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The politics of truthiness

Posted on February 16, 2015 by

One of the main strengths of the No campaign in the independence referendum was that it had an efficient production line for “truthiness”. Best known as a concept from the US satirical TV show The Colbert Report, the term means things that SOUND as if they’re true, and which people will therefore be inclined to believe, even though they fall apart under any factual scrutiny.


One good example is shown above. The facts on the graphic are individually true, and convey – without ever actually saying so explicitly – the message that Scotland is subsidised by the UK to the tune of £7.6bn a year.

But that message, despite being implied through exclusively true facts, ISN’T true, because the extra “spending” on Scotland is actually borrowing, which Scotland has to pay back. The real truth is that the figures on the left are accurate, and that Scotland heavily subsidises the rest of the UK.

But to walk someone through even the basic explanation of that is quite complicated and involved, whereas the original message is punchy and SOUNDS true. The simpler something is the more people want to believe it, so the implicit lie on the graphic is difficult to dislodge from their minds once it’s in there.

(It works especially well if the media is overwhelmingly on the side of those creating the misleading impression, because they can count on the fact that the mainstream press won’t run any analysis pointing out the flaws in the argument, and the only people who’ll ever encounter the explanation are those who actively seek it out.)

Truthiness, then, is a very powerful tool.

Recently, some Scottish Labour types have seized on what they think is a strong line of “truthiness” to deploy against the tide of former Labour voters who appear to be turning to the SNP out of disgust at Labour’s alliance with the Conservatives in “Better Together”. We highlighted it a week ago when it appeared in a “Labour Hame” blog by party mouthpiece Duncan Hothersall, and it’s now been taken up by the press.

The STV website has a piece on it today by Aidan Kerr, a recent “defector” from the Nats. The argument seeks to suggest a discrepancy in the SNP’s attitude to the two Westminster parties, and it runs thus:


It’s simple, it’s punchy and it sounds like a good zinger – it’s “truthy”. But it only works if the SNP activist is an idiot, because this time the response is an easy one:

SNP activist: The fact is that someone has to be Prime Minister, and there are only two possible candidates. But if you vote SNP, we can ensure that they’re dependent on Scottish votes, and answerable to a Scottish party. And you don’t want to be working with the actual Tories, do you?

It answers the point directly and honestly, in a manner even the lowest-information voter can understand. They know that the UK has to have a Prime Minister, and they know it isn’t going to be Nicola Sturgeon or Nick Clegg.

Even the most disaffected Labour voter will quite probably concede that if pushed at gunpoint to choose one of the two main leaders, they’d still pick the one who wasn’t actually in the Conservative Party, even if he’s conceded all its core ideologies, and that Red Tories are still less bad than Blue Tories, like filter-tipped cigarettes aren’t quite as bad for you as unfiltered ones, even though smoking any cigarettes at all is terrible.

And if they’re so cheesed off with Labour that they don’t see very much difference between Cameron and Miliband – as many former Labour voters don’t – they know that in a hung Parliament a large block of SNP MPs could hold a Tory government to ransom in Scotland’s interests just as effectively as it could do a Labour one, so it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much who’s in 10 Downing Street.

The “binary choice between us and the Tories” line that Labour are making the heart of their campaign in Scotland is a “truthy” one. It sounds right (much like the flat-out lie about the biggest party forming the government), until you remind voters that there IS a third option – give NEITHER party a majority, and make them rely on Scottish MPs who’ll suddenly be punching above their weight in terms of influence.

And the only way to achieve that is to vote neither Tory nor Labour.

So at the end of the day, Hothersall and Kerr’s point is a pretty weak one. But in fairness, we do empathise with Aidan Kerr somewhat – the election is still very much in its “phoney war” phase, and we’re struggling to fill column inches too. But we’ll keep trying to find you slightly more solid stuff to chew on than that.

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  1. 16 02 15 16:25

    The politics of truthiness | Politics Scotland ...

  2. 16 02 15 17:41

    The politics of truthiness - Speymouth

  3. 16 04 15 09:36

    …And Not Forgetting… | A Greater Stage

102 to “The politics of truthiness”

  1. Andrew Haddow says:

    Furthermore, the SNP can encourage Labour to return to some of it’s more traditional policies, you know, the ones many Labour voters actually want to see implemented.

  2. John Fern says:

    They huff we puff and will blow their house down.

  3. DougtheDug says:

    A much better response from an SNP activist:

    If we get the the seats we’re going to make Ed Miliband’s Government dance a Scottish jig in number 10.

  4. Flooplepoop says:

    SNP can be seen as a rudder to steer the Red Toties away from the course they are heading and back to the middle ground.

  5. jimnarlene says:

    I like it. Short, punchy and actually true.

  6. gillie says:

    If the ICM poll, giving a Tory lead of 4 points, is any indicator of how the election is going to go in the UK, and in England particularly, then there is absolutely no point in voting for Labour in Scotland.

    Vote Labour get another Tory government.

  7. heraldnomore says:

    Meanwhile Ed Balls showing us all why he should never be Chancellor.

    Dear Ed,

    How many tenners from hedge-cutting does it take to exceed the VAT registration limit?

    And since when was accepting cash evidence of tax evasion?

