Margaret Thatcher snatched £130bn of Scottish wealth as she axed 250,000 of our jobsMrs Thatcher, it proclaims, 'reaped a massive Scottish tax windfall' and 'squandered North Sea oil cash on her destructive policies', which, I think, roughly translates as "Let's all share a highly enjoyable outburst of righteous indignation".
Having obligingly done so, the readers will have probably gone off the boil rather by the time they reach the explanation that:
Extra Scottish revenues handed to the UK Treasury during the Iron Lady’s 1980s heyday would be worth a staggering £130billion at today’s prices.So the figure has been adjusted. Never mind the intervening quarter of a century and the misleading 'as' suggesting contemporaneous events; what matters is that the journalist has an attention-grabbing figure to crown a collection of loaded phrases straight out of the rabble-rouser's handbook.
But wait a minute; what's this?
Finance Secretary John Swinney claimed the figures proved that Scotland’s oil wealth had been wasted by the Thatcher government.
He said: “The additional revenue paid by Scotland totalled £130billion during the 1980s".So which is it? And what of the money that has travelled in the opposite direction before and since? Scots may have paid more per head, but don't they get free university tuition and elderly care now? Oil revenues are a complicated question at the best of times but understanding can hardly be helped by such apparent political sleight-of-hand.
When it comes to political speeches, most people don't listen out for the metaphorical small print; they just join in when they like the tune. Look at the crowds of under-30s out on the streets celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher and you'll see exactly what I mean.
We've become so accustomed to misdirection from our political masters on both sides of the border that
it hardly seem worth remarking these days, but a combination of disinformation and opportunistic demagoguery cannot but harm the democratic process.
The Scottish people deserve better than this.
*Admittedly you can't judge a country by its tabloid press; the fact that the most read news story in today's online version is 'Doctors say looking at busty women for 10 minutes a day is good for your health' probably tells you more than you want to know about the readership.