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Wings Over Scotland

Trained spotting

Posted on June 24, 2013 by

Each bright new day brings a fresh game of Spot The Magnus Gardham Headline here at WingsLand Towers, but we were a bit thrown by this morning’s front page.


“Economists say indyref could drive investors away” is pure Magnus, but that four-word qualifier tacked on the end is a bit out of character. What could be going on?

Luckily, an explanation wasn’t far away. The piece in question was a co-bylined effort with Greig Cameron, presumably accounting for the slightly reduced levels of doom and gloom. Except that a super-alert reader who’d been up even earlier than us (and we’re usually bushy of tail by around 7am) noted that the original version had been 100% Gardham. He hadn’t taken a screenshot, but by way of evidence he did point us to the Herald’s “breaking news” Twitter feed.


That’s more like it. But hasty “balance” aside, what of the story itself?

“The Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club has warned businesses might delay investment decisions until Scotland’s constitutional future is settled, and the uncertainty might make it harder to attract skilled staff. It said gross value added (GVA) – a measure of the value of the goods and services produced in an economy – will be at 1.4% next year, down from the 1.8% it predicted in December.

But the report also says increased publicity in the run-up to the poll on September 18 next year could attract international investors to Scotland.

Dougie Adams of the ITEM Club said: “The hope is that the recovery will really take hold as we move into 2014, but it can’t be taken for granted. Forecasts on exports and investment remain hostage to developments in Europe where the spectre of widespread defaults still looms.

“Domestically, it still remains to be seen whether a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude will develop towards Scotland while the country’s constitutional future is decided.”

Based on the quotes above, the dramatic headline seems something of a stretch. Mr Adams doesn’t talk of anyone being “driven away”, but merely the possibility that they might delay a decision, with the constitutional issue being just one among many other more important factors.

Conversely, the article plays down the suggestion that the publicity around the referendum might actually be beneficial to investment. The wording of the headline implies that the publicity might merely ameliorate the damage caused by the uncertainty, not that it might result in a net gain.

Yet recent data from the very same company suggests the latter is exactly what’s happening. Investment in Scotland in 2012 was at a record high since the formation of the Scottish Parliament, despite 2012 having seen the launch of both referendum campaigns and presumably the greatest constitutional uncertainty since 1999.

Meanwhile, even the BBC has put a rather more positive spin on the report:

“A leading economic forecaster has revised upwards its prediction for growth in the Scottish economy this year – but only marginally.

The Ernst & Young Scottish Item Club raised its growth forecast by 0.1% to 0.8%. It said it had revised the figure because of a strong end to 2012 and an improving global economic picture. The prediction for this year is slightly behind the group’s expectation of 1% for the UK as a whole.

Its latest summer update forecasts further growth of 1.4% in the Scottish economy next year and a return to pre-crisis growth figures of about 2% in 2015/16.”

We feel bad picking on poor Mr Gardham all the time, but since our job is to point out when Scotland’s media is failing to uphold basic standards of impartiality and truth, there isn’t much we can do. See you tomorrow morning, folks.

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41 to “Trained spotting”

  1. HandandShrimp says:

    I heard this interview on the radio. He was firmly neutral and actually said there were arguments for both sides and the one you favour will probably determine the view you take. We know what Gardham favours so his headline is about as surprising as a 1950s Pravda article on tractor production.  

    PS on the earlier headline – they had cut growth forecasts because of a technical point as growth had already been a bit better than expected (he said “technical” btw)

  2. Seasick Dave says:

    Only by voting NO can we be saved from any uncertainty.
    Vote NO for a guaranteed, hunner per cent, safe future.

  3. CameronB says:

    Does The Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club have any connection with the accountancy firm that audits Google, Amazon and Facebook, and which seems to be at the center of the bulk of tax avoidance in the UK?
    Does The Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club also have any connection with the Ernst & Young that opperates in the US, and which was recently given a slap on the rist for avoiding taxes worth $2bn faced by about 200 wealthy individuals?

  4. Jimbo says:

    “We feel bad picking on poor Mr Gardham all the time, but…”
    Does anyone think Gardham feels bad about about constantly running Scots and Scotland down?