    So don’t forget, whoever you dislike least in No 10, also has a running mate in No 11. So Dave & Gideon, or Ed & Ed? Shit, bring on Boris and Nigel…

  8. Dan Huil says:

    When it comes to the crunch Labour will always put Westminster’s wants above Scotland’s needs. We have to elect as many SNP MPs as possible in order to protect Scotland’s interests.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    Truthiness: Labour claiming it is the natural party of Scotland.
    Toothiness: Geeky Miliband claiming he is prime minister material.
    Troughiness: Westminster politicians snouts in feeding frenzy.
    Toffeeness: Bullingdon Boys presuming they rule Scotland.

  10. Craig vint says:

    I would say to everyone, check the article from the 11th of February and take five minutes to answer the “political compass” questionnaire. This will put you on a good footing when it comes to decide which party deserves your vote. Personally, I fell between the greens and the SNP so come May, SNP vote and next year for the Scottish parliament elections will look between those two parties. It did confirm that I have NO business with the tories, labour or Lib dems (whom I voted for last time, in the interests of transparency, sorry!)

  11. Muscleguy says:

    SNP canvasser: Dinnae be a wally: ‘Tory’ is just a shorthand for ‘neoliberal consensus adherent’ and thus all the unionist parties are Tories. But some Tories are, slightly, ever so slightly more human than other Tories. Clear?

  12. Democracy Reborn says:

    Aidan Kerr, a recent “defector” from SNP to Labour? Beyond reading a couple of tweets from the guy, never heard of him. Still, I’d be interested to hear his cogent, intellectually sound reasons as to why he made the transformation from supporting full self-government for the Scottish people, to supporting a unionist, neo-liberal party which began the privatisation of the NHS, gave us boom/bust, gross inequality, illegal foreign wars, supports WMD, and a coterie of Westminster MPs with cushy jobs for life courtesy of the working class they condescend to every 5 years at the ballot box. Right on, Aidan.

  13. Edulis says:

    Tell me somebody. Is Aidan Kerr the former SNP candidate for NE Glasgow who came second to Willie Gain?

  14. Sinky says:

    O/T Another Example of Better Together

    Scottish Power say that it cost about £40m a year to keep Longannet connected to the grid, while a similar power station in the south of England would receive a payment of £4m.

  15. Flower of Scotland says:

    BBC,s mouthpiece at 12 noon, John Beattie said that very thing today that Scotland contributes whatever and gets more back!

  16. Papadox says:

    Half truths are much more dangerous than out and out lies?

  17. frazer allan whyte says:

    re: Nicola Sturgeon no chance of becoming PM of the UK.

    This statements show how sad it is for the residents of England – imagine if they were actually given a choice between the fop, the grommit imitator, the liar, the sot … and Nicola and friends. The competence would blind them.

    Perhaps the first minister could be loaned to Westminster, along with her cabinet,for a few years to set things straight down south – to help the afflicted in foreign fields as it were – prior to demolition of course. It could be considered an act of foreign aid.

  18. Illy says:

    “They know that the UK has to have a Prime Minister, and they know it isn’t going to be Nicola Sturgeon or Nick Clegg.”

    Why not Nicola Sturgeon?

    Where is it written that the PM has to come from one of the biggest two parties? (I honestly want to know)

    Why couldn’t Nicola Sturgeon put together a government? Get individual backing from the surviving old-school Labour MPs, whatever surviving LibDems there are, Plaid Cymru, Greens, she might be able to drag some of the NI MPs to London, and maybe even some of the more reasonable Conservative Party MPs. Run the government as a coalition of Independents and Small Parties.

    What’s stopping her?

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Tell me somebody. Is Aidan Kerr the former SNP candidate for NE Glasgow who came second to Willie Gain?”

    That was DAVID Kerr.

  20. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “to supporting a unionist, neo-liberal party”

    I worded the article carefully. I have no idea what his current political affiliation is, or if he has one at all, only that it’s no longer SNP.

  21. Illy says:

    Sorry, can’t be Nicola Sturgeon, she’s not running for Westminster.

    Alex Salmond certainly is well-known enough, but who’s the SNP Westminster Branch Leader atm?

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Where is it written that the PM has to come from one of the biggest two parties?”

    It isn’t. It’s theoretically perfectly possible. If you think it WILL happen, however, I’d gently suggest that it’s maybe a wee bit early on a Monday for LSD.

  23. heedtracker says:

    Best response so far has been SNP making it clear they will never do a deal with the Tory party, should polls stay with the SNP. You cant word play that away BBC vote SLab Scotland or Project Fear 2.

    May 8 is going to be exact same as 18th Sept with all that massive vote SLab Murphy pressure piled on by BBC, Daily Record, well all of them. How scary can they make a Scotland free of SLab look, you disloyal, selfish, ingrates, we love you Scotland.

  24. boris says:

    o/t; Many crucial programmes that enabled over a million children to be lifted out of poverty over the period 1999-2009 have/are being dismantled forming part of savage, “austerity measures” introduced by the Tory government in 2010. UK wide major political parties are committed to extending and further increasing the aforementioned austerity programmes reducing state expenditure by £20-30billion. The brutal cuts forming part of the manifesto’s of the UK wide political parties will increase the numbers of children living in poverty by around one million over the lifetime of the next government.

    But the Scot’s want a different approach

    SNP policy rejects, “austerity” as the way forward giving favour to an expansion of the economy increasing the value of the state, better managing the balance of payments deficit and long term debt incurred at the time of the 2006-2008 financial crisis and the last five years of failed, “austerity” driven Tory party government which doubled to long term debt of the country.

