policy reason for which it exists in that context.”

The article points the reader to the authority of Erskine May: here the position is stated as follows:

’By long-standing convention, observed by successive Governments, the fact of, and substance of advice from, the law officers of the Crown is not disclosed outside Government. This convention is referred to in paragraph 2.13 of the Ministerial Code. The purpose of this convention is to enable the Government to obtain frank and full legal advice in confidence. Therefore, the opinions of the law officers of the Crown, being confidential, are not usually laid before Parliament, cited in debate or provided in evidence before a select committee, and their production has frequently been refused; but if a Minister deems it expedient that such opinions should be made known for the information of the House, the Speaker has ruled that the orders of the House are in no way involved in the proceedings.’

It is clear from this article that there is a valid and serious – legal and non-partisan – debate being had with regard to the tension in the roles of the government law officer within the Westminster system.

Finally, to fill in more of this picture giving perspective, among the Attorney General post’s roles and responsibilities are the following (extracted from the UK Government website on ‘Ministerial role Attorney General’):

– ‘Specific statutory duty to superintend the discharge of duties by the Director of Public Prosecutions (who heads the Crown Prosecution Service) and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office.’

– ‘Government’s principal legal adviser dealing with (amongst others) questions of international law, human rights, devolution and COVID-19 issues.’

And not least given current matters in Scotland::

– ‘Public interest functions, for example, reference of unduly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal, bringing proceedings for contempt of court …’

Vacancies which are not being advertised are not vacancies and a retirement ‘dribble’ is of no concern

Dr Graeme Eunson (inset) said many senior consultants,who entered the profession in the 1990s, had 'run out of gas'

All over your MSM today, a trade union survey reported as if it came from an independent university-based research group which has to declare any interests.

SCOTLAND’S health service is facing a “perfect storm” of huge waiting list backlogs and consultant vacancies which are more than double official estimates, according to a new report. Freedom of information research by BMA Scotland suggests that just over 15 per cent of consultant posts are empty once vacancies which are not being advertised or which health boards have “tried and failed to fill” are taken into account.

Why would a vacancy not be advertised? Could it be that it only exists as a vacancy in the thoughts and wishes of individuals and not in the evidence-based assessment of need compiled by professionals employed to assess that need?

As for that language – perfect storms and exoduses – the titled rejected by Bob Marley for his album, Exodus?

Perfect storms and tsunamis have been the thing among health correspondents like McArdle, above, for some time now. In October 2020:

GPS have warned that surgeries are facing a “perfect storm” as patients who are seeking pandemic-delayed appointments, flu vaccinations and mental health issues combine to drive a surge in consultations. One doctor said his practice in Glasgow’s south side had experienced an almost 70 per cent rise in patient numbers and that he had serious concerns the pattern would continue into winter.

‘GPs’ was repeated several times but only one actually featured, Dr John Montgomery of the David Elder Medical Practice in Glasgow.

Exodus, movement of a whole people usually does sound scary but wait only 261 consultants responded and only half of them, 131, ‘said’ they would be retiring early. Now how many are in the tribe of consultants in Scotland? 5 587:

https://turasdata.nes.nhs.scot/workforce-official-statistics/nhsscotland-workforce/publications/01-december-2020/

So from a sample of only 4.67%, only 2.3% saying they might go early constitutes an ‘Exodus?’ Surely more a dribble?