This is a lie. There are in fact no “tax hikes” in the budget at all. The threshold for the higher rate of tax is increasing with inflation, ie in real terms it’s staying the same as it is now. Councils are being ALLOWED to raise Council Tax but not FORCED to.
But the Mail lying is a reflex action. What about the rest?
Figures released yesterday indicated that the number of full-time teachers employed in Scotland had risen by 253 over the past year, despite budget cuts imposed by the UK government’s austerity programme. This obviously presented the Scottish media with a dilemma: how could such statistics be presented as an “SNP BAD” story?
Luckily, we’re dealing with experienced professionals here.
We often say here on Wings that our job is to teach people to instantly recognise the sneaky tricks used by the media to try to create false impressions without saying things that are technically untrue. (Because despite the tiny size they’re allowed to print corrections at, they’re still rather embarrassing.)
A key technique is to look at a headline or story and immediately ask what you’re NOT being told. So here’s an easy example from today’s Scottish Daily Mail.
Alert readers will remember that last month we debunked a front-page story from the Scottish Daily Mail about SNP MPs’ expenses, which made the spectacularly untrue claim that they were more expensive than their Unionist predecessors, when in fact they cost significantly less and did far more work.
A couple of days ago the Mail finally ran a “clarification”. And we thought you might like to know exactly how much more the Mail values lies than truth.
The highlighted areas on the picture above occupy 440,107 pixels.
We’ll be honest, there are some bits of this that make us wince, and unfortunately most of them come in the first two minutes where they’ll do the most damage in terms of getting a persuadeable voter to watch the rest of it. But it’s an important piece of work, containing stuff even we didn’t know about, and it should be seen.
I wasn’t going to mention this on the site because it’s basically a personal matter, but as most readers don’t use Twitter or Facebook it probably ought to be briefly filed for the record, given the amount of media coverage there’s been.
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.
This article by US writer Emily Robinson is probably more instructive than anything we could post today (the Sunday papers are a news desert again, frankly). It doesn’t take a very great feat of imagination to transpose the American terms to Scottish ones – for “Berniebros” read “cybernats”, etc. Phantom news, it seems, is universal.
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.