This is a story in the Herald today.
Thing is, we know it’s a lie. Who says so? Kezia Dugdale does.
No.4: file under “Hell actually froze over”.
We were very pleased to hear Gary Robertson challenge Kezia Dugdale on the curious matter of Scottish Labour’s membership and income figures on today’s Good Morning Scotland. Dugdale flapped and dodged and waffled for as long as she could before diverting the topic onto federalism, and eventually managed to wriggle away from the subject without any sort of proper answer (through no fault of Robertson’s).
(Good Morning Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland, 24 February 2017)
But what she said just made the situation MORE confusing, not less.
Almost a year ago we ran a short piece mocking a Scotsman headline which claimed that “THOUSANDS” of people had signed a Tory anti-referendum petition, when the actual number was a strictly-accurate-but-pathetic TWO thousand.
We didn’t think that could ever be beaten for technically-true hyperbolic exaggeration, but we’d reckoned without the bold boundary-pushing ingenuity of the Daily Express.
Hundreds of thousands? How many hundreds, exactly?
We don’t normally run rumours on Wings, but this one was too good to pass up. We offer it to you on the clear basis that it IS just gossip, but it’s from a source we trust.
Our source says that “he’s selling himself – to any influential figures who’ll listen – as a PR chief for Better Together 2. In my personal opinion I don’t think they will be silly enough to let him back in, frankly, but he seems to be indestructable.”
They also gave us a quote from what they described as “a well-placed insider”:
“McTernan is itching for a comeback.
He’s sniffing around both in London and among Scottish contacts to see if he can carve out a senior role in the inevitable indyref2 campaign, which everyone’s having to pretend isn’t inevitable at all.
Given his track record there’s a fair degree of concern, to say the least. But he still holds sway with some senior figures in London especially. He is disliked by many in Scottish Labour but seems to have charmed some of the Tories. Given the number of lives he’s had few will be surprised if he manages to worm his way in to the upper echelons of Better Together 2.”
We’re crossing ALL our fingers, folks.
Today seems a good day to bring up the latest snippet of data from our poll.
Less than a third of Scots of all parties and persuasions think BBC Scotland provides “balanced” political coverage. Even among Unionists, twice as many feel it’s biased in their favour as the frankly unhinged group who think it’s pro-independence.
Remarkably, more Tory voters think the Beeb is biased in favour of independence than think it leans towards the Union, which is quite some feat of self-delusion. Among Labour and Lib Dem voters it’s three-to-one the other way, and more than 17-to-1 among SNP supporters.
Meanwhile, 5% of respondents claimed to have “never heard of” the state broadcaster, which just goes to prove what Panelbase regularly tell us about how you can get 5% to 10% of people to vote for ANY answer you put in a poll, up to and including “Would you like us to come round right now and shoot you in the face?”
There’s an interesting story in the Herald today about Scottish Labour’s finances.
It reveals that the party’s income from donations plunged from £600,000 in 2015 to £100,000 last year, which in the article is blamed on Jeremy Corbyn’s UK leadership (even though Dugdale opposed him in the leadership election).
But there were a few comments in the piece that we thought needed scrutiny.
We thought you’d like a wee cross-tabbed update on yesterday’s Trident poll news:
Of all the people who wanted to retain the UK’s nuclear weapons, just over HALF of them (56%) were prepared to have them kept in Scotland. 15% did a total U-turn when confronted with the thought of having them in the same place they’ve been for the last 30-odd years, and nearly a third suddenly weren’t so sure nukes were a great idea when they were reminded they’re kept about half an hour from Glasgow.
It’s an interesting stat to keep in mind when the subject is debated.
The reliably-wise Stephen Bush of The New Statesman said something perceptive yesterday on the subject of an EU referendum, although it applies much more widely.
It’s a view we’ve held for many years, most often in relation to UK governments ruling with huge majorities won on pretty tiddly pluralities of the vote (often in the mid-30%s), where the bulk of the electorate has no defence against a party it didn’t vote for.
Despite an electoral system that makes such events far rarer, the phenomenon crops up a lot in Scotland too, and both sides are guilty, often on the same subject. Scottish employment figures, for example, alternate with almost metronomic regularity between being higher/lower than those in the rest of the UK, and whichever it is in any given month one side or the other will trumpet it as conclusive and permanent proof that Scotland’s governance is better/worse than that of London.
(Even though Holyrood in fact has almost no power over the economy, so deserves little of either the blame or credit, whichever applies that month.)
The most common case, though, is Trident.
The Scottish media has today leapt all over the front-page lead story from yesterday’s Sunday Times, in which “top economist” Douglas McWilliams of right-wing thinktank the Centre for Economics and Business Research made an apocalyptic prediction of a huge deficit turning an independent Scotland into “a Third World country”.
The Express’ customarily restrained coverage is pretty typical.
We wondered if Mr McWilliams used to have a more optimistic view.
As it turned out, not so much.