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They think you’re stupid

Posted on January 21, 2013 by

(We suspect this might become a regular series.) We try not to take any notice of the often-ludicrous propaganda churned out by the official “Better Together” campaign, but today’s was too utterly ridiculous to ignore. We’re not going to deface our nice pages with the image, though you can see it here if you want to without giving them any hits.

The graphic claimed, mind-bogglingly, that the award of £2.3bn in grants to good causes in Scotland by the National Lottery since its advent in 1993 was “another reason we are better together”, as if the figure represented some great largesse towards Scotland on the part of the UK. This, as any reader with an IQ higher than the number on a lottery ball will immediately realise, is such a monumental and obvious misrepresentation of how the lottery works that we can only concur with the Twitter user who enquired “When will the glue-sniffing stop at BT strategy HQ?”

The National Lottery dispenses funds as a proportion of revenue spent by players. “Good causes” get 28p for every £1 spent on tickets, which means that – assuming grants are more or less proportionately disbursed across the UK – Scottish players have purchased £8.2bn of tickets in order to get £2.3bn back in grants. Of the rest, 50% comes back in prizes, 12p (or just under £1bn) goes to the Treasury to use as it sees fit, and 5% (just over £0.4bn) goes to Camelot in costs and profit.

In other words, the lottery has COST Scotland around £1.4bn since it began, in money siphoned out of the country and given to the Westminster government and the Camelot Group, based in Rickmansworth in south-east England. Or if you prefer, every £1 of “grant” cost Scots £1.61 to obtain.

(It’s actually slightly more than that, as retailers also take a 5% cut and many tickets are sold by non-Scottish supermarket chains, but we don’t have any information on the precise statistics so we’ll keep things simple.)

In essence, the lottery has stolen Scotland’s wallet and then handed it back with a large chunk of the money missing, and the No campaign wants Scotland to be grateful for the gift. As we say – they think you’re stupid.

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64 to “They think you’re stupid”

  1. Robert Kerr says:

    The lottery is a tax on the innumerate… they really think we can’t count.

    Then there is the syphoning of grants to fund the London Olympics. They really think our heads zip up the back. 

  2. Oldnat says:

    Makes me even more pleased that I’ve never bought a Lottery Ticket!

  3. Morag says:

    – assuming grants are more or less proportionately disbursed across the UK –

    Why are we assuming that, again, when we know how the BBC licence fee is “proportionately disbursed across the UK”?  Just to take one example.

  4. cath says:

    As we are able to play the Irish and Euro lotteries, I strongly suspect Camelot won’t refuse Scottish money if anyone up here wants to keep playing. OTOH, I’d love to see a Scottish lottery, devoted to good causes here. I might actually start playing that one.

  5. I think Better Together might also have been trying to say that the National Lottery is the rUK Lottery, which we’ll lose access to if we vote Yes next year (in the same way they’re scaremongering about the BBC).  While this is probably true, they’re completely forgetting that Scotland would presumably create its own lottery, just like other countries of a similar size, so the only difference to ordinary people here would be that all the prizes would be won in Scotland, and the good causes and the Treasury benefiting would be Scottish, too.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Why are we assuming that, again, when we know how the BBC licence fee is “proportionately disbursed across the UK”?”

    Have since researched this, and up to 2009 Scotland had actually done slightly better than its proportional share, at a bit over 9% of all grants by value. That might have been funded by buying more tickets than our share, though, and in any case the money diverted from Scottish causes for the Olympics will have balanced it out.

  7. Seasick Dave says:

    Here is some good news for Glasgow and Scotland.

    I notice a Mr Archie Graham appears in the report.

    Looking forward to it anyway 🙂 

  8. Kenny Campbell says:

    Poorer people tend to spend more on the lottery type games so I suspect Scottish people buy more on average.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “While this is probably true, they’re completely forgetting that Scotland would presumably create its own lottery, just like other countries of a similar size, so the only difference to ordinary people here would be that all the prizes would be won in Scotland, and the good causes and the Treasury benefiting would be Scottish, too.”

    The BT argument there is that our smaller population would mean a smaller prize fund, smaller jackpots and therefore people playing less, generating less for good causes. But as good causes only get a quarter of the money anyway, it’s still a very inefficient way of getting cash to them. It’d be better just to stick a fiver a month on Council Tax and spend ALL of it on local services and causes.

  10. My participation in the lottery ended the day they gave £60 million to do up some poxy opera house.  Folk living in cardboard shelters on the street and they allocate money to THAT?  It must’ve been about 18 years ago.

    A National Scottery though – I’d be proud to support that.  Humongous prizes don’t affect my thinking at all since you’ve got more chance of being killed by lightning on the way to pick it up than winning it in the first place.  

