Every loser wins, at least when it’s a Tory in Scotland

If you wanted a lesson in why so many people are losing faith in the traditional media and instead turning to alternatives, you only need to have a wee look at the headlines in the Scottish press and television news in their over-excited attempts to make out that a party which had come a very distant second had in fact beaten a party which had won 155 more seats. Moreover that second party had based its entire campaign on defeating the larger party, and it failed to make any impression at all on the larger party’s share of the vote or the number of seats it won. Despite all that, the loser won, at least according to the Scottish press.

The whole point of the Single Transferrable Vote electoral system is that parties end up with a number of seats which is a fairly close approximation to their share of the popular vote. In last week’s council elections, the Conservatives ended up with just 22.5% of the available seats, which is a fairly accurate representation of the proportion of the vote which the Tories achieved. The Tories did make significant gains, but they did so at the expense of Labour, another party which had fought its entire campaign on the basis of defeating the SNP. The SNP itself sailed on unaffected by what was nothing more than a realignment of the Unionist vote.

The BBC did its best to paint Ruth Davidson’s Tories as the winners, lauding her party’s gains and insisting repeatedly that the SNP was seven seats down on its total from the previous council elections in 2012. In 2012 the SNP had won 425 council seats, in 2017 they won 431. In most universes where simple arithmetic is practised, which is clearly not a universe which includes Pacific Quay, 431 is a bigger number than 425. But the BBC weren’t comparing the SNP’s 2017 results with the actual results of the 2012 local elections, instead they decided to compare them with a “notional” election result which hadn’t taken place in our universe in 2012, it only took place in Pacific Quay’s special arithmetical universe.

This is a great new tactic which could be employed in lots of inventive ways. The Tories would be notionally the most popular politicians in Scotland if it wasn’t for the fact that over three quarters of the Scottish population wouldn’t pee on a Tory if they were on fire. Glasgow Labour notionally saved all its seats and made substantial gains in Frank McAveety’s head. Wullie Rennie is notionally capable and competent, at least when he’s driving the bus to Kelty. If I had a tank and a tendency to shout No! at every opportunity I’d notionally be Ruth Davidson. And if the BBC was funded by the Scottish public it would notionally not display such an obvious Unionist bias. Oh wait.

The onslaught on truth was so overwhelming that one confused guest on the BBC review of the papers actually thought that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow. Just in case you’re wondering, they didn’t. The Tories in Glasgow got eight seats on Glasgow council, which is eight too many, but it’s still only 9.4% of the total. There are 85 council seats in Glasgow. The fact that a sane and apparently reasonable woman thought, even briefly, that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow council has a great deal to do with the one sided and shamelessly biased way in which this election was reported.

For the interests of clarity, I’m not actually objecting to bias. I am biased. I am shamelessly and openly biased. Bias is what I do. I’m a supporter of Scottish independence, and a campaigner for Scottish independence, and what I write is reflected through that prism. But I make no bones about my bias. My bias is open and honest. I wear my bias on my sleeve, and that means that readers can interpret my words honestly and with clarity. What is insidious, what is objectionable, what is dishonest, is presenting a biased account of a news story and pretending that you are neutral, objective and unbiased.

Quite what anyone who voted Tory in Glasgow thought they were going to achieve by gaining a Conservative councillor is another question. Tell them that you think there ought to be more dog mess collection bins in your local park and they’ll send you a leaflet saying that dog crap sends a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. Tell them that you think there should be more regular litter collections and street cleaning and you’ll get a leaflet saying “Scotland said No and we meant it!” with a picture of a grinning Ruth Davidson sitting on a donkey. That would be the Tory councillor for Shettleston.

More seriously, just what use is a Tory councillor going to be to you if you approach them for help because you’ve had your benefits sanctioned or your mobility car has been taken away or you’re a young person who can’t afford accommodation because you’re no longer entitled to housing benefit. Those things happen because of Conservative policies, policies which assail and assault those very working class communities which returned a handful of Tory councillors. But hey, they have a fleg and can be proud of the royal family. And you can wrap yourself up in that fleg when you’re queueing on the doorstep of the foodbank you have to go to in order to feed your weans even though you’re in full time employment. Working class Scots voting Tory is like voting for amputation because you stubbed your toe.

I’m struggling to remember another election which was reported in such a shameless and nakedly partisan manner. Every loser wins as far as the British press is concerned, at least when that loser is a Scottish Tory. This is a foretaste of what we’re in for should the Tories make some small gains in Scotland in June’s General Election. It’s a sign of the desperation of the British establishment to avoid a second Scottish independence referendum, and the reason they are so desperate to avoid one is because they know that they’ll lose it. The hysteria with which the British press reacted to the Tories in Scotland making gains at the expense of the other main Unionist party is a sign of the weakness of the Unionist cause, and a sign of the strength of the independence movement.