  25. Taranaich says:

    How about this:

    SNP Activist: I agree. Both are as bad as each other. But you’re not voting for who you want to be Prime Minister, you’re voting for the candidate you believe will best represent your constituency at Westminster. Will you vote for a candidate with Scotland’s interests at heart, or one that has to toe the UK party line – where if they have to choose Scotland or the UK, they have to choose the UK?

  26. Lollysmum says:

    O/T but important

    Indigogo Crowdfunder for Natalie McGarry for Glasgow East-ideal opportunity to help her oust Magrit Curran

  27. Alex Grant says:

    What this article tells me, and it’s not new, is that this sort of ‘issue’ needs to be addressed formally with the SNP briefing all activists and providing appropriate material for distribution? The Wee Blue Book was (only) necessary in order to address key issues which the Yes campaign and the SNP were not addressing properly.Let’s hope we see evidence soon that we don’t need another WBB but if we do let’s crowd fund and produce it as soon as possible

  28. Famous15 says:

    Aidan Kerr is unknown to me but reading some of his other stuff after reading this post he strikes me as a petulant youth feeling the pain of rejection.

    Sorry Aidan for losing the referendum. I was convinced we had won. My response is not to sell out my beliefs but perhaps I do not have to worry about a career in churnalism or independence politics.

    I am just an old git who still desires the best for Scotland!

  29. frankie goes to holyrood says:

    With regards the statistics on the graphic at the top, I would say:

    (1) ACTUAL REVENUE raised in Scotland = 56.9 billion

    (2) BARNETT INCOME (includes UK borrowing share) = 64.5 billion

    (3) BARNETT SPENDING = 64.5 billion = BARNETT INCOME



  30. Jamie Arriere says:

    “as SNP activists try to rile disillusioned Labour voters”

    Does he really think that’s what SNP activists are doing? I expect they would much more likely be highlighting Labour’s appalling record, lack of coherent policies, opposition of ideas they actually support because it’s SNPbad, and the likelihood that they don’t oppose Tory policies as much as they should.

    Trying to rile Labour activists is prob what he means – that doesn’t take much


    No that was David Kerr, ex-BBC reporter

  31. ScottieDog says:

    Simplest way is to judge in deed rather than word. What happened in the final two weeks leading up to indyref. Simply sheer panic from the UK establishment. That in itself is ample explanation without having to understand the technicalities.

    If we reran the indyref today with oil at half it’s value their actions would be exactly the same. The UK without any oil is backed by fiat money printing and bad debt.

  32. Mealer says:

    Ed Miliband is a bit dreepy and his underling,Jim Murphy is a bit creepy.And vise versa.Ed is a bit creepy and Jim is a bit dreepy.Thats what makes them such a creepy dreepy combo.I hope this info helps the discussion.

  33. Clootie says:

    We are allocated a share of the UK debt for money not spent in Scotland.

    Why did people vote No! 🙁

  34. Democracy Reborn says:

    @Rev Stu

    You’re quite correct & I’ll withdraw the comments in my last post, with apologies to you and Aidan Kerr. I wrongly inferred when you said “defector”, that he had changed allegiance from the SNP to Labour.

    I’ve re-read (rather than skim-read) his STV piece. One interpretation is that he continues to support independence, but thinks the SNP should have no WM deal with anyone, including Labour.

  35. Thomas William Dunlop says:

    trying to find you slightly more solid stuff to chew on than that.
    Good luck with that torrent of diarrhea spewing forth from the unionist parish pumps.

  36. ScottieDog says:

    It’s not a case of ‘propping up , a labour govt but moderating their right-leaning policies.
    Of course if the Tories get in will labour side with the SNP to stop Tory legislation being pushed through?
    On the doorsteps people need to be made aware about how labour have been voting in parliament recently.

  37. Peter A Bell says:

    Aidan Kerr has a problem. He refers to something he hears his SNP friends exclaim apparently unaware that his SNP friends haven’t exclaimed at all. The voices are entirely in his own head.

    It is a common enough phenomenon. Media commentators purporting to discuss the SNP when, in fact, what they are talking about is the caricature of the party contrived by the British media.

    In his opening paragraph he asserts that the SNP repeatedly tells us that they and the Labour Party “don’t mix well”. The reality, of course, is that what the SNP has actually been saying is that they and British Labour could quite conceivably work together if only the latter would put aside its irrational hatred of the former and remain true to at least some of its principles.


  38. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Looking at the poster above, was this particular year not the only one when Scotland did not receive more than it sent, as the UK had a very greater debt than normal, and thus had to borrow more to fulfill debt coverage, which Scotland was duly charged to help out?

  39. Grizzle McPuss says:

    SNP activist: “Erm…yes,the austerity & trident renewal type.

    But hey, c’mon…voting Ed Millibland onto the world stage…don’t we need some laughs after all this misery?

    And judging by his ‘fairweather’ approach to policy so far, well, Scotland will be onto a winner!”

  40. heedtracker says:

    Comedy Central were really funny about Brian Williams too

    Rancid hypocrites at Graun said

    “Network says actions of TV news anchor were ‘wrong and completely … months without pay over his false story of coming under fire in a US military helicopter in Iraq. … Some said Williams was lucky to avoid being fired. ….. all the neo-con arm chair generals that threw us into this conflict on a pack of lies.”

    Its inconceivable that a BBC front man like say tory boy Nick Robinson would get sacked for being a bare faced liar on tv, Pacific Quay would be now be a TK MAX. Its a curious difference between two democracies, our media and the American version.

