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Wings Over Scotland

Now here’s a funny thing

Posted on November 14, 2012 by

Below is a picture of the headline and opening paragraph of a David Maddox-penned story that appeared on the Scotsman website last night.

It is, as you can see, an essentially positive story, noting that independence per se represents no threat to RBS staying in Scotland. Those readers wondering if that was perhaps a little at odds with the Scotsman’s normal editorial position on the issue would be reassured, then, to see how the story looks this afternoon.

None of the facts in the new version have changed. But marvel at how the tone has been completely reversed, with the emphasis now on the scaremongering warning about the possibility of the bank moving, rather than on its default position of staying where it is unless post-independence events should turn out unfavourably. It’s this negative rewrite that appears in the physical version of the paper.

One day, we imagine, old-school ink-based journalism will finally realise that you can’t hide stuff like this in the internet age, and that you might as well just do your partisan spinning out in the open. (Or better yet, leave it to the real seasoned professionals.) We suspect it won’t be any day soon, though.


Props to @2014indy for the tip-off.

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    35 to “Now here’s a funny thing”

    1. Mchaggis says:

      Its a shameful disgrace… But the desired effects seen already on twitter.

    2. Macart says:

      Almost spookily Rev, I was just reading this –

      Bit of a difference. 

    3. McHaggis says:

      Do they not realise the RBS HQ at Gogar is a WORLDWIDE HQ… not a UK headquarters.

      On that basis, why would they suddenly not want to be based in an independent Scotland?

      Further, given there is a pretty reasonable chance the corporation tax base will be beneficial in an independent Scotland, in my view it is England that may find corporates looking to move HQ’s north of the border.

      However that does miss the point that The Scotsman does seem still to believe that this kind of absolutely glaring scaremongering will win them readers and the referendum. Can someone remind them about the run-up to 2011?


    4. sword says:

      two more years.

    5. Luigi says:

      After being told, recently that an independent Scotland would have been entirely responsible for the massive RBS bail-out (RBS is a “Scottish” bank, after all), we are now led to believe that the multinational RBS would be inclined to desert Scotland at the drop of a hat, should conditions become unfavourable. Something doesn’t add up.

    6. David Robertson says:

      Take it this is the start of the RBS and other banks pushing the “if you attempt to regulate us we’ll move” blah blah that the UK gov keeps falling for. I hope that an indy Scots Gov will hold the door open for them, once they’ve paid back the money the owe.

    7. Doug Daniel says:

      Utterly shameless.

      Incidentally, in the Daily Record article, Salmond says “I think when you’ve got a bunch of people on a committee who are pursuing a political agenda, they try to trap people into saying things.”

      I’m just thinking, can you imagine what it would have felt like for Eilidh Whiteford to be on that committee, being the only person not openly hostile towards independence, even without the presence of Ian “I’ll gie ye a doin’ but it wullnae be sekshul” Davidson chairing? Far better to just leave them to their silly little games.

    8. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      I’ve been of the opinion for a while now that the SNP should just effectively boycott Westminster proceedings entirely.

    9. Macart says:

      They do try Doug, bless em. 🙂

    10. Cuphook says:

      At least it shows that there are still journalists who think that their jobs are to report the facts accurately. Who exactly makes these changes?

      At the YES Edinburgh launch there was a representative of the NUJ who said that they were hoping to discuss the subject of fair reporting with the management of the various news outlets. I forget his name but it might have been Sisyphus.

    11. Seanair says:

      Apart from the typical Scotsman slanting of news, I do seem to remember the CEO of Standard Life declaring that if devolution came to Scotland his company would move out.
      Same old, same old. 

    12. Cuphook says:

      Have you thought about changing the layout of your blog page? The current vertical presentation means, in this crazy crazy world of rolling news, that articles which are still current drop off the bottom of the monitor quite quickly, which, in effect, kills off any discussion as people prioritise the new subject. It stops people posting their insights as they don’t think anyone’s going to read them.
      Just a thought.

    13. Ronald Henderson says:

      Yawn! This is the same line that was used a hundred years ago in Ireland when Guiness threatened to leave Ireland if it achieved independence. It’s the same stuff that was used in the 1930’s in Scotland when a branch of the SNP was opened in Paisley. The bosses at Paisley Thread Mills threatened that they would leave Scotland if we achieved independence. Guiness is still in Ireland but Paisley Thread Mills left Scotland years ago. Ireland is independent: Scotland isn’t.