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43 comments on “Every loser wins, at least when it’s a Tory in Scotland

  1. I wish I dared to reproduce large chunks – nay ALL – of this brilliant piece in the comments section of the Times OnLine today, where I have been beating my head against a brick wall trying to teach basic arithmetic to deaf, blind Tories. Thank you, Paul, for expressing what I was trying to say and for doing it so much better than I could … And all wi’out losing the heid!

  2. Cloggins says:

    Journalists exist to report the news; columnists exist to comment and interpret it. You are not a journalist, it is your function to comment and be as partial as you can.
    Journalists in the Scottish press get it the wrong way around alll the time. They do not report the news. They are spokespeople. Corporate spinners. Activists.
    Thank god you’re there to redress the balance.

  3. Therapymum says:

    WGD, you never spoke a truer word! Bias, bias and yet more bias. And on the basis of that bias is today’s Herald headline, courtesy Ruth Davidson, “Tory surge “sinks case” for Independence poll.”. Unbelievable!

  4. Deelsdogs says:

    Another great post Paul.
    We wear our hearts in our sleeves…

  5. As above, as always, thank God you are there. The antics of the No Campaign in 2014, their lies and their intimidation, rank as nothing against the 1930s style control freakery of Teresa May..no debate, just slogans, beating folk into blind submission ……..Imagine voting for the Rape Clause, Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary , Fracking, Badger Slaughter, City of London Greed and corruption and growing mountains of nuclear waste including submarines..to be dumped somewhere, probably Scotland….Did all these new Tory/ Unionist voters really understand and still do that????????

  6. Jgrahamf says:

    i can see that the press might be bias, but I am astounded to read your own admission to the same condition. I will never see you in the same light again…….

  7. All good stuff but who has the brains to listen. I live right on the border of France and Switzerland and the majority of the French in the border villages are voting Le Penn even though she has promised to close the borders and cut then off from their own jobs in Switzerland! I really despair of people’s intelligence.

  8. Jan Cowan says:

    They really are on the way out. Hence their seemingly bold bravado.

    Thanks, Paul for correcting so much of the guff.

  9. TheStrach says:

    We won despite the lies and propaganda. Stay positive and we’ll win independence.

    As Paul says, their hysterical War is Peace propaganda shows how weak they really are.

  10. Alba woman says:

    Scotland is not going to be impressed at the efforts of the Tories to set up unionist enclaves in the West of Scotland. Labour voters will have to rethink their options.

  11. Graham Fae Fawkirk says:

    Wee Kezia ‘Bulletproof Kevlar’ Dugdale now is like one of those relgious fundamenalist lunatics who don’t allow their sick family member to have any medical treatment, then when they die they keep the dead body in their house and pray over it for weeks, until the smell annoys the neighbours and they get carted off to the funny farm, still bawling about how their family member will come back to life if they are allowed to just keep on praying over the body. Gie it up, Kez, hen. It’s aw oor. Yer career’s finito in Scotland.

    http://www.facebook.com/ScottishLabourParty/videos/1376684289090434/?pnref=story

  12. I was in Glasgow today & was intrigued by the number of police zooming about – not a Sevco v Celtic game on, FE lecturers rally was last Wednesday (ahem) – but soon all was revealed as the roads were filled with the vomit- inducing sight of the Orange March.

    Now, I was confused, thinking we had been transported to July by time machine and missed out May & June altogether which would have been somewhat disappointing given my birthday is in May and I haven’t had it yet. Also I had no recollection of the Yes rally I’d been so looking forward to on 3rd June

    But no, there they were on 6th May in all their pathetic drum banging sectarian idiocy, celebrating what ? Surely they hadn’t been expecting the yoonatics to be taking over GCC on Friday ? Had they anticipated the SNP victory and booked a wee “Up yours, wearrapeepul” walkabout just to show us how relevant they still are ?

    I hope now there is going to be a clear out of GCC and the dust of a thousand corruptions,that there will be a review of just how many of these devisive events there are because at this rate there will soon be one a month. Please SNP, take us out of 1690 and into the 21st Century before I stick that lambeg where the sash doesn’t shine

  13. Kat hamilton says:

    Spin, deceit and downright falsehoods on our screens by the bulls..t broadcasting corp…well, well how surprising to have wins for snp spun as losses…it’s worse propaganda than North Korea, at least they don’t pay for their tv licenses to be fibbed to on a regular basis..sorry, beginning to lose patience with the snp leader and members who passively accept the medias lies and corruption…why the mr nice guy approach..it needs to be called out, live on air unexpectedly, that they’re being boycotted, ignored, and won’t comply with the charade any longer…nicola needs a meeting like now with the high head yin and take off the kid gloves..sick of it…

    • Been saying the same for a long time, so much air time given to the opposition who bray, lie, exaggerate, falsify – but SNP seem not to retaliate in kind. I agree that there is a place for quiet dignity but there is also a place for calling out liars.

