I have huge respect for Iain Macwhirter, and there's no doubt this will simply have been an honest error on his part, but how on earth did this sentence in his column make it through the Herald editorial process?
"The paradox is that in the STV/TNS poll Labour are comfortably ahead of the SNP in voting intentions."
Labour were in fact just one point ahead of the SNP in the constituency section of that poll, and the two parties were level on the list. It's debatable whether that should even be described as a lead at all, let alone a 'comfortable' one.
Still, such a factual mistake pales into insignificance when compared to the Record's masterpiece of Pravda-style propaganda that transformed what everyone else and their auntie thought was an underwhelming performance by Iain Gray in the first leaders' debate into glorious Churchillian victory. Now, of course, assessing performance is a very subjective thing, and indeed in other quarters there has been dispute over whether Salmond or Goldie came out on top, so I suppose it's possible that Record journalists could have somehow - just about - come to the honest conclusion that Gray was the winner. But it's hard to maintain an assumption of good faith when you consider just how many factual distortions and improbable interpretations they had to rely on to make the account of the 'Gray triumph' sound even vaguely plausible. For instance -
"SCOTS Labour leader Iain Gray won loud applause during last night's live TV election debate when he tore into the SNP goverment's fateful decision to free the Lockerbie bomber."
He won applause, certainly. "Loud", I'm struggling with, and in any case it was plain for all to see there were Labour activists in the audience (as, admittedly, there were of all parties). But the claim goes further still -
"But Gray instantly hit back - winning the biggest round of applause of the night."
It wasn't the biggest round of applause of the night. I've only watched the programme once, but from memory Alex Salmond's spirited defence of the principle of free education received the most widespread clapping. At an absolute minimum it matched the applause Gray received for his downright dishonest claim that he would have broken the habit of a lifetime and ignored the clear wishes of his London Labour overlords by keeping Megrahi in prison.
"Gray reminded the audience he had beaten Salmond three-nil in by-elections since taking over the Labour helm two years ago."
First of all, and again I've only seen the show once so I stand to be corrected, but he didn't actually say that, did he? He made some reference to good election results, but I don't recall him actually trotting out John Park's nonsensical 'three-nil' claim. He may well have planned to, though, in which case a cynic might suspect the Record had seen an advance copy of Gray's 'script'. That would explain a lot, right enough - perhaps the script also included other little details that didn't make the final show such as "(receives thunderous applause)".
Oh, and the 'three-nil' now refers to by-elections, does it? Funny that there's only actually been two Scottish by-elections since Gray became leader. Perhaps they've taken a relaxed, George Bush-style approach to geography and decided that Barnsley is more or less in Scotland?
Now, compare and contrast these two claims -
"Gray - who put in a calm and confident performance..."
"Jabbing his finger, Gray said..."
So which was it - a 'calm' performance or a 'finger-jabbing' performance? Anyone who watched the UK leaders' debates last year will know there wasn't any finger-jabbing in sight during those, and there wasn't much of it in evidence from the other three leaders on Tuesday night. Hardly an obvious marker of 'calmness'.
Last but not least, we have this intriguing summary of Alex Salmond's confidence levels -
"High, as usual. Grinned even when teenager dismissed time in power as "not fantastic"."
Now, you see, that'll be because the teenager in question was not "dismissing" the SNP's tenure, but praising the party as having done a "pretty good job". The journalist who wrote that sentence knows that, and so will the countless Record readers who actually saw the debate. The lie was, of course, for the benefit of readers who hadn't tuned in.
Shameless. Utterly shameless.