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When does spin become outright lying?

Posted on May 05, 2012 by

If you’re pushed for time, we’ll give you the answer up front: when it’s in the Scottish media. But a closer analysis of yesterday’s and this morning’s press and broadcasting provides a full and and illuminating picture of the reality. The fact is, the nationalists aren’t paranoid – their own country’s media really is out to get them.

Those of us watching events unfold yesterday afternoon were a little bemused when various sources started tweeting summarised results, which showed Labour as the biggest winners. To anyone comparing the results to those of the last election, those gain/loss figures were perplexing. Set against 2007, the SNP had gained 61 seats, not 57, and Labour just 46 rather than 58. (In both cases almost entirely at the expense of the Lib Dems, who lost nearly 100 seats. Hardly any seats anywhere in the country changed hands directly from Labour to SNP or vice versa.)

We couldn’t at the time, and we still can’t now, find any published record of where the numbers for the second interpretation derive from.

The rational assumption, of course, would be that they arose from a comparison of the results on May 4th to the situation on May 2nd, ie taking account of all the council by-elections, defections etc that had gone on since 2007. But if that’s true, where was everyone getting those numbers from? We’ve scoured the internet for a statement of standings on May 2nd without success. Let’s assume, however, that they’re correct.

What that would mean is that in, say, Glasgow, the media’s headline figures were counting all the seats previously occupied by Labour councillors who’d left the party over their deselection for the 2012 election just weeks before the polling date as Labour “gains”, which would be patently ridiculous. (Labour won the seats at the last election, they weren’t lost in any subsequent by-elections, and the seats were in “official” Labour hands for 95% or more of the intervening period.)

And yet it’s exactly what happened.

Labour started 2012 with 48 Glasgow councillors. Although a total of nine had resigned by the eve of the election, most on the grounds of not being selected to stand again, many of those stated that they’d continue to vote with the party despite their notional “independent” status. So claiming that Labour’s post-election total of 44 represented an increase of five is a bit of a stretch.

Nevertheless, in the basest technical sense it’s (we’re assuming) true, so it’s slightly misleading spin at the worst. But the spin has turned into outright lies in a number of this morning’s papers. In the Scotsman, Eddie Barnes runs a rather odd piece headlined with the 57/58 figures, but which further down gets both numbers wrong while at the same time making a more disturbingly inaccurate statement:

“With all the counts declared, the SNP had won 424 seats, up 55 on 2007, with Labour on 394, up 57 on the last time.”

Our emphasis, there. Subtly, the spin has morphed into a flat-out untruth, with Labour explicitly stated to have won more seats than the SNP compared to the 2007 election, which is false no matter how you interpret it. (It’s also not actually quite true that “all” the counts have declared – Dunoon’s vote was delayed due to the death of a candidate and is likely to return another SNP seat next week, but we’re being picky now.)

Barnes, though, isn’t the only one to be getting his sums in a mess. Over in the Herald, Iain Macwhirter (who recently appears to have completely fried his brain with vein-popping rage over Rupert Murdoch) can be found asserting that the SNP “was crushed 44 seats to 27” in Glasgow, which is a slightly odd way of interpreting a net gain of five seats in the city compared to 2007, or seven seats compared to May 2nd. But rather more worryingly, he also claims that:

“Labour also did well in places like Aberdeen and Fife, where they gained seats. Over in the capital, Labour leap-frogged the SNP to become the largest party.”

We’re not sure what the rules of leap-frog were when Iain Macwhirter was a boy, or if perhaps Scotland had a different capital back then, but Labour already had more council seats in Edinburgh than the SNP before the election, no matter which date you count from. It started on Thursday morning with 15 seats to the SNP’s 13, and both parties won five to leave their positions relative to each other completely unchanged.

(If you take the 2007 election as the benchmark instead the SNP did even better, gaining six seats to Labour’s five.)

These untruths may be minor in isolation, but each one forms part of a much bigger media spin (with STV, as is increasingly often the case, the only honourable exception), one that’s aimed at presenting Thursday’s results as some sort of great Labour fightback and a turning of the tide against the SNP. Extraordinarily, the Scottish Daily Mail went so far as to describe the SNP’s gain of 61 seats as a “battering“.

