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Wings Over Scotland

You don’t know what you’re doing

Posted on March 07, 2013 by

(Title to be read in the style of the famous football chant.)

Independence supporters have a slight tendency to exaggerate the (nevertheless real) bias of the BBC. We couldn’t face watching Newsnight Scotland last night, but on catching up via the iPlayer this morning it was far less objectionable than many reports on Twitter had led us to believe.


What we’re a bit more concerned by is the Corporation’s growing rank incompetence.

Yesterday’s website report of the GERS story, for example, ran with a headline and text making (repeatedly) the brainless schoolboy error of confusing “debt” with “deficit”.


Debt, of course, is the money you owe someone. Deficit is when your income is lower than your expenditure. If the UK’s debt (well over £1 trillion and rising) was only the size of its deficit (a mere £90 billion in 2012), everyone at the Treasury would be having the party of the century right about now.

Of course, it might just have been that the BBC was trying to avoid tricky words it has trouble spelling, as subsequently suggested by this embarrassing fiasco on that evening’s edition of Reporting Scotland:


That wasn’t the end of the hapless Douglas Fraser’s problems, though – later on in the report his script required him to read this gem out to the nation:

“On jobs, though – the part of the economy that matters most to most households – the economists forecast a rise this year and next. The better news: it doesn’t look as steep a rise as previously feared.”

Well, um, thank heavens jobs aren’t going to rise as much as we thought, eh?

This follows hot on the heels of a series of humiliations for the state broadcaster over an independent Scotland’s relationship with the EU, when a succession of European foreign ministers have angrily corrected BBC misrepresentations of their views.

Readers can decide for themselves how many and which of these errors are due to ineptitude rather than conspiracy. But neither explanation offers much in the way of grounds for confidence in the performance of the country’s main news source.

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    42 to “You don’t know what you’re doing”

    1. balgayboy says:

      Any guess what the BT attack dogs question’s will be at FMQ today? It’s becoming so predictable it’s almost become comedy now.

    2. Gotta love the media!!

    3. tartanfever says:

      Recently the BBC in Scotland have taken to being ambiguous when they use the term ‘government’. Usually on bad news regarding the economy they will not differentiate between Holyrood and Westminster. 
      Yesterday’s example (pictured above) is a fine example of this manipulation. The graphic behind Fraser’s head says ‘Scotland’s public finances’, but it can’t be Scotland’s public finances as we have no borrowing powers. If we have no money borrowing powers, how can we have a debt/deficit ?
      Holyrood receives a block grant, once that has been extinguished, thats it. Yes the UK govt can effectively increase our spending by giving extra money for capital investment and the like, but in terms of the debt, that is all UK borrowing that comes from Westminster and is then divided amongst us.
      Now, while we all know this and I’m bleating to the converted here, the most important group of people in Scotland are the ‘don’t know’ voters, that 20% that will swing the outcome of the referendum one way or the other. 
      Put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they don’t follow politics, maybe they have little interest in the subject – but with certainty I think we can assume that they universally have some fears about an independent Scotland’s economy and ability to provide. You can’t have decades of ‘too poor, too wee and too stupid’ without it having an effect on the population. And in this scenario, yesterday’s BBC reporting must at least have many of them asking questions. Even if you don’t follow politics, it’s hard to avoid every single media outlet – all of which have carried the most exaggerated, negative press.
      I wonder how the ‘don’t knows’ are feeling this morning ?

    4. Indy_Scot says:

      I do not believe you can exaggerate bias. Bias is bias in the same way as a tin of beans is a tin of beans. I also believe we will never know the full extent of information and subliminal manipulation that BBC Scotland have gone to, and will go to, to achieve their aim.

    5. pa_broon says:

      I watched news night Scotland last night and wished I hadn’t, it was dire.
      The SNP MSP tripped up when he started parroting some lines, I hate when they do that. Although the biggy for me was Gordon Brewer’s total inability to understand the concept of a forecast.
      As for this ‘leaked’ document which seems to be a year old, was there not something leaked at the beginning of the year that turned out to be out of date too? I can’t quite remember what it was…
      In any case, putting the comedy top secret stamp on it was a risible move, I’d love to know who’s idea that was because, as we all very well know, that is the exact stamp governments world wide use to label top secret documentation…
      Isn’t it?

