SNP Spin Doctors Slay Covid

Being economical with the truth is a booming economic sector

If you really want to comprehend why the Covid Queen’s continues to reign supreme – no matter what she subjects her subjects to – there is a full explanation available that lasts for barely 20 seconds seconds. Rather amazingly, it was provided by one of her favourite courtiers, Angus Robertson, in an interview he gave to the policy editor of BBC’s Newsnight programme Lewis Goodall. The most revealing part of their exchange went like this:

Robertson: There is something going on in and around the Coronavirus pandemic where Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government are seen as being very competent in contrast with Boris Johnson and the U.K. Government, which is not.

Goodall: You talk about being competent. In terms of Covid outcomes I’m not clear the Scottish Government has done any better than what’s happened in Westminster.

Robertson: In the matter of public opinion it has. What really matters is public opinion.

That report was transmitted in September last year. I was almost dozing off on my armchair when it came on, but I soon perked up and pressed the pause button. Did he really say what I thought he said? I rewound and, true enough, Angus Robertson had stated on camera, clear as a bell: “What really matters is public opinion.” Not the most vulnerable Covid-19 victims dying in Scottish care homes because they were rushed out of hospital wards, just in case their beds might possibly be needed by younger patients more deserving of treatment. Not countless people’s businesses and livelihoods being destroyed because the Scottish economy was induced into an interminable semi-coma. Not half the Scottish population struggling to remain sane and remember what basic basic civil liberties were like before the relentless imposition of medical martial law. Not almost 700,000 Scottish schoolchildren having their education seriously disrupted and – in more than a few cases – put at serious risk of neglect or abuse. Nope, none of the above. What really matters is public opinion.

When he uttered those words, I remember thinking what a gaffe. Good on you, Goodall. Took a London broadcaster with oleaginous Oxbridge mannerisms to get it out of him, but at least it happened. Angus is a goner. He’s given the game away. He’ll be toast tomorrow morning. But that didn’t happen, of course. Such a breathtaking statement – by one of the First Minister’s closest allies and confidantes – generated not a single column inch in the Scottish press, nor a single second of airtime on any Scottish TV or radio programme. Nothing online either. Even the sharpest members of the Caledonian commentariat didn’t pick up on it.

Far from getting trounced in Edinburgh Central in the Holyrood election on May 6, Mr Robertson romped home in that longtime Tory seat and is now the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs, Culture and whatever you’re having yourself. For what really matters to the person who was always going to bring him instantly into her Cabinet is public opinion. And our SNP chieftains have brought that often unruly beast so firmly under their control, they can get away with saying or doing pretty much anything now. The Covid Queen could whip back even the limited freedoms she has finally, reluctantly, returned to us and her crown wouldn’t slip a bit. Because the general opinion among voters is that Nicola is being far more responsible than Boris. Even though, as Newsnight’s policy editor rightly pointed out, governmental responses to the pandemic – and the results – have been pretty much the same on both sides of the Border. Dire.

Doctor shortages are pushing the Scottish NHS to breaking point but rest assured, folks, their will never be any shortage of spin doctors in Sturgeon’s Scotland. In 2019-20 (the latest year for which figures are available) the public image of her shady regime was protected and projected by an army of sixty full-time media handlers, compared to just over 40 in 2016-17. The public bill for this army of dissemblers, deflectors and distorters is about £3m per annum. The figure doesn’t include the sum spent on 15 special advisers, who also play some part in massaging or manipulate public opinion. Even so, when you stop and think about it, £3m a year to control a country is a complete bargain – especially an advanced liberal democracy (or what we once imagined was such).

These statistics are published today in The Times. They were extracted from St Andrew’s House by the paper’s Scottish political editor Kieran Andrews, who spelled out what this means for democratic accountability in this country:

As the government’s press operation has swollen, cutbacks have taken place across most of the Scottish media. The BBC has 34 reporters — 17 for general news and 17 specialist correspondents — meaning even the publicly funded broadcasters have fewer people asking questions than the government has to answer them.

When he asked a Scottish Government spokesman the question why there are so many people on the public payroll doing the job he’s doing, Mr Andrews got a fairly long answer:

Effective communication is an essential role of government. Communications activity is needed to explain policy decisions and provide information to the public about the government and its services. We are operating a wider range of responsibilities than ever before, dealing with key priorities such as the response to the pandemic, EU exit work and change projects including the development of the Social Security Agency, while continuing to protect public services and deliver value for money. It is important that we communicate with the people of Scotland about this work.”

Crafting that lengthy spiel must have generated a lot of sweat on an unusually hot summer’s day. Totally unnecessary. All this mouthpiece needed to say was the same as Angus Robertson said on a national TV network – with absolutely no comeback: “What really matters is public opinion”.

20 thoughts on “SNP Spin Doctors Slay Covid

  1. The secret of success is sincerity. When you are able to fake sincerity , you’ve got it made. So said George Burns and Groucho Marx. Spin doctors specialise in the fabrication of sincerity , they are a bunch of fakers. Is Angus Robertson being sincere or merely honestly cynical? Has the mask slipped? A more adroit interviewer would have pounced on this impression mismanagement slip .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Effective Government communication-
    Used to be called propaganda but these days it’s simple ‘gaslighting’. When you control the media, you control public opinion.
    When you think about it the £3 million bung/bribe was a truly ‘inspired’ move.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Angus Robertson is nobody’s fool. He had it bang on there: it is, indeed, public opinion and public perception that count; even where that opinion and perception are so skewed from reality as to be beyond understanding. Stonewall has used the same barometers to make people believe that delusion is reality. This is where we find ourselves: in the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Emperor who had no clothes. To the discerning ear, Angus Robertson knew what he was saying about public perception was right, that it is what counts, but he had to cast doubt on the accusation that Nicola Sturgeon had done no better than Boris Johnson – in reality – even though, the subtext was saying: yes, I know that’s the case, but, hey, if the mass of the population are happy to accept that, why should we quibble? We’re on a roll here.