Yet what actually happened was that a sitting government, presiding over significant forced spending cuts, having recently passed some highly controversial legislation particularly unpopular in Glasgow, and in the middle of a fabricated media storm of smearing, has doubled its lead over its main opposition compared to the last election (and gained ground on Labour in Glasgow no matter how you measure it). And even if you set the national metric to two days ago rather than 2007, when the last result is in Labour will almost certainly have gained precisely 0 seats on the nationalists.

(And perhaps more significantly, most commentators are now concluding that the SNP actually overtook Labour in the popular vote, which Labour won in 2007.)

“Labour stops the rot” would therefore be the most generous possible interpretation any neutral observer could put on this week’s election results. Not for the first time, we bemoan the apparent shortage of such voices in Scotland’s media.

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55 to “When does spin become outright lying?”

  1. Brian Kelly says:

    Thanks for the insight.  I was confident of SNP’s success, even in the media spin, lies and smears.

    This just makes the next one that bit more important. 

  2. John Madden says:

    The SNP does not enjoy favour with the Scottish press and you are correct in relation to Mr McWhirter his latest column statinG that Salmond had peaked was lazy journalism. Indeed the once upon a time normally objective Herald ran a few alarmist headlines spinning against the SNP. That being said,people who value the vote are politically aware and will continue to exercise independent thought. 

  3. Megz says:

    I have to say i am more than just a little furious with the majority of the media in this country.  The fact that we have to pay the supposedly ‘impartial’ state broadcaster to blatantly lie to us, (and there is no other word for what they have done) is just galling.  I for one am no longer willing to be extorted and they can just whistle for their money.

    Where do we go from here is the question.  If it wasnt obvious before about how biased the press will be in the run up to the Independence referendum, it certainly is now, though i think the last few weeks will seem tame compared to how bad they will be in 2014.  Many have observed that the way forward is face to face canvassing on the doorstep (as alot of voters complained that they didnt see anyone from any party before the elections, i know i didnt either).  To get the yes vote we are going to have to work 10 times as hard as the no vote.


  4. Longshanker says:

    Maybe you should change the headline of this piece to “When does partisanship become outright desperation?”.

    Change the tune. It’s sounding croaky.  

    Alternatively, rearrange the following well known phrase: straws – clutching at.

    I never for a minute thought that the SNP could take Glasgow, but I was hoping for a far better show. The real tragedy is that these results let Scottish Labour off the hook. And that appears to be the prevailing view.

    It’s too hard to tell until the dust settles, but I’d wager that the Murdoch fiasco was on a significant number of voters minds when they walked into the voting booth.  

    I’d have liked to have seen Ms Lamont wounded by the elections. She wasn’t. She was strengthened. What a bummer; let off the hook etc.

    Credit where credit’s due though. The SNP got a good few scalps which they can undoubtedly make hay with.

  5. Peter A Bell says:

    I believe I was among the first to mention this curious anomaly on Twitter yesterday. Initially, I was convinced that I was somehow confused. But as more and more people came to examine the BBC’s charts it turned out that they were, in fact, fiddling the figures in a quite blatant manner in order to make Labour holds appear as Labour gains.
    As a sidebar to this, when I checked Wikipedia last night to find the 2007 results for proper comparison, I noticed that they were using the same 2012 figures as the BBC. When I looked this morning, however, the Wikipedia entry had been amended to show the true position relative to the 2007 results.
    But the BBC continues to display false figures.
    Wikipedia is a more reliable source than the BBC.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    ” I was hoping for a far better show”

    Of course you were, dear, what with you being such a big fan of the SNP and all.

  7. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @ Longshanker
    Alternatively, rearrange the following well known phrase: straws – clutching at.

    Well If I rearrange it to come out as something from Labour then its:
    That Scrawling Cuts

    Why, what did you have in mind? 

  8. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I got “Lactic Thwarts Gnus”. Or “Watch Sluts Tracing”.

  9. steven luby says:

    So,the SNP with a majority in Holyrood,largest volume of Scottish Councillors the Labour ‘elite’ within Scotland claim victory!

    Scottish Media,perhaps excluding STV from time to time,from tv to print are seeking out the holliest of holies,a nail for the First Ministers coffin.

    Well,good luck………….but as the print press declines in quality and numbers,BBC and it’s like claiming black is white,the voters slowly stick to the truths and stick with the SNP.Not only that,but their numbers are increasing.

    Tells the true story really!    