  5. HandandShrimp says:

    Same company but they are a big outfit and have lots of divisions. As I said, the interview with the chap on the radio this morning was very neutral even though the interviewer tried briefly to steer him towards expressiong an opinion. It was at that point that he said the referendum could just as easily be a positive investment factor because Scotland would have a high profile world wide. There was nothing there for the No crowd to get excited about but Magnus spun it that way anyway…albeit the latter version is less of a cheerleading exercise for Project Fear.

  6. Peter Macleod says:

    These reports all seriously irritate me, regardless of Magnusisms attached.

    Might. May. Hope. Can’t be guaranteed. Never anything other than vague ‘scary’ statements. Well aye, exactly, it’s all uncertain, isn’t it? Because it’s bloody economics, it can’t do certainty because it doesn’t work like that. The man from the ITEM Club hit the nail on the head without actually saying it explicitly. They just don’t bloody well know. But that doesn’t make good press, does it? The flat reality is that the independence referendum has damn little effect on business investment in Scotland; it’s not as though the world will suddenly decide Scotland is the new North Korea if a new border appears between Scotland and England. Trade will continue regardless.

    Every time you hear someone talking about economics in relation to independence or the independence referendum it’s always that imprecise tone. It would be really, really nice if just one of them would just once come out and say what we pretty much all think about economic projections.

    ‘A spokesman for Ernst and Young said yesterday ‘to be honest we haven’t got any more of a clue than you do. Take your best guess; it’s worked for us for years.’

    Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

  7. CameronB says:

    @ HandandShrimp
    Fair enough.  
    All I was trying to do was shed some light on the apparent ethics that guide the group’s business practice. Or lack of them I suppose, depending on your point of view. These guys are financial guns for hire, with no thought further than next quarter’s bottom line for Ernst and Young shareholders.

  8. Doug Daniel says:

    It’s interesting that they edited it to make it less Loonionist. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this happen either. It’s almost as if Magnus writes his pish during the night, and then in the morning someone higher up sees what he’s written and thinks “this is taking things too far – get someone to rewrite it a bit”.
    Someone at the Herald needs to take Magnus aside and say “listen Magnus, this can’t continue. You need to get a grip and stop letting your imagination run wild.”

  9. BillyBigbaws says:

    Sorry to go OT so early in the thread, but could somebody here with a Wikipedia account please have a look at the Economy of Scotland article?  These are the first lines of the History section:

    “When Scotland ratified the 1707 Act of Union, it was an economic backwater comprising poor farmers. Union gave Scotland access to England’s global marketplace, triggering an economic and cultural boom transforming a land of only 1.3 million people into a modern society, and opening up a cultural and social revolution.”

    Now, that’s bollocks – didn’t Scotland immediately become poorer after the Union, due to the imposition of new taxes to help pay off England’s debts incurred during the Wars of the Spanish Succession? 

    Daniel Defoe remarked on the worsened state of Scotland when he re-visitted it post-Union, and it took decades (in fact, around 70 years) for Scottish traders to gain a foothold in the English and colonial markets.   There was no immediate economic or cultural boom attributable to the Union.

    The statement that the population was largely comprised of “poor farmers” annoys me too, since the population of most of Europe, and certainly all of Britain, was comprised of poor farmers at the time too.  It seems to be an attempt to portray pre-Union Scotland as uniquely primitive, belying the fact that Scotland had had a system of universal education in place since 1561 (indeed, it was the only country in Europe that had one at the time), and hence a higher literacy rate – even amongst those “poor farmers” – than any other neighbouring country.

    If someone could correct the misrepresentations in that part of the article I think it would be time well spent.  Everything added would have to be cited from “respectable” sources though, or they will just revert it back to the cartoonish Glory-be-to-the-Union version of history that is there currently.

    I’d do it myself, but don’t really know what Wiki protocol is.

  10. Morag says:

    You just do it.  Write in coherent, educated, joined-up sentences, and put forward your point in a dispassionate manner backed up with reliable references.

