There’s a truly abominable piece of hatemongering in today’s Times. A grotesequely dishonest Nat-bashing smear job based on stupendously misrepresented fragments of quotes, it’s penned by Patrick Harkness, someone who the paper identifies as “a past co-chairman of the RSE [Royal Society of Edinburgh] Young Academy of Scotland”.
For some reason it’s chosen to leave a few lines off his CV.
Because Dr Harkness has something of a track record in the Scottish constitutional debate. He was, according to the Guardian in 2014, “a leading light of the Academics Together group campaigning against independence”.
That description can be confirmed by a document still available from the remnants of the “Better Together” website.
And on the BT Facebook page, where the Northern Irishman is presented as being “from East Dunbartonshire”.
Last year, the Telegraph and the Scottish Daily Express both reported him travelling to Edinburgh in order to angrily heckle Nicola Sturgeon by hijacking a public session of the Scottish Cabinet intended to try to reassure EU immigrants about Brexit.
(His complaint, it probably goes without saying, is entirely without foundation in reality. The SNP’s position on citizenship has been repeatedly made clear – anyone resident in Scotland at the time of independence would automatically gain Scottish citizenship if they wanted it, as well as being able to retain their British citizenship.)
These days, he occupies himself with a role on the board of directors of well-funded hardcore nutter collective Scotland In Union.
Experienced readers will be highly familiar with the, let’s say, “staunch” positions that Unionists/Loyalists from Northern Ireland often adopt with regard to Scottish politics. Many of them – how can we put this? – aren’t big fans of surrendering.
We have no idea, of course, whether Harkness (pictured below) was actually among the crowds of violent, angry Loyalist thugs who rioted in Glasgow in September 2014, many of them making hand gestures characteristic of Northern Irish politics.
But what we DO know is that the Times – which normally absolutely loves to promote Scotland In Union given the slightest opportunity – has on this occasion chosen not to tell its readers that he’s giving them, to put it delicately, something less than a neutral academic interpretation of the actions and motivations of the SNP government.
We’d understand if people felt that was somewhat lacking in journalistic integrity.