Taking a Vow

Been ill. Not as ill as Labour’s anti-NHS campaign, mind…just out of sorts for a few days, and it’s amazing how many blips appear on the radar over three days so let’s start with one.

The Daily Record…dearie me. In my day, back in the late sixties, seventies and onwards, it was king of industrial, trades union and Labour journalism, as well as crime, with unrivalled, no-nonsense coverage hammered home for the working man like rivets in a steel hull. Today it is the outsourced PR agency of the Labour Party.


Not only did it contrive the vacuous Vow along with Labour and Gordon Brown but it now seems it wasn’t even capable of reporting accurately on its own story. The Independent Press Standards Organisation’s damning analysis of the Record’s reporting of How the Vow was Delivered is now added to the ignominy of the political con they orchestrated on the Scots.

All journalists make factual mistakes – it’s an occupation hazard – and, if in this case they were relying ‘on a source’…well, you’re in the hands of the source and if they mess up, you do too. It’s happened to me.

But the really strange part of the paper’s reporting is the inconsistency. On the front we were told (on November 27) that the Scottish budget ‘would nearly double’ (100%). Inside the paper it said the budget would rise by nearly two thirds (66%). Online however it stated the budget would go up by 50 per cent. I can think of hacks from the past who would say that was how they did their expenses…

The confusion with numbers you might just forgive on an inside item on local government spending but on your own We’re-the-Heroes-Who-Saved-the-Union Nat-busting mega splash it beggars belief, especially since the Smith report is supposed to add powers not cash so the spending budget should remain neutral.

It speaks of at least two issues. The first is a rush to self-promote, to overegg with a sense of delight and no doubt relief that they were vindicated when what was needed was a cool head. Eager-beaver journos often oversell their own material. It is the job of subs and, in this case, the editor, to make sure the story was correct and made sense. So, whoever’s name appears on the copy, the ordure drops at the door of Murray Foote.

But also this could have been written by an orgasmic Labour hack selling a line and not by a pro reporter paid to keep it in perspective. The Record seems terrified of its own fate if there is to be a Labour election disaster (again). For years they have watched Labour edge towards the precipice but unlike Labour voters, haven’t prepared to unhook themselves with danger imminent.

The IPSO judgement – that their article ‘significantly misrepresented the fiscal consequences of the Smith Commission’s recommendations’ and ‘the inaccuracy was particularly significant and prominent’ on a story originally of their own creation and on an issue of critical importance to the nation – is a shameful legacy that would have the inky, tobacco-stained soldiers of the Record’s heyday shuffling off in dismay to the boozer.

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With painful coincidence the IPSO judgement came less than a week after the death of one of the Record Old Guard, Gordon Airs, who will be remembered as one of the greats.

(I was scoffed at on twitter by one of the new breed, David Clegg, recently for daring to offer my take on politics as if I knew anything. You can imagine the IPSO ruling raised a few wry smiles around here.)

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11 thoughts on “Taking a Vow

  1. I’d be interested on your analysis of how the other UK papers reported this ……

  2. In my local SPAR shop in the Hilltown Dundee, if you spend over 80p on a Saturday in the shop you can have a FREE Daily Record. The stack o unclaimed papers is eye watering. So you see they canna even gie it away now. This is the price they paid for their treachery. After the general election the continued slump in sales will no doubt see them coming up with even more innovative schemes. Help yersel to a free Record and take it to yer local butcher and he’ll wrap a half pund o mince in it.

  3. In the great events and histories of nations, the protagonists in constitutional debates can be cutting, incisive, brilliant, powerful, through newspapers, pamphlets and oratory.
    In the greatest constitutional event in Scotland’s history for 300 years, the Daily Record managed to be dishonest and shabby.
    A very small legacy.

  4. Well said Derek.

    the people of Scotland are being force fed lie after lie by this rag ..

    Campaign to stop buying the record please.

    Like Slab, another “union dividend”

  5. Steve Asaneilean

    “Labour hack selling a line” – they already have that in the form of their political editor who seems to have forgotten what true journalism really is. No surprise he cut his teeth on Brian Wilson’s WHFP.

  6. Derek,
    Was this complaint not lodged by “Wings”?, at least give Stew Campbell his due.

  7. The loss of the Daily Record will be welcome to many of us – as a young man, I read it as the best of a poor choice and on the grounds that many decent workers did also – not long after voting age arrived, I stopped! Our Scotland has needed an efficient, fair press for too long; nowadays I’ve a regular order of The National Newspaper (waiting for the best option’s proof, before fully subscribing to the most worthy), most willing to wait and see!

  8. Karma can be a bugger right enough. 🙂

  9. Many people learn the lesson as children that when you tell a lie, you then have to invent even more lies to support that first one. It seems those Record journos who write pro-Labour, anti-SNP propaganda have never learned that lesson.

    With regard to their so-called “political editor” Torquil Crichton, maybe his continual tribal anti-SNP sniping is due to his thinking in Gaelic and then mis-translating into the single syllable English that his average Record readers will understand.

  10. Good to see you back Derek…I think we can probably agree that the Record is good for one of two things…wrapping a fish supper or making “rings” for the log burner…take our pick…as far as I can ascertain its use as a Newspaper of any credibility is all but over…mind you….I daresay someone might come up with another use for it…..

  11. David Clegg?,
    I remember him when he was at “The Courier”, got his unionist training there, so it was but a small sideways jump into the arms of the Daily Record, where he obviously relished the role of S.N.P./ Yes campaign basher.
    Still “give a man enough rope” ect!!.

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