    6. Iain says:

      What’s most interesting psychologically is that every time one of these brouhahas gets whipped up, the Unionist alliance (and I think it has to be accepted now that the BBC in Scotland is part of it) believes it has found the silver bullet; Megrahi, lapsed tax raising powers, EU legal advice, hapless transport ministers resigning, they’re all leapt upon with an ‘Ah hah, now, at last, you can see how laughable independence would be and what an incompetent, duplicitous shower the SNP are!’ It must be bitter gall to them that after each killshot support for both remains pretty much impervious.

      On topic, I wonder how much the quality of the BBC Scotland’s increasingly shaky operation is due to redundancies, cuts and low morale?

    7. mato21 says:

      Here is another list of Labour luvvies from 2010 Some are still hanging around like a bad smell

    8. Doug Daniel says:

      Maybe “defecit” is a new term meaning “shit debt”?

    9. muttley79 says:

      I believe that it can’t really be put down to incompetence.  Anybody with any intelligence, and I include children at school, would know that when Cameron effectively said there was going to be a referendum on the EU the obvious question to the No campaign would be is this not the uncertainty you argued about against independence?  Did we see any questions of this nature to the No campaign?  Did we fuck…The simple truth is that the media have not scrutinised the No campaign at all.  When the triple AAA rating was reduced did the media ask difficult questions of the No campaign?  Again none were asked or sought.  Compare this to the media frenzy over the SG’s position on the EU last year, which is continuing even at the moment.  This tells us that it cannot possibly be incompetence.  This has, and is being planned baby… 

    10. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Any chance of you reproducing the SUN’s editorial today. A ship of good sense in a sea of shite elsewhere

    11. ianbrotherhood says:

      Lamont on FMQ’s – ‘Look, there’s a squirrel!’
      WTF? Is it some in-joke? This woman is an embarrassment, not only to Labour, but the whole nation.

    12. Richie says:

      A link would have been handy. I nearly had a heart attack looking at the Sun’s front page 🙂

    13. Bill C says:

      @Dave and Richie – Just had a look at the Sun, palpitations only now subsiding.  Quite astounded that at long last some honest assessment of the independence debate.  Is it a straw in the wind?

    14. TheGreatBaldo says:

      Bill C says:
      7 March, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      @Dave and Richie – Just had a look at the Sun, palpitations only now subsiding.  Quite astounded that at long last some honest assessment of the independence debate.  Is it a straw in the wind”
      Actually from the Leveson Inquiry we know the Editor and Political Editor of the Scottish Sun we’re both keen to back the SNP in 2011…….and Rupert let his men on the ground make the call.*
      The Sun hasn’t been slavishly Pro Indy….but they are balanced…..
      And it’s the latest in an increasing long list of media who are exasperated by Better Together (including the Sunday Mail)……Kevin McKenna, Joyce McMillan and lets be honest recent columns indicate Ian MacWhirter is out as Indy in all but name.
      *Obviously the idea that a Newspaper would endorse the SNP is a no no…..Newspapers are meant to be Pro Union

    15. Vronsky says:

      If you want to make sense of Unionism, give up now.  Check the comments from Chris Ryan on this Herald piece on the death of a climber on Ben Nevis.  Mr Ryan is vexed that a disproportionate number of those offing themselves on Scottish hills are English.  He admits that England itself has fewer hills so well-suited to inadvertently killing yourself, but nevertheless feels that Scottish tribalism and bigotry is preventing us taking our share of the punishment.   Apparently our southern neighbours will ‘show us and our visitors how to get the most out of our beautiful country’ – by toppling off it on a regular basis.   So c’mon guys, walking boots and blindfolds on – let’s keep our end up.

    16. Luigi says:

      Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
      Whilst Hanlon’s razor fully explains the actions of Scottish Labour, the BBC are a more balanced organization – malice and stupidity in equal measures!

    17. Heather McLean says:

      Richie says:
      7 March, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      A link would have been handy. I nearly had a heart attack looking at the Sun’s front page
      WOW!!! Can hardly believe this from The Sun, no wonder you nearly had a heart attack!! BUT… everyone knows that Rupert Murdoch will only ever back a winning side SO I’m taking heart from the fact that they appear to be turning in favour of the Yes Campaign!

