As we all recall, the BBC seemed to have a strategy in the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum for preventing a narrative from taking hold that the vote had in any sense been a close run thing that could have gone either way. Basically the strategy consisted of using the word "decisive" as much as humanly possible. Almost every BBC report slipped in the word, often rather gratuitously. We had not merely "rejected independence", we had done so "decisively". The result of the referendum was, of course, No 55.3%, Yes 44.7%.
In view of which, I was somewhat bemused to read an article on the BBC website today explaining how a second indyref might come about, and in particular the role of the Scottish Parliament, where we're told "the SNP and Scottish Greens form a small pro-independence majority".
"Small"? Hmmm. Excluding the Presiding Officer, who is politically neutral and only votes when there is a tie (and even then is expected to do so in line with convention rather than his own views), there are 128 seats in the Scottish Parliament. 69 of them are held by pro-independence parties and 59 by anti-independence parties. In percentage terms, that works out as 53.9% for pro-independence parties, and 46.1% for anti-independence parties.
Now, admittedly, 53.9% is a smaller number than 55.3%, so this use of language doesn't directly contradict the notion that the No vote in 2014 was "decisive". Nevertheless, if there is any grey area at all between "small" and "decisive" in BBC arithmetic, it appears to be very narrow - the boundary between the two terms seems to fall somewhere between 54.0% and 55.2%.
Useful to know for future reference.