  10. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @ Longshanker


    Twitch – Stung Rascal 

  11. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    OR heres more that are Apt…

    Slung Wrath Tactics 
    Classic Truth Twang
    Chic stalwart stung
    Wants Guilt Scratch 
    Warts Lust Catching 
    Its fair to say, I dont know what you are trying to say what with so many options available.  

  12. Dal Riata says:

    With the SNP not taking overall control of the GCC the Scottish Labour party will spin it as a win against the evil forces of Scottish independence – actually, they won’t have to put much effort into it as the MSM will do their work for them.
    As a supporter of independence I am, of course, disappointed that Labour managed to sustain their influence over the city. Yet, having had some time to think it over I realise that I was, perhaps, being too optimistic re Glasgow. Labour’s advantage of councilor numbers was too great and the swing needed to put SNP in control was too much to achieve in one election. Having at least some knowledge of the suspect dealings of the incumbents I believed that the electorate would show them the door. Not so, as the results have shown.
    Why is the GCC still in Labour hands?
    Most people are small “c’ conservative and vote for who they have always voted for, no matter the state of play. Most areas of Glasgow have always been Labour areas and if your father, or whoever, voted Labour ‘communal peer pressure’ will ensure you will too. So, changing a habit of a lifetime is a big ask.
    Many of Glasgow’s population will see themselves as working class. Through spiel from Labour that they are the only true ‘Socialist’ representatives of the working class they will thus continue to obtain their votes.
    The continuing power of the media to influence and direct opinion is incontrovertible. The BBC in Scotland, an organization the prides itself on its ‘impartiality’, is showing ever increasing signs of bias against the SNP and Scottish independence. The print media has always been on one side or another in the political spectrum. In Scotland, it is almost 100%(?) pro-Union.
    As yet, the majority of the population in Glasgow probably(?) receive their ‘information’ from the MSM. It is a human trait to believe that what you are told as being the truth is the truth, so when you are given daily ‘reports’ from the ‘truth-makers’ of how ‘bad’ the SNP is, especially its leader, and that keeping the Union is ‘for the better’ then who are the people of Glasgow to disagree?
    Voter apathy with the electoral procedure – evident nationwide, not only in Glasgow. 
    However, no matter the spin by Labour and the MSM that not losing Glasgow was some kind of ‘victory’, in Scotland overall the SNP has more councilors than any other party. My hopes for independence and a Yes vote in 2014 are not diminished one bit!

  13. Dal Riata says:

    With two-and-a-half years or so to go until the referendum vote what can be done to improve the chances of a Yes vote?
    Lots of work, for example:

    Websites and blogs – Get the real truth out there. Fact-check every story and article from the MSM and if they are wrong point them out as being so and then correct them. Point out smears, lies, mis- and disinformation. Out the liars. Tell and show why independence would be great for Scotland. Facts and more facts.
    Social networks – As above, but in 140 characters or less! Spread the positives. Douse the negatives.

    Canvassing, door-knocking, get family, friends and colleagues (if they’re willing) to spread the word, etc.
    The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
    Sun Tzu

  14. Suth says:

    It’s hilarious to see the SPIN SPIN SPIN from the hardcore unionist media. The SNP gained the most seats in conditions that would normally be impossible to even remain steady for most governments. Yet the Daily Mail (just look at today’s paper, ridiculous, but you’ll enjoy it RevStu) and its kind are feverishly spinning the story to make it look like he somehow lost terribly despite gaining the most seats and increasing his share the most out of all the parties. They’ve carefully crafted it so that the absurd front page quietly admits the contrary truth on page four as the story continues, but still spins it all heavily with as much Labour/FUD support as possible. The worst you could honestly say about it all was that the SNP held on to their support overall (no mean feat for an incumbant in these conditions – just look at the Tories to see what could happen). The Daily Mail really is a pathetic comic pretending to be a newspaper. The rest aren’t much better.
    It’s deliberate lying by this point. They are like the old Soviet media torturing reality to fit whatever suits the Party or their political beliefs.

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Fortunately I have no way of accessing the Scottish Daily Mail.

  16. Suth says:

    @Peter A Bell
    Another example of the old media’s increasing irrelevance and the growing importance and value of the internet as a source to spread information. This is an important change for future generations.

