Below is a spread from Aberdeen newspaper the Evening Express tonight, reporting the findings of a poll about the conduct of the city’s council in recent weeks, covering incidents like the Labour/Tory administration’s mind-boggling attempts to ban Scottish Government ministers from all council-owned property and the controversy over a letter sent out with council tax bills which urged people to vote No.
If you click the image you can read the detailed results. And our more alert readers might come to the conclusion that there’s something odd about the paper’s summary.
As well as delivering resounding votes of no confidence in the council specifically over its handling of the two issues, the poll recorded approval ratings for the leaders of each party represented in the Town House. The net figures came out like this:
Barney Crockett (Labour): -72
Callum McCaig (SNP): +30
Fraser Forsyth (Con): -34
Ian Yuill (Lib Dem): -23
Marie Boulton (Ind): -45
One of those numbers isn’t like the others, is it, readers?
(As well as individual leaders there were also ratings for the Labour/Tory coalition as a whole, which scored -75, the SNP opposition on +22 and the Lib Dems with -37.)
The headline “Councillors from all sides blasted” is, clearly, disingenuous bordering on shockingly misleading. There can be no mistaking from those results who the people of Aberdeen – most of them not SNP supporters, remember – are holding responsible for the city becoming a laughing stock.
A few days ago we saw a poll in the Daily Express (no relation) which found that Yes supporters suffered three times as much real-life intimidation as those on the No side, yet the reporting glossed over the imbalance and focused mainly on some mild online rudeness from pro-independence “cybernats”.
When evidence of bad behaviour on the Unionist side reaches a level that can no longer be credibly suppressed, a media which goes insanely overboard on every last minor expletive on Twitter from a Yes supporter (and sometimes merely the unproven allegation of one) suddenly finds itself oddly coy about naming names, and instead grudgingly acknowledges “faults on both sides”. But the stats tell the true story.
Always read past the headline, folks.