Is 38 Degrees now part of the Unionist propaganda machine?


Is 38 Degrees now part of the Unionist propaganda machine?

I’ve signed many of the petitions raised by 38 Degrees. I had thought them a highly praiseworthy and trustworthy organisation, until now. However, their latest ‘Scotland’s NHS needs our help’ campaign has a bad smell about it. That smell comes clearly from the nature of the sources they use but, given their choice of sources, I’ beginning to wonder if something is rotten deeper in the organisation. Here’s the email they are circulating. I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it below but before I do, let me say these:

‘There is no crisis in NHS Scotland.’

‘There is a crisis in NHS England.’

‘There was a temporary problem in (only) Scotland’s A&E departments caused by a massive increase in cases of flu.’


Dear John,

Scotland’s NHS needs our help. New figures show that in one week this year almost 1,500 Scots were forced to wait more than 8 hours – and some as many as 12 hours – to be treated in A&E departments. [1] That’s just not good enough.

The Scottish Government say the flu crisis is to blame. [2] But this is a problem that’s been bubbling under the surface for a long time. [3] Scotland’s NHS simply needs much more money to provide the world-class service our country deserves.

The Scottish Government is working out the details of its new budget at the moment. [4] That means there’ll be intense conversations behind closed doors to iron out the details of where money will get spent. If we can get our voices heard in those debates, we can make sure our NHS gets the money it needs.

Will you sign the petition telling the Scottish Government’s health minister to make sure our NHS gets the funding it needs?

Things might not be as bad up here as they are down south. But that isn’t much consolation to someone stuck in a waiting room for 12 hours.

People in Scotland deserve the best healthcare possible – and right now, that isn’t what we’re getting. Whether it’s waiting times, or local hospital services facing cuts, it’s clear that our NHS needs much more funding that it’s getting right now. [5]

It doesn’t have to be this way. If enough of us speak up, we can show the Scottish Government that they need to take bold action and give the NHS the money it desperately needs.

Will you sign the petition now to get our NHS the funding it deserves?

[1] Daily Record: A&E 12-hour wait shame continues as flu chaos continues to strain NHS:
[2] The Telegraph: SNP Health Minister: Scottish flu cases have doubled but NHS problems here not as bad as England’s:
[3]You can read more about issues the NHS is facing in Scotland here:
The Independent: NHS winter crisis: Lanarkshire health trust drafts in office workers to help with cleaning amid soaring demand for A&E services:
BBC: Scottish NHS ‘urgently’ needs long-term staffing plan:
Scotsman: NHS Scotland staffing time bomb as one in five Scots nurses over 55
PlanetRadio: Highland hospitals closure threat sparks huge demonstration:
The Scotsman: Hospitals and NHS Scotland facilities ‘may need to be axed’:
[4] BBC News: What does 2018 have in store for Scottish politics?: BBC News: Summary of draft budget: Key points at a glance:
[5] The Telegraph: A&E chiefs from 68 hospitals warn patients are ‘dying in hospital corridors’ amid ‘intolerable’ safety risks:

So, what’s wrong with this? I’ll try to keep it short and to the point:

  1. There is no hard, objective, evidence of a ‘crisis’ in NHS Scotland, as a whole, though there has been a temporary problem caused by overload in (only) Scotland’s A&E departments.
  2. The ‘evidence’ of a crisis offered by 38 Degrees comes entirely from newspaper sources. 7 of the 9 sources used come from 4 outlets with a clear anti-Independence and anti-SNP agenda – Scotsman, Telegraph, Record, BBC.
  3. There is little use of sources from less-partisan newspapers such as the Guardian or independent. The one Independent article actually makes the case for the robust and communitarian nature of NHS Scotland and its ability to pull together to deal with additional temporary pressure. The final Telegraph article is entirely about NHS England and has no relevance to the case being made.
  4. More importantly, there is no use of reliable, rigorous, research-based evidence at all, despite the fact that examples such as those from the Nuffield Trust and Audit Scotland are there to confirm the overall success of and crisis-prevention mechanisms in place in, NHS Scotland. See these, 38 Degrees: Research Report, July 2017, Learning from Scotland’s NHS at: and
  5. Even if they found the above a bit long difficult to read, they might have used this from the BBC website:

So, to use their own words, that’s just not good enough 38 Degrees. I can’t tell for certain whether you’ve been taken in by someone from the Unionist groups and have naïvely wandered into their camp or whether 38 Degrees does actually hold an explicit anti-independence position and is prepared to let it bias its campaigns. Your Scottish supporters have a right to know.