  17. Suth says:

    Rev, do you want me to scan it? I can post the relevant pages here via an image hosting site.

  18. Hi,all.I’m happier after reading several blogs on the truth,like who took most seats =SNP, therefore who won =SNP.
    But there is still a nagging little voice in my head,and it is the postal votes! Now I don’t trust postal votes never have.I would like to know how many postal votes were actually counted,and who were they for? My next question would be the obvious one those that “used” the postal system,are the alive? are the in jail?do they really live at the address they claimed the postal vote from? I am suspicious of them,just me?

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Rev, do you want me to scan it? I can post the relevant pages here via an image hosting site.”

    Sure, that’s be grand.

  20. Juteman says:

    I thought the local elections were a tremendous warm-up for the referendum.
    We now have a good idea of what we will face from the combined unionist/media opposition.
     Lessons will have been learned from their strategy, and hopefully tactics will be chosen to counter that.

  21. Dál Riata says:

    As Peter A Bell refers to, the digital internet is the future, the paper news-sheets are  the past.

    How long the total transformation will take can only be estimated, though according to Future Exploration’s Newspaper extinction timeline for the UK it will be 2019, and for the whole world, 2040+. 

    Here is the information in .pdf form. Note the key factors underneath.

  22. Morag says:

    I think votes for the dead are hard to come by these days.  My mother died in August last year, and when the form came to the house to update the electoral register her name was already removed.  It seems that registering a death these days automatically gets the name taken off the electoral register, and cancels outstanding medical appointments, and alerts the TV licence people that a free licence may no longer be applicable at that address.
    Mind you, that didn’t stop the LibDems sending my mother a personally-addressed election leaflet by post.  I was horrified (and upset).  The SNP activists were using a December register, and her name was not on it.

  23. mato21 says:

     BBC bias complain here en mass and maybe something will be done

  24. Suth says:

    Here you go:

    Don’t know how long the host will last. You can zoom in on the pictures to get a better read at the text.

  25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Cheers! The first page doesn’t seem to want to display (I just get the top 10% or so), but the two inside are fine.

  26. TheGreatBaldo says:

    Last Season Aberdeen went to Parkhead and lost 9-0

    This Season Aberdeen went to Parkhead and lost 2-1

    Using the FUD media method of calculating ‘winners’, the Dons clearly won at Parkhead (even though they lost)…..

    Using this new exciting method of winning when you lose I’m really looking forward to going to Hampden in a fortnight on the grounds that though we lost to Hibs in the Semi, in our previous semi we lost to Queen of the South….which is clearly an improvement and was therefore a stunning victory.        

  27. Suth says:

    Front page again:

    All that was missing from it is “Alex Accused” and you’ve got a classic.

  28. Doug Daniel says:

    TheGreatBaldo – as a matter of fact, I was saying yesterday on Twitter that Lamont must be an Aberdeen fan if she thinks this is a victory.

    I just can’t stop feeling pissed off about the result. As my parents would say, she thinks she’s Airchie now. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s equally as useless as Iain Gray was, but now the media have a narrative to try and portray her as having turned Labour around, whereas we all know she’s a moron who needs to be kept away from cameras until she’s learnt her lines properly.

    And it could all have been avoided if the SNP hadn’t made it obvious they thought they could become the biggest party in Glasgow. Such a rookie mistake.

    Let this be a lesson: never underestimate Glasgow’s propensity for voting to spite itself.

  29. Juteman says:

    Folk need to realise we are involved in a war. Maybe a cold war, but the stakes are the same. Countries with less resources than Scotland have been invaded for control of their oil.
    The British State and their ("Quizmaster" - Ed)s will do whatever is needed to keep that control.
     The referendum isn’t just another election.

  30. NorthBrit says:

    I think you guys need to accept that it’s highly unlikely that the SNP will win the 2014 referendum.  I left Scotland twenty years ago when it became clear that nothing would stop the Scottish underclass from systematically voting Labour.  If you want independence the most important thing to do is ensure that Devo max is on the menu so that you can follow the Norwegian route to independence and maintain a positive agenda for Scotland. 
    Cybernats are (mostly) cheerful, witty and good humoured – even in adversity.  You will need to be resilient because SLab posters have increased the number and unpleasantness of their attacks over recent weeks and it’s only going to get worse, as they have seen this work for them.
    On the quality of arguments the SNP deserves to win and I think it may win in the end.  It’s done astonishly well to rescue Scotland from the Labour Party for a while.  But seeing what I have seen over the last couple of weeks has reminded me of why I left, and why I may never come back. 

