Alert readers may recall the anti-independence “Better Together” campaign’s rather, shall we say, enthusiastic approach to statistics. Earlier today we noticed them excitedly tweeting “Head count just done! About 600 at the launch of
#bettertogether Edinburgh!”, and wondered if they might have once again been so kind as to provide a picture for purposes of verification. And bless them, they had.
If you’re looking at that shot and thinking that it’s certainly full but doesn’t look much like “about 600” people, you’re not alone. So we did a quick bit of investigating.
The location for the launch meeting was the Surgeons Hall in Nicolson Street. It’s a large venue with numerous conference facilities of varying sizes, so we had a browse around its helpful and comprehensive website. We found a video there which appears to clearly identify the room in question as the Wolfson Hall (note the distinctive pattern of doors) in the Quincentenary Building:
The Wolfson Hall has variable capacity depending on whether it’s configured for the role of “theatre”, “cabaret” (we suspect that’s the one in the pic above) or “classroom”, but the No camp launch probably went for “theatre”, which is the largest. How large?
The chart appears to verify the information on the venue’s front page which states “Located in the heart of Edinburgh and only ten minutes away from Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, Surgeons’ Hall can accommodate between 10 – 300 guests“.
If “Better Together” have got “about 600” crammed in there, we can’t help feeling it’s our civic responsibility to alert the capital’s Fire Safety Officer (0131 469 5123) in order to avert the possibility of a terrible tragedy. Or maybe we could just call the 2014 Truth Team instead? They don’t seem to be very busy at the moment.
Once again, behind the fun mockery is a serious point. If “Better Together” will lie so blatantly, crudely and transparently about even things as trivial as this, what does it say about the likely veracity of all their other “figures” in the independence debate?
[EDIT 2.30pm: we rang the Surgeons Hall up ourselves, and they confirmed that the “Better Together” event had been in “theatre” mode, but that on this occasion it had only had 180 seats out – though as you can see there were also quite a few people standing. We’d therefore estimate total attendance in the 230-240 range.]