Footnote: Several comments below add fuel to the idea that 38 degrees may have been infested with Scottish Labour ideas for campaigns.


41 thoughts on “Is 38 Degrees now part of the Unionist propaganda machine?

  1. Charlie January 20, 2018 / 12:09 pm

    This is not the first time they have shown their true colours. I have now unsubscribed from 38 Degrees.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Brian January 21, 2018 / 5:52 pm

      Likewise… when they asked me to sign a “hands off our BBC” petition, I told them where to stick it, and why. And naturally I unsubscribed.


  2. Holebender January 20, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    I rumbled 38° well before the 2014 referendum.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Holebender January 20, 2018 / 2:52 pm

        Sorry, I don’t remember any more but there was some campaign they backed during the indyref which was blatantly unionist, and they wouldn’t listen to any reasoned argument.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. seanair January 20, 2018 / 12:58 pm

    Gave up 38 Degrees some time ago. Not my cup of tea. If I remember correctly,they admitted in small print that they were an American company!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David Howdle January 20, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    My wife went to DGRI A&E on Thursday. She was seen by a triage nurse after a 10 minute wait and was in a bay in A&E withing 15 minutes where she was hooked up to machines to monitor her. She was seen by an A&E registrar immediately (he met her at the door of the treatment centre. He got a specialist in the condition they suspected to see her after another 5 minutes or so. She was given advice and an appointment for Xray and scans the very next day (yesterday)! All looking good though she will have to have an MRI scan probably within a further 2 weeks. A wonderful service! Crisis? Rubbish!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. TSD January 20, 2018 / 1:25 pm

    My thoughts exactly when I received this email from them. I think I’ll keep receiving their emails but only act on the ones that will annoy my Hair-brain tory MP!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Marlene Halliday January 20, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Glad you posted this. I was just about to forward their email to you. I emailed them back when it arrived and said “…Instead of using reports from mainstream media about how NHS Scotland is failing, you should set up a campaign about their misuse of NHS statistics, and their regurgitating of Labour and Tory press releases. If you have any doubts have a look on John Robertson’s Talking Up Scotland website for some accurate information.”

    I’ve pretty stopped signing their petitions. I get fed up with self-congratulatory stuff saying “We did did it!” eg example 38Degrees apparently brought ScotGov to its senses to ban fracking. When in fact, several years careful investigation and research did that.

    It’ll be on my blog soon.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Clydebuilt January 20, 2018 / 2:41 pm

    A few years back they campaigned to defend the BBC . . . I emailed 38 degrees to inform them of the BBC’s behaviour as a propaganda arm for Westminster in Scotland . . . No Reply.
    More recently they ran a campaign complaining about Scotlands rail network, received plenty of air time on BBC and STV.

    Yup they ain’t on the side of democracy in Scotland.

    C’mon Killie

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Graemeo Rab January 20, 2018 / 3:21 pm

    I remember signing up for 38 degrees shortly after IndyRef1 and something makes me think they were pretty active then (perhaps trying to capture the mood among YES voters). Within several months I had unsubscribed as just like others have mentioned, it looked they were not trying hard enough and just regurgitating Unionist MSM pish.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. carthannas January 20, 2018 / 4:48 pm

    I stopped subscribing when they pulled the Laura Kuenssberg petition because I didn’t believe their reasons for doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Piotr January 20, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    I am sure 38 Degrees endorse many laudable campaigns.

    I gave up on them because they assumed that what applies in England applies in Scotland, particularly with regard to the NHS. I have on many occasions proposed they distinguish English, Scottish, Welsh and UK campaigns to better reflect the politics of these islands. I also suggested they might do their cause great good by creating a separate 38 Degrees Scotland (or restructure themselves) to prevent antagonizing and losing many potentially natural supporters.

    I have never received any acknowledgement or reply.

