Tag Archives: memes

Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

(Posted April 2018) This was doing the rounds of Facebook the other week, especially Scottish Indy group pages. This woman apparently claims our hard earned cash to pay for her travel to the House of Lords from her house just round the corner. This appeared on the Facebook group page Pensioners for Indy and it had been shared from another FB group page called Rolling Thunder.

Continue reading Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

Indy Meme Culture

dictionary definition: meme (noun) 

1. an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one     individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. 
2. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

Or this from Wikipedia:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.I wrote some background about Indy Memes in a post Indy Memes: True or False. I included an example of a false meme. False memes spread disinformation even if they are genuinely meant to persuade people to support Scottish independence. Good memes are definitely a good thing... they spread accurate information in a way that's easy to understand and share.

I voice my opposition to false themes by explaining why they’re inaccurate and unhelpful. But I am also interested in why people post them on social media and how they get under our skin in the way they do. And they certainly do have an impact because they are shared round and round social media. Often the same meme re-eappearing every few weeks or so.

This page follows on from my original post and shows up some Indy  memes, asks if they are true and wonders how they impact on us. Click on the images to find out more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indy Memes: True or False?

dictionary definition: meme (noun) 

1. an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one     individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. 
2. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

Or this from Wikipedia:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

I log into various Scottish Indy groups on Facebook. There are lots of ‘memes’ in these groups. Most of them are positive, often funny, sometimes inspiring.  Here are a few taken from Yes Scotland’s Future.

There are other memes though which are attempting to communicate something but which are doing it by disseminating misinformation. I’m not going to go far as to say that their creators are deliberately lying. Or cynically trying manipulate other people. I think it’s likely that most of the misleading memes are genuinely intended to spur others to come over to the Yes side of the Scottish constitutional debate.
 
I think it’s only fair that whoever first creates a meme needs to have thought about and researched their topic. At least to have googled it. I think it’s also fair  that people who share a meme over social media also need to consider how likely it is to be true or false.
 
Having said that, it’s also true that the aspirations and emotions behind these memes are shared by all of us who want Scotland to be its own independent country. But the question is: are those aspirations well served by misleading slogans and posters?
 
Look at this one:
 
Two statements and an image.  And the “You Yes Yet?” and “The Way Forward” slogans at the bottom makes it clear what the aim of the poster is. Behind what you see here are some basic facts about Scotland and being Scottish:
  • we Scots make one of the best, most appreciated, and sought after drinks in the world. No, not IrnBru. Whisky. 
  • it’s an iconic part of being Scottish
  • it carries a great deal of cultural and social weight here. It’s what you offer your guests when they come through the door. It communicates values of friendship and trust.
  • whisky is exported all over the world and to some extent it carries those Scottish cultural memes with it

As well as those cultural associations, whisky produces a lot of revenue from the various ways those exports are taxed. It will be a significant part of an independent Scotland’s GDP and revenue stream.

This is where things get muddy. HMRC does the sums about the UK’s trade. The UK’s trade. There is no Scottish HMRC which does the sums for Scottish trade. Instead what we have are a series of estimates made by HMRC. It can’t be an easy task because although Scotch is made in Scotland, it is exported from ports all over the UK. It’s probably often sold on to secondary firms elsewhere in UK who then arrange for its export from, say, Felixstowe or Liverpool. Add to this practical nightmare, it seems that in the past HMRC didn’t count anything as a Scottish export, or a Welsh export, unless it did leave through a Scottish or Welsh port. I’m saying ‘seems’ because I have no way of confirming that actually happened. But it is widely held to have happened. And more to the point, it is still held to be happening now.

The meme works because it plays into a sense that Scotland is treated unfairly by the current tax and financial arrangements. Something that we create and which has value to us is somehow lost to us. It doesn't count, literally. And it's not a big step from that to "we don't count".

Hence the the two statements on the poster. The first statement is true. But whatever export accounting system that HMRC may have used in the past, the second statement is definitely false.

 This is what I commented when this meme appeared on the Pensioners4Indy Facebook page last month:

I’m as much in favour as anyone else in this group to get accurate figures for Scottish economic activity. But this is just not true. Or I should say it’s mostly not true, and it’s all untrue as stated in the poster above. Please don’t share it.

If a Scottish company exports its product even if it goes via a port in rUk, then HMRC classes it as a Scottish export.

What does appear to be true is that if something is exported from a Scottish company to a separate company elsewhere in rUK and then that second company exports it from rUK, then that ‘second port of export’ won’t count towards Scottish export figures.

