Kevin Hague, damning a movement based on anecdotal evidence
You have to wonder: if independence is really such a good idea for Scotland’s economy, why do its supporters so consistently try to mislead us about the facts?
This final line in Kevin Hague’s most recent article in the Daily Record gives it all away.
On his blog he sets himself up as an open minded evidence-based rationalist, whose unionism stems from the conclusions he draws from the cold hard facts. Yet, he sees no problem in making wide generalisations based on no quantifiable evidence. He has outed himself as someone who seeks facts to confirm his biases.
His article is about how independence supporters use social media to spread untruths about the economics of independence. He writes:
The problem is he is railing about a perceived ignorance he himself fails to quantify.
You see, there are approximately 1.6 million supporters of independence but he, a supposed man of statistics, is happy to generalise to all of them based on limited interactions on social media.
We can’t speak for the other 1.6 million but we embrace GERS.
We think that that the figures are a damning indictment of how the UK government, who hold the economic levers, have mishandled Scotland’s economy. We think that if we have a massive deficit now then the best way to reduce it is to take responsibility for it ourselves as an independent country. What’s more, world famous accountancy company and non-cybernats Deloitte, agree with us that GERS does not reflect the finances of an independent Scotland.
The point is that there is no need to question GERS when it actually supports the view of most independence supporters that Scotland would be better off out of the UK.
That said, there is no doubt that some independence supporters spread misinformation online. However, as a man of logic, it should be up to Hague to try to substantiate how big an issue this is instead of going into full blown generalisation mode.
The only evidence Hague can provide to confirm his biases are a couple of tweets by an SNP MP that I’d wager the majority of Scots have never heard of.
Interesting UKGov reply today on question of proportion of Scottish exports to RUK destined for EU. They don’t know. My figures suggest 75%.
— Dr Paul Monaghan MP (@_PaulMonaghan) November 14, 2016
The main tweet in question, which may well be misleading, was not even retweeted a substantial amount of times and we have no idea what people who saw this tweet thought about it.
Therefore, the only evidence provided by Hague to verify his theory is a hard to interpret event limited to a small online bubble. The evidence actually doesn’t support his ideas as, if the tweet had linked to proper proof it would have gone viral. Next to nobody knew about it until Hague printed it in a national newspaper in order to bolster a tepid argument.
Incidentally, we have written about why UK/Scotland trade figures should, like a Kevin Hague column, also be taken with a pinch of salt.
A self-professed man of reason like Hague should also try to show some balance.
It is clear that there is some misinformation floating around cyberspace but it is not limited to independence supporters. You will find it on any topic there is. It is rife within unionist circles as well although I would never use it as evidence against all unionists and their cause. Only last week we wrote about the rubbish Murdo Fraser was tweeting but we didn’t use that as an excuse to label all no voters idiots. No, we only think Murdo is an idiot, and Hague’s article would have worked if it was just an attack on Paul Monaghan or some independence supporters.
Ironically, in a Daily Record article making sweeping statements based on paltry evidence, Hague talks about the veracity of the mainstream media when compared to social media.
This is probably broadly true but his article is an example of the subtle deception that goes on all of the time in the mainstream media around the subject of independence.
I could sit down and list 1000 mainstream media articles that totally misrepresent the issues surrounding Scottish independence and those who support it. They do so, not by blatantly lying, but by manipulating truth in order to give a false impression. In the last few weeks, we have dealt with a few examples of this in the form of two reports in the Telegraph that blatantly misrepresent actual data. The difference between these reports and the tweets Hague is crying over is that these reports, due to the eminent source, carry with them an authority unsubstantiated tweets don’t. They also reach a much wider audience.
Hague is indulging in a similar spinning exercise but, embarrassingly for a guy who sets himself up as a man of intellect, he is doing it with much fewer data.
His clear bias is paraded in the headline of the article and the condescending tone he carries throughout. He thinks people, especially those who disagree with him, are uninformed.
The problem with Hague’s unsubstantiated theory is that there is evidence to show that the more informed people are the more likely they are to vote for independence.
It is evidence from a study carried out by Edinburgh University and reported on in the Scotsman so it probably passes Hague’s truth test. This is why Hague can’t conjure up much firm evidence to back up his claims, for many nationalists have learned that it is counter-productive not to inform people properly. We know that with regards to Scotland’s finances post-Brexit most people just want honesty and a viable plan.