Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Is Jackson Carlaw right to think he's going to be the new Clement Attlee? (Caution: spoilers ahead)

You may have seen that Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw unintentionally provided the nation with some much-needed hilarity the other day with the most contrived explanation so far of how, against all available evidence, the Tories are supposedly going to storm to victory in next year's Holyrood election.  He wants us to believe that, like Churchill, Nicola Sturgeon is "winning the war" (an implicit acknowledgement that her handling of the crisis is greatly increasing her popularity), but that he, Jackson Carlaw, will be like Clement Attlee and "win the peace".  

It's a curious comparison, to say the least.  Britain was completely broke in 1945, and yet years of hardship and struggle meant that the working class were ready to demand change that hadn't seemed so urgent to them when the country was far better able to afford it.  Carlaw seems to think voters will react to the current crisis in completely the opposite way by demanding less change at the end of it than they otherwise would have done.  

Or perhaps he just means that governments and leaders can seem wildly popular during a crisis, but that things will look very different when an election comes around?  That's sometimes true, but if that's what he's getting at, the Attlee comparison is still misconceived.  There was polling done during the Second World War that suggested a handsome Labour lead (albeit people didn't take it seriously at the time because political polling was in its infancy).  It simply wasn't the case that Churchill was the people's choice in wartime but not in peacetime.

Or perhaps he means there'll be a reappraisal of the Scottish Government's handling of the crisis in the cold light of day?  Maybe there will be, but the main criticism that will be levelled is that they remained too much in lockstep a few weeks ago with the herd immunity madness from London.  It's hard to see how the Scottish Tories can make much capital out of "you were agreeing with the London Tories too strongly".  It's been particularly extraordinary to see Carlaw accusing the SNP of a lack of transparency over care home deaths, given that everyone knows the Conservative government at Westminster is being considerably less transparent on that subject than the Scottish government is.

Carlaw thinks the SNP will "look ridiculous" if they press for independence in the 2021 election in spite of the events of this year, and that doing so could be a recipe for a surprise defeat.  That may or may not be true - anyone who claims to know for certain what the long-term effect of current events will be is deluding themselves.  But it does seem likely that if the public cease to have patience for politicians pushing for independence in the near future, they'll inevitably react in exactly the same way towards politicians hellbent on the hardest possible Brexit.  It may be that what Carlaw has really done is put his finger on the reason why his party should actually be expecting a drubbing next May.


  1. Did not expect Scottish Nat sis to have known about the Attlee Labour Government that created the NHS after 1945. Most Nat sis will be taught in the future that it was the Nat sis who did it. That is what fascists do.

    1. Poor Covidia. So angry. So bitter. So very, very funny.

    2. The Scottish NHS developed out of the Highlands & Islands Medical Service which was formed in 1913.


    3. GWC , what a nasty bitter wee man you appear to be. I would imagine every schoolchild in scotland ,( certainly when i was at school in west of scotland in the late eighties ), was taught in modern studies about the creation of the welfare state ,"from cradle to grave" , and the nhs in the post war years.

      I voted labour up till the end of the nineties , as did many in the snp .

      We all know her majestys british imperial labour party has tried to live off the back of the creation of the nhs for the last 72 years. One good deed doesnt nullify all the bad.

      Of course , labour might have created the nhs , but they didnt think up the idea. The idea of a national health service goes way way back in many countries and many cultures.

      There was a long tradition of hospitals and medical treatment open to all in soceity and free of charge in "celtic " society ,across europe and here in these islands.Scotland , and to a greater extent ireland , was famous for hospitals and medical treatment throughout europe and as far as persia in the early medieval period.

      One of the most famous medical schools was at tomregan in county cavan which dates from the fifth century , when the ancestors of the english were only arriving in britain and still putting their sick injured and disabled to death.

      Its not us "nat sis" as you pathetically put it , that have forgotten our history , but you brainwashed "brit nats" that have forgotten yours.

    4. The ancient brehon laws of scotland and ireland are very explicit on medical practice , and hospitals and how everyone in society was free to use them.

