Readers who may have been alarmed that the Scotsman hadn’t run any Michael Kelly columns for a while can breathe a sigh of relief this morning, as the role of “clueless idiot blithely spouting inflammatory and wrong-headed drivel about sectarianism and independence” is clearly in safe hands.
On Friday the normally-respectable International Business Times published one of the most idiotic pieces we’ve seen in quite some time, even including some of the stuff Hamish “The Red Menace” Macdonell has been punting for the Spectator of late.
Entitled “Scotland’s Dirty Little Secret: Will Independence Fire Anti-Catholic Bigotry?”, the reason it may not have been spotted before now is that most Scottish people probably stopped reading after four words, which is how long it took until author Mark Liam Piggott (apparently also employed by the Guardian, the Times and the Independent) used the term “Scottish Nationalist Party” – a highly reliable indicator that any given article is the work of someone writing about Scottish politics who doesn’t know their arse from the drummer in Elbow.
We’ll leave readers to pick out all the individual bits of stupid for themselves or we’d be here all day, though some highlights include mistaking Paul Gascoigne’s infamous playing of an imaginary flute at Ibrox for the someone miming the bagpipes, and citing the high-profile lawyer Paul McBride QC in the present tense, apparently unaware of his tragic death more than two years ago.
(Astonishingly, the article even contrives to blame “rabid Scottish nationalists” for a series of much-publicised threats made against Mr McBride and other prominent Catholic figures in Scotland in recent years, despite all evidence – and, y’know, basic common sense – suggesting that they actually came from pro-Union loyalists.)
The ugliest aspect, however, is undoubtedly the attempt to use the Clutha disaster in the service of the article’s reckless sectarian fearmongering, by calling it a “Catholic pub” and describing as “a dark aspect of Scottish society” some offensive comments that were made about the tragedy by a boneheaded woman from north Belfast, which last time we checked wasn’t actually in Scotland.
(It seems almost churlish to point out that she’s also a Unionist, and made those comments while Scotland was part of the UK, so it’s hard to see why they would back up the suggestion that independence would fire anti-Catholic bigotry. Were Scotland to be independent, events in Glasgow would no longer be any of Belfast’s business.)
But the piece isn’t Mr Piggott’s first dabble in Scottish politics. Last month he penned a column for the Huffington Post, entitled “Give Scotland back to the Scottish”, which opened with the “comic” line “Ever met a nice Scotsman? Me neither” [sic], before going on to add:
“The main reason I want Scotland to become fully independent is simple: I like simple. On forms I always say I’m English – not ‘British’ or ‘UK’ but English, the country I was born. I have nothing in common with peope [sic] born in Scotland – not even language.
Interestingly, over a month before the publication of the International Business Times piece, Mr Piggott (who seems not to be the sharpest of the tools in the journalism box) had posted this tweet:
As Mr Piggott forgot to actually address the tweet to anyone specific, we can’t be sure which Ian he was trying to elicit information from, although as it happens we do know of one who’s happy to make offensive racist and sectarian comments to order in the service of the No campaign.
But it’s good to know that the catalogue of provocative idiocy in the IBT was the result of at least a month’s research, rather than just being tossed off in an afternoon for a laugh. Imagine what it would have been like otherwise.
We expect the Scotsman to announce Mr Piggott’s residency as a regular columnist alongside Brian Wilson, Michael Kelly and Brian Monteith any day now, assuming the Telegraph doesn’t get there first.