  41. There’s no such thing as ‘Scottish debt’ which must be paid back by Scotland alone.

  42. JLT says:

    From what I’ve seen while canvassing, I have definitely come across Voters who consider themselves to be ‘Labour’ folk, but whom this time round, are voting SNP. These are the people who have been sickened by what the Labour Party has become, the ‘vow’ not being delivered, or basically just see Miliband as being completely useless.

    However, you still get the diehards. No matter if Labour screamed ‘bring on full scale austerity’, declared war on some perceived weaker nation and gave bonuses to the bankers week after week, these folk will stick with Labour.

    But the problem is not Labour, nor the voters. It’s the media. It’s the BBC, STV and the newspapers. While we have the likes of Murphy promising this, that and everything, and not being seriously questioned on it, then people will begin to think that Scottish Labour do have a plan.

    If Murphy can split the vote in Scotland and at least retain 30 out of 59 seats, then it’s ‘mission accomplished!’ And if that happens, it wasn’t because of Murphy. It will be due to the media.
    That is who we are really up against. My fear is that the same tactics that were used in the referendum in August will be brought out again throughout April. Some faint promises of protecting the NHS, or something equivalent.

    I just hope that at somepoint, Murphy drops a real clanger, and I mean an absolute belter that will reveal the complete uselessness in SLAB …otherwise …it is going to be a real serious slog in April.

  43. HandandShrimp says:

    Truthiness is hugely popular in the US. The infamous Chick Tracts use it remorselessly where for example a creationist will expertly dismember the evolutionist argument because the evolutionist is invariably a gormless clown that doesn’t know the first thing about natural selection.

    The graphic above is easily countered. What it says is that the UK raises £575m in taxation and spends £693m. Ours is just a small part of thumping great deficit that the whole UK owes. Clearly this is a bit of a problem and the UK tax base has not been growing because people are finding work in low paid zero hour contract jobs. We are not growing our way out of recession so Osborne has made little headway on the deficit and debt is now a huge number.

  44. garles says:

    Go over to Mark Franklands blog re the pet Tory in Scotland.Sorry canny dae that linky thing.

  45. James Munro says:

    I don’t want to give the game away but my biggest fear for the SNP in the coming weeks is a poll swing towards the Tory’s, (and I understand that in the unlikely event of the Tory’s winning a majority that Independence could be far simpler to achieve, however…) the problem is that some wavering Scottish voters may well back onto “safe ground” should they feel an outright win for the Tory’s is possible and vote Labour.

  46. X_Sticks says:

    *cringes* O/T again

    ON NOW Live Independence is broadcasting live video on Charlie Hebdo and Islamophobia.

    Richard Haley is chair of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities and is speaking about the Charlie Hebdo attack to a meeting of Radical Independence in Edinburgh

    Log in to join the conversation:

    I make no excuses for punting Live Indy’s fundraiser again, 82% raised with 4 days to go. Please support.

  47. Natasha says:

    Completely OT
    I really think people ought to know what this guy is saying:

    KennyG 15 Feb 2.03pm
    I have said though, is that if a woman is out, gets very drunk and she meets a man she’s never met, then goes back to his hotel room with him, then gets into bed with him, then wakes up in the morning unclothed, and the guy says they had sex, and she says I don’t remember giving consent, this is not rape.

    16 Feb 9.50am
    So there’s two people in that room. One says consent was given, the other says not. So who’s right?
    The fact that the woman is so drunk that she can’t remember giving consent is her own fault not his.

    You heard it here on Wings, folks. It’s okay to go out and take advantage of drunk women. (Its not a great step further from that to taking advantage of the mentally ill/people with special needs/children).

    That’s obviously the kind of compassionate decent human being we want on our side.

  48. indio says:

    Seen this?|uk|dl1|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D330099

    George Osborne Once Gave Advice On How To Avoid Tax On BBC’s Daily Politics.

  49. Natasha says:

    @garles 7.22pm

    Thanks for that pointer to Mark Frankland, he is always excellent.

  50. Gary45% says:

    I have just put BBC Scotland into Google search to which you get a total of 93,100,000 results.
    I then typed BBC Scotland labour which has 7,560,000 results,
    Green Party 7,960,000 results
    Conservative 1,500,000 results
    Lib Dem 1,190,000 results
    and finally
    SNP 463,000 results.
    No real surprise that the party running Scotland has the least results on BBC Scotland.
    Does anyone else think FUD will claim to turn the Clyde into wine while walking over it?

  51. Paula Rose says:

    Ask Labour voters what they expect a Labour government to do – it will not be what the party are planning.

    Explain the SNP policy positions.

    Point out that any necessary confidence and supply support from the SNP will require Labour returning to a proper left of centre position to the benefit of the whole UK.

  52. HandandShrimp says:

    James Munro

    I agree. There is a fantasy oft repeated on websites amongst those against a good SNP showing in May that Yes supporters want a Tory win. However, I think a clear Tory lead is a bad thing.

    1) It means the sods may well win and that will be pretty awful on many levels

    2) It will freak voters out in Scotland and it might well see some people voting Labour in desperation knowing full well that we have been here umpteen times before and it will not make a blind bit of difference to the outcome because if England votes Tory in numbers it will be a Tory win.