      It was diabolical how the BBC carried on in 2014 but it’s worse now, with SKY and STV coming close behind. A lot of it happens on the reviews of the papers where you get a double whammy – false or inflammatory headlines in the yoon MSM discussed by commentators with real anti-Scottish bias. Or, they are just plain ignorant of Scottish politics but no-one bothers to correct them.

      As an SNP member I hereby ask my party leaders to – GROW A SET

    • Sandy says:

      It is tempting Kat and I understand where you’re coming from. However, see Macart’s post, below – give em enough rope and all that. The more the media fly in the face of reality, the less credibility they’ll have when they try to spin their too wee, too poor, too stupid shite.

  14. Macart says:

    Yesterday was the day the meeja and establishment parties spin jumped the shark. Cleared it in fact. Shot over the pier, flew past the beach, the car park, headed inland and caught that bus to Kelty.

    Have to admit to being so taken aback by the narrative, I simply burst out laughing. I KNOW, you shouldn’t really. In fact you should be horrified, outraged and possibly even miffed, but it was simply so OTT. The Tories eviscerate their erstwhile best buds,stabbing them in the back (YET AGAIN) and the SNP vote is barely scratched, indeed their seat count went UP. Only in Yoonland however, does second become first and a catastrophic third becomes a moral victory.

    The numbers though, are determinant. They don’t lie. They can’t be mistaken or disingenuous (unlike certain folks out there in meeja and policy wonk world).

    431 +6 SNP
    276 +161 Con
    262 -132 Lab
    172 -31 Independents
    67 -4 Libdems
    19 +5 Greens

    They wanted to send a message. Well, it’s been received and understood. Ally yourselves with the Conservative party at your own peril.

    Seems clear enough.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      My sentiments completely

    • And still Dugdale hangs on in there.
      As you say, Macart, there seems no point in debating madness.
      Ruth Davidson crushed all before her, her Blue Tories are on an unstoppable trajectory to blast the EssEnnPee all the way back to Brigadoon. Or maybe not.
      Meanwhile, Kezia is still in a job because nobody else is daft enough to take it off her hands.
      No thin skin that lass. She will limp along heroically, until June that is, when Murray is kicked to political death by the Tactical Voting Wing of the Elderly Ladies’ Tea Club of Morningside, and New Labour will officially die as a Unionist Party in the North Country.
      What happens on Day One of the New Blue Tory Government.
      Who will Gordon Hnag On Aminue Brewer invite on to his programmes to ‘speak for’ a Ghost Party, when matters Brexit are being discussed? Lord Falconer? Lord Darling? Lord Foulkes? Lord McConnell? Lord Reid? Harry Barraclough, newly elected MP for Much Wedlock, one of the 100 or so English Corbynistas who survive the Death Of Labour 2017? Lordy Lordy, it has come to this.
      As anticipated the Red Tories voted Blue Tory, and still Her Tubbiness still couldn’t muster enough support to dent the Independence cause, or warrant the mass MSM hysteria since Thursday.
      To his hyperventilating surprise,a newly elected Dim But Nice 20 year old Blue Tory was caught in the headlights on Friday. Perhaps he’ll be their pot hole Tsar in Glasgow.
      I’ve been out in the garden, giving it laldy with the hedge trimmers, lawn mower, Dutch hoe, and rake, weeding, cutting the dead wood out of my rose bushes. I’m open to offers. Never has the phrase ‘a root and branch’ clear out of Scottish Labour been so appropriate.
      There was no ‘surge’ in support for the most evil, malicious, and Tory Administration on record.
      But don’t mention it. I did, but I think I got away with it.
      Last Thursday,Davidson, Rennie, and Dugdale ran the mock Referendum that they all screamed nobody really wanted, and lost.

      Sam, I’d put money on you becoming Labour Leader if you put your name forward; it’s that bad.

      We keep our own counsel, sit on our hands, and let the painfully obvious tragedy that is hard Brexit unfold.
      In June the SNP will be returned as the largest party by far in June, in enough numbers to demonstrate that ‘the people of Scotland’ want the option of remaining in the EU as an Independent nation.
      WM will close down for the Summer Holidays and nothing will happen in July August and September.
      Six months into Article 50, and Fifteen Months after the Brexit vote, and The UK Parliament will return bleary eyed from their summer break, and then the fun will begin.
      Breakfast in the back garden this gorgeous May morning?
      Wonder what the papers are saying…
      ,

      • “Gordon Hnag On Aminue Brewer.”
        Time for a lie down, methinks

      • Macart says:

        No, they didn’t so much as scratch the SNP vote Jack and the referendum that never was died on its arse. What makes me a little sad though is that those communities who put Tories in those seats are now stuck with one issue councilors. People who were voted into place on a national constitutional issue which was never going to be affected by this vote.

