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Wings Over Scotland

Like a Record, baby

Posted on January 14, 2013 by

Sorry, readers. It’s our fault. Around teatime on Sunday we rather recklessly tweeted “Is Magnus Gardham on holiday? The Herald’s been a much more balanced paper this last week or two”, and in doing so appear to have summoned him back, Candyman-style, despite only saying his name once. It must have been retweets or something.

Gardham’s sticky fingerprints are all over the Herald’s front-page splash this morning, even though he shares the byline with the now-rarely-seen Robbie Dinwoodie. The piece reports a TNS-BMRB poll showing a rather remarkable 2.5% swing towards independence since October – despite that period being depicted uniformly across the Scottish and UK political media as a quarterium-annus horribilis for the Yes campaign, and for the SNP and Alex Salmond in particular – under the extraordinarily contrived headline “Blow to SNP as support for independence stalls”.

The poll does indeed find support for independence unchanged, but the No camp’s unrestricted smear warfare on Salmond and other SNP ministers over the winter has had the effect of driving its own support into the arms of the Don’t Know contingent, which has now risen to comprise almost 25% of the electorate.

Almost 10% of people previously intending to vote No are now unsure of their view, a development which an impartial observer might reasonably have considered to be, if anything, a blow to the “Better Together” faction rather than the independence movement, whose voters have remained steadfast throughout the manufactured storms over EU membership, college funding and more.

(Out of charity we’re going to overlook the paper’s unforgivably sloppy, unprofessional and factually inaccurate equating of the entire Yes campaign with “the SNP”, despite how strenuously Unionists like to assert that a large percentage of SNP voters don’t actually back independence.)

As we’ve been saying for months, we couldn’t care less about polls themselves at this stage. They can prove whatever you want them to prove depending on which ones you choose to highlight, and with the best part of two years to come until the vote they’re all but meaningless anyway. The story here is the Herald’s – or rather, Magnus Gardham’s – reporting, and the crude, transparent spin it has attempted to put on news that the No campaign has lost 20% of its lead over its opponent in three months.

We, of course, could be said to have spun the figures there too, to put the best possible gloss on the stats for the Yes side. The difference, though, is that at least our spin has the benefit of being true. No amount of misdirection can change the hard fact that the Herald’s figures represent, in opinion-polling terms, a shift towards independence. A swing is a swing, however it comes about.

We offer our sincere and genuine sympathies to the many good, decent and fair-minded journalists who work on the rapidly-failing newspaper. They’ve been doing a good job since the turn of the year (and, of course, before then too), and they deserve better than to see Gardham’s cartoonish tabloid buffoonery drag a once-proud publication into the gutter.

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    38 to “Like a Record, baby”

    1. MajorBloodnok says:

      You know, I saw that headline as I walked past the newsagents this morning and thought – I bet that increase in ‘don’t knows’ is at the expense of the NO vote, and had a wee laugh to myself….

    2. Seasick Dave says:

      Poor old Magnus.

      I’d imagine he wears Union Jack underpants, possibly featuring a bulldog’s coupon.

    3. James McLaren says:

      I wandered into the Herald earlier, saw the lead starting reading it, spotted the fallacy, read the byline and just quit the site pronto.

      I really should stop going there, it only seems to encourage them

      Roll on the annual publication of the sales collapse.

      How did Einstein define stupidity? 

    4. martyn says:

      great news 🙂

    5. Barontorc says:

      I hear the ever-awake Kay with an E has clutched the latest drowning man’s straw tossed in by knuckle -dragger Davidson’s joke of a committee. Now there’s talk of a ‘fifteen year rule’ and other countries’ interpretation of how to enfranchise non-resident voters. Another disturbance in the sands to unsettle with the BBC more than willing to espouse the NO line’s view. Nary is such attention given to YES initiatives. 

    6. James McLaren says:

      OK 6 monthly sales collapse?

      It just seems like it looks like an annual one, maybe? 