      There was also the inclusion of "sick payment"from wider society to those who were too ill to support their families while being treated.

      The oldest surviving gaelic medical textbooks date from the fourteenth century.All going on centuries before anyone had thought of the yookay .

  2. Send him your best wishes....and ask him about the PPE situation

  3. Carlaw is just not very bright or well informed. A few years ago three of us accidentally met him doing a walkabout, in our town, with a radio journalist.
    We challenged him on various aspects of Trident and nuclear armaments. His responses were vague and shallow. After a few minutes he gave up and ended his walk about. A Daily Mail journalist also present said words to the effect of 'well, he didn't give you much trouble'.
    Future First Minister ? Aye right ! (and no, I wouldn't buy a second hand car from him).

  4. James Kelly hides in the fridge, then sneakily emerges to delete comments.

    1. Big Eater From PerthApril 15, 2020 at 10:27 AM

      Yes, I suppose that may explain his incredible froideur. But then same people make incendiary posts -


    2. I think Big Eater would surpass Winston Churchill.

  5. James, where did this come from? Your apparent notion that it wasn't true that "Churchill was the people's choice in wartime but not in peacetime" seems totally disjoint, since that's exactly what happened. People appreciated his resilience during hostilities, but they didn't want the mad old dog anywhere near the reconstruction.

    That aside, the comparison of Nicola Sturgeon with Churchill is hardly apposite anyway, because whatever errors she may have made due to poor "lockstep" advice, she has demonstrated a safe pair of hands to anyone who has been paying attention, and that should stand her (and her party) in good stead for the forthcoming elecions, whenever they happen.

    The thought of Jackson Carlaw as channelling the spirit of Clem Attlee is risible. Maybe what he's actually hoping for is a return of the "wartime spirit" of togetherness that provides a much-needed fillip for BritNattery, but given the tardy and lacklustre performance of the UKGov so far (not to mention yesterday's revelations of English "sauve qui peut"), that may be a hope too far. We shall see.

    1. "James, where did this come from? Your apparent notion that it wasn't true that "Churchill was the people's choice in wartime but not in peacetime" seems totally disjoint, since that's exactly what happened"

      Crikey, you don't seem to have even managed to read the paragraph you're quoting from. I explained why that wasn't "exactly what happened" - polls were conducted during the Second World War showing a clear Labour lead. It appears that Churchill wasn't the people's choice in wartime any more than he was in peacetime.

    2. Och, for all your good sense, you are a terrible quibbler. You may well be right in that civilian opinion was moving towards Labour policies during the war (when they had plenty of more pressing distractions to deal with rather than worry too much about opinion polls, for whatever they were worth at the time), and it is eminently clear that returning service personnel were heartily sick of military bull and keen to put the "ruling classes" in their place for the peace, but there is no evidence that Clem Attlee had better popular leadership ratings than Churchill during actual hostilities, since there were no such surveys then (for fairly obvious reasons). So your basic contention here is unsubstantiated at best, and tendentious at worst.

      And since (sadly) Churchill even managed - in a real election, not some ad-hoc poll - to supplant Attlee as PM again in fairly short order, it's arguably more likely the latter...

  6. NRS have released the weekly update of Covid deaths based on death certificate. They are now also including data based on date of death (before it was just date of registration), so can get direct comparison with the ONS figures for E&W.

    Upto 05/04/20
    633 vs 220 daily figures (+413 +188%)

    So updated deaths per 1,000,000 upto 3/4:
    England :106
    Scotland: 90
    Wales: 75
    NI: 29

    1. also have deaths by registered date upto 12/04:
      962 vs 566 daily figures (+396 70%)

      25% of deaths in care homes

    2. Per capita is a rather meaningless comparison though, as England is 10x the population, so if you have a single person in each country - the minimum you can have - Scotland's death rate is already 10x as high. While technically correct, it a silly comparison, at least in terms of understanding an epidemic.

