Scottish independence referendum, plus jokes.

Wings Over Scotland


Health and safety bulletin

Posted on May 04, 2013 by

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.

btedinburgh600a

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:

wolfson

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?

capacity

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.]

76 to “Health and safety bulletin”

  1. Bobby Mckail says:

    Better Together are not going to let facts get in the way of propoganda and rhetoric. Luckily we have someone like Rev who can actually count.

  2. margaret mcneil says:

    If they have 600 there then they are breaking health and safety regulations. I have worked there over a period of 20 years and 600 would not fit in that hall.

  3. Jiggsbro says:

    I’m hoping that this dyscalculia is endemic in the BT camp and will result in them all going out to vote No on September 14, 2018.

  4. pmcrek says:

    Maybe they are counting votes instead of heads, obviously the 300 folks there will vote a couple of times each via post?

  5. cynicalHighlander says:

    Must be the the Scotsman poll counter machine or the double book entry accounting system via the ex chancellor getting mixed up.

  6. Douglas Grgegory says:

    Such cynicism – are you suggesting that these people are unable to count? or that telling porkies/drawing a long bow is culturally ingrained into their psyche ?
    The bare-arsed nature of these attendance claims suggest a disregard for the reality in which the rest of us live in. 
    But we knew that anyway.

  7. dundee bloke says:

    What a pathetic response to darling and the tories, the 600 figure must be the total tory voters in Edinburgh but only half of them turned out for this ‘event’

  8. scottish_skier says:

    Was involved in organising a research conference couple of years ago. Had a look at Surgeons Hall. Nice venue, but as we were expecting a minimum of 550 (was 650 in the end), we had to pass. Way too small.

    300 was the very max they could cram into the main room (that used by BT), hence plenary sessions would be a no-goer.

    Oh and Rev, by the looks of the chairs, it’s set up for classroom with at best 50 folk standing.

  9. Morag says:

    How can anyone do this without apparently blushing?  If you have the people in front of you and you are in a position to count, maybe you could be out by 10% if it’s a rough count, but that tweet is pure barefaced lying.

    Never mind the published capacity of the room!

    I wonder if Stu has the time to do a version with the spots that allows an accurate count, like he did for the previous lying claim?

  10. scottish_skier says:

    @Morag
    I get about 220 if I add 20% to a head count. Fits with the 170 seating layout and the numbers standing.

    Quite conservative (probably less there than that), but then so are the folk in the pic.

  11. Juteman says:

    That photo could have been taken at any Conservative meeting in the ‘shires.
    No cucumber sandwiches?
    Very white middle class.

  12. turnip_ghost says:

    Has anyone thought to ask them to verify their head count? Perhaps with a register? Or perhaps re-examining their head count? For safety of course…not to point out their obvious exaggeration

  13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I wonder if Stu has the time to do a version with the spots that allows an accurate count, like he did for the previous lying claim?”

    I started, but it’s much harder to do than the previous one on account of the greater number and the low resolution of the image. I got as far as 150 or so, but there are quite a few people completely obscured and you can’t tell if that’s the extreme right edge of the room either.

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Oh and Rev, by the looks of the chairs, it’s set up for classroom with at best 50 folk standing.”

    How can you tell? What’s the difference between “theatre” and “classroom”?

  15. Geoff Huijer says:

    So these people are quite happy to continue with the UK Gov’ts
    right wing agenda; vilifying the unemployed, disabled, elderly,
    poor, weak and vulnerable.
     
    Shame on them.

  16. scottish_skier says:

    Tried my best to count the rows and concluded about 168 (7 along *12 deep with a gap down the middle so *2). Hence more room for standing at the back and sides, which is what folk are doing.
    I counted 184 faces I could see, so added 20% to be nice.

    Theatre would probably take out the middle gap (giving an extra 3 seats per row) and extend further back.

    Gap down the middle about three seats wide:

    https://twitter.com/UK_Together/status/330653788262240256/photo/1

    If you did 18 (no gap and an extra one squeezed in on the end)*17 deep you’ll have your 300 seats.

    ‘Classroom’ would have wider row spacing to allow folk to write on pads, use laptops etc.

  17. Inbhir Anainn says:

    300 plus or minus and not a decent Spartan amongst them.

  18. Doug Daniel says:

    “I got as far as 150 or so, but there are quite a few people completely obscured and you can’t tell if that’s the extreme right edge of the room either.”
     
    I expect the extreme-right is where most of them will be.
     
    By the way Stu, did you check what the capacity is for bingo night?