        These were the folk who were going settle planning disputes, that there were enough teachers for the local schools, clean dog shit off the pavement, make sure rubbish collection happened, street lighting was adequate, cooncil play areas and land were utilized correctly. So many more issues relevant and particular to each and every region and ward.

        What they’ll get instead? That’s anyone’s guess. Of all the Tory bumf that was stuffed through my letterbox in the past few weeks, I never saw a single local issue mentioned. Not one.

        Maybe those folk’ll get lucky and their blue for red swap will work out for them. They made a choice.

        • It’s like Primary One Sports Day. Everybody gets a prize, including the second and third also-rans who were miles behind the EssEnnPee.
          Let them have their day, if not in the sun, under a solar lamp. The light that they see at the end of their long and dark tunnel is the headlight of the Flying SNPMan hurtling towards them.
          As I say, there will be a UK GE, back to WM for a few weeks, then off on their Holidays for 3 months. Och, it’s a hard life. Bless. Nothing will get done on Brexit until the leaves fall in October. Perhaps by then Tory Councils will be charging us to sweep them up, and use homeless 18-21 year olds to do the work.
          Back out into the sunshine for me.
          They delude nobody but themselves.

  15. Daisy Walker says:

    They are the enemy within, they are the BBC
    When they count 2 plus 2, it equals 3,
    When you want to see the truth within a TV show,
    Here comes Ruthie on a Buffalo.

    • You’re a poet and you know it, Daisy Walker.

      The Ayes have it, but still they do not see,
      The Nos smell it, the whiff of Freedom to be,
      The Cons con it, to fool us all some of the time,
      My puns are done, and I’ve run out of rhyme.

      It’s comin’ yet for a’ that.

    • Grafter says:

      Stop paying the ridiculous TV licence. Actions speak louder than words.

  16. Proud Cybernat says:

    The ‘Silent Minority’ have spoken – “No to a 2nd Referendum’.

    And they meant it.

  17. Statgeek says:

    Let’s see how they do in a FPTP election…

  18. Robert Graham says:

    I went to Wings to make some sense of the results , i had been catching glimpses of the news throughout the day and was convinced we were Gubbed , ruthie was storming all over scotland , taking no prisoners , a total Lazarus rising before our eyes , I really believe the Unionist media think all scots are f/n stupid .
    How much longer are the SNP going to give interviews & cooperate with this BBC in Scotland who are the enemy , they are the opposition , they have been shown time and again lying by omission , every single day the BBC try to damage the SNP why oh f/kn why help them .
    Every time some joker from the BBC asks for an interview use it to attack them live on Air make it personal go for the interviewer , interrupt them when they talk piss ,just dont go on to the next stupid question ,
    this BBC are not your friends , hasn’t it sunk in yet .

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Your way would give them ammo they’d play the victim card in that situation but the current method made them desperate and hysterical they printing lies after lies now even though the facts say otherwise like the torys gain at labour’s expense that’s the fact of the vote yet the bbc can’t report that it’s damaging the unionists so report a lie the torys win instead that’s how they roll now because torys can’t shut up about independence in a way the torys are doing our work for us but don’t let that fact make us lazy

  19. Macart says:

    Wonder if those folk who voted for Conservative councillors still expect the Scottish government to mitigate or offset the legislation of Westminster Tories? As the worst legislation and cuts continue to affect the block grant and individual policies, there will be less to go round and prioritising becomes ever more important.

    More importantly, I wonder if they think they have a right to complain about Westminster legislation as and WHEN it affects their lives negatively?

    In the midst of their one policy messaging to the Scottish government, they should mibbies have thought that one through.

    • Robert Graham says:

      What will be interesting is the first surgery of this twenty year old Tory that has been elected , Firstly congratulations son well done we can only comment on stuff, he can actually change things, From what I have read he has had a varied journey before choosing the Tory party , then again we all learn every day , maybe the penny will drop quite quickly with him he seems an intelligent lad .

      • Cairnallochy says:

        Surgery ? What surgery ? Some of the new Tory youth don’t appear to know yet that the cooncil is actually a day job. I think that is the best point in the Dug’s post !

        • Robert Harrison says:

          Can see Nicola sticking it to ruthie at fmqs when ruthie says the same one line snp need to get on with the day job when a tory councillor ballzed something up somewhere down the line

  20. John Edgar says:

    I suppose now that the Daily Wail will claim le Pen has won the French Presidential Election!
    Macron is pro EU!

    • Macart says:

      And that leaves the German elections.

      Should they go the way I suspect, then the UK Brexit looks very much like a cold and isolated future.

      Folk can’t say they weren’t warned.

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