We’ve noted on more than one occasion that the spectacular SNP surge since the referendum appears to have completely unhinged much of the Scottish and UK press. Having pumped out a vast avalanche of hysterical coverage which utterly failed to stop the Scottish electorate returning 56 SNPs out of 59, the papers have responded to the rebuff by simply turning the volume up.
But even by those standards, today has been special.
The big (non-) story of the day is the allegation, carried on the front pages of the Daily Express, the Times, and the Telegraph, and also featured prominently in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, that the Scottish Government are planning to slash funding for the Queen when partial control of the Crown Estates is handed to Holyrood under the new Scotland Bill (or whatever’s left of it if and when it finally passes).
The only slight problem with the story was that it was (a) more than six months old, and (b) complete rubbish. It had been comprehensively dismantled last December by author and land-rights expert Andy Wightman for Bella Caledonia, after having been first raised in the Mail on Sunday earlier that month.
A Buzzfeed article today concisely reiterated all the reasons why the claim was utter nonsense, including a categorical denial from the UK Treasury, which said “Scottish taxpayers will continue to fund a full and fair share of the Sovereign Grant, paid via the Consolidated Fund”.
It’s not yet clear why an ancient, discredited story should suddenly resurface in so many newspapers without any new developments having taken place, but the Times took it seriously enough to print an extraordinary editorial leader luridly depicting the Scottish Government’s (non-) position as an “insurrection” and a “rebellion”.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph – seemingly undaunted by what happened the last time it ran a smear story on Nicola Sturgeon without bothering to check the facts first – got Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman to pen a spin-off piece attacking the FM with a series of inaccurate claims, including that:
When Sturgeon took to Twitter pointing out that she’d done no such thing (and that there were no plans whatsoever to cut the royal grant), Newman stuck to her guns and refused to correct the errors:
Meanwhile, in addition to carrying the bogus Crown Estates story, the Scottish Daily Mail was also assaulting the First Minister on a different front, during one of its regular ejaculations of outrage against the Vile Cybernats (tm).
The “LINKS WITH VILE CYBERNAT TROLLS” emblazoned in giant text on the front cover turned out to be that she’d once met someone at an event almost a year ago, they’d tweeted a “Nice to have met you” message to her and she’d sent back a single five-word tweet in reply saying the same thing, but scandalously without having scrutinised the person’s entire Twitter history first just in case they’d ever said anything rude to anyone (which it turned out they had).
The Mail decided to then back this up with a tour de force of drivel from former Labour MP Margaret Curran, containing a stream of unsupported smears and slurs – including a direct lie about this site – in which Curran asserted that she’d been the victim of a campaign of abuse during the election that was rooted in sexism and misogyny, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the beneficiary of all this sexist misogyny, SNP candidate Natalie McGarry, was, er, also a woman.
(It would take us all day to list the mistruths and hypocrisies in Curran’s article. She oddly forgot to mention her own comments that were Alex Salmond to be run down by a bus she wouldn’t inquire as to the name of the driver, and while complaining about being filmed by SNP supporters it seemingly escaped her memory that McGarry had in a 2014 by-election been targeted by sinister Labour activists who tweeted the address of the place in the constituency where she was sleeping.)
As all this was going on, the Daily Record, which professes itself to be “Scotland’s Champion”, was carrying an article on its website about the magic of fracking.
“Shale gas could help reinvigorate and rebalance the economy. This could be particularly beneficial in Scotland, where shale gas extraction could replace jobs and tax revenues lost as North Sea oil production declines”, it gushed, going on to add that fracking for it was “an opportunity that Scotland and the rest of the UK cannot afford to overlook”.
Only attentive readers would have noticed the very small line in the location bar at the top of the page indicating what had brought on this burst of enthusiasm:
It’s been quite a day. We await the CYBERNAT WEB OF HATE with bated breath.