SNP ministers were forced to admit their claim Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind power potential is false earlier this month following the publication of a report by the pro-union think tank These Islands. Internally, officials had conceded as early as October 2020 the figure had never been “properly sourced”.
The use of the statistic sparked a row in Holyrood, with opposition politicians calling on Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures in the House of Commons to correct the record around the statistic – something they are yet to do.
Lorna Slater, a Scottish Green minister, was also accused of misleading the Scottish Parliament when she told MSPs ministers only became aware the statistic was wrong the day before the report was published on November 8. However, two ministers had been included in email chains where concerns were raised about the veracity of the figure in 2020.
The SNP appear to have done nothing to stop party activists or MSPs spreading the misleading information after a leaflet featuring the statistic was posted through the door of a voter in Kirkcaldy this week.
On the front page of the leaflet, the party claims it includes “six amazing facts about Scotland”. Below this is the incorrect statistic that “Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s entire offshore wind and tidal resource”.
Contacted about the claim by a constituent, David Torrance, SNP MSP for Kirkcaldy, who has held the seat since 2011, also failed to state the figure was incorrect. A staff member responding on behalf of Mr Torrance said that a Freedom of Information request response published on the Scottish Government website “validates” the statement.
They added: “This information may be dated, but is an often used figure.”
Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative spokesperson for net zero, said the SNP “relies on bluster and knowingly inaccurate claims”. He said: “The SNP may have admitted to using this bogus statistic publicly, but seems happy still to circulate it on the ground.
“Clearly the nationalists are hoping the public won’t have noticed their fast-and-loose attitude to facts and will just swallow this nonsense. That’s typical of the SNP’s campaigning style – in the absence of persuasive and genuine arguments for independence, it instead relies on bluster and knowingly inaccurate claims.
“The MSP in question should cease sending out this material and apologise to his constituents for misleading them.”
The SNP was asked why the leaflets including the false statistic were still being handed out by activists to voters and why they had not simply been binned by the party once it became aware the figure was incorrect. The party was also asked why an SNP MSP was not telling voters the statistic was wrong when directly challenged on its veracity.
In response, an SNP spokesperson said "all facts on leaflets were correct at the time of publication", but did not provide a date of publication or commit to stop sharing the leaflets.