  11. Craig P says:

    I win £1 on the lottery every week. I might start not playing two lines, and double my winnings!

  12. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    I like the lottery. Its not the good causes that I play for but fun, the chance of altering your life…


    If I want to play for big money I put lines on the Euromillions – still will when we are independent.
    Other than that it wouldnt be a bad thing to have a Scottish lottery with lower prizes but a far higher chance of winning.
    But as far as camelot goes, I’m sure (just like the BBC) that when you ask them if they want to keep operating in Scotland under a new agreement or lose 10% of their revenue that they will come round!

  13. It’s true that Scotto Lotto (or whatever it’d be called) would have smaller prizes — e.g., the biggest prize ever to be won in the Danish lottery was £4,348,130 — but I’m not convinced that would really make people stop playing.  I presume the players who want to win really big prizes will continue to play EuroMillions instead.

  14. BillDunblane says:

    The Notional Lottery.

    When I want to donate money to a good cause, I choose very carefully, making sure where it goes and how it is spent. 

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “It’s true that Scotto Lotto (or whatever it’d be called) would have smaller prizes — e.g., the biggest prize ever to be won in the Danish lottery was £4,348,130”

    I’m very impressed it’s that high. The last UK Lotto jackpot was just £2.1m.

  16. Morag says:

    Voluntary tax on stupidity.  (Unless you really do get £1 worth of fun for a ticket, I suppose.  I get the same amount of fun by saying to myself, remember, you have some premium bonds.)

  17. David Lee says:

    Thomas Widmann:


  18. Davy says:

    Just the normal bolloxs from our friends in “better together”, they seem to think we are as stupid as them. So for their benefit only here is how it works, ‘you play the lottery and good cause’s get some of the cash’, there that should work. simples’ek.

    May I refer the “better-together” campaign to ‘lottery for idiots’.  

  19. M4rkyboy says:

    As a poker player i am familiar with probability and odds and the Lottery is -EV .On the occasional multi-rollover week the odds may be in your favour but this is a rarity.When it does occur i tend to spend a small fortune on tickets.For normal weeks the thought of taking 3000000/1 on a 17000000/1 proposition is unthinkable and how it gets the ‘idiot tax’ definition.

  20. cynicalHighlander says:

    Rev that win came from the Euro lottery.

  21. TYRAN says:

    Christ! How bad does this Better Together stuff look? The whole thing, site, social, ideas,… it’s horrible.

    Quite a few comments currently pointing out this rubbish on their social. How many will remain online?

    Scotto Lotto = amazing name

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Rev that win came from the Euro lottery.”

    I know. But that’s Camelot too, isn’t it? Or is it not?

  23. Boorach says:

    Actually the odds (at my age) of dying before the draw is made means I shouldn’t buy a ticket more than 10 minutes before the draw is made! So if I buy my ticket early in the day and live to learn I’ve wasted my money AGAIN I’m quids in…. psychologically anyway!!! 

  24. Cameron says:

    Wasn’t it Samuel Johnson who described a national lottery, as a poll tax on the stupid?

  25. Marcia says:

     The BBC was their first claim, well that went belly up with the Savile case. Now this, as someone who rarely wins on the lottery I am just bemused.

  26. Oldnat says:

    Blotto Scotto Lotto?

  27. Andrew Parrott says:

    Should we not be complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority? As I understand it the Electoral Commission only cover political advertising during a formal election or referendum period.

  28. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Should we not be complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority?”

    Wouldn’t do any good – political parties are allowed to lie:

  29. Cameron says:

    @ Andrew Parrott
    If I was running the Yes campaign, I’d be looking to the grass-roots support to make that sort of complaint. Once bias has been established, the Yes team should then step in with understated authority on the matter, whilst making sure everyone entitled to vote in 2014 knows about it.

  30. velofello says:

    So this “serious” political movement seeking to persuade Scotland to remain with the Union puts forward a national lottery as a plus point to remaining in a political union! And then Rev Stu dismantles the lottery finances arithmetic to reveal how bogus is this claimed Union dividend benefit.I’ve never purchased a ticket for the reasons described in this article.
    “They think you’re stupid” is the heading to this article. The reality is that they, the Better Together mob are stupid. 
    Which leads me to another tax topic. The BT phoneline scam.I pay a modest £7.50 per month to a local broadband provider, plus another £14.50 p.m. for a phoneline I don’t use.  “Can’t have broadband without a BT line” I’m told. Why?
    Is it really the case that broadband and the BT phoneline distributions are run as two discreet parallel cables systems throughout the UK? Or do the wee phone and broadband electrons traffic along the same cable? Anyone know?