    7. Cuphook says:

      This mirrors what I’ve been picking up on. As I said last week regarding my Tory acquaintance, if the No campaign have lost his guaranteed vote then they’re in trouble. Coming after all of their triumphalism over the Olympics and the Jubilee the rise in Don’t Knows should worry the Unionists.
      People don’t like change, we tend to be creatures of habit, so it’s a lot easier to say ‘No’ at the moment when it’s still pretty much an abstract idea, but they will have to make a decision in 2014 and as the referendum gets closer they’ll give the arguments greater consideration.

    8. Cuphook says:

      @James McLaren
      If you mean the definition of insanity, that is attributed to Einstein without due cause. The phrase has also been attributed to Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and others, but you won’t find any of them saying it on the record. It’s just one of those phrases that sounds good and has been, over the years, tagged on a renowned individual to give it a bit of clout.
      The attribution to Einstein has increased due to the internet but I’ve decided to fight back.  

    9. James McLaren says:


      If it helps to pass the day, or night, more power to your elbow!

      Smiley thingy which I haven’t a clue how to do properly. 

    10. Training Day says:

      “Out of charity we’re going to overlook the paper’s unforgivably sloppy, unprofessional and factually inaccurate equating of the entire Yes campaign with “the SNP”

      The state broadcaster did exactly this on its news summary last night.  I had just come from my local boozer where various patrons were doing the same, and maligning independence as a result.

      Far be it from me to suggest this is not sloppy but considered and deliberate.

    11. Cuphook says:

      @James Mclaren
      I obviously woke up in a crusading mood this morning. Now that I’ve corrected you I’ll move on to the rest of the internet and have the matter cleared up by teatime.

    12. Macart says:

      @ James McLaren

      Shift colon followed by shift close brackets. 🙂

      There was a quote by a poster on the Guardian site which sums up Mr Gardham quite nicely.

      ‘More spin than Hotpoint’ 

    13. Luigi says:

      “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face” (or eyebrows, in the case of AD). The Better Together campaign and their MSM poodles are running out of places to hide. The real surprise was how quickly the negative smear campaign got off the blocks. It may well have worked a treat over a short, intense six week campaign, but over two years? It is impossible to sustain – it is barely 2013, and they are already being found out. Why, oh why did they start the BS so early? Perhaps they were not really confident last year, and more concerned that the YES campaign would build up a head of steam, but YES Scotland have barely started (lots of dry powder). Only one explanation I can think of: PANIC.

    14. Luigi says:

      I suppose, with the Jubilee and Olympic bounce (ha), the No campaigners may have thought that it was a real opportunity, an appropriate time to kill off the SNP and Yes Scotland completely. Unfortunately, it did not work. Perhaps they were unaware that the hard core yes vote sits at 30% and can, and will now move in one direction. “The only way is up”.

    15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Far be it from me to suggest this is not sloppy but considered and deliberate.”

      I agree entirely. Perhaps the sarcasm in the article was a little too subtle for its own good 😀

    16. Doug Daniel says:

      Oh dear, this is pretty desperate stuff. I suppose if support for independence had gone up it would be “independence not making enough ground” or whatever.

      This reading of the polls shows a complete failure to understand how things are going to pan out. The second the Edinburgh Agreement was signed, about a third of the population were left without their favoured option, and effectively told to find a new home for their vote. These people aren’t going to be won over by either side straight away, so I would expect a large number of “don’t knows” for the next few months. These folk need to decide if staying in the union is worth chucking away the only real chance of getting a significant transfer of powers to Holyrood. It’s not a decision they’re going to take lightly in most cases.

      I’m inclined to pay little attention (for now at least) to how many people say they are voting “yes”. The media focus exclusively on the number of confirmed “yes” voters, and decide this means everyone else is voting “no”. It’s far more instructive to look at it from the other point of view, because the transfer of votes will only go in one direction.

      No one (Brian Wilson excepted) goes from wanting independence to wanting to stay in the union. The number of people voting “yes” is only going to grow, whereas the 50%+ levels of support that “no” has had in the past will never be reached again. They’ve had their high point, and it’s all downhill from here. Conversely, the number of Yes voters can only grow.

      And let’s just remember that people are going to be far more inclined to go out and vote for a change than to vote for the status quo.