    14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Have you thought about changing the layout of your blog page?”

      The front page has 12 stories, and as we only average 1.5 or so a day, that’s over a week’s worth, by which time most discussions are pretty much done. I did, however, extend the “Recent Posts” column in the right-hand sidebar to 20 last week, which means it covers almost a fortnight.

      All stories also remain open for comments permanently (unlike certain other sites we won’t mention which close comments after 3-4 days), so if someone’s posted something new you can see it in the “Recent Comments” column, also in the right-hand sidebar. Or you can always choose to subscribe to comments on a particular story, which means you get email alerts if someone posts a new reply.

      I’m always open to design ideas, but there’s no easy way to keep 600 stories open and visible at once. If you come across a particularly good-looking WordPress theme, I’m all ears. I looked for a long time for something even remotely clean and clear before I found this one.

    15. Cuphook says:

      Your moderation policy is the reason I post here. I wish more bloggers would adopt an open policy.
      I worked in Information Management (did you hear my soul scream there?) and used to be involved in advising on page layouts based on the business case and feedback etc. and I think people respond more proactively with what is staring them in the face rather than links columns. Out of sight out of mind. If you post three articles in one day is it not the top one which receives most comments? I was just thinking recent story on top and the previous three sitting underneath on the horizontal. Maybe it’s just me – I’m not one for subscribing and receiving alerts. And now I’ll go back to my search for a job outwith IT.

    16. scottish_skier says:

      “BP may move north sea oil fields to UK after independence”

      “Diageo to could move whisky distilleries out of Scotland after independence” 


    17. Domhnall dods says:

      standard life did indeed say there was no way they could remain on scotland if the scottish parliament was revived….they sfill seem to be here.

    18. Cuphook says:

      If you read the comments in certain newspapers the oil is in English waters and it’s just a simple matter of diverting the pipelines.

      And don’t forget that Scotland now makes gins of world renown (Hendrick’s, Caorunn, Edinburgh). Will we be forced to hand over the recipe for that quintessential English drink?

    19. Westie7 says:

      Guess which version the Daily Mail ran with!

    20. MajorBloodnok says:

      Aye, and they can keep their blueprints for fruit too, we won’t need them when we separate.

      Scurvy is for wimps.

    21. Kenny Campbell says:

      Those folks in the committee will become very unpopular once we get independence and the real stories of who did what and when come out.

    22. muttley79 says:

      @Kenny Campbell
      Yes, I would imagine we would find out about a lot of the skullduggery that the unionists have got up, if there is a Yes vote.

    23. Nellie Scot says:

      How much do you think will it cost them to rebrand, as if they really were daft enough to leave Scotland, they could hardly continue to call themselves the Royal Bank of Scotland? And how would they work out how much of the bailout would have to be repaid to Scottish taxpayers?

    24. Cuphook says:

      Blatant advert for a good cause.
      I know some of you have already booked your place at the Radical Independence Conference on the 24th but anyone else wanting to go should book now as it’s only 10 days. This is a list of the speakers and the day’s events.
      The important question though is, which bar afterwards?

    25. Franklin says:

      You could try the same layout as El Reg or other news sites.

      The example above is another disgusting bit of spin. They are going all out to lie and mislead their readers to push their political agenda. The Scots media is a turd. The sooner it is flushed the better. After that we can get a media that is capable of being more informative and less obsessed with serving their political party. What a shambles they are.