  31. Eoin says:

    Jackpots in a Scottish lottery would probably be higher than many might believe, due to a larger chance of a rollover.

    Although a Scottish lottery would definitely have smaller jackpots in general than the UK-wide lottery, it may be worth noting that the Irish lottery jackpots has on several occasions been over €15m (UK£12.6m). The record is almost €19m (around UK£16m).

    These jackpots are by no means common, but they happen. If Ireland can produce jackpots like that, there probably isn’t much preventing Scotland from doing so. Whether that is a good thing or not is a very separate question.

  32. Tearlach says:

    @vellofello – Your Broadband provider needs the physical BT copper line to provide you with bandwidth, or ADSL as its known. They pay BT for piggy backing on what is effectively an old fashioned telephone line, ie the copper wire that goes from the exchange (where your Broadband comes in on a fibre cable) to your house. A copper wire carries both voice calls, and through a line splitter (the little gizmo you need between your phone and router) ADSL. Unless you live in an area with Cable (which does the same job, just a lot faster) you need the copper. And BT owns the copper line, and you pay them a rental for it coming in to the house. if you live in cable area, you pay Virgin (or whoever) for rental of that cable line.

  33. Luigi says:

    If people are daft enough to buy lottery tickets every week, then they may also be daft enough to buy this ridiculous message. The lottery is an effective pacifier for the masses. It may be false hope, but it is still represents hope. Furthermore, the “good causes” component makes many people feel good (or less guilty) about playing. Farcical Ali and his Better Together bunch may be on to something here.

  34. velofello says:

    @tearlach: thanks for the data,so why not WiFi from the exchange to my home? I believe the exchange is but a mile or so away. Broadband via satellite? I get my TV that way.
    Which leads me on to anti-trust legislation. My mostly forgotten, by me, economics lectures spoke of anti-trust measures, mostly USA. Surely BT have had their profit return several times over on their copper lines such that legislation should be enacted to regulate their profit downwards since they have historically enjoyed a very satisfactory return on investment. Sounds like BT monopoly to me.
    What’s that old story about having to pay a tariff to simply pass thro’ someone’s land with your cattle on your way to market?

  35. velofello says:

    And another thing. The angriest people are those whose having been staunch supporters of a regime finally realise that they have been duped. There is much talk presently about the undecideds moving to the Yes campaign.i wonder how many absolutely No, Better Together persons, will come to recognise on which side their bread could best be buttered.
    My message to such people is that unless you are truly very wealthy, sticking with the UK union is going to cost you dear. 

  36. Melanie McKellar says:

    Crown Estates Scotland & The Big Lottery…says it all! Look it up!

  37. Wallace Bruce says:

    I’m sure I read recently that the major shareholder, if not the outright owner of Camelot is the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund.  If so then more than £0.4 billion of that money is going straight into the Canadian economy.

  38. Tearlach says:

    @velofello – I’m no apologist for BT, quite the opposite, but I did spend a fair amount of time a few years ago working with ways to get decent bandwidth to rural communities in the Highlands and Islands. Wifi, satellite etc, are all very sound technical solutions, but are all very very expensive. Satellite is great for Download, but crap for upload (and every time you click your mouse on a web link, thats an upload). Wifi is great, but needs someone to go with a cherry picker and install aerials on peoples houses. That’s very very expensive. I know, I’ve done it. Legacy copper is cheap, its just owned by BT. They get to charge a rent on it. Its called the market.

  39. Angus McLellan says:

    @Velofello: Indeed, why not wireless. Yer actual wiffy (802.11a/b/g/n) doesn’t have the range (250m on a good day, apart from an only-in-America thingy) but 4G should lessen BT’s strangehold over the last few miles of the series of tubes that make up the internets. If the price is right. Which it will be eventually.

  40. Jeannie says:

    O/T but on the subject of “They think you’re stupid”
    Just saw that eejit Michael Kelly on Scotland Tonight.  According to Michael, the public is not the best judge of how George Square should look or be used. To my astonishment, he also said that the cenotaph should be moved as it spoils the vista of the City Chambers…..well excuse us! If only we would listen to Michael!

  41. Cameron says:

    The whole market is a stitch up. Socialising the losses of private banks, and allowing HSBC to continue to trade on our high streets. Amongst the many inequities in modern Britain, that surely has to be one of the sickest. What happened to “zero tolerance on drugs”?

  42. Seasick Dave says:


    But, but, but…Gordon Matheson just said that they were listening to the people of Glasgow.

    Mind you, he did look a bit trachled on Reporting Scotland so maybe he had other things on his mind.

