The following is a story which was published in Hebrides News Today on the 2nd of February 2012.
Highlands & Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has accused the SNP Government of playing fast and loose with the Air Discount Scheme by excluding business, public sector and charities from the scheme.
The scheme was introduced by the Labour-led Scottish Executive in 2006 to address the social and economic disadvantage suffered by communities across the Highlands and Islands as a result of the high cost of accessing lifeline air services.However in April 2011 the Scottish Government cut any and all work-related travel from the Air Discount Scheme on the pretext that it was following demands from the European Commission.
David Stewart MSP said “It is clear from letters I have received after my Freedom of Information request that it was the Scottish Government who initiated the approach to Europe to cut business, public and third sectors out of the ADS.
The SNP has not been honest with the people of the Highlands & Islands. They tried to blame the European Commission but their fingerprints are at the scene of the crime. This move has taken nearly £3m out of the north economy. Keith Brown, the Transport Minister, needs to come clean, stop blaming Europe and accept it was a simple cost-cutting exercise".
This story is a classic piece of spin from New Labour in Scotland. On the surface it would appear to be a legitimate attack on the SNP government by an honest and diligent oppostion MSP. However, it is anything but what it appers to be.
It does, though, offer a good opportunity for a master class on just how the Labour Party manufactures such stories. Here is how it works:
In early 2011, civil servants working for the Scottish Government discovered a possible illegality in the way the ADS scheme had been implemented by the previous Labour/Liberal administration in 2006. In simple terms, the ADS was launched a social discount scheme and should have been limited to use by individuals for private travel.
The civil servants alerted the Scottish Government of the possible illegality. The SG then had a legal duty to ask the EC to clarify the situation, which they subsequently did. The response was that the scheme was indeed illegal as it stood, so the Government announced that ADS should no longer be used for non-private travel. A regrettable, but inevitable outcome of the civil servant's discovery.
Now back to the New Labour spin. List MSP David Stewart states that the SNP initiated the approach to Europe. In a sense this is true, if you ignore the civil servents who brought it to their attention. It certainly wasn't the EC who initiated it.
However, he then goes on to assert that this proves that it was done as a cost cutting excercise, even though the Government would have been acting illegally if they had ignored the advice of their civil servants and simply carried on with the scheme as it was. And even though Mr. Stewart is well aware of this.
And there is the spin. Mr. Stewart takes something which is technically true (well half true), then phrases it in such a way as to mislead the reader, missing out any inconvenient associated facts (like the role of the civil servants or the legal duty of the SG). He then compounds the dishonesty by (knowingly) making a series of untrue assertions which he relates back to the original half-truth as evidence of their veracity. Generally, this is then repeated continually in different forums, until many people begin to simply assume that it is true.
In this case, the only part of the story above which is actually true is that it was the Scottish Government which first contacted the EC about this matter, rather than the other way around. All of the rest is fabrication and obfuscation.
This sort of negative spin has been new Labour policy since the beginning of the Blair/Brown/Mandelson years. They barely notice that they are doing it anymore, so much has it become part of their culture. And, in many cases, even the initial statement is fabricated and there is no truth whatsoever behind the story.
In this case, the real story is that the scheme was set up incorrectly by the Labour/Liberal coalition but, rather than coming clean and apologising, they spin it in such a way as to make the SNP seem to be at fault. Of course, had the SNP illegally continued with the scheme, that is what they would have spun their story around.
And that is how it is done...
Courtesy of http://hebtalk.blogspot.co.uk/