  11. BillyBigbaws says:

    EDIT:  Should’ve said “new taxes imposed to help pay off debts incurred to pay for the Wars of the Spanish Succession.”  Since Britain didn’t begin to play any large part in those wars until 1707.

    Also, the literacy rates are only estimated – no one bothered measuring them back then.  Scotland was recognised as being one of the most literate countries in Europe though, pre-Union. 

    I would need to dig through my bookmarks for the source of that contention, but the estimate was that there was a 70% literacy rate in Scotland as compared to 60% in England.  This UNESCO report seems to back that up at a pinch:

    “Prior to 1800, reading (though not always
    writing) skills were widespread in several
    northern European countries (e.g. Denmark,
    Finland, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden and Prussia),
    as well as in parts of England, France and Switzerland).”

    Okay, back on topic.  Magnus Gardham is embarassing, he clearly just can’t help himself.  Still, he’s only doing the work he was hired to do.

  12. alexicon says:

    “We feel bad picking on poor Mr Gardham all the time, but…”
    Don’t feel bad, the wretch often blocks my comments simply because I tell the truth and point out the many errors (bias) of his ways.
    An attack on the Labour party also gets the same result.

  13. BillyBigbaws says:

    Ach, I hoped somebody else could be enjoined to do it for me – I hate Wiki edit-wars (which this is bound to devolve into) because I don’t know all the policies and protocols that the more experienced geeks internalised long ago.  For me it’ll be like having a maiden Parliamentary debate against a bunch of guys who have been studying Erskine May since childhood.  I’d also be vulnerable to accusations of inserting edits for political purposes, even if I was thereby making the article more accurate.

    You’re right though Morag.  I’ll do it meself.  Time to marshal all those ancient bookmarks of yore.

  14. Atypical_Scot says:

    @ Alexicon;
    You’ve got a comment through? I try daily, but have never managed to get past go. Do you have to pay or something?

  15. tartanarse says:

    Wikipedia is about as reliable as the Daily Record.

  16. alexicon says:

    I found out that if you don’t criticise Magnus, his article (cough) or the Herald, then you get the comment through.
    It is a bit hard not to do either of the above when he writes a piece though, many of my comments don’t make it.
    Must be the work of the GCHQ (Gardham, Censorship HQ) 

  17. Hetty says:

    I was at a friend of a friend’s house Sunday, for lunch and coviviality, until the conversation came round to Independence. Now I can just about stand someone saying that they will not be voting yes under any circumstances, as they ‘feel British and Scottish and therefore won’t see it broken up’. But when I brought up the subject of oil, the comment back was along the lines of, well if it had happened the other way around would we be happy for the English to say, ‘you are not getting any oil money, na nee na nee nana’…that was bad enough, but then the racist card, the Scottish Nationalists are xenophobic anti- English racist bigots…thankfully this person was outnumbered and we managed to counter argue, but I have to say it’s so emotive, and depressing to meet such people who are otherwise perfectly ok. It was the oil argument that had me stuck for a few moments as I hadn’t encountered it before. I mean, whereever the oil is, westminster want it and want to continue squandering it and centralising spending to London and the South.  I am so fed up of hearing about all of the concerts and exhibitions etc. in London, while other cities and areas are hardly able to keep a small theatre going…sorry for the rant, it was just a bit depressing to hear people talking about Scotland as being so inherently racist etc.

  18. Big Al says:

    Sort of O/T…

    Last night I found out about an interesting little search technique on the Google. Now there may be some of you who know about this but for those that don’t here is a splendid way to find out how often we are ‘warned’ about what a tragic basket case, begging for our morning gruel type place Scotland would be if we become independent
    …in the search box cut’n’paste…
    “Scottish independence” ABOUT(10) “warned” magnus gardham

    “Scottish independence” ABOUT(10) “warned”

    this searches for results containing the two words in proximity of 10 words to each other {ABOUT(10)}

    You will probably notice that the BBC likes this combo around 20,600 times. Hope you enjoy playing around with this search!

