BROADCAST NEWS 12: A game of two halves


Professor John Robertson’s Armchair View Pt 12 starts with a football analogy and takes it too far. Ed.

February 27 to March 1 2015:

Stung by recent heavy defeats at the hands of arch-rival STV News, Reporting Scotland has been shoring up the ex-London Scots Reserve Jim Murphy by promoting two promising youngsters, Dugdale and Marra, to the first team.

Dugdale’s previous experience managing Lord Foulkes’ property portfolio was thought by some to be the ideal preparation for the kind of possession football favoured by the Labour/BBC consortium.  Both women are well-placed to persuade, through empathy with working-class women supporters, as at least one was  head girl at a “good” high school and both possess law degrees.

The Prof: Taking this football stuff far too far
The Prof: Taking this football stuff far too far

We all know, from former PM Blair, how useful a law degree is to enrich your family, grow your property portfolio and to become a consultant to the arms industry after you’ve helped them launch a war. To be fair, a law degree would also help you check the wording of new welfare legislation to make sure it’s legal but then it wouldn’t help you sense if it was moral.

Results have not improved and Murphy risks being axed at the end of the season unless he can start hitting the target, dive more convincingly in the penalty box and stop feigning injury so he can complain about the emerging crisis in physiotherapy. Will Marra and Dugdale share that fate?

By contrast, STV ‘s veteran striker, Ponsonby, is in the form of his life, though fans remain reluctant to chant his name. New forward, Claire Stewart, is one to watch as she cuts through waffle defences with ease.

Sweeper, John McKaaaaaayyyy runs the show from the back and his booming, manly, instructions can be heard everywhere. It’s a team game, however, and the STV team is providing the platform for their two stars.

Our resident football critic, the eminent Professor and polymath (his word – Ed), John Robertson of UWS, has been cast as the villain by Reporting Scotland supporters, with his cutting evaluations of their flawed methodologies and dirty tricks. You’ll remember it was BBC Scotland who accused Robertson of flawed methodologies in January 2014, leading to his promotion to Professor.

Taylor: Perfect enunciation, fell at the gender stereotype hurdle though...
Taylor: Perfect enunciation, fell at the gender stereotype hurdle though…

It was the Prof who demolished Reporting Scotland’s performance in the last big game over A&E targets. You’ll remember Reporting Scotland’s incessant over-reliance on the long-ball from Murphy resulted all too often in the ball ending up in the stands. Even stalwart midfield tactician Brian Taylor’s perfect enunciation was of little avail, with his less erudite colleagues regularly misreading his perfectly-phrased invitaciónes to meet his long balls.

Thursday February 27: STV News vs Reporting Scotland on Sturgeon’s First 100 Days.
So, it was the big gemme then, readers. I know many of you will have seen only one half and others will have been hiding in the basement so as not to witness further embarrassment. I watched it all. Here’s what I saw.
Both started cautiously, letting the FM lead things off, whilst ignoring Murphy’s chanting of “could do better, Nicola”. Perhaps predictably, after STV’s heavy victory over A&E, the game was a tight midfield battle with few really incisive passes or heavy tackles.

Abandoning the football analogy (at last – Ed), RS favoured the Opposition over SG/SNP by a ratio of  25:14 or 5:3, though this gap emerged only at the very end as Lib Dem and Tory representatives were given time for 12 statements to shift the balance quickly for the susceptible viewer. The time given for opposition to broaden their attack, in this way, contrasts with the narrow assessment of her achievements by Brian Taylor (See STV below).

Allowing the Conservative representative, Jackson Carlaw MSP, to attempt to malign Sturgeon by comparison with Thatcher, then having it repeated as part of  the final statement by Taylor, was both sexist and cheap. Sturgeon is a much more difficult target to hit than Salmond was, but Taylor’s collusion with Carlaw in beginning to paint her as a “one of those women you can’t reason with” was shameful. Watch others pick it up as we slide unattractively toward the election day.

STV also favoured the Opposition, but only by a 15:10 or 3:2 ratio. In addition to this better quantitative balance, STV made a fuller independent assessment of Sturgeon’s 100 days, giving her credit for her intelligent response to the Smith Commission, a seamless transition in leadership, placing gender equality at the heart of government and maintaining a huge poll lead while also allowing criticism of NHS (Labour), Police (Lib Dems) and relationship with councils (Cons).

Sunday March 1: A tenfold increase in waiting times for young people with mental health problems!
Oh, no another emerging crisis in the Scottish NHS. When will it end? The number of young people waiting 53 weeks for treatment goes up from 20 to 226 in one year. OMG! Says who? It must be a courageous NHS whistle-blower, surely? Er no, Scottish Labour released it? Thank goodness for Scottish Labour’s top research unit, keeping us informed via BBC Scotland of these emerging crises in the NHS. What would we do without them?

Jenny tells us all about it in a really convincingly empathetic tone. At one point she said “just awful”. I nearly cried. Well actually, I was too busy thinking numbers. A tenfold increase from 20 to 226 sounds just awful, at first, before I started to think there’s something fishy in these numbers.

A quick look at the website and I find this: That figure of 226 cases is 3.3% of the 7600 referrals in the table on Page 17 of the report. It’s not exactly that if you do the calculation again yourself. I make it only 2.9% if the 20 and 226 are correct. More interesting is the regional breakdown which Labour forgot to disclose to BBC Scotland and which the latter didn’t seem to explore, within the “thorough analysis” they must have carried out knowing that the figures they received had come from an opposition political party and not a reliable independent source.

Of the 12 boards reporting, 8 had no cases waiting more than 53 weeks, including the huge NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Two boards had less than 2% waiting that long. NHS Lothian had 7.6%, and seriously pushing up the national average was NHS Tayside with 27.2%. So, maybe, there is an emerging crisis in Tayside, and even in Lothian but not a nationwide one by any means.

To achieve 100% given the intractability of some mental health conditions is frankly astonishing and 1 to 2 percent is rarely significant statistically. As for the raw increase, from 20 to 226, small though it is as a percentage of the total, I’m sceptical, as you would be given the source.

Subbuteo-80sI couldn’t find either raw figure in the report and would just love to know the original reference for it.

STV missed the chance to go head-to-head with RS on this one. Not in Scottish Labour’s circle or maybe smart enough to smell the same fish I smelled when the call came through?

So, there we have it according to that Professor Robertson but can we trust his judgement anymore? Some of the opening paragraphs above were a bit weird, and we get especially concerned when someone begins to refer to himself in the third person.

Worry not, the esteemed reader and commentator Pam McMahon only recently described the Prof as “the sharpest scalpel in the media bias debate”. Sleep easy.

Professor and Libero (Sweeper!) John Robertson, University of the West of Scotland, 1st March, 2015



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