  19. Cav says:

    The 300 of them can stand up and all together shout ‘THIS IS THE UK’
     
    Just like the 300 brave warriors at Thermopylae…

  20. Marcia says:

    Maybe they are counting those attending by post.

  21. Adrian B says:

    The only way I can see the 600 figure being correct is to count each and every persons arms and legs – that would get to 600 no problem.
     
     

  22. Iain says:

    Two faces per attendee, simples.

  23. uilleambeag says:

    Shazbat. Looks like they read my post on the last thread and really are counting in base-7.
    I wii

  24. Silverytay says:

    If I am setting up a school hall I always allow a 1 meter gap in the middle as well as at either side of the hall and along the back of the hall to allow for fire regulations .
    There is also something sticks in my mind that if you are expecting disabled people in wheelchairs the gap should be 1.5 meters .
    Looking at that photo I don’t see any gap down the middle at all .

  25. G. Campbell says:

    Good choice of venue, as Surgeon’s Hall has one of the most extensive collections of dead people in jars in Britain.

    A leg here. An arm there. A foot which could have belonged to a promising young midfielder up that bit. Loads of miserable looking heads down this bit. It wasn’t my idea of fun when I was invited in a few years ago, but it all adds up.

    I just hope that Better Together were honest in their counting. In my book, a whole person should be made up of at least 1 arm, 1 hand, 1 leg, 1 foot, most of the head, and part of a torso. If Darling’s mob were counting each body part as an individual attendee, they’re having us on.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24371350@N02/2311742308/in/photostream

  26. uilleambeag says:

    I wish I was kidding – the numbers more or less tally!
    [Sorry. Working with an android phone.]
     

  27. Cav says:

    G. Campbell says:
    I just hope that Better Together were honest in their counting. In my book, a whole person should be made up of at least 1 arm, 1 hand, 1 leg, 1 foot, most of the head, and part of a torso. If Darling’s mob were counting each body part as an individual attendee, they’re having us on.
     
     
    ATOS would have em at work…

  28. Marker Post says:

    Scottish_skier’s photo shows a bunch of balloons too:
     
    https://twitter.com/UK_Together/status/330653788262240256/photo/1
     

  29. Morgwn C Davies says:

    Read your response about counting the numbers in the picture and your observation about not knowing if that’s the extreme right edge of the room. Is that where UKIP were sitting?

  30. Joe Riley says:

    Just posted on the hired help page, but I’ve just counted the number of individual faces/heads I could make out (using the tried and tested “put a dot on every one of them and count” method) and I get 170.

  31. silver19 says:

    They probably got Darling to count he has never been good with figures, Neither was Brown. 300* souls that believe the propaganda. I just don’t understand how these 300* people can seriously take anything Darling says seriously, He is failed chancellor like his pal Brown, They were instrumental is the reason the UK is in such a mess and Labour say they want to borrow more money if they win the next GE in 2015, it’s just incredible how these 300* people cannot see what Unionists are doing to rest of the UK and Scotland, really sad.
    *=estimate probably less.

  32. BLMac says:

    Aye, but don’t forget we’re too stupid to notice this sort of detail…

  33. Juteman says:

    Maybe they borrowed the counting machine from Glenrothes?

  34. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Scottish_skier’s photo shows a bunch of balloons too:
      https://twitter.com/UK_Together/status/330653788262240256/photo/1

    Okay, from the position of Star Trek Bloke in the front row cross-referenced with the other pic, that seems to confirm two “banks” of seats, each containing rows of seven or possibly eight. Split the difference that’s 15 to a row total, so how many rows can we see? Looks like WAY less than 20.

  35. Scott MacV says:

    Just did a quick approx head count in this photo.. 10 rows of 14 = 140 + standing 60 (generously) is about 200.
    So they have inflated the figs by 3 times – not exactly truthful I’d say
     

  36. Roddy Macdonald says:

    @Marker Post
     
    Bit of a shame for Ming Campbell to have so many U KOK labels hovering about his head.

  37. G. Campbell says:

    “Great buzz around the room!”
    http://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/btedinburgh600a.jpg

    That’ll be the formaldehyde.

  38. Morag says:

    I was confused about the big difference in numbers between classroom and theatre too, but SS has explained it.  The second photo shows a very clear gap right up the middle, and of course you can pitch the rows a lot more closely for a theatre-style event.  It has to be the 170 classroom setup I think, and there are also some standing.  200 in total?

    Even if we assume the room was set up with 300 seats and then there were some standing, you can’t get it about 350.  But they’re claiming 600.  Oh dear.

    Someone must have booked the room, and given an estimate of numbers to the venue, and requested the desired seat layout (which still says classroom to me).  So they were expecting under 200 and got a few more than that?  At the most generous it suggests they were expecting 300 maximum and got some more than that.  Oh dear.

