Pro-Union ‘data expert’ forced into embarrassing apology

A high-profile Unionist blogger has been forced to publish an embarrassing apology after attributing fake tweets to the editor of pro-independence site Wings Over Scotland.

Kevin Hague, an amateur data analyst who has appeared on the BBC as an ‘expert pundit’ claimed Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell had posted tweets endorsing an annual report known as GERS.  GERS stands for Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland and purports to show the financial status of Scotland as part of the Union.

The tweets, which appeared to have been posted in March 2013, contained the Wings Over Scotland logo.  One said: “I’m getting annoyed now. How can these idiots argue with GERS? Give me one good reason why GERS isn’t reliable?”

Another said: “Impossible. Would need to dispute all Gov figures in White Paper. GERS is watertight. But hey, too wee, too poor.”

Hague posted an image of the tweets together with a message; “*whistles nonchalantly*

However the attack backfired after it emerged the so-called tweets were in fact fakes.  According to Stuart Campbell, who runs the genuine Wings Over Scotland account, the tweets were fake images created and posted by a parody account.

The blunder prompted a rambling series of tweets from Hague in which he first suggested the parody account had been set up as “entrapment” before eventually offering an apology to Campbell.

The episode follows a spat between the two over the accuracy of figures contained in the GERS report and whether the figures it contains are reliable.  Hague claims the figures contained in GERS prove Scotland would be in a worse state financially if the country was independent.  However according to Campbell the figures are mere estimates and thus concrete conclusions cannot be drawn.

Campbell’s stance has been endorsed by respected academic Professor Richard Murphy who has been involved in his own online exchange with Hague.  In a tweet, the academic challenged Hague’s assertions, saying: “The GERS report for 2016 includes the word estimated 249 times. You really think that suggests it’s reliable?”

The exchange between Hague and the academic led to an apparent invite from BBC Scotland presenter John Beattie for Hague to debate with Professor Murphy on the accuracy of GERS.  Hague has appeared as a guest on several BBC programmes offering his pro-Union views.  The invite was accepted by Professor Murphy but apparently ignored by Hague.

However there appears to be confusion over whether Professor Murphy has indeed been officially invited onto BBC Scotland to present his own views on GERS.  Following Beattie’s ‘invite’, the academic posted the following message: “Can I be clear that the BBC Scotland have my number and no one’s called me to debate GERS. There’s been a lot of speculation, but no reality.”

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32 thoughts on “Pro-Union ‘data expert’ forced into embarrassing apology

  1. bringiton

    Either these figures are accepted by unionists as an accurate picture of how Scotland’s economy has faired under Westminster management or they have to accept that perhaps they don’t.
    National economic performance is determined by macro economic choices which in our case are set in Westminster for the UK as a whole.
    The question for Scots is,would an independent Scotland set macro economic policy based on what is best for the City of London or do something different?

  2. Iain Bell

    There may be economists out there willing to debate with Prof. Murphy, in fact, I’m sure there are. But Hague isn’t an economist…it would be like putting a kid with a water-pistol up against a tank. Love to see it, though!

  3. Geach

    Kevin Hague is no economist, (but then again neither is Murphy) but he doesn’t have to be, as his forte is that he is very good at analysing data . For his own sake I hope that Prof Murphy comes fully armed with facts, for if he doesn’t, Hague will own him, much the same way that he owned Stu Campbell and McIntyre-Kemp in previous live debates.
    And IF the alleged tweets were indeed sent by a parody account (odd that no one has stepped up to claim responsibility?) then Hague has been big enough to apologise, something that Wings has never seen fit to do.
    There seems to be a steady stream of pro SNP members and bloggers queuing up to rubbish GERS, yet in 2014 Alex Salmond cited GERS no less than 14 times in his Scottish Government White Paper On Independence as well as calling it the “authoritative guide to Scotland’s public finances.”
    What or who are we supposed to believe with regards to GERS?

    1. Dan Huil

      “Kevin Hague is no economist…”

      It seems the britnat bbc thinks otherwise.

      “What or who are we supposed to believe with regards to GERS?”

      Exactly. GERS should be scrapped and replaced with something that doesn’t depend so heavily on estimates.

      1. Colin Robertson

        The Scottish government use GER s annually & produce accounts based on estimates.