      It's why people don't tend to compare countries per capita; it makes no sense because virus spread is not a function of population size, but infected cases / vs transmission rate.

      For transmission rate, we now have:

      For day 24 since first 10 deaths / identical number of initial infections 3+ seeks previously:
      699 Scotland
      5373 rUK

      The spread rate in England has been nuts; it's created 7.7x as many deaths there for the same number of initial infections as Scotland.

    3. San Marino highlights the fallacy of a per capita comparison.

      It has just 36 deaths compared to the UK's nearly 12868, but per million it would look like hell on earth at 1066; 10 times that of England.

      But then San Marion is tiny, so 1 case looks like the end of days per capita compared to e.g. China....

      The BBC have a nice graph of the DSF10D with Scotland vs England:


      The difference in spread rate is stark and can only be down to the much earlier lockdown here.

    4. I'm using the standard method of calculating mortality rates - deaths in a fixed constant of population scaled to the size of the population.

      As you say transmission rates and spread rates are calculated differently and are different statistics.

    5. Yes, I know. Nothing wrong with the numbers.

      I was just highlighting how per capita figures don't tell us anything useful about the current situation.

      I must admit I started looking at it per capita myself in the beginning, but then realised viral spread is not related to population size, so doing that was of no use for comparing how well different countries were handling the situation. Not in the early stages of an epidemic anyway, where absolute numbers are really small compared to populations.

      If Scotland had lost 10% of people in an epidemic, but England only 5%, there'd be questions over such big difference. But as things stand the numbers are too small to have statistical significance on a per capita basis in terms of analysis the situation.

  7. Who is the Neville Chamberlain of the independence movement?

    1. I don't know who it is going to be, but I definitely know who it's NOT going to be. It's definitely not going to be YOU!

    2. A majority in our time... What more could we want?

    3. Alex, I don't think likening someone to Neville Chamberlain is supposed to be a compliment.

    4. I knew exactly what he was implying. My reply was meant to convey the message, that enough people have now sussed what Mr Campbell is about, and his hopes of parking his arse in a Holyrood seat are zero.

  8. Anyone up for nationalising Travelodge and changing Beefeater to BigEater?

  9. Jackson Carlaw He's having a laugh or giving us one.

  10. Pretty sure death will find me long before the day I forgive Nicola Sturgeon. Or Maynards for buying up Midget Gems and Sports Mixtures, improving them with the addition of blackcurrant, but then shitting all over the recipe and forcing me to go back to picking the licorice ones out of Lion gums.

    1. Pretty sure death will find me long before "Wings" ever conducts an honest poll among SNP voters to determine how many of them would be willing to give their second vote to a new pro-indy party.

      The last "poll" was an absolute joke, obviously designed to invoke an outpouring of enthusiasm for the new Wings party. Must have been gutted when the results in that respect were pretty shit, eh? Even though respondents were led by the nose and pointed at the "correct" conclusion, the awkward bastards gave a lukewarm (at best) welcome.

  11. Daily Mail goes on the attack against the Holyrood administration and enlists the support of Gompels:


    1. PLease don't link to the Daily Mail. Archive it first.

    2. Hm. I look forward to knowing the truth, in the full awareness that I'm not going to find it in the Daily Heil...

    3. I second MacAndroid's motion... I won't let them have even their fractions of a penny of advertising revenue for my click.

  12. Looks like Scotland may have peaked around April 11/12th, both in terms of new cases, hospital patients, ICU patients, and deaths.

    Today's daily deaths looked a little higher, but they were playing catch-up from the Easter weekend.

    Would be about 3 weeks from schools shutting and the full lockdown beginning in earnest.

    As things stand, Scotland's earlier lockdown has saved coming on 5k lives compared to England. That number will continue to rise.

  13. Sadly that is incorrect. Using the ONS and NRS figures for deaths (as they are the most accurate) for the 20th day since the 10th death Scotland has mortality rate of 116/million England 43/million. So Scotland had an additional 73 deaths per million of population at the same point of the curve compared to England

    1. Yes, but that's a meaningless statistic. It says nothing at all. 73 per million is too tiny a number to compare. It's statistically insignificant. Differences at that level could result from the wind in Scotland being slightly different one day. 70 ppm is 0.007%!