  19. Dorothy Devine says:

    Re comments on the Herald , I am beginning to think that it is a waste of time commenting at all.
    I note with interest that the comments I read earlier on a facile “don’t try using folk from history to sway the punters to vote Yes” article ,have all vanished.
    I also note that  certain pro union commentators are given free reign to slag off the FM in particular and the SNP.
    Two notables appear to have no  vote in the referendum but make a plethora of insulting comments.
    Time to abandon the Herald and let it enjoy the circulation success of the Scotsman, I’m thinking.

  20. Albert Herring says:

    would we be happy for the English to say, ‘you are not getting any oil money, na nee na nee nana’
    Is that not what’s happening?

  21. Bill McLean says:

    I’m not as disenchanted with the Herald as you appear to be Dorothy – if you look at the balance of comments they always appear to be in favour of independence supporters. The two you refer to are long standing posters and i’m convinced OBE is a troll. MM is frequently bombed out of the game.  The slagging off of the FM does annoy but like the constant negativity of the Better Together cabal it probably has the opposite effect to that intended. My way of looking at it is if they behave like that do they really expect people to be attracted to their point of view. Just a wee thought from a wee brain!

  22. Mchaggis says:

    Yup, the Herald without Gardham would almost be fair and balanced, but as it is, I too am thinking of stopping reading it basically just to avoid his pish and the ‘contributions’ of the two unionist uber-trolls MMWM and OBE.
    it has to be said, The Herald must have consciously planned its editorial line when they hired Gardham. That makes me sad.

  23. Mchaggis says:

    Oh, and the moderation is frustrating… MMWM and OBE post a nonstop barrage of the same old stuff every day and yet considered points I make stand about a 30:70 chance of ever being printed and usually 4 hours late.

  24. Tony Little says:

    Yup, I stopped trying to post there months ago.  I seldom visit anymore, unless suggested by the Rev or Peter over at Referendum 2014.  The Scotsman is persona non grata as far as I am concerned as well, for pretty much the same reasons.
    OH!!! If only there was a neutral MSM outlet!  I don’t even think we need an all out supporter, but some objectivity and challenge to BOTH sides would be nice. 

  25. Steve McKay says:

    I posted a comment on this article on the Herald earlier this morning. I referenced three reports which highlighted positive economic news for Scotland and the negative effect of London drawing investment away from the rest of the UK.   From the Jimmy Reid Foundation, the Bank of Scotland and Ernst and Young.
    I noted that I had read about these reports on Newsnet Scotland and was immediately targeted by one of the regular unionist commentators.   They attacked me for reading Newsnet and claimed it was tantamount to posting SNP press releases.
    No big deal I thought – I pointed out Newsnet was a good counterpoint to the MSM at large and immediately all my comments from that article were removed and my ability to post without moderation revoked.
    Here is the explanation I got;

    Mr McKay

    They have been removed because they are sourced from other media. Our rules make it clear that we don’t have the capacity to check the content of other sites.

    We also are not in the business of allowing our platforms to be used to advertise “alternatives” to us, for blindingly obvious business reasons.

    And finally, you broke another rule by “insisting” through a pre-approved post that your deleted posts be reinstated.

    They won’t be, and I’ve suspended your pre-approved status for the above rule breaches.

    As I’ve previously warned you, we are unashamed in our determination to ensure the integrity of the forum.

    I have been posting there for about a year – over one thousand comments…..   Is it just me or are they way too touchy?    By the way I did not insist my posts were reinstated – I asked.  
    Given the highly insulting and personal nature of many unionist posts it would appear the ‘integrity of the forum’ has declined way beyond any damage my mention of Newsnet could do.

  26. Training Day says:

    O/T disgracefully supine interview with Blair McDougall by John McKay on Scotland Tonight there. The interviewer repeated the lie that the Unionist parties are offering more powers in the event of a No vote as a fact. McDougall was suitably pleased to receive the gift.