        GERs was quoted in the White Paper as the SNP’S choice to promote an Independent Scotland.

    2. Clydebuilt

      GERS is an account of Scotlands economy. A person best suited to analyse GERS would be an accountant. Prof. Richard Murphy in addition to being a Professor of Practise in International Political Economy at City University is a chartered accountant.

    3. Peter.

      Kevin Huage spent that entire confrontationgiggling and sniggering away to prevent peoiple hearing his lies being exposed. telling, being a Scotophobic bigot and generally acting like the demented wankstain we all know and hate.

      he wouldn’t know the truth if it chopped his head off.

  4. Robert Graham

    in the end Hague is guaranteed a platform , it dosnt really matter if he talks pish , anyone think the bbc are going to challenge him . its job done pish off and running , alternative views are still as they say getting their shoes on . This is happening time and time again its a difficult one to try and overcome .
    Good luck and good weather to all at Pacific Heights today , I wonder if the BBC will report it or as usual , nothing to see here move on .

  5. manandboy

    The truth condemns the Unionist case, forcing Unionists to produce arguments which, though false, can be dressed up to appear somewhat plausible.
    Such is the state of almost all political argument and discussion in the UK today. Truthful news versus Unionist news.

    No one illustrates this better than Kevin Hague who is hired by such as the BBC, to pour out a steady stream of lies and half-truths about Independence, the Scottish Government and the SNP.

    Hague refuses to accept that the economy of an independent Scotland, free of the UK’S massive overheads, would be very very different from the one we have at present, which is presented as an estimate in GERS.

    Imagine a flower seller on the pavement outside John Lewis having to accept a 9% share of John Lewis’s overheads.

    All because you can fool some of the people all of the time.

    1. Geach

      Imagine if that flower seller was given a payout by John Lewis which amounted to more than 3 times the flower seller’s contribution to them, plus took care of his overdraft at the end of the year…. would you not say the flower seller had a good deal?

      1. Dan huil

        And 9% of John Lewis’ overheads is…? What John Lewis tells the flower-seller, without giving the flower-seller proof? Or giving the flower-seller false figures?

        It would seem the flower-seller’s best way ahead would be to end the association with JL. Or at least find a more honest associate.

        1. Geach

          It is irrelevant what the 9% amounts to as he is going to get 3 times that back. AND have his overdraft taken care of.

          1. Peter.

            Go on. Tell us why Scotland is bankrupt after 300 years of pumping money into England. Explain where the oil went. the coal. The whisky revenue. The beef. Sheep. Timber. Fish.

            Go on dogfoodboy Tell us where our money went.

  6. Kevin

    Point is, Hague might *privately* have arrived at the conclusion – long-ago perhaps – that GERS is indeed bogus, but he’s now so far down the line, has wholly staked his reputation and credibility on this important constitutional factor that he can’t now be seen to make his U-turn. He’s not an idiot, he can read and he can examine facts and figures intelligently, and if in any doubt, he can observe what conclusion various respected economists arrive at. it’s my bet he’s fully-aware that GERS is a monumental con, and – such is the make of the man – he’d rather save face than see an independent Scotland.

    Of course he won’t appear on any television broadcast with any expert; and risk being exposed as a charlatan and an amateur? The only time he’ll ever appear on a television broadcast to discuss GERS is if the dice is so blatantly stacked in his and the unionist show’s favour – as-per their agenda – that it would be safe to do so.

    Ever since Alex Salmond and the SNP announced an Independence Referendum in 2011 it has been the union’s explicit instruction to all news outlets, publications and broadcasters that no event will take place that favours the argument for an independent Scotland.
    You’ll see no such discussion that includes Professor Richard Murphy or others who will easily dismantle GERS

    1. Geach

      Your first paragraph is completely without any foundation and completely free of fact. Hague has appeared live on radio with Stu Campbell on TV with McIntyre-Kemp and he has also agreed to a f2f with Murphy, so I suppose that your assertion that he won’t appear with “experts” may be spot on.
      John Beattie has contacted both Hague and Murphy…Hague accepted straight away, but Murphy is saying he hasn’t been contacted by the BBC despite evidence to the contrary. So, who is running scared would you say?

      1. Peter.

        Hi Kevin! Waves!

        Fact 1. Kevin Hague ran away from appearing on film with a real economist him and the odious Fraser Whyte both.