    There isn’t much we can do about 1) but 2) we have to tackle head on. A strong or overwhelming contingent of SNP MPs will focus Westminster’s mind because they will know that sentiment will be against them and that the 45% could easily tip into an outright majority. Labour MPs will not rock the status quo and will simply settle straight back in being HM Loyal Opposition and reach for the expenses forms.

  53. Paula Rose says:

    Natasha – I shall be taking the young man out for several drinks – I think he’ll have changed his mind come the morning.

  54. crazycat says:

    @ Natasha

    Well said. You’re not alone in your opinion, but unfortunately I have no idea how to educate people like that (for their own good as much as everyone else’s).

  55. michael says:

    You say it is quite complicated to explain the infographic but surely the easy way is to say OK, let’s do one for rUK using exactly the same figures:

    Contribution = £517.84B
    Spending = £629.04B

    Over £111B deficit…

  56. Dan Huil says:

    If the Tories [the Blue ones] consistently show a lead in the polls it will be because of support from voters in England and it will mean a vote for Labour in Scotland will be even more worthless than it is at the moment. It would also mean voting SNP would be more necessary than ever in order to protect Scotland’s interests.

  57. Natasha says:

    @Paula Rose & Crazycat

    Thank you. Actually, I think he’s ineducable. I don’t much care about changing his opinion, but I do think he deserves to be publicly shamed.

    And if he complains, then guess what? He chose to go on the internet and reveal himself as a complete prick; so it’s his fault, not mine.

  58. Foonurt says:

    I have an idea, for the £56.9 Billion, contributed to London from Scotland. Why not keep the £56.9 Billion? And tell Westminster, to keep their £64.5 Billion.

    As Scotland could do just fine, on our £56.9 Billion. Efturr awe, whits £7.6 Billion?

  59. Macart says:

    Vote SNP get Westminster representation that can and will defend your interests at Westminster.

    Proof of the pudding? The only ones who haven’t raised the issue of coalition at Westminster is the SNP.

    The Tories have, Labour have and the media have (who cares whether the Lib dems have or not). Now when was the last time a party of the centre left raised so much interest/worry amongst the establishment in Westminster? 😉

  60. Proud Cybernat says:

    Yes, I remember that stupid ‘truthiness’ No campaign poster.

    That’s ‘truthiness’ and this is truthfulness:

  61. An Teallach says:

    Sorry for going O/T but I just got an email re a protest outside Holyrood about TTIP this Thursday at 9.30am.

    The minister responsible Lord Livingston will be speaking at the European and External Affairs Committee:

  62. keaton says:

    SNP Activist: I agree. Both are as bad as each other. But you’re not voting for who you want to be Prime Minister, you’re voting for the candidate you believe will best represent your constituency at Westminster. Will you vote for a candidate with Scotland’s interests at heart, or one that has to toe the UK party line – where if they have to choose Scotland or the UK, they have to choose the UK?

    That doesn’t really answer the question, though, which is why the SNP would prefer to prop up Labour rather than the Tories.

  63. Effijy says:

    North British Labour have been bolstered by their Spin, lies, and deception that worked for them during the referendum.

    All they have to depend on are Tory Policies,lies, and the
    Media who have forgotten how to question anyone from the elitist parties.

    For me, the Tories have already won the next UK election as Labour are completely incompetent and they wouldn’t know leadership qualities if it bit them on the backside.

    I have never voted Tory, but I my thought is that when they win the GE they will beat the living daylights out of Scotland.
    What we get over the next 5 years will probably be what we deserve and need for voting No.

    Should the Tory & Lib Dem total of Wastmonster seats add up to more than Labour and SNP combined. Labour will then prove the falsehood of their strap line ” Vote Labour or you’ll get a Tory government”for the 7th General Election since 1970, but as they
    can’t count or listen, they will go with it anyway!

  64. Graeme Doig says:

    On the subject of ‘truthiness’, here’s the response from IPSO about my complaint re misquote of AS in the Mail (feb 7th):

    Apologies in advance for lack of para breaks (just cut and paste)

    “We noted your concern that the article had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) because it had inaccurately quoted Alex Salmond saying that he “hopes ‘to hold England’s feet to the fire’”. You stated that Mr. Salmond had in fact said that he hopes to “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire”. Clause 1 (ii) states that “A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected”. The article was about Scottish National Party (SNP) membership “surging”. It provided a critical analysis of some of the SNP’s policies, and of how these policies might affect Scottish people. The article also provided an analysis of what the SNP’s role in the upcoming general election might be. The article expressed the view that the SNP “aim to make a bloody nuisance of themselves” in Westminster, and that they “hope to exasperate the English to such an extent that eventually they will tell the Scots to clear out”. In the context of the article’s interpretation of the SNP’s goals in England and Westminster, we considered that the statement about Mr. Salmond’s holding “England’s feet to the fire” had been virtually synonymous with his holding “Westminster’s feet to the fire”. Whilst we understand your concern that Mr. Salmond had been misquoted, we did not consider that this had been a significant detail as to warrant correction under the terms of the Code in this context. As such, your complaint did not disclose a breach of Clause 1.

    So they justify misquoting AS by stating that it is in keeping with the tone of the article.

    Unbelievable stuff.

  65. george says:

    Sinky says:
    16 February, 2015 at 5:05 pm
    O/T Another Example of Better Together

    “Scottish Power say that it cost about £40m a year to keep Longannet connected to the grid, while a similar power station in the south of England would receive a payment of £4m.”