      And I'm pretty horrified you think the 1000 dead in England is 'no different' to 100 dead in Scotland. Do you really think one Scottish life is worth 10 English lives? That's what you are saying here. You are saying 1000 English dead is equal to 100 Scots dead in terms of impact right now.

      Sorry, I, like normal humans, think a pile of an extra 900 dead English is pretty fucking different, even if per capita it's not.

    2. I hope to god we don't get to the point where deaths as fraction of the population start to become sufficiently large to be statistically sensible to compare between countries, i.e. if the virus was allowed to finish it's work. We'd be looking at say over half a million dead in England for that. Then we could start to say 1% of the English population died, but in Scotland it was...x% But even then you might be into simple age demographics to explain things...

      Hence folk use absolute numbers and infection rates to try and compare radically different sized countries where a statistically very small (per capita) number of people are infected/dying.

  14. I think every life is equal no matter were they are from. I also think that if statements are going to be made in the public domain they need to be accurate and follow the correct recognised format of presenting them, especially in areas that have profoundly impacted people. which I have done.

    Your claim that 5k lives have been saved by Scotland's earlier lockdown is incorrect and and have provided evidence using recognised statistical methods.

    Think that concludes the discussion.

    1. The recognized format for epidemics is absolute number of deaths. Hence they don't announce per capita numbers each day, but absolute.

      Because every life is equal like you say. Your per capita puts more value on the lives of people from countries with smaller populations, and dismisses deaths in huge states as less important.

      A Scottish life is not worth more than an English one.

      Today is day 24 since Scotland's first 10 deaths (representing say 1000 infections 3+ weeks earlier), and we are on 699 dead. On day 24 for the rUK it was 5373 dead (for the same number of initial infections). That's nearly a 5k difference. You are not seriously trying wipe all those lost English lives away so you can somehow argue there's more dead in Scotland? I hope not.

      699 Scots dead is not a much bigger tragedy than 5373 English.

      Sadly, in England, the same number of infected folk walking around a few weeks back ballooned much more than in Scotland, resulting in nearly 5 k more deaths and counting. And what the Tories did should not be hidden from people.

    2. The statistical format for morality rates is deaths over fixed constant that's what I provided.

      You are not seriously trying wipe all those lost English lives away so you can somehow argue there's more dead in Scotland? I hope not.

      Nope I am saying that for very million deaths in England there were 73 more deaths in Scotland at the time mentioned. In simple terms if Scotland and England had the same population size there would be cira 2 400 more deaths, not a saving of 5000 deaths as you claim.

      Thats why raw numbers are not used in morality rates. Country A could have 100 deaths and country B 150 but if the population of country a is 200 and country B is 2000 the impact on country A is going to be much higher.

      Raw numbers are useful but also have to scale to population to get a full picture.

    3. Ultimately if you have two countries that employ exactly the same measures at exactly the same time, with the same age demographics and the both have the same mortality rate the country with a larger population will always have more deaths, this is simple maths, the same percentage of a larger number will always be higher than a lower one.

      Thats why you have to scale to a fixed denominator. Then you are looking at like for like and can see any difference.

    4. Yes, but not in the early stages of an epidemic. The numbers are too small per capita to make the comparison meaningful (and populations too large to limit rates of infection growth). Above, you are saying Scotland's death rate is '0.007% higher than England'. That's what 73 per million is; 0.007%. It's nonsense to discuss such differences as something of note.

      But you are right that if the virus had affected all 5.4 million of us Scots and 55 million in England, then looking at death rates per capita would start to be into the realms of statistical significance in terms of finding differences.

      If 10% of a population die of something in one country while 5% die of it in another, that's notable. But a 0.007% difference?

