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Wings Over Scotland

The flexibility of figures 571

Posted on January 15, 2017 by

It’s a well-known fact, of course, that 87% of all statistics are made up. But as this site regularly observes, if you’re the Scottish opposition and media there’s no need to invent fake ones when you can twist the real ones to present an image completely at odds with the reality.

The Sunday Times today has some fine examples of the craft of massaging figures for the purposes of deception. It carries two separate scare stories on the NHS, both of them using figures which aren’t based on any sort of news, but on opposition spin on existing stats. One comes from the Tories, under a dramatic headline:


The banner is pulling a classic trick – the £685m figure is actually the total sum spent in a decade, not the single year that most people would assume (since there’s no good reason to measure spending in decades, so headlines usually don’t do it). But remarkably it’s just about the most honest thing in the paper’s health coverage today.

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All news is bad news 339

Posted on December 14, 2016 by

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.


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The missing numbers round 261

Posted on December 13, 2016 by

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.


What’s been left out there, readers?

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RICS rolling 391

Posted on November 03, 2016 by

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?

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The hungry gamekeepers 380

Posted on October 31, 2016 by

Old media and new media spoke with one voice in Scotland today:


But for once it was the dead-tree press that held the moral high ground.

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The wrong question 413

Posted on October 13, 2016 by

There was a rather comforting predictability about the headlines the Scottish media greeted the first day of the SNP conference in Glasgow with.


Unsurprisingly, the Express’ lead story was a piece of fabricated drivel based on alleged quotes from an unnamed source claiming that the Scottish Government would resign in order to force an election and win a mandate that it already has.

(The SNP’s manifesto this May, on which it won a third landslide election victory in a row, clearly reserved the right to call a second referendum should there be a serious material change in circumstances, explicitly citing the Brexit scenario as an example.)

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, puffed up a load of entirely fact-free press-release foaming from some Tory list MSP nobody’s ever heard of into “news”, in the process somehow managing to twist the economic consequences of the Brexit vote caused by his own party into a bewilderingly illogical attack on Scottish independence.

Both articles are essentially the sort of comedy pastiches of terrible journalism one might create as a cautionary example in a media studies degree course, so we’ll waste no more of your time on them. The Herald’s piece, though, is at least marginally more interesting.

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Expressway to Lietown 310

Posted on September 27, 2016 by

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.

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Junkies, tramps and thieves 342

Posted on September 02, 2016 by

Fear and lies work. Over many decades (and really for centuries) the Unionist parties and the media have succeeded in persuading a large percentage of Scots that they’re beggars, scroungers, vagrants and “subsidy junkies” dependent on the ever-generous charity of England to keep them from starvation.


And in terms of the facts, that hasn’t always been an easy sell.

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And so it begins 88

Posted on August 24, 2016 by

“Black hole” grows by £2.4bn in the space of four minutes:


Hopefully we’ll soon have the sort of totally definitive clarity we got last time.

Impartial Journalism For Dummies 204

Posted on August 22, 2016 by

The BBC’s most prominent politics presenter Andrew Neil, today:


There is, as there is so often, just one small problem.

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Here come the drums 265

Posted on August 21, 2016 by

Today’s Sunday Times didn’t bother with any subtlety in its signalling of how people should expect the Scottish media to handle next week’s GERS figures.


So we’ll just leave these here:

The limitations of GERS

The five key facts about GERS

The wishful believers

Gazing into the black hole

There’ll be nothing but repeats of all last year’s articles in the papers, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in re-writing all the rebuttals. We’d advise readers not to expect to hear any of the facts or arguments in any of the above articles aired on TV or radio discussions of the new figures either. For the sake of your blood pressure, it’s probably best to stick to old QI repeats on Dave for the next eight days.

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It’s that story again! 246

Posted on August 11, 2016 by

No, we’re not referring to the Spectator’s awful reheated whine from super-Unionist composer Sir James Macmillan, Knight Commander Of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire, in which he takes the audacious step of accusing some OTHER artistes of cravenly kowtowing to the establishment.

(A complaint he’s been levelling for several years in any publication that’ll listen, and which today’s piece hasn’t bothered to update with any post-2014 examples.)

We’re actually talking about this:


Because this one’s even older.

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