  31. peter says:

    reading all the media reports surrounding this election only inbues me in to doubling my efforts for the indpendence referendum.

    as mentioned elsewhere, maybees no winning glasgow is a blessing

  32. Peninsula says:

    At least the independence cause now knows what it’s up against.  The whole mass media is anti-independence, and there are no real checks or boundaries about how far it can spin. The headlines beggar belief really.  They in now way reflect the reality of Labours position in Scotland.

    This incredible bias, is not a healthy situation for democracy in Scotland., and an embarrassing indictment of the UK as a whole 

    In reality Labour are still in decline, the trend continues.

    They can’t even make inroads into their rivals who are now 5 years into government, who are passing on drastic cuts from Westminster, in the worst recession in decades. 

    All this with the weight of the entire British media fabricating a massive smear, about a phone call that never actually took place and behind Labour every step of the way by relentlessy attacking the SNP on just about anything/everything, and this is how well they do??

    Yet still support grows for the SNP; thats the reality – biggest share of the vote, most councillors, most gains, largest party overall.  

    Labours only real power base in Glasgow is still shrinking and being eroded election after election.

    Given the circumstances this is a remarkable result for the SNP.  Once all the unionist headlines have been forgotten, the statistics remain true.

    The Scottish media is infuriating, but their agenda isn’t really working, which is why their ramping it up again.  There will come a point  where the law of diminishing returns takes hold for them. Indeed looking at the increasing success of the SNP vs the increasing hostility of the British media, it may have already done so.

    I want them to panic, and go absolutely mental with the spin, personally.

  33. NorthBrit says:

    @Juteman.  Your main enemy is not the British state or its institutions.  Ultimately the British are pragmatic (see Stephanie Flanders’ views on the BBC video).  Your mortal enemy is Scottish Labour.  The SNP was not anywhere close to being ruthless enough in the recent council elections (e.g. fielding a nice old lady against the horrors of Glasgow Labour). 
    If the SNP is to win, its policy towards Labour needs to be Carthago delenda est, until people are as ashamed to vote SLab as they are to vote Conservative. 

  34. Juteman says:

     The British Labour party is part of the British state.

  35. Peninsula says:

    Juteman, Northbrit has a point – The only thing binding Scotland to the Union is ‘Scottish’Labour, or more accurately, West of Scotland Labour.

    As the trend continues, and Glasgow folk continue to turn their back on Labour in increasing numbers, then Scotland will leave the union.

  36. NorthBrit says:

    @Juteman. Feel free to believe it’s the nasty Brits who are after you.  It is clear that the BBC is desperate not to see independence for example.  But if you look at who the most vicious opponents of independence are, they are mostly Scottish (Foulkes, John Reid, George Robertson, Helen Liddell, Lord Forsyth, Lord Thanklessness).  You have seen off the Conservatives and Liberals, so they don’t matter.  Defeat SLab and you win.

  37. Juteman says:

    I hear what you are saying, and i mostly agree. However there is no such thing as the Scottish Labour party. The folk you mention are Brits first, not Scots.

  38. Arbroath1320 says:

    Suth says:
    May 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm
    It’s hilarious to see the SPIN SPIN SPIN from the hardcore unionist media
    Suth, if you follow Longshankers suggestion from earlier then you will get:
    SNP 1
    SNP 1
    SNP 1 😀
    Just thought I’d point that out.

  39. Arbroath1320 says:

    Just as a wee aside.
    Hope I’m not standing on anyone’s toes here or going to upset anyone, but for those in and around Edinburgh on September 22nd there is going to be a MARCH FOR INDEPENDENCE!
    Meanwhile over in Glasgow on 26th May there is going to be a protest against the BBC.
    For all those who can make either event I wish you all a great day out. I hope the weather is kind to you as well.
    Let’s hit them where it hurts and more importantly hit them when they can NOT run away and hide from us!

  40. Suth says:

    Messages within messages! Where will this rabbit hole end???

  41. Morag says:

    My feeble spreadsheet skills have laid out the actual results from Thursday (the % vote figures are from NNS and not final, but I’ll change the file when I get final numbers).

    Who won, again?

