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by Andrew Learmonth
05 January 2022
John Swinney accused of using misleading data to make 'petty political points'

John Swinney accused of using misleading data to make 'petty political points'

Nicola Sturgeon has defended John Swinney after the Conservatives accused him of using “misleading data to make petty political points”. 

Yesterday, speaking to the BBC, the Deputy First Minister said Covid rates in Scotland were lower than those in England, because of stricter restrictions north of the border. 

The SNP politician pointed to Office for National Statistics data that showed one in 40 Scots having Covid, compared to one in 25 in England.

However, the figures - which were released on December 31 - were actually for the week ending Friday December 23, before restrictions on large gatherings, hospitality, and indoor contact sports started in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised the issue during the First Minister’s virtual statement to the recalled session of parliament. 

“Yesterday, the deputy first minister, the man who sits in her cabinet in charge of Covid recovery, said that virus rates were lower in Scotland compared to England because of the actions taken by the SNP. 

“But John Swinney was using data from before the SNP restrictions were introduced. And the most recent data shows in fact, the opposite of what he claimed. 

“Tackling this virus is not a competition but John Swinney tried to make it one. Why is the minister for Covid recovery, using misleading data to make petty political points instead of giving people the accurate information they need.”

Sturgeon said she agreed that these things were not a competition. She said Swinney has “used the most up to date ONS data.” 

“I cited in my statement today data that as I understand it that has been published while I've been speaking, that is a week more up to date - there will always be a lag in it - that I think will still show that one in 20, though very, very high, is still lower certainly than in England. 

“But these things are not a competition. We just all have to take the decisions and judgments that we think are best to try to navigate the safest possible course through that “

In their more recent infection survey, which covers the week ending Friday 31 December, the ONS suggested around in 20 people in Scotland had the virus, compared to around 1 in 15 in England, one in 20 in Wales, and one in 25 in Northern Ireland. 

This means more than 3.5 million people in the UK had coronavirus last week.

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Miners' Pardon: 'I knew I had done nothing wrong'

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