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Who to believe? 62

Posted on March 07, 2013 by

From the Luxembourg newspaper on Tuesday:

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister has backtracked on a comment about Scotland’s independence which was quoted in the British media, saying it was misinterpreted.

From today’s Scottish Daily Mail:

“The minister’s spokesman has made clear to the BBC that he has ‘no problems’ with our reporting of his remarks.” (column 3)

Hmm, that’s a tricky one.

Between the whines 44

Posted on February 13, 2013 by

Fans of TV panel shows will probably be aware of a regular strand on the BBC’s Mock The Week called “Between The Lines”, in which one comedian delivers lines from a speech in the persona of a public figure, while the other translates what they really mean. There’s a chucklesome example here.


For a bit of fun we’ve decided to have our own attempt, with a letter sent out this week to the No campaign’s mailing list by the independence debate’s own Hugh Dennis: “Better Together” campaign director and creative truth interpreter Blair McDougall.

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Captain Darling sounds a retreat 38

Posted on November 10, 2012 by

It can be a full-time job keeping up with the many inconsistencies and contradictions in the anti-independence campaign. (Labour’s professed hatred for the Tories but willingness to let them govern Scotland when Scottish voters reject them, and the Conservatives’ belief in the UK Union but deep-seated antipathy to the European one, leap out as two of the more obvious examples.) Today’s is a corker, though.

Attentive readers will recall that the “Better Together” camp has spent the five months since its launch constantly warning Scots that independence would be “irrevocable”. Here’s figurehead Alistair Darling being reported in the Telegraph as saying just that at the No campaign’s launch in June of this year (our emphasis, as usual):

“This is not about picking a government for the next five years. If we decide to go down the independence route it is an irrevocable step – you’re talking about a completely different constitutional relationship, maybe for the next 200 or 300 years.”

Pretty unequivocal, then – independence is forever, no going back in our lifetime, or that of our children, or their children, or their children. But wait. Fast-forward to last night and the former Chancellor appears to have had a radical change of heart, in a BBC story headlined “Darling predicts independent Scotland would rejoin UK”:

“Speaking as he delivered this year’s John P Mackintosh Memorial Lecture in Prestonpans, East Lothian, on Friday evening, [Darling] said the ‘most obvious problem’ with a common currency was that ‘sooner or later it takes you to economic and then political union. So Scotland would leave the UK only to end up in the same place as it began, with all the trauma that would entail.'”

Of course, if you’re a Wings Over Scotland reader you already knew the “irrevocable” line was a load of rubbish that could only be true if the core claim – and indeed, the very name – of “Better Together” was a cynical lie. But it’s nice to see Mr Darling admit it this early in the day. Which strident assertion, we wonder, will he recant next?

Happy happy joy joy 24

Posted on September 08, 2012 by

As penance for our sins, yesterday we went for a bit of a wade through the Better Together campaign’s official Facebook page, where we played a fun game of “watching dissenting comments vanish” for a while. As we browsed, though, we particularly enjoyed the upbeat entry for August 21st:

And the entry just two days later showed the campaign was as good as its word.

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Johann Lamont’s faulty hearing aid 8

Posted on April 11, 2012 by

We were going to write about something else today, but we have a touch of the flu and we're not quite up to a hefty post. As we bravely ploughed through some research, though, we stumbled across another example of something we've noted before on this blog – Labour's curious (some might say outright untruthful) habit of presenting the SNP's position on things as the precise opposite of what they actually are. The latest accidental misunderstanding came from Johann Lamont's speech to the Scottish Labour conference last month. Here's what Johann claims the SNP say:

"The SNP want to sell a skewed vision of where Scotland is at. They want you to believe that Scotland is somehow oppressed."

Here, on the other hand, is what the SNP actually say, from two months earlier:

"Scotland is not oppressed and we have no need to be liberated."

How odd. In the interests of fair and honest political discourse, should we all perhaps club together and offer to buy the leader of Scotland's opposition some new batteries? We'll throw in 50p to get things started. Pledge the amount of your support in the comments below and let's see if we can make the world a better place.