    Unlike Michael Kelly, whose mind is trouble free.

  43. Jeannie says:

    @seasick dave
    Strongly suspect that if it hadn’t been for Mr. Matheson’s personal problems and his understandable wish to avoid publicity (how unlike him), Glaswegians would be saddled with the hideous option 2.

  44. Bill C says:

    @Jeannie – Complete agreement. Kelly struggled to make sense of what is going on in Glasgow. His Cenotaph comment was disrespectful in the extreme. To say that a monument to Glasgow’s war dead should be removed because it “spoils the vista of the City Chambers” is a measure of Labour’s belief in their own self importance. The fact that Matheson refused to appear on the programme and that Kelly was his ‘stand-in’ says it all about  Labour in Glasgow. As a Glaswegian born and bred, I have known for many years that Glasgow was being governed by idiots, it is one of the reasons I left the city. Nevertheless it saddens me that a city with so much potential and some of the best folk on earth is again a laughing stock.

  45. Elizabeth says:

    I nearly fell off my chair when he said that about the Cenotaph spoiling the view.   He then moved over to Newsnicht and proceeded to insult the other guest (the guy who’s firm won the competition to do the re-design – a Glaswegian himself whose grandfather wrote the history of Glasgow) describing his plan for the square as ‘depressing’.  

  46. Jeannie says:

    Do you think his nurse knows he’s escaped?

  47. velofello says:

    Kelly seem to be musing whether Georges Square should be a place to sit on a bench among pigeons or an alternative venue to T in the Park. 
    Councillor Mathieson might favour a replica Linn Park? 

  48. Bill C says:

    @Jeannie – Nice one , but as they say in Glasgow “That’s no funny”.  Kelly is only one of the lunatics who have escaped and the rest are still in charge!

  49. Jeannie says:

    Honestly, all we want is a wee oasis with some trees, flowers, benches,statues and somewhere to respect our war dead in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Glasgow.  Is that really too much to ask for our council tax?  I just want a place where I can sit down and look around me and see the same sights as my parents, aunties and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents.  Continuity is very important to a sense of identity. If you’re from a working class background in Glasgow, you find that much of what you knew as a child has been demolished by the council.  Of course, if you were well off, your house is probably still standing.  I’m really proud of the people of Glasgow who stood up to the politicians this week and let them know what they could do with their money-spinning plans.  We’d rather keep our heritage.

  50. Bill C says:

    @Jeannie – As a born and bred Glaswegian who now lives in the North East but regularly returns to the city of my birth, I totally agree. Like you, I come from a working class background, I was born in Govan. It is deeply depressing that our beloved ‘Dear Green Place’ is ruled by idiots who, as they say in this neck of the woods ‘don’t know their erse fae their elba’.

  51. Keith B says:

    Spending on defence ‘sells Scots short’ by £1.9bn
    Thought this might be of interest – how it got past the editor at the Scotsman is anyones guess.

  52. Tattie-boggle says:

    So if i give up buying my twice a week lucky dip, that should cover me for a hundred and four years of independence in one year alone ? I’m in !

  53. Boorach says:

    @ Angus McLellan

    4G? In this part of the Highlands we’d welcome 3G with open arms. It can take more than 5 minutes for a page to load on my pad and Heaven help it if graphics areinvolved!!

  54. James McLaren says:

    The Eurolotto is an associative European wide lottery of individual Nation Lotteries only; no freemarket particiâtion.

    Thus it is sold in most EU countries, including Switzerland, and is calculated in Euros. Thus the prize in £ varies week by week. This is most noticeable at the start when the initial pot is €15 millions which is expressed in £ at the chosen exchange rate. The individual lower tier prizes are decided locally based on some sort of local formula which takes into account the monies raised in that country. It is in effect a sort of franchised lottery.

    Denmark does not participate  but I do not know about Sweden, Finland or Norway. Denmark prefers their own local national lottery in order to maximise revenues for Danish causes. They have a twice weekly draw starting at 500,000 DKK and mounting by the same if not won or sometimes they add or start at 1,000,000 DKK and it is usually won by the 2,000,000 mark. There is also a “voluntary” tax of 10% on the prizes whish goes directly to a fund for child sport. Voluntary and as far as I know everyone gives it.

    In short Scotland could start its own Scotto-Lotto —smiley face thingy— and opt out or into the Euromillions one. 

  55. dadsarmy says:

    as any reader with an IQ higher than the number on a lottery ball will immediately realise

    Love it!

    Yes, I think it’s a great idea to do this Rev, challenge every bit of proaganda head-on. It’s something the Better Together campaign shouldn’t be able legitimately to do about the YES campaign, which is based on fact not fantasy.

