The Media Trap
Posted on March 15th, 2023
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
As I am not a member of the SNP, I haven’t spent a great deal of time watching the leadership debates. From what I can gather, the Hustings have been well received, with sensible debate and answers to audience questions. It has, though, been a very different affair on the televised debates.
I must say that I feel the SNP were in a no-win situation here. If they had stuck to their original decision of not allowing the media access to the debates, they would have been accused of trying to hide. But agreeing has left all three candidates open to the media hostility we all know exists. The TV format is designed to encourage argument and create an aggressive interaction, and I’m afraid the three candidates seem to have fallen into the trap of going along with this. The insults they have been throwing at each other have been a godsend to the Unionist Parties, which is precisely what the media wanted, and I am disappointed that the candidates did not agree beforehand to keep things civil while still promoting themselves as the best candidate. That sort of approach was perfectly possible, but it seems they have blown it.
From all accounts, the BBC did their usual trick of packing the audience with Unionist supporters. Now, I do understand the argument that whoever wins is going to become First Minister, so it is right that non-SNP members should be able to see what they are going to get, but I don’t recall the same thing happening with the Tory leadership debates where the audience was, as I recall, full of Tory Party members. Whether it was right to confine the audience to Party members, or fill it with opponents is something that can be debated. What is not in doubt is that the BBC did their best to give the Tory candidates a much easier ride than the SNP. That’s BBC impartiality in action once again.
As for who will become our next First Minister, I’m not enamoured of any of the candidates. All have points in their favour, but all have points against. Since my main concern is that Scotland should become a normal country, Ash Regan seemed positioned to be my preferred choice, but the truth is that she does not seem to have performed well when it comes to detail on her other policies. Both of the other candidates have said things which have slightly alarmed me, and I’m not convinced that either of them would be the leader we need if we are to gain independence. As always, I hope that I am wrong on that, but so far, I’ve not seen any signs of the sort of determination we need.
The one good thing about this contest is that it will be over fairly soon.