    Coupled with the failure to point out that the report which attacks SNP proposals on defence comes from a far from neutral source, and the trumpeting that setting up a Scottish intellligence service is ‘next to impossible’ (one might have thought that travelling faster than light speed is closer to ‘next to impossible’ than setting up an intelligence service) it’s been a very poor night for STV

  27. Stuart Black says:

    @ Steve McKay. This: Given the highly insulting and personal nature of many unionist posts it would appear the ‘integrity of the forum’ has declined way beyond any damage my mention of Newsnet could do.
    Precisely. McIntyre and McKeown are free to dish out the vilest calumnies – instantly. Yet I find it easier to get a bloody letter into the print edition than to get even the most innocuous comment below an article. I once posted “Great article Mr Bell, thanks”, and it did not get through moderation.
    Integrity of the forum? Read OBEs comments CJM, and see if you can still spell ‘unashamed’ afterwards…

  28. Patrick Roden says:

    RE: OBE and MM.
    I’ve read at least two people say that they had been undecided about independence, but after reading a few posts by OBE and MM in the Herald, they became committed Yes voters.
    They have probably convinced more people to turn from ‘NO’ or ‘Don’t Know’ to committed ‘Yes’,  than some of us on wings !
    Leave OBE and MM alone, they are doing our job for us lol.

  29. Bill McLean says:

    I’m one of those Patrick, who was prompted to look at the possibilities of independence by the absolute bile dished out by OBE and MM. However I still think we, independence supporters, do well in the Herald comments. Most people see through the propaganda rubbish Gardham writes and many, I think, will be repelled by the virulent anti independence, anti-SNP, anti-Yes, basically anti-Scottish tripe churned out by OBE and MM. It’s just my opinion but I also feel that a lot of uncommitted will read the tripe and think “and they want me on their side”. I read Steve McKay’s brilliant posts daily and I believe SS appears there in another guise but the quality of their posts and others like Robert Peffers is way above anything the Knee-benders have to offer. Unfortunately, I also think they feel they don’t have to engage properly as the referendum is in the bag – in my glass half full mode i’m afraid I agree with them but will continue to oppose.  We, on the other hand, must stick to facts and be as polite as possible in the face of some of the childish rubbish that some post!

  30. HandandShrimp says:

    Never placed a comment on the Herald or Scotsman – the latter is infantile and I have never felt the slightest inclination to participate. The former is over-moderated although it does seem the resident Unionists can post at will and as often as they like. This tells one everything one needs to know about the Herald’s political position. On the plus side the Unionists are so insulting that they clearly get the backs of neutrals up. One of them, I forget which, was claiming that if we vote yes the rUK would just annex Faslane and other bases. Vote No or we shoot you…what a charmer 🙂  
    I also noticed that the one called MM is congenitally incapable of admitting a mistake. He argued repeatedly that someone wasn’t an economist when they had clearly graduated in the subject and had worked in the oil industry as an economist. He retreated into ever narrower definitions of what he would class as an economist to the point of the ridiculous. A weakness that those who do post there might have some fun with…..I know I would…but then I am a very bad cybergnat.

  31. Bill McLean says:

    HandandShrimp –  I don’t suppose anyone who posts in the Herald doesn’t know it’s political position. Many of us read newspapers knowing well their agenda – that’s part of the fun – reading between the lines. Most who post (like that) do it to try to correct inaccuracies or downright dishonest statements from people like OBE and MM. We either don’t post at all or we continue as we are. Human nature indicates that we will continue, in the face of a massive propaganda machine, to oppose – I will, although as I’ve made clear i’m always glass half full!