  56. Alastair Hutchison says:

    Hi All

    This story (for that is what it is) from Better Together is just daft.

    It could just as easily be said that an Indepedent Scotland would have started a national lottery in the 1970s the thus billions of pounds have been lost to Scottish good causes….. of course it’s nonsense but makes as much sense as the Better Together story.

    It could also be claimed an Independent Scotland could make a law meaning a higher percentage of money must go to charity…….

    This is a total non story as each side can claim anything they like and no one can prove otherwise.


  57. dadsarmy says:

    Of course the other side is that a full analysys should be made of the proportion DUE to scotland, versus what is actually paid, considering looting of the lottery fund (apparently) for the London Olympics.

    And further from that, an anlaysis of the proportion paid to Scotland versus the proportion collected. It’s possible for instance that Scotland contributes say 12% of revenues to Camelot – but gets back only an 8% proportion of distirbutions.

    I suspect the NO campaign would regret having let the cat out of the bag on this one, as now the YES campaign is fully entitled to make a rebuttal, without appearing to be mean and trivial and petty.

    Apparently office and middle-class worker do the lottery far less than other workers and the poor. I suggest an Indpendent Scotland have our own lottery, with a £1 not the £2 in September.

  58. Luigi says:

    A future Scottish Lottery, based on a £1 ticket? Genius! I imagine even a hint of it by the SG or Yes Scotland would cause blind panic.

  59. Luigi says:

    What a great answer to the great unionist lottery scare: Well, if Scotland becomes independent, we shall have our own, Scottish Lottery, tickets fixed at £1. Thats £5 to £10 saving per week for some households.

  60. dadsarmy says:

    Yes, the argument against it is that we’d have a smaller total pool, and would have to have lower top prizes, but I’m not too sure about that. I think the National Lotter will suffer for faising the price to £2. Instantly my wife said she’d only be able to do it once a week. At the moment it costs £3 a week, as we also do the plus 5. Doing it once a week at £2 a ticket actually means a drop from us, as we’d do it just the Saturday. I was lucky – I did my own ticket when it started, but fortunately I had my age at the time as one of the numbers, increasing one each year. It was freedom when I was able to stop doing that ticket!

  61. Cameron says:

    Personally, I was somewhat sickened at the way in which Labour forced the lottery through, without Parliament voting on the required change of the minimum gambling age.
    Perhaps I am a spoil sport, but I certainly wouldn’t want a lottery in an independent Scotland.

  62. velofello says:

    If people want a lottery then a Scottish Government run lottery would surely be worthwhile provided the income is ring-fenced for charities, overseas aid or a social care fund or the like. i might break my anti-lottery ticket pledge and regularly buy a ticket.
    I could pay for a ticket or two by ending the BBC license at £145 pa. since I receive TV via FreeSat, that would provide £3 pw approx to invest.
    And if I doggedly use my bus pass and travel to Glasgow from Ayr and return each day i can access free wiFi I believe! 45 minutes each way is 1 1/2 hours free WiFi so I could cancel the BT line rental at £14.50 pm = £179 pa =  £3 pw approx to invest.Truthfully, I don’t fancy daily round trips by bus , but I can be stubborn.
    Odd isn’t it. A double decker bus has WiFi and with no BT copper cable trailing behind it.My  BT copper cable must be around 80 years old.

    Put another way, i pay out £145 + 179 = £324 per annum, after tax for what? And meantime people are facing cuts to their social care.
    Here is an idea. How about setting up a “No BBC license” kitty and handing over the withheld funds to social support organisations? On this site, and others, many have been complaining of the bias and poor reporting of the BBC, such a fund may be a way to help others and “unhelp”(?) the BBC.

  63. Cameron says:

    @ velofello
    Hadn’t though of a state lottery, I could live with that. The cake definitely needs divided so that local communities benefit. If we get local income tax, perhaps the same office could handle both “taxes”. Haven’t thought that last one through yet.

  64. AllyPally says:

    Talking of gambling, I was seriously thinking of betting £50 on Yes to win the referendum. I’ve never been in a bookie’s and I’m not sure how you go about it. I walked past on Saturday, but the shop was pretty full. I decided to go in when it was quieter.

    Yesterday I was tempted. But on my way along the street, I had a thought. If the vote is Yes, then I win money, but I win a whole country too. If the vote is No, the bookie gets my money. Wouldn’t that money have been better spent on the campaign?

    So my first experience in a bookie’s shop will wait a while. Yes Scotland will be getting a donation, and I’ll keep something back for Stu’s next appeal.

    Let’s face it, I don’t need to have a bet to make this exciting.

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