Does Alex Salmond need a translator? 10

Posted on March 09, 2012 by

We're a bit confused, readers. We live in the online age, where almost everything that happens is recorded for posterity – whether by a full TV crew or someone with a mobile phone. There can be almost no concerted misrepresentation of events, because no matter how hard spin doctors or biased media sources might try to push a dishonest line, someone somewhere will have what really happened on video.

So we're somewhat bemused as to how there can be such a polarised difference of opinion on whether the SNP wants one or two questions on the ballot paper for its proposed referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. The facts, as presented by the SNP in front of a watching nation and preserved forever on tape and digital memory by a hundred news channels of every and no political colour, seem extremely clear.

"On a historic day in Edinburgh, as the Scottish Government published its detailed proposals for a referendum to determine the country’s future, the First Minister announced his intention to put a simple question to voters in the autumn of 2014: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Mr Salmond’s single question on independence was supported by constitutional experts last night. The UK government also welcomed the clarity of the question he proposes." (Eddie Barnes, The Scotsman)

"Alex Salmond has revealed plans for a single-question independence referendum in 2014, offering voters a straight 'yes' or 'no' choice."
(Andrew Nicoll, The Sun)

"Selkirk’s Tory MSP John Lamont has welcomed Alex Salmond’s preference for a single question in Scotland’s independence referendum"
(Selkirk Weekend Advertiser)

"Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has unveiled the question he wants to ask Scots in a referendum on independence. He said it should be: "Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?" In a statement to the Scottish Parliament to launch his party's public consultation on the referendum, he told MSP's Scots will be given a "straightforward" and "clear" choice." (James Matthews, Sky News)

"The document will also see Salmond confirm his preference for a single yes-no question on independence in a 2014 referendum."
(Tom Gordon, The Herald)

"As Mr Salmond launched the Scottish Government’s consultation paper on the independence referendum, the document’s centrepiece was the question Scots will be asked in 2014: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” The document, launched on Burns Night, even contains a mock-up of how a single-question ballot paper would appear, with two boxes, marked Yes or No." (Paul Kilbride, the Daily Express)

"Salmond reiterated his Scottish National Party's formal preference for a single question." (Keith Albert, Public Finance)

"Mr. Salmond wants only one question on the ballot paper: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"
(Neal Ascherson, the New York Times)

"It is interesting, when you look at the public utterances of people like the Deputy First Minister and the Finance Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, that they have said, clearly, that they prefer a single question themselves. Indeed, the Scottish Government’s own consultation makes that their preference." (Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland)

"The Government has made it clear, as it always has done, that its preference is for a single question on independence."
(John Swinney, Finance Secretary)

"Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she was glad that Mr Salmond had set out his preference for a single question on independence."
(Sanya Khetani, Business Insider)

"Our preference is to have a single question."
(Alex Salmond, quoted in Holyrood magazine)

So that all seems pretty straightforward and unambiguous. The First Minister and the SNP have made it clear that their preference is for a single-question referendum with a straight Yes/No answer, and while they're willing to listen to other opinions and consider any alternative, a single question is what they prefer and that's what they're proposing. Right? But wait – what's this?

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Listening and learning, Labour-style 1

Posted on November 14, 2011 by

"Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said minimum pricing was not a magic bullet, but a part of the solution."
(BBC, 1 Nov 2011)

"Sturgeon said a minimum price was 'not a magic bullet'"
(Alcohol Policy UK, 1 Nov 2011)

"Minimum pricing is not a magic bullet, but it is a huge step in the right direction."
(Nicola Sturgeon, Evening Times, 8 Sep 2011)

"[Nicola Sturgeon] doesn’t and never has believed that minimum pricing is the magic bullet solution."
(Holyrood magazine, 15 Oct 2010)

"We should not see any particular initiative as a magic bullet — we need a strong package of measures. That initiative was simply another tool in the box."
(Nicola Sturgeon, Findlaw UK, 30 Sep 2010)

"While [minimum pricing] is not a magic bullet, it would effectively target problem drinkers and help them reduce their alcohol consumption."
(Nicola Sturgeon, STV News, 31 Aug 2010)

"While it's not a magic bullet, we believe that minimum pricing would effectively target problem drinkers."
(Nicola Sturgeon, Newsnet Scotland, 9 June 2010)


"The SNP seem to think that minimum unit pricing is some sort of silver bullet."
(Richard Simpson, Labour Shadow Health Minister, 14 Nov 2011)



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