Peeking at the Twitter accounts of the country’s more prominent Unionists has been an especially entertaining pastime today, as self-awareness has been cast aside even more vigorously than usual in a concerted attempt to attack new pro-independence daily The National as being an uncritical mouthpiece of the SNP akin to the infamous Russian propaganda newspaper Pravda (mostly despite those concerned admitting to not having read the first issue).
It’s surely a tribute to the pedigree and potential of the new paper that the prospect of Unionists only having 97% of the Scottish media on their side has them hoiking toys from prams with such squealing abandon, and it’s both curious and hilarious that 35 newspapers in favour of the Union was a perfectly acceptable manifestation of the freedom of the press but a single one in favour turns Scotland into the Soviet Union.
But more to the point, there’s a far better candidate for the “McPravda” sobriquet.
There was a very disturbing opinion poll published by YouGov earlier this year and recently highlighted by the pollster, which took 16 policy propositions across a variety of subjects and set them against each other in a sort of Politics World Cup to find out the British public’s priorities. The result was predictable but no less depressing for it.
By some chillingly large margins, the policy the people of the UK want implemented more than any other is the spiteful removal of the right to benefits for new immigrants. (We suspect that if the question had offered the option of withdrawing benefits from immigrants full stop it wouldn’t have changed the figures much.)
And we couldn’t help wondering how big a deal that really was.
If the mark of a strong democracy is a free and diverse press, Scotland has been in a terrible state for a very long time. On the morning of the independence referendum, the biggest issue the country’s addressed in over 300 years, not a single publication could be found on Scottish newsagents’ shelves backing the constitutional option supported by almost half the population.
Today that changed.
In the wake of the story carried by many newspapers today about Scottish Labour changing its position on the devolution of taxation for (by our count) the 15th time, we thought it only fair that we should let each of the three candidates for the branch office managership explain it in their own words.
We’re certain that it’ll all be clear once they’re finished.
Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves on Sunday Politics.
Did you spot what she got wrong, readers?
The talk of the steamie in this weekend’s Sunday papers is that Scottish Labour are set to backpedal on the devolution of 100% of income tax, a position previously described by Gordon Brown – the great architect of “The Vow” – as a “Tory trap” which was “not in Scotland’s interests”.
(Coincidentally, the papers also report that Brown, who said he would personally ensure the safe delivery of the new devolution settlement, will stand down at the 2015 election in order to devote more time to his “charity” work.)
It is, of course, a challenge to keep track of Labour’s position on the move from one day to the next. In 2013 it wanted to devolve all taxation, then in 2014 it decided as its final settled position that it wasn’t a good idea after all, and has flip-flopped on a more or less weekly basis ever since. Just this month the favourite for the Scottish branch office leadership, Jim Murphy, poured cold water on the notion, but now it seems yet another U-turn is on the cards.
We wouldn’t put a lot of money on it being the last one.
Ed Miliband on the BBC 10 O’Clock News, 21 November 2014.
There’s a glorious piece in today’s Daily Mail from BritNat arch-troll Simon Heffer, in which he fumes and splutters about the outrageous idea of finding himself, thanks to the huge surge in support for the SNP since the referendum, ruled next year by a government “that only a small minority in England would have voted for”.
We’re sure that Scots everywhere will empathise with the unfortunate Mr Heffer’s intolerable plight, having many decades of experience of that very scenario. We’d also be interested to know, however, if he sent a submission to the Smith Commission detailing his radical solution to the whole devolution issue, as outlined in the Mail on 6 September this year:
We very much hope that he did.
From an editorial in today’s Daily Record:
But that isn’t a very accurate report of events, for several reasons. Not least of them is the fact that David Cameron wasn’t even there.
Last night, the Lib Dems outpolled the Monster Raving Loonies by just 198 votes.
(Well, the original Monster Raving Loonies, anyway. Not the ones who won.)