    18. Craig M says:

      There was an element of good sense evident on Sky News this morning when a Lib Dem Lord (I forget his name) was wheeled in front of the cameras.
      The noble Lord then went on to state that London was effectively an offshore entity, separate from the rest of the UK and for the Westminster Government to kick start
      a home building exercise to assist the economy. You had to admire the bravery of this Lord as he was committing political heresy in being critical of the position of London within the
      context of the greater UK economy. I can see his career and social circle going badly wrong as a result. Wait for the London centric press to start attacking this guy.
      What I thought was interesting about this was comparing this viewpoint with the Better Together efforts and their fellow BT foot soldiers in BBC Scotland.
      With statements highlighting the fact that London is moving, if not having already moved, to a position almost identical to that of Singapore and Malaysia, the Better Together campaign is
      completely out in the cold with regards to the stark reality of the economic and political position within the British Isles. What does that say about their vision and intellect?
      But, chillingly, it also says a lot about their humanity. Better Together, by supporting the status quo, is condemning generations of ordinary people to penury.
      It is also contributing to a process that will actually see the UK split apart but not in the way that occupies their thinking.
      The UK may remain together on paper, on maps, but it is very quickly fragmenting at a line that can be drawn close to the route of the M25.
      Frightening stuff, but a very strong likelihood the way current trends are developing.

    19. ianbrotherhood says:

      Had a swatch at the man’s comments – sounds a couple of spikes short of a crampon.

    20. rabb says:

      I’ve always maintained that BBC aside, the media will follow the majority. It makes commercial sense. At the end of the day, the media aren’t “guardians of the free world”, they are commercial entities with shareholders who demand their dividend.
      I have been deliberately shy of berating them for a reason. We are now seeing a shift in support to independence and a smattering of pro indy articles have followed.
      When the scale tips in favour for indy, expect a raft of pro indy media to follow. It’s all gravy and cream for indy after that.

      Have faith in Yes HQ. They are playing the long game.

    21. GP Walrus says:

      I think “defecit” is Latin for “He shat.”
      Quite appropriate for Fraser’s report really. 

    22. Slaughterhouse says:

      Just wondering is someone can answer a question for me. If Scotland choose to nationalise oil production at the point of independence, it would be down to the UK Gov to compensate the oil companies for any loss, as after all, the leases have been signed by which-ever company and them?

    23. BlueTiles says:

      Slightly O/T – Just had a debate over social media concerning the benefits of Independence, the results of the GERS, Sweeney’s ‘leaked’ do etc.
      I mentioned the ways in which Scotland is badly managed by Westminster and the prospects we can hope to see after a No vote ( Tutions Fees, Trident, eventual NHS privitisation, Labour government).
      Instead of a rebuttal to any of the points I raised, I was told – ‘Those arguments aren’t for Independence, they’re for an SNP government’. 
      No positive case for the Union forthcoming.
      Just how do we get through to these people?

    24. Nairn says:

      There is a third option between deliberate bias and incompetence – laziness. I think that’s much more likely – there’s only a few hours in the day to get the broadcast into shape and, hell, economics is hard, and the viewers are distracted, so let’s just cut and paste off wikipedia, folks.
      Journalism is a lost art, because who has the time to develop actual knowledge on a subject any more? that’s hard, and it requires effort.

    25. John Lyons says:

      Lamont on FMQ’s – ‘Look, there’s a squirrel!’
      That’s awesome. Did she really accuse the SG of trying to distract people from the real Story when in the Last 48 hours she and everyone else on the unionist side have done thier damndest to distract people away from an up to date GERS report which tells us how well off Scotland would be by getting us to look at a one year old opinion???
      Laughable doesn’t begin to describe them!

    26. The Man in the Jar says:

      @mato21 at 11.24am
      Good link. Thanks I will forward this one on.

    27. ianbrotherhood says:

      @John Lyons –
      Aye, and the expression on Salmond’s face when she said it was priceless – he leant over to Sturgeon, baffled, and muttered something, as if to say ‘wtf is that roaster on about now?’

