The Scotsman goes big this morning on a story revealing that John Swinney has admitted accidentally misinterpreting a report from Lloyds Banking Group which said that the oil and gas industry would create 34,000 new jobs in the UK over the next two years. A Scottish Government paper in July originally said the jobs would all come to Scotland, but the error was corrected within three days.
While most papers give the issue a couple of short lines, the Scotsman runs the news twice, once in a substantial article of its own and also (for some reason we can’t quite fathom) as a sizeable addendum tacked onto its lead story about Henry McLeish criticising the relentless negativity of the No campaign.
The Scotsman is quite right to highlight this embarrassing clanger. After all, what sort of hapless bumbling idiot could have published something which misinterpreted the Lloyds report as referring to solely Scottish jobs?
Whoops. (The Scotsman has not yet corrected its error, now over five months old.)
The piece carries a quote from the Scottish Government which doesn’t actually mention the 34,000 figure at all. But the Scotsman also notes of the study’s findings:
“Scottish oil and gas firms are more likely to expect growth than those south of the Border – with 83% expecting to see more business.
Scottish firms were more “expansionist” than English companies, it said, and were more likely to embrace diversification.”
We have no idea whether that means that 83% of the jobs are likely to come to Scottish companies, but with by far the biggest share of oil and gas industry employment being in Scotland, it certainly seems reasonable to assume that a large number will. The Times, for example, said of the report (our emphasis):
“Up to 34,000 jobs could be created by Britain’s oil and gas companies in the next two years, with most of the employment being created by companies based in Scotland, a survey of the industry has found.”
But by highlighting a weeks-old mistake which was almost immediately fixed – and which the Scotsman and others had also made – the paper has managed to turn an unequivocally positive story about increased investment and employment in a revived North Sea sector into an opportunity for the opposition parties to line up to attack the integrity and honesty of the Scottish Government, which they’ve gleefully seized.
Readers can arrive at their own conclusions.