Today the SNP claimed (ETA: this has now fallen off the internet fortunately there’s google cache), as evidence of their prowess, that 820,000 people moving from the other parts of the UK to Scotland since 2007. This was picked up by the Scotsman, on various blogs and on twitter.

On first glance, it seems pretty shaky. A wave of people totaling more  than 150% of the population of Glasgow coming here in the last 4 years? You’d have noticed that, surely…

On second glance, ok, it’s probably a gross inward migration figure cheekily ignoring outward migration so maybe the net figure’s a bit smaller and they’re spinning somewhat less impressive figures.

On third glance, like the burd you check the figures, scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on in Gordon Lamb House. The General Register of Scotland (GRS) puts the annuals statistics at less than a quarter of what Joan McAlpine claims.

At which point I started to do my best Ben Goldacre impression and asked the SNP media team on Twitter what they based it on, in case it was a Bit More Complicated Than That.

It wasn’t.

Point man Paul Togneri asserted the piece was accurate and was based on aggregating monthly GRS figures. Which is methodologically dodgy at best, especially given directly conflicting annual figures from the same organisation for the same period.

So it wasn’t consistent within it’s own frame of reference. Maybe the overall impression of increasing migration from England, Wales and Northern Ireland was correct, despite net UK migration being 26,000 rather than the 820,000 that the SNP press release implies? Sadly not. Based on the SNPs preferred measure of medical records transferred each month, in the year ending March 2007 shortly before  the SNP took over 52,153 people from RUK moved here. In the same period of 2011 43,730 people did so.

So the SNP have done so well that 20% fewer people decided to move here since they took charge. Great work that. Well. Done. *slow handclap*

Worse, both net and gross migration to Scotland were higher not only under the previous Labour/Lib Dem coalition in Holyrood but were also higher between 1986 and 1994. So not really that much to boast about at all.

Still, and this is why I’m writing this up, it does give us some insight as to the SNP strategy for 2012. It’s going to be about construction of a narrative that supports independence with Scotland gradually but inevitably and inexorably moving towards independence under the SNP, facts be damned.

That’s my 2012 prediction. So stay frosty folks and trust no-one.

ETA: I’d like to point out that Kate did the digging on this and shot their fox, I’m just commenting on it