    26. James T says:

      I work in IT in the Financial Sector, and Ive heard these stories from a few places (I work in various Financial Buildings for various companies through contracts in Edinburgh).
      As an example of one of these companies, the whisper is, if Scotland goes Independence, then this company will move south. So far, this has been a chinese whisper from the executive and Chief Exec. No one has said it, but everyone seems to know about it. When you scour their websites, you find hee-haw on any upping sticks nonsense!!
      But say it is true….well, this company employees over 10’000 staff in general (Scotland, UK, World Wide). If they were to take the huff and leave edinburgh (and this is where I find the argument falls down for them), then they will have to make at least 8’000 staff in Edinburgh redundant. We are talking millions, if not at least a hundred million pounds in redundancies. They then need to sell off several properties (which they probably won’t in this market). Then, they need to find new premises, move all their furniture, IT kit, etc down, to say, London. They will have spent a new fortune kitting out their new place(s), and then they need to hire 8’000 new staff (which ain’t going to be easy due to the skill sets required in such a short period of time).
      So overall, they’ve spent in the region of say £300 – 500 million pounds ….and during all of this, they expect the share price to remain the same, and all the shareholders to go along with it…


      There is no way any of these huge conglomerates are upping sticks without it affecting the share price, or raising massive concerns to the shareholders. Once they start doing mass redundancies, the share price will collapse, and could cause a new financial crash in the system. Cameron and Osborne will shit themselves if these Insurance Companies and Banks all said this at the same time. The pound will nose dive and collapse, and there ain’t no way the Bank of England could bail them out.

      If any of these Chief Execs say they and the company are off, I would call their bluff and tell them to go for it. I think in the end, you would find that it would be them getting made redundant by the end of the day (especially if a good portion of the Shareholders are actually Scottish. Don’t see an announcement like that going down well!!).

    27. James T says:

      And to be honest, if I were the Scottish people, I would be pulling my money out of all of these Companies that want to leave. Start a run on them. You hit them; you hit the pound. You hit the pound; you hit London. You hit London; you hit Westminster, the Bank of England, and 10 and 11 Downing Street. Then it gets very messy!!! 
      Telling you now. Cameron and Osborne will be howling at them to stay put if it stirs up a hornets nest in Scotland !!

    28. Morag says:

      There was something in the NNS article about Lindsay Paterson’s interview that struck a chord with me.  That after the results of the US presidential election, what we needed was a serious discussion about the implication of this for Scotland and the independence referendum.
      Oh, I wish.  That’s what we need as regards all this stuff, rather than just an adversarial reporting of he said / she said.  We need journalists to lead a discussion about “our” referendum, looking at the various issues in a serious and grown-up way.  That prospect seems about as close as the far side of the moon.

    29. James T says:

      And to be really honest… I think I’m being quite lenient with the £300 – 500 million part to move one of these giants. It could cost a Billion, if not more…
      I’ve seen them spend bucket loads on refurbishing Investment areas within these companies…and I’m not talking a couple of million quid. I’m talking rebuilding work on their new offices, new furniture, new IT Kit, new phones, coffee machines, advertising…well…..absolutely everything really. We are talking like… £10 to 20 million. And this is every four or five years ….just to keep the ‘financial wizards’ sweet and happy !!!

    30. jake says:

      anyone heard if “The Scotsman” are thinking of relocating after independence?

    31. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      Will they last that long?

    32. Tris says:

      I’ve just blogged on this. The Daily Telegraph did the same thing. 

      Very negative headline, and actually relatively positive story.


    33. Franklin says:

      The Metro has run with the fully negative spin version. disgusting. it spins it so hard it doesn’t even sound ambiguous, more like a dire warning. it might be a free paper without the best reputation for journalism (with stories simply copied from newswire, etc.) but it has wide spread readership, even in Scotland. It seems a foe to independance.

    34. Neither of the quotes is correct and the paper should be taken to the press complaints commission for misquoting, selective quoting and misrepresenting. You can *check the facts* yourself. 

      Go here:
      Click “I agree” and scroll to about 3/5 of the way through the transcript.
      At 16:11:13 he says
      “As I say we have no intention of changing domicile. In terms of the list of priorities … changing domicile does not figure prominently”
      At 16:12:12 he says
      “Self evidently if anything happened (a vote for Scottish independence or anything else) that was prejudicial to our customers or to our shareholders we would have to think of an appropriate response to it, that may come through the institutional arrangements or between the governments following independence. If we were not satisfied with those arrangements we would have to come up with a response under our own steam”

      Actually under investigation, RBS seems pretty neutral – they more or less say that they will be able to deal with whatever the governments end up doing and as we are in a single market anyway (which they are already used to dealing with) there would be no real problem. 

    35. Grendel says:

      Does this knock the misconcenception that RBS is a Scottish bank on the head then?

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