    – it might appear to make a kind of sense EXCEPT that the high voltage transmission grid is c90% efficient: within reason you can make electricity anywhere and use it anywhere else. the bloke i know at OFGEM (the regulator) is pretty quiet on that one. this most recent pricing structure is generally seen as a way to subsidise the higher costs of land in the south east, thereby encouraging investment and jobs there. what a surprise, eh?

    it also, handily for westminster, drives up the prices that large-scale renewables – mainly scotland – are charged to connect to the grid. scotland exports about a quarter of its electricity remember, and that proportion is going to rise massively over the next few decades – or at least that’s what needs to happen as oil production slowly tails off.

    almost as a by-the-way:

    one of the first things the “greenest government ever” did in 2010 was gut the funding for domestic and sme renewables, and it’s been getting steadily worse since then. as just one recent example the connection charge you describe is one of the reasons e.on pulled out of their deal with pelamis, crushing a world-leading wave power company. investment in solar and tidal is slow (and for clean coal has pretty much collapsed).

    did i mention george osborne’s father-in-law is a big investor in, and lobbyist for, the fossil fuel industry?

  66. Patrick Roden says:

    The question is this:

    Is Jim Murphy’s lies getting the results he hopesfor in Scotland?

    Well ‘they’ are calling the latest ICM poll in the Guardian the ‘Gold Standard poll’ due to how accurate ICM were the last Election,

    The sub sets for Scotland are:

    SNP 48%

    Labour 21%

    Keep it up Jim, keep it up 🙂

  67. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    @ Graeme Doig

    Graeme, you can still add the paragraph breaks after pasting and see then in the preview pane below the entry box just below your personal details.

  68. JGedd says:


    I agree with you, Natasha. I had thought that the law had been clear about this, that consent must be clear and unambiguous to get round the defence of ” I thought she had consented.” In the scenario which he presented where he admits that the woman was too drunk to know whether sex had taken place, then the man’s argument that she had consented but was too drunk to remember fails, because she was apparently not in a fit condition to give consent.

    He should try his argument on the other party; clearly it was foolish of the man to go to bed with someone in such a drunken state since consent could not in those circumstances be held to be clear and unambiguous. A cautionary and moral tale for careless young men too, I would have thought!

  69. Paula Rose says:

    @ Graeme Doig – (Victor Meldrum voice)

    I don’t believe it.

    (I would have put some paragraph breaks in – just to be on the safe side)

  70. OT:

    HSBC’s half-baked apology doesn’t cut it. To tackle tax-dodging, we need to tackle PFI

    As long as the cozy ‘revolving door’ between Westminster, Government and the big 4 banks and accountancy firms which designed and profit from PFI schemes is allowed to continue – our politicians cannot be trusted to clean up HSBC and prevent further tax evasion scandals.

  71. Dan Huil says:

    @Keaton. “That doesn’t really answer the question, though, which is why the SNP would prefer to prop up Labour rather than the Tories.”

    They wouldn’t. They’ve never said they will “prop up” Labour. They said they would consider “confidence and supply” over individual matters.

  72. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @Graeme Doig –

    Good on ye anyway – all of this is frustrating, but it’s important documentary evidence.

  73. heedtracker says:

    @ HandandShrimp, Labour MPs will not rock the status quo and will simply settle straight back in being HM Loyal Opposition and reach for the expenses forms.

    Everyone in Scotland has worked this out and SLab/BBC problem is how to bait and switch again THE VOW fraud style at the BBC. Does brainwashing work? Can there really be enough pressure points on people voting SNP and not SLabour that they can, you know, squeeze really hard, or do they continually bait Scotland with this style of BBC bullshit.

    Say Cheeze Jim!

  74. Graeme Doig says:

    Paula Rose and BtP

    I know i could have edited but, to be honest, wanted the quote from them to stand alone … and i’m prone to risk taking behaviour 🙂

  75. Natasha says:

    Graeme Doig

    Just don’t get drunk anywhere near KennyG!

  76. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Intersting as is reported in the Sun today that Kezia Dugdale’s father is a member of the SNP.

  77. Johnny says:

    Patrick Roden @ 8:53pm

    If the ICM poll you are referring to is the sub-sample reported online today, then the SNP are on 58% rather than 48%. Be more exciting were it a full-scale Scottish poll, mind.

  78. Onwards says:

    “ a hung Parliament a large block of SNP MPs could hold a Tory government to ransom in Scotland’s interests just as effectively as it could do a Labour one, so it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much who’s in 10 Downing Street.”

    That is a great point.

    SNP MP’s are going to look after Scotland’s interests, whatever London Party wins down south.

    If the Tories do end up getting back in, far better to have SNP MP’s keeping up the pressure, instead of a bunch of useless Scottish Labour MP’s, toeing the party line.

    It’s like an insurance policy for Scotland.

  79. JLT says:

    Having read Aidan Kerr’s piece, he is right in theory that it would be better to go to Westminster and ‘have a rammy’ with a government, than prop one up and therefore be considered the ‘Yellow Labour’.

    However, Kerr is missing a couple of points here. The logic in proposing an SNP-Labour coalition runs deep. It’s a game of chess, and Labour know that once Nicola asks to form a coalition (if it is possible in the immediate aftermath of the election), then it could be ‘check-mate’ for Labour. It’s just raises the question of what type of capitulation that Labour may have to decide on.