    We should not be surprised, Jaggy, that the public perception of Nicola Sturgeon, and her administration, differs so markedly from the reality. She has surrounded herself with people who think like her on independence (drag feet forever and a day – basically, devolutionists) and on the GRA reform and Hate Crime (women must be expunged from the narrative or the house of cards collapses). I have no doubt whatsoever, that there are those around Nicola Sturgeon who really do believe all the horse manure that passes for debate these days; you only have to listen to their twittering nonsensical ordure, the rationale of which would not tax the faculties of a five-year-old; but they will not all do so. Inside her coterie will be one or two heretics, willing to play the game for now, but with an eye on the main chance, nevertheless. When they think the time is right, I fully expect these to make their move. I don’t think that will be too long, either.

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  4. Unfortunate though it might be Robertson is right, isn’t he? Sturgeon is widely perceived to have “had a good pandemic” by the Scottish public who, it seems, are more than happy to ignore the facts and go with what they want to believe. She is very lucky to have Johnson as a comparator and a brain-dead Scottish media.

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  5. «The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.»
    Orwell. 1984
    Doublethink aka communication, advertising, information, briefing, news.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well spotted, and indeed a glimpse inside the party machine – it is all about greasing public opinion, far less about protecting people in care homes or bringing the infection rate down. The figures are stark.

    But the most astonishing revelation is the information about how many media handlers the SNP employs. 60 people on £50k a year to spin on behalf of Sturgeon and her clique. No wonder all those false and misleading stories about Salmond, the witness ‘interviews’ etc made the press so regularly, even after the trial. Money well spent, indeed, job done, and the loose ends of what actually happened being swept up and disappeared under court cases and jail sentences.

    What, any aspiring hack could reasonably ask, do these 60 people do all day? There is hardly a Scottish media big enough to employ a dozen spin doctors. Sturgeon has a bigger press and PR operation than most of the Scottish media put together. What a telltale insight into her regime and the way she conducts it. The Scottish taxpayer might wish to have some oversight of the colossal waste of money Sturgeon has racked up over the last few years, but I don’t expect the docile media to be that interested.

    It’s just another brick in the wall she is building around herself and her acolytes, absolute power with no accountability. Oh for some opposition.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Johnson is a bad joke in a country happy to vote Tory but Sturgeon, in what used to be a socialist country, needs to employ SIXTY SPIN DOCTORS in order fool the electorate into believing she runs the country well! Now I know why she walks as if she owns Scotland. She does. But sixty THOUSAND spin doctors can’t find our missing INDYREF2 cash so that fact will bring her spinning to earth with a bang!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. They control the media in Scotland in its totality. Look at the assault on Tom Kitchin’s business, a weekly feature from the same Times journalist. Is he worse than any other of these high-flying restaurants? Maybe, maybe not. Is he an arch critic of the Scottish Government’s policy on the hospitality sector? Definitely. When I point this out on the comments section it gets bombed, regardless of the language I use.

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  9. I take it that the £3 million of our money that Sturgeon gave to ‘assist’ the msm in this country is to be added to the £3 million for the 60 spin ( on it) doctors?

    The rebuttal Unit?…where is it and who is on it and how much are they paid?
    With Sir Nicholas MacPherson and Murray Foote on board as well, the Murrells are bulletproof.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And let us not forget the small change of £50k spent on ‘coaching’ civil servants in how to answer the enquiry questions. Question which would of course been easy to answer if you weren’t intent on hiding information, not giving away anything and avoiding committing perjury. Not to mention landing the FM in very big trouble.No amount of taxpayers money is too big to spend on getting her off the hook and burnishing the agreed storyline. What a tinpot dictatorship, enabled by a compliant paid-off media and a cadre of well recompensed civil servants, now all applying for big pensions in the get away vehicle.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I too am bemused why the Scottish public thinks that Sturgeon has handled the Covid pandemic in Scotland any better than down South. Is it because Johnson is so bad that the public thinks that Sturgeon must be better, or does the Scottish public actually feel that Sturgeon is a more genuine person than Johnson.

    Of course we must take into account that many Scots don’t actually know what Sturgeon has been up to recently, and others are too busy to care, they may catch a five minute glimpse of her on tv as they rush about with, well, life in general and think she’s doing a good job.

    The foreign corporate media, are never too heavy handed on her, they seem to give her quite a bit of breathing space on policies such as the HCB. Sturgeon has got the finger pointing at Westminster down to a tee, and it has adhered the masses in Scotland to her.

    The fifty-percent rise in media spin doctors is of course to cover up the widespread failings of her ministers, and newspapers like the National which is supposed be for Scottish independence, spends most of it time defending Sturgeon whether she’s right or wrong, and doing down Westminster in a head a never ending head turning exercise.

    It looks like sturgeon has a firm grip on the steering wheel and the Scottish public mostly want her to remain in the driving seat, however come 2023 and no independence referendum has materlised, of course she’ll just blame Johnson, the Scottish public who actually want independence, might begin to see that Sturgeon isn’t what her spin doctors have made her out to be.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. It’s funny how the more the Government tries to stop people knowing what they are actually doing, the more PR people they have to hire.

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