    It’s a similar observation to the September march.  The organisers booked the Ross bandstand, which has a core capacity of about 2400 seated, but standing I think it can take about 5,000.  It was rather alarmingly over-filled, and there were a lot of people standing around the back and the sides.  I’m not sure about the 10,000 estimate, but when you over-fill a space with a nominal capacity of 5000 and then have a big overspill, you know the cops are wrong when they say there were only 5000.

    In both cases we can see that more people turned up than were expected.  I merely observe that the BT expectations must have been pretty modest.  And then when they were exceeded, someone got very carried away.  Oh dear.

  39. G. Campbell says:

    Unknown person, 2nd row: “It’s good to get out of the jar now and again.”

    Ibrox loyal, top-right: “Another 44,000 sellout.”

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/btedinburgh600a.jpg

  40. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I just rang the venue up, and they said that today was in “theatre” configuration, but that they’d only put out 180 seats in order to make room for the “stage” area. Add in the people standing and you’re probably somewhere in the bottom half of the 200s.

  41. BLMac says:

    But, but, but, born-to-rule people who take dodgy money wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

    The answer is the same as we’ll get in the referendum – YES!

    (unless we let Darling or The Scotsman count the votes)

  42. Morag says:

    RevStu said:
    I just rang the venue up, and they said that today was in “theatre” configuration, but that they’d only put out 180 seats in order to make room for the “stage” area. Add in the people standing and you’re probably somewhere in the bottom half of the 200s.
     
    I knew there was a reason you’re a journalist.  I’m so glad this site employs one of these!  :D

  43. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Morag
    At 12:44pm
    You could not give that lot a red neck with a blowlamp!

  44. Jiggsbro says:

    Clearly, they made one simple error which everyone is now jumping on in order to smear them as brazen liars. They attempted to count the legs and divide by two, but inadvertently counted the heads and multiplied by two. It’s the sort of trivial mistake anyone could make and I think we need to cut them some slack.

  45. TYRAN says:

    The (bingo) crowd they are again attracting are predominately people aged late 60s and over. I read Darling said at this thing, “I don’t want to & I shouldn’t have to choose between being Scottish & British”. Who is making you choose? How can anyone stop you being what you want? I recall a number chose Jedi. Same old rubbish. 

  46. HandandShrimp says:

    There is only one count that needs to be honest.

  47. G. Campbell says:

    Great to see people having so much fun. The bloke with the red top on, bottom right, seems to be driving some sort of imaginary vehicle.
    https://twitter.com/UK_Together/status/330653788262240256/photo/1

    I think I spotted a KerPlunk, as well.

  48. Jiggsbro says:

    I think I spotted a KerPlunk, as well.
     
    He’s standing at the front, next to Ming.

  49. Vronsky says:

    I’m depressed that there were 200.  I had not thought death had undone so many.

  50. Seasick Dave says:

    “Great buzz around the room!”
    I’d imagined it to be caused by a great concentration of hearing aids.

  51. G. Campbell says:

    “The bloke with the red top on, bottom right, seems to be driving some sort of imaginary vehicle”

    Fitting, really, as Alistair Darling also drives an imaginary vehicle: a true blue Tory one disguised with red paint.

  52. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    BBC Scotland just got booted out of Ibrox, not allowed to broadcast Rangers parading the 3rd Div Trophy – whooooooo! Wonder what words will pass between Jim Traynor and his erstwhile buddies…he’d better not make Chic Young cry or god only knows what hellish stushie lies ahead.
     
    (Not sure how nasty cybernats can be blamed for this, but where there’s a will etc.)

  53. Dcanmore says:

    There’s about 200 people in my estimation. The 600 marker from BT will be for their press release which will be reprinted as 600 without scrutiny in the MSM. BT have had a year to organise a launch event in Edinburgh, that’s Flipper Darling’s back yard, and they’ve managed to get 200 people to come along! Pretty poor I think. Mostly Tory voters over 55 who like the Queen and want things to change and think Salmond is a bad man.

  54. Gee Man says:

    i have my doubts if all the crowd there were actually bitter together folk - some will probably be YES folk along to check out the competition.
     
    P.S. anyone want some better together badges and pens? they keep sending me them, along with business reply prepaid  forms for my friends to fill in.

  55. Dcanmore says:

    bugger … Mostly Tory voters over 55 who like the Queen and don’t want things to change and think Salmond is a bad man.

  56. The Man in the Jar says:

    The buzz around the room would more than likely be the air ambulance hovering, just in case!

