Have had to do a wee bit of my own investigating tonight, after seeing an article on the IB (International Business) Times website which opened with the line:
‘An independent Scotland WOULD NOT BE ABLE to keep the British pound sterling under a Labour government in Westminster, the shadow chancellor Ed Balls HAS SAID.’ (my emphasis)
Now that’s a pretty major change from the repeated cries of “highly unlikely” that we’ve been hearing for months. That’s what we’d call a definite answer. Ed Balls actually stated that?
But I read through the article, two or three times to make sure, and although there are numerous lines quoted from Mr Balls, there didn’t appear to be one that backed up the opening line of the piece.
I commented on the article stating as much, and tweeted the UK IB Times twitter account.
So I looked up the author, Shane Croucher, on Twitter. I tweeted him the following question from my personal account:
‘@shanecroucher Do you have a quote from Balls stating that Labour categorically wouldn’t allow indy Scotland to join £zone? None in article.’
I was pleased to see a little notification icon at the top of my phone screen a short while later, telling me he’d replied. To be honest, I was hoping he had nothing, but this is what he said:
‘@andy_c_n From the article: “The only way to guarantee the pound is to stay in the UK.” ‘
But… that’s not “Scotland can’t use the pound if Labour are in government”, is it? That’s the same old “highly unlikely” rhetoric we hear day in, day out. And I replied to Croucher saying as much:
‘@shanecroucher That’s not the same thing. They’ve all been saying that for ages. Thanks for reply though.’
So it will be interesting to see if the article is amended, as at the moment, it just looks like Project Fear spin. I’ve archived the original version here, just in case.
With such an important referendum coming our way, it’s not really on to either be making mistakes like this, or to deliberately misrepresent people’s words. It’s not for me to accuse Croucher of being deliberately misleading though, and this is the first time I’ve ever come across him.
The photo’s at the top of the piece give the impression that it is not an altogether objective piece, however: Ed Balls, assertive and commanding; Alex Salmond, looking like he’s praying.
This demonstrates just how careful we all have to be when reading what our media puts out there.
Question everything you read and, if there are loose ends, try to get to the bottom of it.
Update: Author replied to myself and someone else who had tweeted him:
So, if we take him at his word, we must now conclude that an editor deliberately changed the word ‘suggested’ to ‘said’ for reasons known only to themselves. Although I’m sure we can hazard an educated guess as to why…