The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has, it seems fair and uncontroversial to say, thrown Scotland’s Unionist parties into something of a spin. With all of them having campaigned for a Remain vote, all are now faced with the unsquareable circle of operating in a country that voted to stay in both the UK and the EU but can now only have one of those things.
Scottish Labour were the first to get themselves into a fankle, unsurprisingly. Their leader Kezia Dugdale first said she might conceivably be able to see herself voting for independence in order to stay in Europe, but then frantically backpedalled as soon as anyone noticed, and is now locked into a position of “never, no chance, not no way, not no how”, even as her own deputy publicly disagrees with her.
(Uncharitable readers pointing out that she took the same view on Jeremy Corbyn, before backing him wholeheartedly when he first won a leadership, then backing Owen Smith a year later on the grounds that Corbyn was useless, then insisting that Corbyn had her fulsome support and could definitely win a general election when he won the leadership again, should be ashamed of themselves. If a leader can’t U-turn three times in the space of 12 months, who can?)
But remarkably, the Scottish Tories seem to be even more confused.
The popular children’s author and litigious bully JK Rowling, whose personal wealth is measured in hundreds of millions of pounds, has been devoting her time to the tricky task of finding people being rude on Twitter again.
In an attempt to prove that the independence referendum (described by the Scottish Police Federation as “robust but overwhelmingly good-natured”) had been every bit as grotesque as the Brexit one which has seen an enormous rise in serious hate crimes in England and Wales – comprising thousands of incidents up to and including murder – Rowling had cherry-picked out a few unpleasant-sounding social-media comments and compiled them into a series of delightful collages.
(We’ll leave aside that calling someone “Yoontermensch” is a fair distance removed from smashing them in the face with a plank of wood in the street, say. Though we will, as is traditional, remind readers that every single recorded instance of physical violence during the indyref came from the No side that Rowling lavishly funded.)
One of the comments (visible in the top-right corner of Rowling’s composite image) came from the Twitter account of this site. And we thought it sounded a bit off, so we had a quick check to see if we’d really said something so mean.
McFadyen, who rather uncharacteristically failed to insert any violent language into a headline about the First Minister, instead leapt eagerly onto an artificial furore around the actions of Gregg Brain, the Australian father battling his family’s deportation from the Highlands by the Home Office, at last week’s SNP conference.
(Their case is so outrageous that even the Daily Mail and David Coburn have joined the fight to have the family be allowed to stay.)
We got an email from Gregg Brain about how the story had come into being, and (with his permission) we thought you might like to see the exchange which took place between him and Siobhan McFadyen, with the purposes of illustrating how the press distorts, perverts and selectively omits quotes in order to mislead.
On the contentious and topical subject of what constitutes a mandate for a second independence referendum, we’re grateful to the super-alert reader who unearthed this clip from BBC Scotland’s election night coverage of 2011, in which Ruth Davidson gives a candid and blunt explanation of the criteria required:
We’re just going to write that one down for the record.
An article by Nick Cohen in the Spectator last night fairly had social media ablaze with a heady brew of anger and mockery.
It’s the most extraordinary outpouring of deranged, spittle-flecked arsewash we’ve seen outside of a Daily Express comment thread in a very considerable time, and it merits attention solely because we think it might have broken a world record for the number of empirical falsehoods contained in an article in a respectable media outlet.
Get your clickers out, readers. You’re going to need a fast trigger finger.
Because fiddling it in 1979 worked so well in the long run.
Stand by for the dead voting again, folks.
We had a bit of a debate at the weekend with ITV’s generally pretty decent Scotland correspondent Peter Smith, after he tweeted this:
It wasn’t the curious choice of picture we objected to, nor the fact that the £14.8bn figure is a notional sum which is totally meaningless in the context of an independent Scotland (because it represents a vague estimate of the disaggregated finances of a Scotland that’s inside the UK and subject to UK government policy choices).
Nor was it even the implication that a £14.8bn “black hole” was an inherent permanent feature of the Scottish economy rather than an unusually bad year.
What chafed with us was the idea that it was somehow Nicola Sturgeon’s fault.