Steerpike

The SNP’s struggles with statistics

The SNP’s struggles with statistics
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To read some of the coverage of No. 10’s parties, you’d have thought Boris Johnson’s government was a uniquely mendacious, duplicitous and scandalous regime. Fortunately, just north of the border, Nicola Sturgeon’s administration is doing its bit to prove it’s every bit as secretive, flawed and contemptuous of standards.

Today’s Scotsman on Saturday reveals that the Holyrood government broke Freedom of Information laws in its battle to keep its Covid modelling secret. Ministers were found to have unlawfully kept second wave death and case predictions hidden during a 16 month transparency battle with the newspaper, according to the Scottish Information Commissioner Daren Fitzhenry.

Such was the strength of the public interest argument in favour of disclosing the modelling used by the government at the time, the commissioner said, officials should have released the information when the initial request was made in September 2020, just as ministers began the move to reintroduce restrictions. Instead, the country has had to wait nearly a year-and-a-half for the data, as it labours under fresh restrictions imposed last month. Will the revelations get anything close to a hearing in the Westminster press?

Still, when they’re not withholding information, the SNP is actively pumping out falsehoods. Take, for instance, the claims put out by one of the party’s digital officers on Monday. SNP apparatchik Olaf Stando claimed that ‪his party had delivered ‘free tuition, free prescriptions, free bus travel for young people’ and ‘almost 100 per cent electricity from renewables’ whereas ‘Labour in Wales delivered none of it’.

A great story to tell then: if it were actually true. For as unionists quickly pointed out, free tuition was introduced in Scotland by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Welsh Labour introduced free prescriptions four years before Scotland did while young Scots still haven't got free bus travel. The renewables figure is, er, actually 56 per cent while free bus travel for young people was proposed by Scottish Labour during the last parliament. The SNP said it was undeliverable and opposed it before quickly backtracking and putting it in their next manifesto.

Other than that, all is rosy in the birthplace of the Enlightenment!

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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