The concluding episode of STV’s “Road To Referendum” was almost a one-stop repository of some of the most compelling arguments for independence. Not because of anything in the show’s own script, nor even any of the interviews with the Yes camp, but rather the contributions of the Unionist side.
The producers of Game Of Thrones, a complex fantasy drama filled with sex and violence (and quite coincidentally also one of the most popular shows currently on TV), considered shooting the hit series in Scotland but were unable to do so because of a lack of quality studio space, the Scotsman reveals today.
The show ended up being shot in Northern Ireland (at the Titanic Studios in Belfast) instead, bringing benefits of an estimated £60m to the region’s economy with around £160m more expected over several years of production.
According to the report a high-profile film source said:
“When contemplating where to shoot Game of Thrones, HBO first thought of Scotland. The settings were a natural fit: hills and glens and rugged castles. However, the lack of a studio meant the production logistics, control and cost made no sense to production planners.”
But there’s an interesting undercurrent to this tale of woe.
We had a wee fond chuckle to ourselves this morning when we woke up at some ridiculously ungodly hour and saw the front page of the Scotsman.
Not, you understand, at the thought of millions of Scottish people getting cancer, and certainly not at the Duke of Edinburgh being admitted to hospital, but rather at the staunchly-Unionist paper inexplicably missing a chance to add the words “after independence” or “under SNP” to the headline, as would be its more common practice.
From the excellent Part 1 of STV’s new documentary “Road To Referendum” (based on the book by Iain Macwhirter, out this week), Labour PM Harold Wilson and Scottish Secretary Willie Ross punt a rather familiar line four decades before Ed Miliband.
We’re sure there’s nothing at all sinister in the fact that the show was unavailable to most viewers due to an unprecedented cross-media technical failure, which also wiped out the STV news at 6pm and this evening’s Scotland Tonight, incidentally.
Wings Over Scotland undertook a research trip to London yesterday – mainly to check out the Propaganda: Power And Persuasion exhibition at the British Library, which we definitely recommend should you find yourself in the vicinity. Later in the day, though, we took a stroll down Oxford Street, and found ourselves horrified by the state of it.
The UK capital’s great retail showpiece looked like the aftermath of a Luftwaffe bombing raid on a run-down part of Burnley. Much of the south side of the street had been ripped to pieces by ongoing and seemingly endless work for the Crossrail project (sound familiar, Edinburgh residents?), but even where buildings were untouched by the builders there were boarded-up shops, tatty frontages and once-proud units now occupied by scores of scruffy tourist tat shifters.
And if even the great West End has now fallen into that sort of dilapidated, thoroughly depressing condition, despite three decades of all the country’s wealth being greedily sucked down to London, then what of the rest of the country?
This week’s papers had a story about ‘cybernats’ posting rude messages on social media about Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s opposition to Scottish independence.
For the uninitiated, ‘cybernat’ is the term used in Scottish politics to refer, ostensibly, to slightly mad old-school nationalists who post vile, personalised attacks on their political opponents. Some politicos in Scotland don’t seem to understand, though, that this attack doesn’t really work as a political device as it seeks to apply a pejorative to the SNP when everyone knows it can be applied to some supporters of all political parties. Take a look at the comment pages of any UK newspaper.
From the one-man gaffe goldmine that is Central Ayrshire Labour MP Brian Donohoe:
We do sympathise, and not just with the unfortunate (but alert) constituent of Mr Donohoe’s who sent us this recent press release. It can’t be easy for poor Brian either, constantly having to remind himself “Commemorate… not celebrate. Commemorate… not celebrate” like a low-rent version of Viz’s immortal Eight Ace.
Today, the subject of the media’s blanket outrage – there are sizeable stories in the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Daily Record, The Times, Express and many more – is the saintly British Olympic cyclist, Sir Chris Hoy. The unfortunate sportsman has been the subject of what the Mail calls “vile abuse” for some comments in yesterday’s papers in which he ostensibly refused to take sides in the independence debate (but in reality could barely have made his position any clearer).
But another similar (and rather more serious) story, about online abuse directed at a Scottish public figure every bit as well known as Hoy, inexplicably gets only a microscopic fraction of the coverage.
There’s a story in the Herald this morning that wouldn’t normally come within this site’s remit, dealing as it does with a specific aspect of Scottish Government policy unaffected by independence. It reports a Celtic fan acquitted under the Offensive Behaviour (Football) Act after admitting singing a pro-IRA song at a game between the Parkhead club and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
For reasons we must confess ourselves puzzled by, a great swathe of the Scottish commentariat, on all sides of the constitutional debate, has set itself against the OB(F)A, apparently in the belief that existing laws had done such a good job of eliminating Scotland’s sectarian problem over the last 100 years that there was no need for additional action.
We expect this case will be used as further ammunition for their criticisms of it. But there’s a crucially important line buried three-quarters of the way down the piece.