You don’t have to take my word for it, just google “HMRC Scottish exports” and you find this on the HMRC website:

Are Scottish goods which are exported via ports from the rest of the UK counted as international Scottish exports?

Yes. The ESS publication measures the destination of goods exported from Scotland regardless of the port from which they leave the UK.

How are Scotch Whisky exports treated?

All international exports relevant to Scotch Whisky are counted as Scottish exports, irrespective of the port at which they depart the UK. The data is sourced from the HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics report.

Scotch Whisky exports to the rest of the UK are estimated based on GCS responses, as HMRC do not collect information on trade within the UK[1].

How does ESS treat the situation where Scottish goods are initially exported to the rest of the UK, and subsequently re-exported?

The ESS estimates only capture the first point of export. This means if a good is exported to a company in the rest of the UK and that company then exports it somewhere else, ESS will only capture the export to the rest of the UK.

Direct sales from Scottish companies to international destinations are counted as international exports regardless of where they leave the UK.

 After a couple of days, with quite a few ‘likes’ appearing on my comment, the original post was deleted by whoever posted it. I counted that as a success. Though I have to say that before it was deleted it had been shared about four times. On that basis it wasn’t a success. And if those shares were themselves shared then by this time it will have appeared in hundreds of Facebook posts. 
 
Now if you’re reading this and you’re someone who does share Indy memes on your Facebook page then you might be feeling a bit grumpy or offended with me. If you are, I don’t mind that. It might be  good thing if it makes you  hesitate the next time before you click that share button. 
 
If you’re now wondering about other misleading Indy memes, look under the Indy Snippets tab at the top of the page. I’ll add them there as I come across them.

Did EU tell UK to Double Its State Pension?

So this was shared from the Facebook group ‘..uncensored Scotland’ to ‘Pensioners for Indy’ in April 2018.

I doubt that there is anything in the claim at all. I mean if that had happened, UKIP and Mr Farage would have been all over it, telling is that even though it would be very good to double pensions, we don’t need the EU to be bossing us about and we’ll make our own pension decisions thank you very much!! And probably pro-Europeans would also be all over it as proof of how benefits that EU membership bring us. 

I still can’t decide whether it’s a pro-EU meme or a Brexit meme

Continue reading Did EU tell UK to Double Its State Pension?

Do Revenues from Scottish Oil Under-Write UK Profligacy?

 

This has appeared on several Indy pages on Facebook. It’s unusual that it’s so specific on the date and place that he’s alleged to have said this. In fact, that’s just the kind of reference that I’m forever asking for on Facebook. Unfortunately in this case I can’t find any trace of him saying it. I’m not the only person who has looked into Hansard records to confirm. No-one has managed to confirm it that I have found. In fact as far as I can make out from the Hansard Archives, the Commons wasn’t sitting that day. So if he said this on 29 May, he must have said it elsewhere.

It is of course only one of lots of memes which focus on the same underlying belief. The belief goes like this:

Scotland produces XXX billion in revenues which goes to Westminster

Westminster returns much less than that in the block grant to Holyrood.

Scotland is being ripped off by Westminster.

To be able to prove this conclusively is an on-going activity for Indy supporters. So if Alastair Darling said this actually while he was UK Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Gordon Brown Labour Government of 2007-2010, well that is quite a quote to have handy for another Scottish Independence campaign.

But Google searching does provide another reference to John Jappy. You might not have heard of him: he was from Inverness and worked in the civil Service in Accountant and Comptroller General’s Branch. Several quick promotions took him to the Head Office in London, and further promotions to the General Accounting Division, with links to the Treasury. This involved me in the preparation of National Budgets. When he retired and was active in CND. He died in Feb 2018.

He wrote up this article called  “Hiding the Truth”.  (You can find many other articles by him here.) And it’s in this article that you find the statement :

On 29 May 2008, Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling admitted in a back-handed way, that Scotland’s oil revenue had been underwriting the UK’s failure to balance its books for decades.  There is still 30 years of oil supply left in the North Sea (some 150 million barrels) valued at 2008 prices at 1 trillion dollars.  This excludes the new fields being brought into production in deeper waters west of Shetland.

So no information about where it was said. But a statement by a respected Civil Servant with many years experience and insight into the ways of working of the UK Treasury.

This was an interview he gave in the run up to the 2014 Scottish Referendum. 

If you’ve listened to the interview video then you’ll be aware that Mr Jappy referred to various other instances where Scotland’s financial health and wealth were revealed.

So, apart from the inclusion of an unverifiable reference to Hansard but which is probably incorrect, this would appear to be a good meme!! Hurrah.