Five minutes and 51 seconds, to be precise, is how long David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, spent frantically quacking out meaningless noise on this morning’s Sunday Politics Scotland in order to avoid answering a simple Yes/No question until the interview ran out of airtime.
We could quibble with presenter Gordon Brewer making the assertion that a Section 30 order would in fact be necessary for a second referendum (something which has never been established in law or conceded by the Scottish Government, with strong and genuine legal opinion on both sides of the argument), and with him letting Mundell get away with the blatant falsehood that an overwhelming majority of Scots don’t want another referendum – in fact, 50% want one within the next two years.
But sometimes you have to let some smaller things slide to avoid distraction and stay focused on your main point, and in our view this was one of those occasions.
This is Conservative MP Dominic Raab, a member of the Brexit Select Committee, speaking on the BBC News Channel’s “Hard Talk” programme at 00.45 this morning. Perhaps imagining that nobody would be watching at such an ungodly hour, it seems he felt able to be unusually candid.
We left the last bit on in order to demonstrate that he was still talking about Scotland as well as Ireland. (He went on to recite the usual boilerplate about all leaving together as the UK etc etc, you can watch the whole show for yourself on iPlayer.)
But let’s just get that key early exchange down in writing for the record.
Readers familiar with our standing advice to newspaper customers that the headline is nearly always a lie might like to consider today’s Press & Journal.
The word “pyre” comes from the Greek word “pyra”, meaning “fire”. Surprisingly, it’s NOT the same root as “Pyrrhic”, as in “Pyrrhic victory”, meaning one that’s achieved by metaphorically burning your own city down. (Which in fact is named after the Greek general Pyrrhus of Epirus.)
We followed with interest an exchange over the weekend between Times columnist Kenny Farquharson and the anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham, regarding the difference between the UK government’s insistence that there won’t be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because of the UK leaving the EU, and its continued insistence that there WOULD have to be one between the rUK and an independent Scotland, despite the legal circumstances being indistinguishable.
Farquharson, who like much of the Scottish political commentariat clings doggedly to the implausible dream of a “federal” UK, was adamant that the rules would – and indeed that they should – be different for the two ostensibly identical situations, and his given reason was a deeply disturbing one.
Kenny, it seems, thinks Scottish nationalists should do a lot more murdering.
Actual Scottish politics news continues to be thinner on the ground than the crowds at a Donald Trump inauguration, so we sympathise once more with the gentle souls of the Scottish press as they endeavour to fill empty pages without doing anything more journalistically strenuous than slightly rewording a Labour or Tory press release.
Fortunately for us, of course, we’ve always got their dismal efforts to talk about.