    First, if the SNP do become kingmakers, and ask Ed to form a coalition in which he REFUSES, then for the SNP, this gives them the absolute power to shout from the rafters in pointing out that it was Labour who refused not only government in which many Scots want to see, but it could seriously place the Tories back in power. This maybe the magic bullet that finally destroys Labour hegemony in Scotland for at least a generation …and a lot can happen then for the SNP since they would literally have an open field in Scotland.
    This might be part of the SNP hierarchy’s plan! In offering coalition, and seeing Labour refuse and thus bring in another term of the Tories, then Labour would be utterly despised in Scotland.

    Secondly, should Ed ACCEPT Nicola’s offer, then Labour have just placed the entire Union itself in possible danger. By agreeing to share power, it means that the SNP are not only given the keys to power …but also to those rooms and corridors within Westminster and Whitehall where all the classified documents and secrets are kept. The SNP know that if they find revelation after revelation within these halls, and lay it before the Scottish people, then never again will Scotland trust Westminster, let alone Labour. It will quicken the way to divorce.

    So Aidan is right in theory, but when you look at it more deeply, you can see the sheer genius in the reasons why SNP are quite willing to get into bed with their most hated enemy. One is to keep the Tories out of power, and hopefully dismantle a number of Neo-Con policies before anymore are implemented or advanced, but secondly, it opens doors …and who knows what might be revealed, and what has been done against the Scottish people …in maintaining the name and prestige of ‘Great Britain’.

  80. Lollysmum says:


    London branch of SNP circulated an email to members asking if any were interested in coming to Glasgow/Edinburgh for the weekend before the election to help out. So I’ve put my name down for it. Well I can’t let all you lot have the fun can I? Looking forward to it 🙂 & you never know I may even meet one or two Wingers on the campaign trail with any luck!

    A bit of news-Natalie McGarry’s crowdfunder was launched just today & it’s halfway to it’s target already after just 8 hours. What gives you the idea that people want to see Mags Curran gone 🙂

  81. Lollysmum says:

    In cases where the woman was too drunk to have consented i.e understood what that consent means, the courts in England will normally find the man guilty of rape in those circumstances.

  82. Willie Hogg says:

    It is interesting that if you reverse the logic of the BT advert you get 90.1% of income (517.9 Billion) contributed from rUK and 64.5% (629 billion) spent on them. That’s a £2,031 subsidy from Scotland to each rUK resident, by their logic!

  83. Effijy says:

    Graeme Doig says:
    16 February, 2015 at 8:47 pm
    On the subject of ‘truthiness’, here’s the response from IPSO about my complaint re misquote of AS in the Mail (feb 7th):

    This is quite terrifying!

    They have just categorically stated that Westminster and England are one and the same.

    IPSO Facto: Scotland have no rights.
    We are a colony for england, to rape pillage and abuse.

  84. robertknight says:

    Voters have to choose between 3 possible outcomes:

    1) Tory Govt. which totally ignores issues of concern to Scotland.

    2) Labour Govt. which totally ignores issues of concern to Scotland.

    3) Labour Govt. which heeds issues of concern to Scotland because the SNP will ensure that they do.


  85. Sinky says:

    cynicalHighlander says:@ 16 February, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    “For info on NHS and Labour lies” ….. don’t rely on TV or MSM for coverage of this story….. that’s why we need dozens of foot soldiers on the door steps in every Polling District between now and May 7th.

  86. Patrick Roden says:


    You’re right mate it’s SNP 58% Labour 21%

  87. Robert Peffers says:

    @Sinky says: 16 February, 2015 at 5:05 pm :

    “Scottish Power say that it cost about £40m a year to keep Longannet connected to the grid, while a similar power station in the south of England would receive a payment of £4m.

    Sinky, I’ve been posting that since who knows when? I put it another way but it is the same, “Grid Connection Charge”, rip off. What is more it costs even more for those generators further north. I posted It as estimated to cost Scottish Generators over £100 million every year.
    So the costs seem to have increased since I posted this : –

    “The charges in the north of Scotland are £21.49 for every kilowatt of power they add to the grid but in southern English areas this is a, “negative charge”. For example in the Southwest of England electricity generators are paid £7.04 for every kilowatt they add to the grid. So, in Cornwall, they get a subsidy while in the Scottish North they get penalised to the tune of a total £28.53 per kilowatt. In effect the SW English receive an annual subsidy of £11m per annum.”

  88. ken500 says:

    Taxes raised in Scotland £54billon. Money spent in Scotland £35billion plus £16billion pensions/welfare benefits. £3Billion Defence. £54Billion.

    The (so called) £9billion deficit is money not borrowed or spent in Scotland but a proportionate percent of the £90billion borrowed and spent in the rest of the UK (decided by Westminster policies) falsely added to the Scottish accounts.(Not better together)

    Scotland should have had a £220Billion. That is the calculation of what Westminster misappropriated from Scotland and wasted illegal wars Trident, tax evasion and irresponsible fiscal decisions, illegal banking decisions etc.

  89. Robert Peffers says:

    @frankie goes to holyrood says: 16 February, 2015 at 5:56 pm:

    “With regards the statistics on the graphic at the top, I would say:

    (1) ACTUAL REVENUE raised in Scotland = 56.9 billion

    (2) BARNETT INCOME (includes UK borrowing share) = 64.5 billion

    (3) BARNETT SPENDING = 64.5 billion = BARNETT INCOME



    Well, Frankie, I’ll amplify a point I made several days ago.