  57. Gee Man says:

    re : my earlier of Prepaid reply forms. 
    my good pals Willie M Wallace and Robert D. Bruce have already submitted their responses to BT HQ, both reside in the Stirling area, quite close to the castle

  58. G. Campbell says:

    Blair “Gremlins” McDougall tweets: 300 of the attendees had dodgy prostates and were queuing for the toilet when those pictures were taken. Ming went earlier.

  59. Laura says:

    600 – well that’s Truth Team maths for you!

  60. scottish_skier says:

    just rang the venue up, and they said that today was in “theatre” configuration, but that they’d only put out 180 seats in order to make room for the “stage” area. Add in the people standing and you’re probably somewhere in the bottom half of the 200s.

    Do I get a free pint or something? I wan’t far off. :-)

  61. “Head count just done.”  Maybe they were totalling up the IQ’s?

  62. AnneDon says:

    What worries me is that I know at least two groups of Yessers who were planning to attend this meeting to do a recce.
    I do worry how much we are bulking up their attendance figures!

  63. AnneDon says:

    @ianbrotherhood – Chick left in solidarity with his colleague, who was asked to leave. Sound man!

  64. Cheryl says:

    The more they lie the more they’ll be in for a similar kind of shock to the one they got in 2011!

  65. Morag says:

    Anne – why worry?  If undercover Yes voters bulk up their attendance figures and lull them into a false sense of security, what’s not to like?
     
    I think we should back off on the Saga and formaldehyde jokes though.  You never know who you’re insulting!

  66. Jim Mitchell says:

    As Gee Man points out, they won’t all be Better Together supporters, there will be YES folk in there too and there will be genuine undecideds as well.
    I have a feeling that by the comments, if they were made at the same time the pic was taken, that that thought had not reveled itself to some one who was clearly a bit excited.
    They should be thinking though, that even 600 is not a lot for Edinburgh and surrounding area, especially as over two hundred turned up to a YES meeting in the Cochran Hall Alva, here in Clackmannanshire the other week.
    No one made the mistake of counting them all as YES voters, although most seemed to be, as it was advertised as a public meeting.
    So unless the Bitter lot are actually screening their audiences for their view point prior to their meetings, which would be as dodgy as their counting, (but not impossible), they are actually getting over excited about a crowd who’s views they know nothing about!
    I am no expert on the venues of Edinburgh, but surely there must be some place that would hold even the 600 they were claiming, still as all we oldies know, where public pictures are concerned, better a small venue that looks full, than a large one that is obviously nearly empty! 

  67. Boorach says:

    Thanks Morag for putting in a word for the MUCH more experienced campaigners among us. As for you youngsters….. get SOME time in!!
     
    o/t theres a good piece by Stephen Noon over on NC
     http://nationalcollective.com/2013/05/04/keep-it-calm-your-country-needs-you/
     

  68. heraldnomore says:

    come on guys, remember the postal delegates as well

  69. Bill Oliphant says:

    If you have an established reputation as a house flipper then the manipulation of a few chairs would, I suggest, present no problem at all. In truth, there were probably several thousand bums on those seats.
    I bet you could even find a way to boost your attendance and make some dosh.

  70. Albert Herring says:

    @Bill Oliphant
    Are those bums what Ray Winstone was on about?

  71. the rough bounds says:

    Reminds me of that scene near the end of the film ‘Spartacus’ where they all claim to be the hero.
    This BT lot stand up one at a time and cry out ”I am spurious”. ”No, I am spurious”. No, I am spurious”, ”No, I am spurious.”
     
    Yes folks, they’re all spurious.

  72. Luigi says:

    Q: How do you quickly identify a YES or NO crowd? Is it the age range? Well. maybe but it’s sometimes difficult to tell.
    A: There is one dead giveaway – SMILES. I’m not sure about 600 people there, but there are definitely less than six people smiling! Compare that with a YES crowd.

  73. Ken Johnston says:

    Morag,
    I have a photo, one I stitched together from a series, of the Edinburgh gathering, taken from the top walkway.
    I could send it to the Rev. for debate. 2MB
    What do you think, Rev.

  74. Patrick Roden says:

    The No voters are easily discerned…..Ukipers, house flippers, and wooly slippers.

  75. Caroline Corfield says:

    Very off topic but thought you’d all like to know. Driving Douth on M74 just after it goes from two to three carriageway on the Northbound side is a sign – Saor Alba nicely printed up a welcome wee sign of hope whichever direction you might be travelling in. 

  76. Tris says:

    Counting isn’t Better Together’s strong suit…500 questions (plus or minus)



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