Saturday is notionally our comedy day, but it’s nice to see the Scotsman joining in with the fun this week. We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion that the failing paper is now being operated as some sort of elaborate ironic prank, and the lead home-news story this morning does nothing to dispel that theory.
The report is a fairly standard piece of anti-wind-farm fluff, a trope always popular with the right-wing press. The news, such as it is, is contained in the third paragraph:
“The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) ruled the UK government was in breach of Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires ‘full and effective’ public participation in environmental issues and demands citizens have the right to participate in the process.”
The story goes on to note: “The UNECE said that, while Westminster breached the convention, the Scottish Government had not.” So that’s all pretty clear. It’s a story about the UK government doing something wrong, and the Scottish Government being cleared of the same charge.
The Scotsman’s headline, obviously, is “SNP close to being dictatorship”.
Now, we’re being a bit unfair. The paper does add “- wind farm critic” to clarify that the allegation is being levelled by someone else, specifically the woman who brought the case to the UNECE but appears to have been unable to read its findings.
But we suppose “Ranting nutjob fails to understand outcome of own complaint” would be a rather less dramatic headline, so instead the former newspaper pads out the piece with a series of further diatribes against the SNP from similar fruitcakes, including “the Scotland Against Spin anti-turbine campaign group” (who we must admit we hadn’t heard of until now).
In a display so spectacularly lacking in self-awareness that we suspect it might actually be a bit of performance art left over from the Fringe, the group’s spokeswoman asserted that “The SNP leadership has its fingers firmly stuck in its ears”, which seems a touch rich coming from someone else who inexplicably hasn’t noticed that it was the UK government which was found guilty and the Scottish Government innocent.
Of course, it’s all very well mocking for comic effect the brainlessness of plaintiffs who claim that the finding against Westminster somehow convicts Holyrood as well, even after the UNECE explicitly said the precise opposite.
But the Scotsman isn’t some mad old windmill-hating loonbag. It is, we still have to assume, staffed by intelligent and sane professional journalists. So the choice of headline, and the respective amounts of space given to the demented frothings of the campaigners and the Scottish Government spokesman (who gets 21 words at the very end of the 500-word piece), can only be seen as deliberate acts.
Tick tock, Scotsman. Tick tock.