      This is why we look at transmission rates based on a fixed number of initial cases. Like graph 1 here:


      And 3 here:


      The virus has just not infected enough people to make comparisons per capita meaningful in terms of effects of lockdown timings etc. We can look at a fixed number of initial infections (10 deaths = e.g. 1000 infections 3 weeks before) and see how these multiplied in a large population; sufficiently large to be non-limiting in the context you mention. Such as Scotland vs England, UK vs USA....

      As I said, per capita calculations are not incorrect, but statistically the numbers are far too small to compare in that way. 0.007 ppm is f'n tiny!

    5. depends how you look at it. That 0.007% difference accounted for about 350 additional deaths.

      So even a small percentage (as you say 73/pm is 0.007%) scales into large numbers in a population.

      This of course becomes more noticeable the large the population gets, a 0.007% difference in a population of 50,000,000 is 35000, in a population of 100,000,000 is 70000

    6. Now you are just lying out of your erse. And you don't understand error margins.

      Scotland does not have 350 more dead than England. This is Trumpian levels of lying. The bodies are piled 8 times higher in England for an identical outbreak in the population.

      What's happening is you are taking a tiny % and turning it into an imaginary number of deaths that have never occurred. It's the fallacy your attempt to use endemic disease comparisons with a early stage epidemic.

      The numbers speak for themselves.

      Based on ~1000 initial infections (assuming 1% death rate) running around infection people, we have (daily numbers):
      699 dead in Scotland
      5151 dead in England

      Because the virus spread much faster in England.

      This is why people are not talking about San Marino and Scotland being the covid capitals of Europe. No, they are saying England ('UK') is worse than Italy and catching up with Spain.

      They either understand what you don't because you are not very bright, or your are just making stuff up.


    7. Per 1000000 of population Scotland has 71 more deaths than England at the same point of the curve. This is a statistical fact. If Scotland had the same mortality rate as England it would of had circa 350 less deaths that is a statistical fact. England is always going to have more deaths than Scotland even if it had a lower mortality rate because it has a larger population, again another statistical fact.

      You keep talking about virus spread which is nothing to do with mortality rates.

      I fully expect the mortality rates between England Scotland & Wales to diverge as data becomes available for latter in the curve, England had a much shallower curve than Scotland & Wales earlier in the outbreak, hence the disparity between the rates. I fully expect the mortality rates to be virtually identical for England Scotland and Wales at the end of this 'wave' of the outbreak. England will have more deaths than Scotland and Scotland more than Wales just because of population sizes (1% of 56000,000 is always going to be higher than 1% of 5500,000).

      Anyhow enjoy the rest of your day and week.

    8. Scotland locked down at ~10 dead. To have any hope per capita of England not ending up worse off, it should have locked down by 100 dead. That would have maybe created some sort of comparability in terms of timeline.

      But England locked down at ~335 dead, so the result will invariably be worse down the line. It had 3x the number of initial infections walking around per capita when it locked down.

      Hence the numbers dying per day in the rUK are not far off the total cumulative toll in Scotland. 699 total deaths in total here compared to 677 in just one day for the rUK (daily updates).

      Things are not amazing, but a lot better here than in England, as universally acknowledged by the experts. Even the BBC is plotting it up showing how Scotland is doing a lot better on the infection curve. Christ, if Scotland was covid central we'd know all about it from the UK MSM. 'Sturgeons slaughter' etc.

      The blame lies with the Tories who put £s before lives, yet will end up doing more damage to the economy because it will take longer to restart, while costing loads of lives too. It was classic short term profit thinking.

      Scotland locked down earlier, and is seeing the result of that. Not early enough for some of course, but then it lacked the powers to do so. It used these as soon as it got them and saved a lot of lives. This is simple fact, and why the spread is much better contained for identical outbreaks:


    9. Again i'm not talking about the mortality rate, not cumulative deaths or infection rates/spread.

      Ultimately is the figure that will be used to determine how countries have managed to control the outbreak and also to determine countries that have struggled to contain the outbreak. You can see how that used in other studies for example in flu.