    That extra funding Scotland gets is entirely due to Scotland having more powers devolved to the Scottish Government. They devolved the funds to finance what Westminster used to administer. This is the purpose of the Barnett Formula. It works out what extra Scotland needs to finance the new powers that are devolved.

    As the Media and Unionists are now claiming we just get the money as an free gife from the goodness of the Establishments hearts and thus ignore it is meant to cover the costs of services Westminster used to do and pay for.

    May I suggest the Scottish Government say to Westminster that they can have those extra services back but not mention they take back the extra funding as we understood from their lies it was a free gratis gift from them to us.

    They would then be screaming the truth to the rooftops that they wanted the cash to run the services back too. Hoist with their own petards.

  90. Dumb Unicorn says:

    Here’s a thought (or a chain of them):

    Scotland has no control over what rUK vote for. Whatever we vote for, there’s always a good chance that it makes no difference to which PM forms a government in the UK. Our vote is and always has been, on a wing and a prayer.

    If rUK vote in a majority government of whatever colour then so be it.

    If rUK vote in enough Tory and/or LibDem and/or UKIP to form a coalition without any Scottish MPs, then so be it.

    If it happens that Scotland’s MPs are needed to push one side or the other over the half way point, then there may be an argument for voting tactically (which in principle is wrong, you should always vote for the party you support, but hey).

    So, should you vote Labour to keep the Tories out if you’re an SNP supporter? If it’s a fight between Labour and SNP, then the answer in this election is absolutely not. In purely arithmetic terms, an SNP MP is as good as a Labour MP in preventing a Tory majority.

    What we don’t want to do is split the vote and allow a Tory candidate to sneak in and risk handing the Tories a majority they wouldn’t otherwise have. Unlikely, but certainly not impossible. In the present climate, a Lib Dem isn’t that desirable either since they may decide to side with the Tories if it gives them a last stab at power (my, how times have changed!).

    Common logic (which Labour have hammered home election after election) is that everyone else should pool their votes into the party most likely to keep the Tory candidate from winning. In other years, in a large number of seats that would have been Labour. But not any more. The polls clearly show that the party with the most clout are the SNP. It’s not enough to go by 2010 votes because the world has changed and they’re no longer reliable. So, by Labour’s own logic, the safest way to keep the Tories out, is for Labour supporters to vote SNP as the SNP have the best chance of winning.

    So VoteLabourGetTory

    Just a thought 🙂

  91. Chic McGregor says:

    I think the response should be:
    “Yes the London Labour Leadership are intuitively Tory, but an SNP which holds the balance of power can force them to be more like old Labour. Whereas, if instead they hold power by dint of having Scottish Labour MPs they will simply do London Labour’s bidding.”

  92. Kennedy says:

    Robert Peffers

    Have you considered writing a book. You have constitutional knowledge that would benefit many politically awakened Scots and most certainly contribute to the goal of Independence.

    I would be proud of a that legacy.

  93. Grouse Beater says:

    The Westminster parties were prepared to join forces to stop constitutional reform that would benefit the people of Scotland, ergo, the only thing to prepare for is the same parties doing the same thing to stop the SNP gaining UK leverage if it gains a majority of Scottish seats.

  94. thoughtsofascot says:

    And if its borrowing then that means that its not the UK that “subsidises” us, but its China “subsidising” all of the UK (lets be honest, the UK has no intention of paying back its debitors, because it physically cant under current ideological failonomics, so the label fits them much better than us.

  95. Bill McLean says:

    cynical highlander at 9.50PM. Read the link referred and in summary – after 40 years as a Labour supporter, until the Iraq disgrace, I can now only think of one word to describe them – Disgusting!

  96. Stoker says:

    Truth – The first casualty of war!

    Stoker says:
    What’s going on with the peaceful protest march against the BBC?

  97. james says:

    There is a slight inaccuracy in the article.
    It should say that the figures on the left were (not are) accurate. The figures are for 2011-12 which was second highest for oil and gas tax revenue in the last 25 years. see
    At a 90% geographical share the oil and gas tax revenue figures for 2013-14 are £5.58bn less than in 2011-12, so all things being equal the tax revenue raised in Scotland would be £51.32bn in 2013-14 and the statement would be “we contribute 8.9% of the UK’s taxation but receive 9.3% of UK spending in return”.
    But hey its the “truthiness” of the article that counts!

  98. Taranaich says:

    At a 90% geographical share the oil and gas tax revenue figures for 2013-14 are £5.58bn less than in 2011-12, so all things being equal the tax revenue raised in Scotland would be £51.32bn in 2013-14 and the statement would be “we contribute 8.9% of the UK’s taxation but receive 9.3% of UK spending in return”.

    That would be true if there have been zero changes to tax revenue apart from oil and gas receipts compared from 2011-12 to 2013-14, from the rUK as well as Scotland, as well as zero changes in Scottish/UK expenditure. That’s obviously not the case.

  99. Taranaich says:

    Not to mention that the graphic explicitly notes that these were the figures from 2011-2012.

  100. James says:

    The graphic does explicitly reference 2011-12, however the article says “the real truth is…..that Scotland heavily subsidises the rest of the UK” and is not specific to the year, it just jumps to a link that shows how valuable Scottish oil was in the early 1980’s if you adjust for inflation.
    The most recent data shows that the UK subsidised Scotland in 2013-14 and that was the year before the recent oil price fall.

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