    17. Training Day says:

       “I agree entirely. Perhaps the sarcasm in the article was a little too subtle for its own good ”

      I did say I’d been down the boozer, Rev 😉

      Two more points on this: 1) Yes Glasgow launches in two days.  This of course has nothing to do with the publication of this poll.  2) Someone on here said that no polls will appear between now and the referendum showing a Yes lead.  I’m inclined to agree, save in a circumstance where private polling shows Yes with a slight lead.  In that event, attempts will be made to galvanise the No vote by publishing a poll with a Yes lead. 

    18. Seasick Dave says:

      Jack: Alex Salmond stole my jacket.

      Magnus: And it had your wallet in and now you can’t buy food or shoes for your children?

      Jack: Aye.

      Magnus: Sorted. 

    19. R Louis says:

      Scotland deserves much, much better from its print media than this kind of peurile nonsense from the likes of the Herald.  I often wonder just what drives it, you know, grown adults writing blatantly untrue headlines and then telling the world they are ‘political editors’.

      What a freaking joke the Herald and laughingly titled ‘Scotsman’ have become.  They are worse than comics, as comics at least have the merit of being funny. 

    20. R Louis says:


      Poor wee Scotland, cannae survive without London…..

      I do hope the people of Scotland will finally wake up to how they have been deceived by Labour and the Tories, and vote YES, so we can finally benefit from the oil wealth in Scotland, instead of it going to London. 

    21. Seasick Dave says:

      R Louis

      My son received a Gary, Tank Commander DVD for his Christmas and last night I saw a bit of it.

      There was a wee section where Gary asked rhetorically, “Do we need nuclear weapons” and then did a spiel about “How of course we do, otherwise (paraphrasing slightly) we are like the kid in the playground with the cheap trainers who everyone takes the pish out of”.

      I know it was comedy but I think that’s how Unionists see themselves; the big boy with the fancy trainers, strutting about like Erchie.

      The MSM are just a penile extension of that; bragging about how great Britain is and how crap Scotland is. 

      I’m fine with all that in relation to the Referendum because I am convinced that when push comes to shove, most people will NOT vote for the status quo but, in the meantime, are happy to go along with the charade.

      Waving UJs and having spending billions on hideous nuclear weapons does not pay your bills.

      Speaking to people who say they will vote No, I can see how paper thin is their belief in their arguments. I know that many of them have not committed to a YES but I think that already they are wavering.

      Vote AYE for Independence. 

    22. seagetagrip says:

      The Herald is American owned. Maybe they survive with a few bob from their CIA pals?

    23. kininvie says:

      @R Louis
      Editorial policy in newspapers is entirely driven by the need to sustain advertising revenue, especially at a time when advertisers are likely to be looking very carefully at their budgets. It’s long been held (whether it is true or not I don’t know) that businesses don’t like to be seen to be associated with the Independence movement, because of all that uncertainty stuff and fear of losing sales etc. Plus, of course, advertising from local authorities etc is at risk if the editorial policy is ‘wrong’.

    24. Don Mc says:

      The no campaign appear to have truly believed they could convince Salmond to drop the referendum, hence all the stories about support falling, a horrible year, it’s a foregone conclusion, etc. Now that the Edinburg agreement is in place, they’re pinning their hopes in a tory backbench rebellion (Cameron would never survive such a thing) and the Lords. They forget Salmond will quite happily go for a referendum without a Section 30 order and dare the Supreme court to strike it down or the UK government to ignore the results.

    25. AnneDon says:

      I think the big movement will be from those who wanted Devo-Max, and had it taken off the table by the unionists.

      Their vote has to go somewhere. Where it  goes is a subject that the MSM has shown no interest in discovering.

      Perhaps because they insisted that it was Alex Salmond who ‘wanted’ Devo-Max because he didn’t ‘really’ want to be independent! This remarkable assertion seems to have disappeared, but we need to keep reminding people that it was confidently made by the MSM and unionist politicians, to show how they keep moving the terms of the debate from one lie to the next as their stories collapse when subject to the slightest analysis!

      In fact, I need to go back to Michael White at The Guardian, who assured me he would find the source of it. (BTL, we assured him the source was Severin Carroll).           

