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Wings Over Scotland


Archive for the ‘stats’


The power of ideas 715

Posted on September 01, 2019 by

So it seems like our semi-idle musings about the possibility of starting a new list party for the Scottish Parliament generated some interest last month.

(That’s more than the whole of 2018, more than the whole of 2017, and over five times the previous biggest single month since we moved to our current stats provider in December 2014.)

But yeah, nobody cares and it’d be certain to fail, apparently.

The inverse miracle 140

Posted on August 21, 2019 by

We really can’t be bothered with having the GERS “debate” again, in which all the same people make all the same exactly opposite spins on the exact same data. Minor annual fluctuations aside, the core reality is the same as the one we repeat every 12 months, and serious economists on both sides of the political divide still treat the figures with the disdain they properly merit.

One such person is Richard Murphy, and in an excellent piece today he posted a version of this graph which did catch our jaded eye. It purports to show the share of UK debt supposedly accounted for by Scotland – which has, let’s remember, just 8% of the UK’s population – in each of the last 16 years, and which immediately prior to the SNP’s 2011 majority stood at almost exactly that of our population share.

(Which is itself a gross calumny against reality, but let’s stay focused.)

How very remarkable, some readers may feel, that the extent of Scotland’s supposed responsibility for the UK’s debt should have rocketed so very dramatically at the exact point when independence became a live political question.

It does rather make you wonder why the UK government, scraping as it is for every penny of possible savings, seems more and more desperate to hang onto Scotland as the terrible economic burden we become on the rest of the country grows ever heavier.

Truly, our partners in this great equal and bountiful union must be the most generous and forgiving people on Earth. We don’t deserve them.

The big idea 604

Posted on August 13, 2019 by

Crazy stuff happens when we have a thought.

Buckle in for a bumpy ride if you don’t like pictures of my ugly mug.

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The cut-off 160

Posted on August 03, 2019 by

The Times leads its Scottish edition today with a piece on Ruth Davidson’s collapsing popularity with Tory members, which it helpfully illustrates with a graph.

Alert readers will notice, however, that for some inexplicable reason the graph ends more than a year ago, in July 2018, with Davidson’s rating still at a very healthy 54% – some three and a half times what it is now. So we’ve fixed it for them.

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How to be goodest at numberology 128

Posted on May 16, 2019 by

Ruth Davidson led on numeracy (or as Tories call it, “numberacy”) at FMQs today.

And we can see why she’s concerned.

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Spilt black milk 393

Posted on May 07, 2019 by

Last week, Norway rubbed our faces in it again.

In just THREE MONTHS, the investment return alone from its national oil fund was around £64 billion – more money than the total annual budget of Scotland, including both Scottish Government spending and money spent by the UK “on our behalf”.

(If you click that link, you can see the value of the fund increase and – less frequently – decrease live in hypnotic real time. We watched it for a few minutes, during which time it added over 220m Krone, or around £20 million.)

That’s like making more from three months’ interest on your bank account than your yearly wage. It’s what Scotland could – would – have had if we’d been independent since the 1970s, because we’ve produced slightly more oil from the North Sea in that time than Norway has. We just gave all ours away.

But we know that that chance has been blown now, and rather than enjoy bountiful interest windfalls we make crippling interest payments on the UK’s debt, to the tune of around £3.5bn a year, while being told we’re scrounging subsidy junkies who should be grateful for having been relieved of the troublesome burden of our wealth.

None of this is any sort of new information, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves regularly of what being in the UK has cost us over the decades – and what it could cost us again in terms of the remaining oil and the potentially even greater resource of renewable energy that our naturally-blessed country sits amid – if we don’t have the courage to take responsibility for ourselves.

Context phobia 418

Posted on April 22, 2019 by

Alert readers will know by now that there’s nothing the Scottish media – and the Scottish Daily Mail in particular – likes more than printing scary-sounding figures with no context whatsoever by which people could judge how big or small they really are.

Nothing’s changed today (other than a rather sneaky inset shot of an old story about a different statistic which misleadingly makes today’s one look like a big increase), so rather than bang on we’ll just fill in the blanks: ScotRail runs around 760,000 trains a year, so this year’s cancellation figures amount to about 3.5% of all trains.

Which is to say, around one time in every 30 that you go to get a train it’ll have been cancelled and you’ll have to wait for the next one, which on the average commuter line will probably mean 15-20 minutes.

Which is still a pain in the hole, of course, but if it’s such a high number ask yourself why the Mail is so pathologically averse to simply telling you what percentage it is.

We’ll see you again with these figures in a few weeks, folks.

Independence for England now 547

Posted on March 31, 2019 by

The breakdown data from last week’s vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement:

ENGLAND: 266 MPs for, 256 MPs against (51%-49%)
SCOTLAND: 13 for, 45 against (22%-78%)
WALES: 6 for, 33 against (15%-85%)
NORTHERN IRELAND: 1 for, 10 against (9%-91%)

Once again, readers, the solution to Brexit is clear.

Quick context check 174

Posted on November 30, 2018 by

The front page lead of today’s Scottish Daily Mail:

As alert readers of this site will know, the Mail has a particular fondness for presenting statistics bereft of any context so that people have no idea how big or small they really are. So is 1,600 passengers a week receiving compensation for delays a lot or a little? Let’s find out.

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The Slide 239

Posted on October 07, 2018 by

Especially alert readers may have noticed that we’ve had a new page on Wings for a while, maintaining a current list of Scottish newspaper circulations.

We were just checking it today and noticed that – seemingly unreported anywhere – the Scottish “regionals” had had their biannual figures published, so we thought we may as well keep you updated.

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The fine art of self-delusion 172

Posted on October 04, 2018 by

When the news is slow, we sometimes steel ourselves and go for a little paddle in the Yoonstream – a private collection of the most unhinged hardcore-Unionist accounts on Twitter – and see what they’re getting themselves all worked up about.

For a good few months now, they’ve all been posting mad graphs like this:

And we’re not quite sure why.

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What isn’t a fact 253

Posted on September 18, 2018 by

God bless our dear old pals at the Labour-fronted Tory money-sink that is Scotland In Union. Fresh from their latest stirring morning office singalong of “No Pope Of Rome”, they’ve decided to belatedly get in on the fact-checking game.

As the established force in the field, we had to have a look.

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