    28. NorthBrit says:

      Beeb were running Bitter Together FUD story on the Swinney “leak” on the Today programme this am (they may even have run it twice).  Didn’t listen as switched off to protect my kitchen from collateral damage.
      But given that the GERS report came out yesterday it is incredible (in the literal sense) that they chose to take this angle.

    29. The Man in the Jar says:

      @muttley79 at 12.39
      Thanks, another excellent link worth forwarding on.

    30. Angus McLellan says:

      @Luigi: Hanlon’s Razor? James Morton came up with the excellent Morton’s Razor: Never rule out the possibility that the stupid bear malice.

    31. R Louis says:

      Even if I were to suspend credulity for one second and believe that the bias from the BBC was down to rank stupidity, it would still mean they are simply not up to the job of being the main broadcaster in Scotland.  In reality however, i think it is no mistake whatsoever, due to the reasons others have alluded to above – principally never questioning the nonsense from the Bitter together campaign itself, or the utter contradictory tripe from the gob of Lamont.

      I’d like to thank Muttley 79 above for the link to the article by Craig Murray;

      as in it he explains that were Scotland to have an allocation of the oil money from the REAL Scottish waters (not with the fiddled maritime boundary), the GERS would have shown Scotland to be in SURPLUS.

    32. Dee says:

      Would be grateful if someone would organise a mass non-payment of the bbc license fee, 

    33. Weedeochandorris says:

      Hi Craig M.  would you mind explaining what you mean “With statements highlighting the fact that London is moving, if not having already moved, to a position almost identical to that of Singapore and Malaysia”.    Just interested to know. Thanks 🙂

    34. Malcolm says:


      He means that London is becoming a separate entity from the UK in nearly every sense, much as Singapore has been politically, financially, religiously separate from Malaysia since the 1960s.

    35. Weedeochandorris says:

      Thanks Malcolm, I’ve always understood Singapore to be a country in its own right and very separate from Malaysia.  Didnt get the comparison as London is obviously a city but I can get the gist.  Just a stretch of the imagination to think that London could ever be a country how ever hard they try to separate themselves from the rest of us riff raff :-0

    36. douglas clark says:

      I should get a prize for just typing that in!
      I think London would really like to be the next Singapore. I think London thinks it doesn’t need the rest of the UK, well, not really,
      Just my thoughts.

    37. balgayboy says:

      Don’t reckon the Londoner’s could stand the rules and regulations one needs to obey to assimilate Singapore’s success. A few strokes of the rattan would soon have them screaming for the reintroduction of human rights the Tory UK government is considering repealing. Presently there is seems to be an abundance of likely contenders for such punishment in the “City”

    38. scotchman says:

      Went onto the BBC website to complain about BBC Scotland coverage of GERS v distractions. Online form offers a number of options for the TV service you’d like to complain about.
      These include the main terrestrial channels BBC 1-4, CBeebies, BBC Parliament / America / Canada / Knowledge / Lifestyle etc. BBC Alba even has an option. The one option which is missing is BBC Scotland!
      It’s all too easy to become paranoid……

    39. Jingly Jangly says:

      Re debt v Deficit, its not only dear old aunty beeb that doesnt know the difference
      a couple of years ago, channel four news ( I think ) asked several politicians from New Labour and Conservative what the difference was and if I remember correctly none of them knew or they were confused  thinking that the debt was the same as the deficit.
      Never mind when the IMF comes in to sort out bankrupt britain in the not to distant
      future we will all know the level of debt and thats  not just the trillion or so on the books but the trillions of  unfunded obligations such as public sector pension liabilities, PFI, Bank Bailouts, etc plus very high business and personnel debt, there is only one way to
      go which is down the swanney. This will happen before the Referendum where  the
      Scottish people will be given a choice of between a rich country with the potential
      to be one of the most successful in the world or a busted flush with only infraltion and
      a john bull printing press to slow down its descent  into becoming like a south american tinpot state of the seventies.
      I know which one I will be voting for….

    40. annie says:

      Whit was one of my favourites – think i’ll go and look it out for another read.  I didn’t realise that Iain Banks was a fellow independence supporter hope he makes it to the vote.

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