  32. Patrick Roden says:

    I find it worrying that so many people believe that ‘NO’ is winning the campaign. this in itself is another part of the disinformation being fed to us daily and it’s a blatant lie.
    What the unionist pollsters or the media that reports the findings, do is simply report that yes is on say 34% then insinuate that everyone else is against independence.
    They normally headline these reports with something like ‘Yes campaign continues to stall’  as they tell us that Yes is still only backed by a third of Scots.
    This leaves people with the impression that we are losing and it’s used repeatedly by the BT campaign as they tell us about the failing Yes campaign or rather the ‘Salmonds failing campaign’
    What they fail to mention is that the ‘NO’ share of the vote is falling and a lot of previous ‘Nos’ have became ‘don’t knows’ the momentum at this stage is from No to Don’t know to Yes.
    How many times have you read that a committed ‘No’ voter is now unsure or Yes ?
    How many times have you heard or read that a previous Don’t know has now became a definite ‘Yes’ ?
    Quite a few times I bet….but here’s the main point: how many times have you heard a previous committed ‘Yes’ voter become a don’t know or a no?
    I’ve never came across this and I’d bet everyone on here would be hard pressed to remember many, yet we could easily count a few among our own readers here on wings, Like Bill above, who have taken the journey from unsure or no, to committed yes.
    The momentum is with us people and in this long hard campaign it’s the upward momentum that will see us through to victory.

  33. Training Day says:

    This leaves people with the impression that we are losing and it’s used repeatedly by the BT campaign as they tell us about the failing Yes campaign or rather the ‘Salmonds failing campaign’
    Yes – and the thing is the BT campaign don’t have to utilise this narrative too heavily.  The media are doing it for them, as exemplified in John McKay’s pat-a-cake interview with Blair McDougall last night, in which the former framed the questions – if they could be described as such – in a context where BT have ‘significant advantages’ and are winning the day.  McKay’s bungling – let’s be charitable and call it bungling –  performance allowed McDougall not only to adopt the posture of the favourite, but to state that BT have nothing like the same questions to answer as Yes.

  34. Bill McLean says:

    Patrick – smashing post and I take every point you make. I am a committed YES voter and attending the YES meeting in Dunfermline last month was inspiring and uplifting. However, on the street i’m not hearing or seeing the swing that people report. To be fair it may be Fife – vastly Labour and Dunfermline, nearest town to where I live, has always been noted for it’s complacency. I’d be much happier to be as confident as you and others are. Truth – i’m not!

  35. HandandShrimp says:

    34% does seem to be latest bench mark. However this is higher than a few months ago and the number of Don’t knows has risen too. This suggests to me that despite a pretty major non stop assault and daily fear bombing Project Fear are struggling to hold the lines.
    It does make one wonder what the numbers would be like if, as in Catalonia, we had a very pro MSM. I would think we would be comfortably over the 50% mark by now. Still, there is movement and time to gain momentum. There is reason to be positive, so my glass of water is half full too….although I am sure I ordered a malt.

  36. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Bill McLean
    I’m with you regarding Patrick’s comment. I think that there are Yes groups that have a much easier time than others mostly due to geography. Like you I am in a Labour “heartland” where it seems that I am in a minority of one. I do weary of Yes voters that think that we are “lucky” because of all the potential converts available to us. I think that unless you have experienced the tribal labour voter first hand it could be difficult to understand just how blinkered they can be. I don’t waste any time on them any more better to bypass them and move on to more fertile pastures. Trouble is fertile pastures are hard to come by round here.

  37. The Flamster says:

    Lesley Riddoch was good on Scotland Tonight – I thought…

  38. John MacIntyre OBE says:

    I came across these exchanges by chance – and deeply regret that I didn’t come across them sooner. Some of them really are hilarious – especially the posts by Bill McLean and Steve McKay, And just to confirm – I have no plans to cease posting on the Herald forum – and I’m happy to note that in the last couple of days Michael McKeown has resumed posting after an absence of a few weeks. But why no references to Jezerna Roza’s posts – I didn’t think the separatists much cared for her posts either?

  39. Morag says:

    Knock yourself out, sweetie.

  40. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I came across these exchanges while Googling for my name, including the OBE bit of course.”

    Fixed that for you.


  41. John MacIntyre OBE says:

    “Rev. Stuart Campbell says:
    5 August, 2013 at 11:26 am

    ‘I came across these exchanges while Googling for my name, including the OBE bit of course.'”
    Not true. As far as I’m aware, there are no references to either “John MacIntyre” or “John MacIntyre OBE” in the exchages – other than in the name attached to my own post. The references are to “McIntyre” or “OBE”. The truth is recorded in my post i.e. “I came across these exchanges by chance” – not by Googling my own name

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