    It is extraordinary that a progressive campaigning group would be so blind to political reality and give the appearance that they do not listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brian Powell January 20, 2018 / 5:16 pm

    There is a flavour of Labour run campaigns in the issues they bring up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 21, 2018 / 10:07 am

      I’m beginning to see that too. Does their latest on the SNP tax loophole for the rich stand up I wonder? Must investigate

      Liked by 1 person

  12. bjsalba January 20, 2018 / 6:37 pm

    The answer is YES – they have been for some time. They changed when the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 came into force At that time the personnel changed and they became “member led”.

    Before that they were not too bad.

    Originally they were London based. They now now have an Edinburgh office, where – as scuttlebutt has it – they are mainly Scottish Labourites. This is not the first SNPBaaaad petition they have run.

    I unsubscribed a long time ago have I think only signed one petition in the last two years.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Donald McGregor January 21, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    Indeed, to most comments here.
    For a while after 2014 it seemed like an opportunity to help capture the enthusiasm for ‘having a voice’ but for a good while now their emails just clutter up my inbox and I scan them to give (as my guess) a snapshot of what corbynistas in England might be getting excited about.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Neil Paterson January 21, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    I unsubscribed when they used a similar campaign to try and blame Humza Yousaf for the reported failure to achieve standards by the rail network in Scotland. Once again it was based on press headlines which didn’t stand up to scrutiny.


  15. Alasdair Macdonald January 21, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    The other posters express feelings of unease I have had increasingly about 38 Degrees for some time now. Generally, I deploy the principle of charity and had assumed that there was an earnestness about the people involved, perhaps with a bit of naivete (he says somewhat pompously). What seemed to be missing was a real appreciation of the nuances of most social issues. I felt that when it started that 38 Degrees showed this and on some issues, seemed to have caused a few tremors and angry mutterings from the ‘corridors of power’. So, it would not be implausible to believe that a small organisation depending on good will and enthusiasm, could be infiltrated and its petitioning become gradually redirected. Many leftist groups such as the International Socialists used to do these things, with the usual result that the campaign foundered, as people with common sense walked away. There are groups elsewhere on the political spectrum who behave similarly. Quite a number of people who were university contemporaries of me and who have become fairly prominent in the media were up to their oxters in these games in student politics. Such habits die hard.

    So, I think 38 Degrees might be heading to be a busted flush.

    Paranoia time???? – since Scotland in Union hit the buffers could 38 Degrees in Scotland have become an alternative vehicle? Most of these things are ‘three people and a dug’ operations, run from someone’s bedroom.


  16. The Soupdragon January 21, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    I’ve met some of the 38 degrees staffers, and I don’t doubt that *some* of them support independence in a Rise/Green way. Nevertheless, I unsubscribed years ago. In the immediate aftermath of the 2014 referendum they ran a petition, aimed at holding the UK government to their promises. I rather hastily signed this, only for it to be hijacked by Gordon Brown, who claimed credit for the volume of signatures, somehow managed to be the person who presented it at Downing Street (presumably to save his own face, since he’d “guaranteed” various things he had zero control over) and generally made me regret not having waited. I asked 38 degrees to remove my name, and they did not reply. At UK level, they are Labour-dominated, with all that implies.


  17. bigjon999 January 21, 2018 / 6:02 pm

    Just unsubscribed from 38 degrees – they have a ticklish of reasons or you can add your own comment which I did, saying that I suspected they didn’t understand Scottish politics and asking who worked for them and where their funding came from. No response yet other than an automatic reply.


  18. Jack Simpson January 21, 2018 / 10:38 pm

    I’ve had my doubts about the impartiality of 38degrees since they banned a petition requesting that Neil Oliver either resigns or is removed from his post as President of NTS on the grounds that it was against their policy to seek individuals losing their jobs, yet have still promoted petitions of this nature (ie calling on individuals to lose their posts). It is apparent that if the petition is launched by a Brit Nat, or by the Labour Party then it is ok, but not when it is by an individual who supports Scottish self determination. I have stopped signing any of their petitions. They are just a mouthpiece for the British Labour party.


  19. Roddy January 22, 2018 / 11:22 am

    Stopped signing their petitions after removing the petition to have Neil Oliver removed from the appointment of President of the National Trust for Scotland.


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