Springingtiger's Blog


Weaselly Words To Trap The Unwary
August 21, 2014, 17:15
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Scotland | Tags: , , , , ,

When you are reading or listening to the cut and thrust of the independence debate in the media you would be well advised to take into account the language used. You will find that the language used is designed to influence you to accept some arguments and reject or ignore others. For example when Sir Ian Woods comments about North Sea Oil stocks were reported they were prefaced by a lengthy introduction telling us that he is very experienced, an expert, acknowledged by both sides, an oilman’s oilman. What the reports ignore is that he is just one voice and that there are contrary estimates, even when these are reported the introduction tends to be, “the Yes Campaign claimed” which immediately suggests the response is partisan and unreliable whereas Sir Ian is impartial, encouraging you to ignore the support for Better Together implicit in the other answers he gives in the interview, particularly about the size of economic units. Opinions that contradict Better Together tend not to be reported or acknowledged no matter how reputable the source, the only time we hear them is when something favouring Better Together is reported in order to give an illusion of balance. Things that sport independence like the Claire Ridge field and Clyde explorations are ignored as far as possible.

Another use of language occurs in the name of the organisations whose figures are quoted most often the Office of Budget Responsibility, often introduced as, “the independent Office of Budget Responsibility”. Technically now that the Tories are in government it is independent. However the OBR was set up by George Osborne to provide justification for Conservative policies, it was appointed by Osborne, it is independent in name only. Interestingly Osborne is quite properly referred to as ” the Chancellor ” and Alex Salmond as, “the First Minister”. However these titles imply an authority not always appropriate, calling Osborne, ” the Chancellor ” conceals that he has no experience of business nor economics qualifications while calling Salmond, “the First Minister” conceals that he has both.

Finally, you may want to be aware of the language used to introduce comments. How often often are remarks supporting independence prefaced by ” claimed ” or “alleged”, hardly as compelling as, ” verified ” or, “asserted”. Before you swallow what the media tells you about independence, check how much sugar they are using to coat the pill.

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