        Fact 2. Kevin Hague ran away from the proposed interview with Richard Murphy on the BBC. Because he’s a lying racist who threatened to sack his Scottish staff if they voted yes.

        Fact 3. Kevin Hague was exposed as a sad racist little turd by the Rev Stu. A man who has made it his life’s work to prove that Scotland is poorer than Albania or Moldova has serious issues.
        Especially when his company hasn’t made a profit in 5 years.

        1. Geach

          Fact 1. No he didn’t.
          Fact 2: Wrong on both comments. Your second one is particularly sour.
          Fact 3: I don’t think that you listened to the debate, did you. Racist? How so?

    2. Colin Robertson

      The truth is that the SNP & its support don’t like being rumbled & use character assassination as opposed to facts to change people’s minds​.

      The SNP use GERS figures when it suits them. When the SNP are shown in a bad light like 2014/5 figures, then things tend to change.

  7. Dan huil

    Lest we forget it has been known for quite a while now that GERS was and still is a party politically motivated document, as evidenced in the following quote from a leaked Ministerial correspondence from Ian Lang, the then Secretary of State for Scotland, in a letter to the then Prime Minister, John Major, on March 3rd 1992:

    “I am disappointed that both you and the Chancellor have reservations about publishing the booklet I have had prepared and printed, setting out the details of the government’s expenditure and revenue in Scotland. I judge that it is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them”.

    1. Geach

      The current SG has owned GERS for 10 years now. If the SNP weren’t confident in the validity of the figures, why did Alec Salmond call GERS “the authoritative guide to Scotland’s public finances” and name check GERS 14 times in the Scottish Government’s White Paper On Independence?

      1. Dan Huil

        As you said above: “What or who are we supposed to believe with regards to GERS?”

        As I answered above: “Exactly. GERS should be scrapped and replaced with something that doesn’t depend so heavily on estimates.”

        1. Geach

          So how do you calculate(for example) defence spending then? There is a big NATO exercise going on right now in Scotland…how can you say with any accuracy what the benefit to Scotland’s economy is? Or the detriment to Scotland’s economy? How do you you the measure exactly what Scotland spends on the military when regiments/ships/aircraft are so transient? Is population % not a fair measure for cost as our armed forces protect the entire UK, not just bits of it?

      2. Peter.

        I thought you Yoons claimed that Alex Salmond was a liar and the White paper was all lies? Make your mind up!

        GERS figures come from the london treasury and OBR. They are nothing to do with the Scottish Government. You know this lying Kevin the racist so stop being stupid.

        1. Geach

          Well that’s the point that I am making. If GERS was accurate enough in 2013 for Salmond to call it the “definitive guide to Scotland’s public finances,” then it is accurate enough now. I am puzzled as to why that now the economy has struggled for the last three years why the veracity of GERS is being questioned now, but not in 2013?

      3. Mac an sealgair

        Pasted from an earlier reply. Ask the same question get the same answer.

        Its the authoritive guide for no other reason than its the ONLY guide. Its made up of estimates given by the treasury and the OBR who are excellant with their forecasting of the economy…not.

  8. Dave McEwan Hill

    If the GERS figures are accurate they would conclusively prove that the union is a disaster for Scotland.

    1. Colin Robertson

      Wrong. The 2014/5 GERs figures in conjunction with the White Paper showed Scotland would have a £15 billion deficit & have to cut services and or raise taxes.

      Right now the SNP have no plan for Independence or currency or the EU.

      Shameful.

  9. commonoldworkinchap

    There seems to be a disease going round in the UKOK loving people at the moment which
    reminds me of putting your fingers in your ears and saying NA NA NA very loud. The symptoms are….

    Absolutely insist that Scotland is a basket case, and the world would fall in except for our
    union with the RUK

    Repeat, repeatedly that same old shite from 2014, even though it was scare mongering lies.

    Demand the SG give us specific details of what an independent Scotland will entail. At the
    same time expecting us to “trust” in a government who have no details ( in fact not a clue )
    as to the disaster that is Brexit

    Play the man ( or woman ) instead of addressing the issue.

    TELL US THAT GER’s IS GOSPEL

    The list is endless. Mr H(V)ague is just the latest in a production line of” experts” waiting to
    tell us ” Gonnae No Dae That .!!!!!

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