  42. Jimbo says:

    North Brit
    I ,like you,  moved away from Scotland 20 years ago.  I returned because I saw a brighter future.  We’ve 2 years to  THE VOTE and slowly but surely we are winning the argument.  Keep it steady but true and all that.  I run my own business and that came with me so a combination of emotion and business sense prompted my move from England.  The cires of the unionists are beginning to get more shrill and the tone of it reminds me of the hard core ulster unionists who did not want a peace agreement.  Some folk don’t give a spanner’s for local elections for various reasons.  So we did not win Glasgow but look at the big picture SNP numbers up over the country the Glasgow based media are just mini me of the London based media.
    So keep your pecker up, it’s going to happen in our life time.

    Best regards


  43. Barbarian says:

    First time posting here, mainly because I didn’t know about it!

    I think the spin doctors on all sides need to shut up and analyse things from a more neutral viewpoint.

    The simple fact is that no party won in a national sense. SNP and Labour got their gains mainly from the Lib Dems. Labour will be relieved but I’ll bet the SNP leadership will be scratching a few heads. They maintained their position, but failed to dent Labour. 

    Personally I think the SNP screwed up their campaign. The broadcast was took cringe and patronisation to a new level, and the leadership constantly crowed about how things were going to change. The focus on Glasgow was a huge mistake.

    As to all the activity, that must have been limited to certain areas. In my area, the two SNP candidates were complete unknowns, and we only found out who they were four days before the election. Labour candidates were well known from day one of the campaigning.

    There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and swiftly.


  44. douglas clark says:

    When is outright spin lying? A tad off topic, but it made me sit up:
    We appear to have put a supine gang of incompetents in charge of our future.
    Any comments?

  45. Domhnall says:

    barbarian is right, both sides are spinning, ie lablur claiming they won because they didnt lose as many seats as they had expected to, and the snp claiming that the biggest tally of seats is a win. both are arguably correct.
    we all spin on a daily basis both personally and professionally, it is human nature to put a positive gloss on what you havd achieved. but fiddling objective measures like  the number of seats means the media crossed the line from spin into lying.

  46. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “My feeble spreadsheet skills have laid out the actual results from Thursday (the % vote figures are from NNS and not final, but I’ll change the file when I get final numbers).”

    Those are excellent. I’d be very happy to run them when they’re finished and sourced, if that’s okay with you.

  47. Morag says:

    I’m a tad unsure about the precise numbers, because NNS is now saying a 48-seat gain for Labour, which I thought was a misprint in the STV article because everyone else was saying 46.  Also, while a lot of people are crunching numbers on a ward-by-ward basis, it’s very hard to find overall numbers for first-choice votes.
    Then again, Dunoon votes later this week, which will change things again (albeit marginally).
    It’s only a quick sketch in MS Works.  I’m sure someone could do a fancier job in Excel or Quattro-Pro, but since nobody has, I did what I could.