    26. Boorach says:

      @ Tony Mc

      The Edinburgh Agreement, though signed, has not been approved by Westminster as yet. The Bill to pass the appropriate authority to Holyrood is to be debated this week.

    27. Macart says:


      (BTL, we assured him the source was Severin Carrell)

      Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest Anne. The lad has a talent for taking the facts and coming up with new and interestingly skewed ways of viewing them. 

    28. Cuphook says:

      Westminster know that they would be unable to stop the referendum. This was highlighted by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee ”Inquiry into the Operation of Multi-layer Democracy” (1998) in which they conceded that it would come down to a clash between the Scottish and English doctrines of sovereignty. 
      ”It is hard to see how the Scottish Parliament could be prevented from holding a referendum on independence. If the Scottish people expressed a desire for independence, the stage would be set for a direct clash between what is the English doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament and the Scottish doctrine of the sovereignty of the people.”

    29. David McCann says:

      BBC Newsnight are looking for a new editor.
      “Applicants should have “experience of successfully managing teams through periods of difficult change” and ensuring the programme collaborates with the rest of BBC News and BBC Two.”

      Any takers?

    30. Dubbieside says:

      It looks like the “Friday club” briefing for journalists continues even though Purcell is gone.
      Ever wondered about all the anti SNP stories just in time for the Sunday papers?
      What will be interesting though will be the Herald circulation figures due out in February. That should just about cover Gardhams time at the paper.
      P.S. Did you see the news that a new contract from BP to extend the life of one of their oilfields to 2035 has been awarded to Babcock at Rosyth securing 100 jobs? No me either.

    31. Boorach says:

      @ Cuphook

      Totally agree with you on all points, simply pointing out that the procedures haven’t yet been completed.

      Would be interesting though if Westminster were to throw their toys out of the pram! 

    32. David McCann says:

      Meanwhile Bloomberg’s headline is “Scottish Independence Poll Shows More Voters Undecided Over UK” despite the fact that they actually quote the Herald story.
      So they recognise the crap headline as well. I note Blair Jenkins is to be on STV Tonight, to discuss the results

    33. K Mackay says:

      I saw this headline in tesco, used my mum’s technique of turning the paper round to hide the offending headline.

      I’m not suggesting it makes much difference but even if one person doesn’t buy it because they didn’t see it it’ll be a wee dent in their sales and if anyone asks why your turning some papers round you can work on converting them (or they might turn out to be another scotnat and you can have a chat about what lying bastards the msm are) 🙂

    34. Boorach says:

      @ David McCann

      I assume the word ‘creative’ in the link you provided refers to the way he/she will have to deal with referendum associated stories! 😆  

    35. David McCann says:

      Aye. As in ‘creative accounting’!

    36. David McCann says:

      BTW. I have copied my post re Bloomberg above to the comments on the Herald story. What’s the bets it will never see the light of day!

    37. dadsarmy says:

      Thanks Dubbieside
      Mike Pettigrew, Babcock’s managing director of future business, said the contract will boost Babcock’s profile in the oil and gas sector where it has, so far, mainly been focused on vessel integrity and design.”

      Two things there really. Babcock perhaps repositioning itself to have less reliance on UK defence contracts, and the oil industry recently seems to be investing quite heavily in extending the lives of oil fields, fields which might before have been deemed unprofitable, cost of extraction too high, taxation hostile.

      It has seemed to me that Oil & Gas would do better under a sympathetic Scottish Government, in a country which recognises the importance rather than a UK which doesn’t by and large. Perhaps, in time, major figures in the industry will lend their full support to Independence.

      Whether the Unionists like it or not, Oil is in the heart and soul of a lot of Scots, almost certainly a great majority, who have either worked on areas to do with oil (I have), or live next door to someone who has, or just gone drinking with them! Oil is in our psyche, and its importance to us can not be underestimated.

    38. David McCann says:

      Headline in North
      Scottish Independence Poll Shows More Voters Undecided Over Britain (Edinburgh)

      EDINBURGH, Scotland — Voters in Scotland are becoming more undecided over whether the country should gain independence from Britain, with support for going it alone unchanged and opposition to it declining, a new poll showed.

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