Scotland in the Media
Posted on July 5th, 2023
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
The other week, I was discussing the shocking state of the mainstream media with an English relative of mine. We were both bemoaning the biases, and he has even come to agree that the BBC are not impartial as he had once believed. I managed to recommend some alternative news websites and podcasts, so hopefully he’ll be able to find views not available from the mainstream media.
This did make me wonder about the general view that English people have about Scottish politics, and an article in today’s Guardian brought this home. The article featured research by a Think Tank called More IN Common UK, an organisation which, according to its website, was founded in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP, with the intention of carrying out research in areas of the UK outside London and the South East of England to find out what people are thinking.
What caught my eye was the headline, which read, "Get a ‘Grip and Listen’. Scottish voters share views as Yousaf reaches 100 days in office".
On reading the article, it was clear that the research had produced a wide range of views from people who had all voted SNP in the past, and all of whom resided in the Westminster constituency of Lanark and Hamilton East, traditionally a Labour stronghold, which perhaps reveals the bias inherent in More In Common UK’s attitude. It was also revealing that the quote in the headline was not attributed to any individual although many comments were cited. These ranged from admiration of Anas Sarwar, through disappointment with Nicola Sturgeon, the usual stuff about there being more important things for politicians to deal with than a referendum, and the view that independence was the best way to resolve those problems. Views on Humza Yousaf were equally mixed.
So, an English-based reader of the article might well have come away with the view that there was a fairly even split, although the unattributed headline quote suggests that Scottish voters are not impressed with our new First Minister.
But what was most revealing was that there was no background on More In Common UK, nor was there any caution about using research which focused on a single constituency, yet is implied to be relevant to the whole of Scotland by the headline. Nor, I noted, was any information given about how many people were interviewed, nor any percentage record of whether they still intended to vote SNP at the next General Election. In essence, then, the article is pretty meaningless in its attempt to ascertain what the voting public is thinking. The quotes were so wide-ranging that you could pick and choose to find the opinion you want. And, as so often with Anglo-centric media, they chose a negative one for the headline, even though the article did not confirm that anyone had actually said it.
Next time I’m chatting to my English relative, I think I’ll use this article as an example of how the media distorts views of Scotland. For myself, I’d have focused on the quote about the way to tackle our problems is to become independent. But then, I’m biased.