We all know there’s a lot of madness and stupidity on Twitter. What never ceases to amaze me is the amount that comes from a small but select band of SNP elected politicians. I say small because the Twitter accounts of many are frankly dull, of the ‘Thank you Joyce and Rita for the coffee and fine pieces at the wonderful Auchterturra community hub’ variety. And I mention elected because these are the party’s best who’ve not only got through whatever vetting procedures they run but also survived the scrutiny of an eagle-eyed electorate and the ballot box.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Dr Paul Monaghan, tribune of the people from Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.
Actually, I’ve given you the good Dr M (it’s a PhD by the way, you needn’t worry about him practising on any innocent NHS patients) a number of times before. A simple search of this blog, top right hand corner of the page, will reveal all. For today’s purpose a veil will be drawn over his forays into more serious matters like foreign affairs (think Palestine). This is about weirdness and sheer lack of attention to detail. So I’ll just mention here – because it seems to fit so well with his tweet above – the examples of his once-upon-a-time espousal of demented cybernat ‘Claire’ Robertson and his anger at EasyJet’s lack of check-in procedures for hand baggage.
Anyhow, to today’s subject – Dr Monaghan’s belief that for forty years Scots have been told they’re as poor as Bangladesh while they’re actually wealthier than Switzerland.
Is he stark staring bonkers? I have never once in my entire life heard anyone say or seen anyone write that Scotland is as poor as Bangladesh. If he can produce a credible source for his claim I’ll pop £100 in the post to any charity of his choice (genuine charity that is – not some SNP front-organisation promoting a personal or nationalist cause). As for Switzerland, hmm, the statistics might be more arguable, but I hae ma doobts (© Scots Language Centre).
Part of me says that his claim is so ludicrous that it needs no more attention than a knowing chuckle and a weary shake of the head. But let’s take it seriously.
International statistics are quite difficult to compare for all sorts of reasons so I’ve resorted to one measure from two separate sources. The measure is gross domestic product (GDP) per head of population. The sources are first the CIA’s World Factbook for Bangladesh and Switzerland. If you’ve not come across it before, the Factbook is a wonderful compilation of information about every country in the world. Because Scotland isn’t a nation state it doesn’t appear in the Factbook so I have used the highest of three measures of GDP the Scottish government themselves calculate, one which includes ‘a geographical share of extra-regio [sic] (offshore) activity.’ To ensure comparability with the Factbook’s figures I have converted the Scottish GDP per head expressed in sterling into US dollars at the rate the Factbook uses. Here’s the result:
So there you have it – a comparison to Bangladesh no-one to my knowledge has ever made and a claim, ‘we’re wealthier than Switzerland’, the facts don’t support.
The serious point is the question of judgement Dr Monaghan’s tweet raises. When I last looked, he hadn’t even deleted the offending item or (a handy hint offered free of charge) made a jokey confession of error to defuse the inevitably risible response that Twitter did indeed deliver. But then so many of his other tweets also raise questions of judgement. As he himself says, ‘Nothing has changed.’
Footnote. Perhaps Dr M should consult his constituency communications manager in future before he tweets. That’s his brother Mark by the way but there’s nothing wrong with that.