Readers of this site will be well aware of the many failings and limitations of GERS, aka Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland – the document which serves as the informal accounts of a devolved Scotland but tells us next to nothing about the finances of an independent Scotland, as noted just a few weeks ago by the impartial multinational auditors Deloitte.
An article I produced this week for the Common Weal White Paper Project – Beyond GERS – has generated much critical response from Unionists, though some of it has at least been constructive.
Spurred on by the mention of the article by David Torrance in Monday’s Herald, in a column containing several serious inaccuracies, I’ve seen various misunderstandings and misconceptions about it which ought to be addressed.
As alert readers will know, one of the primary purposes of this website isn’t just to tell people when the Scottish and UK media is lying to them, but to teach readers how to spot that for themselves. And one of the keys to learning that is to ask yourself what a story in the press is leaving out as well as what it’s telling you.
So last week, when several newspapers went on an orgy of shock-horror reporting about SNP MPs’ expenses – focusing mostly on aeroplane flights and only quoting figures for a small handful of MPs who’d allegedly been claiming far more taxpayers’ money than their Unionist predecessors – alarm bells started ringing everywhere.
And just as we’ve taught them to, Wings readers leapt into action to do the hard work that Scotland’s professional journalists don’t want to do, in order to provide Scots with the facts that the media doesn’t want them to know.
Nobody could ever accuse the Scottish press of underpromoting its grievances – alert readers will still recall, for example, the long procession of articles with near-identical content in the Daily Mail last year about SNP MPs and their “second jobs”. For 2016, though, the media’s obsessive repeating of the exact same story every few weeks has manifested itself over Nat members’ expenses.
There’s been a running theme recently on Unionist social media.
It’s the claim that the No vote in 2014 was an anomaly – a rare victory of progressive, internationalist, inclusive politics over the anti-establishment, isolationist, separatist tone that won out in the EU referendum and now the election of Donald Trump.
We expect nothing but idiocy of Fraser. But Mr Torrance, who is a ubiquitous presence in the Scottish media, appears – by no means for the first time – not to have the facts at his fingertips. So let’s see if we can help him out.
Here’s Ruth Davidson at FMQs today, telling the chamber that “last week the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said the real problem facing investment and jobs in Scotland was [Nicola Sturgeon’s] threat of a second referendum”.
Would you like to know how many actual people that was, readers?
The popular children’s author and litigious bully JK Rowling, whose personal wealth is measured in hundreds of millions of pounds, has been devoting her time to the tricky task of finding people being rude on Twitter again.
One of the comments (visible in the top-right corner of Rowling’s composite image) came from the Twitter account of this site. And we thought it sounded a bit off, so we had a quick check to see if we’d really said something so mean.
An article by Nick Cohen in the Spectator last night fairly had social media ablaze with a heady brew of anger and mockery.
It’s the most extraordinary outpouring of deranged, spittle-flecked arsewash we’ve seen outside of a Daily Express comment thread in a very considerable time, and it merits attention solely because we think it might have broken a world record for the number of empirical falsehoods contained in an article in a respectable media outlet.
Get your clickers out, readers. You’re going to need a fast trigger finger.
To be honest, readers, we gave up on taking any notice of David Torrance‘s mundane attempts at trolling in the Herald some time ago. But some alert readers pointed us towards this week’s column, suggesting that it was a bald rewriting of history some way beyond their usual bland irritancy.
This was the passage they objected to:
It’s a patronising piece of “shut up and eat your cereal” condescension for sure. But to be fair to Torrance, it does also happen to be true. Wait, not true. The other thing.
Low-wattage Labour list MSP Neil Findlay (rejected by the electorate of Almond Valley by a thumping 8,393 votes in May) puffed himself up to maximum socialism this week and attacked the SNP’s rather more popular Paisley MP Mhairi Black over a Scottish Daily Express story about travel expenses.
It might have been an idea if he’d read the piece all the way to the end.