      You can see from this that Sub Saharan Africa has less deaths than Europe on average (15565 vs 39064) but nobody is going to look at that and say that Sub Saharan Africa is over twice as effective in preventing flu deaths than Europe (which is what the raw numbers show). The figures are skewed by the population sizes. Scale them to a fixed denominator and you get 1/100,000 for Europe and 3.7/100,000 for Sub Saharan Africa. So then you get the proper analysis that the mortality rate is over three times higher in Sub Saharan Africa than Europe (the reasons for this is obvious - better health care including vaccines in Europe than Sub Saharan Africa).

      If you want make assumptions death rates between two countries or geographical areas with differing populations then you always have to scale to a fixed denominator otherwise you end up making inaccurate assumptions.

    10. But your 'per capita' calculations have the European state of San Marino as 107 dead per 100,000.

      Are you saying it's healthcare system is far, far worse than sub-Saharan Africa? Are the bodies littering the streets? This is 29 times the death rate. Surely it's OMG!

      How come your numbers are so high for San Marino? What do they tell us about that country? I think they tell us something really obvious. Blindingly so.

    11. Anyway, I'm sure the families of the dead in England will feel less aggrieved if you tell them that per capita, their loss looks a lot less tragic, and they shouldn't be complaining about the late lockdown.

    12. Just had a look at your numbers for Andorra. You have them on 42 deaths per 100,000.

      Those are some serious death rate and make sub Saharan Africa look like paradise.

      Why are these developed European countries looking so nonsensically high for deaths per capita? What can it be?

      Should we attack them for being rubbish about controlling the virus, or is there something about them that we are missing? Something that makes per capita figures stupid when diseases are not endemic, but just affecting a tiny proportion of a population?

      What can it be. What do San Marino and Andorra have in common? Why do they look so much worse than larger neighbours?

      Tough one.

    13. China must have the best developed healthcare system on the planet, even when much of it still has dirt roads.

      Your numbers have 0.2 deaths per 100,000.

      Unless there's another reason for this number being so low compared to San Marino or Andorra?

    14. Care to point out were the figures for San Marino & Andora are in the study I used?

    15. Apologies, I understood those to be covid numbers. Read post too quickly. Here we go...

      Current covid-19 deaths using your (c) Adam 'per capita' method:
      San Marino = 107 per 100,000
      Italy = 35 per 100,000
      USA = 9 per 100,000
      China = 0.2 per 100,000

      Are you arguing that San Marino is the covid death capital of the world? Why are the media not showing us live footage from there? Are they covering up this apparent carnage? And the USA is doing better than European countries in terms of deaths? Why is it on the news so much and shown as so bad in graphs? You are saying it's a shining example of virus control.

      And China must have an amazing health service according to your observations. It's death rate is only 0.2. Dirt roads for many, but boy has it shown the Europeans how to do health?

      Or maybe, like I said, per capita isn't really a sensible comparison for a very early stage epidemic, as opposed to something endemic like heart disease or lung cancer?

    16. Nope its a perfectly acceptable measure. You seemed to of had no issues with it when I have posted deaths/million comparisons before that showed England with the highest rate. Its only when one shows Scotland higher that your objections came.

    17. At the end of the day if you are trying to ague that a higher percentage of a population dying is better than a smaller percentage of a population dying and a higher percentage of a population dying shows a government doing a good job then the world really has gone mad.

    18. You mentioned Andorra. It currently has 33 deaths. Of course according to Scottish Skier logic that figure can blow up to 10000 or so but its Government will still be able to proudly claim that it had done a better job than its neighbours (France and Spain) because less people died than in France & Spain.

      The fact that 10000 deaths would be cira 1/7th of its population is immaterial.

      Or San Marino, it could have 10000 deaths and still say that its done a really good job because its had less deaths than France, Spain, Italy & the UK. The fact that 10000 deaths would be about 30% of its population is immaterial according to your logic.

  15. Why do comments on this blog keep getting deleted? Ones that are pro independence as well. Very strange.

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