  48. Morag says:

    I think Barbarian makes a good point.  There were plusses and minuses for both SNP and Labour last week.  The complaint was that the BBC and the press focussed only on the plusses for Labour and the minuses for the SNP.
    The SNP “won” the election on all normal metrics, including those measuring improvement since the previous election.  This would be remarkable in normal circumstances, for a government mid-term in its second term being compared to an election which it fought as the opposition.  However these are not normal times, and Labour weren’t far behind.  They held positions they had been expected to lose.
    I think there were two factors.  One is a straight question of leadership.  I was absolutely terrified Labour would win last year, because the thought of that mob of numpties running the country with Grayman as FM scared me witless.  The council elections just didn’t have that same fear effect.  Voting Labour wasn’t going to put Lamont in Bute House, or lose us Salmond as FM.
    Perhaps the opposite.  I like and respect Allison Hunter, whom I’ve known for many years.  However she didn’t exactly come over as someone who was going to emulate Salmond in charisma and competence when she was in charge in City Halls.  We needed a far better vision of an SNP “government-in-waiting” ready to take over in Glasgow and show how it should be done.  We didn’t have it.  Voters probably decided to stick with the incumbents who at least had some experience.
    The other thing is that I believe the barrage of negative publicity, smear and spin thrown at the SNP and Salmond in the weeks before the election did have an effect.  Some activists have opined that they would have got several more candidates elected if the vote had been a few weeks sooner, before the Attack of the Unionist Media.  They’re still at it.  The actual revelations were in fact very minor.  Salmond was prepared to put in a good word for NI in the BSkyB bid, but Hunt wouldn’t even take his call.  There is no evidence at all that this was conditional on the Sun supporting the SNP, or that it was a big deal in any way.  But we still have commentators stating as fact that Salmond was prostituting the office of FM to the “Dirty Digger”.  Conveniently ignoring that both Labour and the Tories have at various times been so far up his backside only the soles of their shoes were visible.
    Perception is all, and the amount of mud flung around during April was quite phenomenal.  It would be surprising if some of it hadn’t stuck.  It did stick, enough of it to make the difference between a decent win and a game-changer.
    Add to all that the expectations problem, and you have the picture.  Salmond and others were too complacent by half about their chances of a big win in Glasgow.  Indeed, that was also blown up by the press on the basis of creating a high expectation the better to crow when it wasn’t achieved, but the SNP strategists need to be very careful of this one.  Optimism and positivity are all very well, but when it gets to the point they can be portrayed as hubris, you’re facing nemesis.
    Lessons for the future?  Get the balance between optimism and caution better distributed.  Capitalise on the SNP government’s reputation for competence and try to extend that to all aspects of administration – as regards the referendum, to make people genuinely apprehensive of continuing Westminster rule and welcoming of competent government from Edinburgh.  And what to do about the smears and lies?  I don’t know.  When even a respected commentator like MacWhirter goes off the deep end as spectacularly as he did, where can the SNP turn?
    We need a balanced press.  We need articles such as the ones in the Scots Independent and other fringe media to be appearing in the mainstream beside the Unionist propaganda.  We need hopeful, positive, aspirational visions of an independent Scotland appearing in places where people other than cybernats will readily encounter them.

  49. Morag says:

    RevStu, the SNP has published the full figures now, on its web site.  I’ll update my graphic later, and source the figures to that.

    However, I’m still confused.  That page has the SNP gaining 62 seats, while everyone else seems to make it 61.  Also, while nearly everyone has the Labour gain at 46, STV and NNS make it 48.  I need to drill down a little further on that.

  50. DJ says:

    My mother just informed me Labour comfortably won the council elections this week. She is not a political geek, and takes her news from BBC, Daily Record and Sunday Mail. These organisations appear to be succeding in their aim of misinforming.

  51. Suth says:

    It’s no wonder when you look at the front pages, like the Daily Mail one I posted. I know a couple of SNP supporters who saw that and thought the worst until the facts were revealed and/or the story picked apart.

  52. Morag says:

    “Those are excellent. I’d be very happy to run them when they’re finished and sourced, if that’s okay with you.”
    RevStu, the pdf is now updated to show the final tally of first-choice votes, as published on the SNP web site.  The Guardian has also published the same figures, I suspect from the same source, but it does validate them to some extent.
    As far as I can make out the SNP numbers for seats gained/lost are wrong.  They have the SNP gaining one too many and the Conservatives losing one to many.  That is taking the 2007 seats won from both the contemporary BBC report and the relevant wiki page.  If someone can show me these are wrong and the SNP is right, I’ll change it again.
    Getting the easy bit wrong doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence about the total votes part, but they’re the only published source as far as I know.

  53. passo says:

    Can you please investigate the story that Blair McDougall is to lead the anti-Scottish independence campaign.

    My own role in the organisation will change this summer as I move to take up a role managing the campaign to keep Scotland as part of the United Kingdom.  There are few roles which would make me leave working day-to-day with Movement for Change but the referendum in Scotland in 2014 will be a massive moment in political history and I want to make sure I have done everything I can to win a no-vote.

  54. Dorothy Devine says:

    “those in and around Edinburgh on September 22nd there is going to be a MARCH FOR INDEPENDENCE!”
    Arbroath 1320 ,is that not September weekend , same as last year?
    I thought then it was a less than good date for maximum attendance ,though I thoroughly enjoyed  it ev,en the sun was on our side!

  55. CameronB Brodie says:


    I left Scotland twenty years ago when it became clear that nothing would stop the Scottish underclass from systematically voting Labour.

    “Underclass”? Are you a Tory? So British institutions, such as British Labour and the BBC, aren’t damaging to Scotland?

    Stroll on bud.

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