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Wings Over Scotland



The little guy 128

Posted on March 23, 2016 by

We hadn’t heard of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust until today. It turns out that it’s a sister organisation to the highly admirable Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which does great work highlighting and fighting issues around poverty and social injustice.

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The Reform Trust, not so much.

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Not in your papers tomorrow 65

Posted on December 09, 2015 by

Alert readers may recall a very recent incident where the Daily Record made baseless insinuations about a trip by former SNP MP Natalie McGarry to Syria, and whether its funding had been declared on the Parliamentary Register Of Members’ Interests.

(It had been, and the Record still hasn’t clarified its article to that effect.)

So here’s a thing.

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Nil? Zero? Nothing at all? That seems… wrong.

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An abuse of trust 102

Posted on December 09, 2015 by

We’ve been having some trouble trying to explain the Alistair Carmichael verdict to some English chums who hadn’t been following the case previously and have now just heard about it on the news.

Lord Matthews and Lady Paton in their great wisdom concluded that Carmichael had lied about the “Frenchgate” memo, and that he had also lied to them in the courtroom, and that the first of those lies was intended to help Carmichael achieve re-election, but that somehow his own re-election was not a “personal” matter.

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Our friends couldn’t follow the logic of that, and to be honest we weren’t able to help them much. Nevertheless, the judgement has been handed down and the case is closed. It seems unlikely the petitioners could fund an appeal even if one was to be allowed, particularly given that according to press reports Carmichael will be pursuing them for his £150,000 costs as well as their own.

However, in the process of wriggling out of his lie on an obscure legal and semantic technicality, Carmichael appears, so far as we can tell, to have explicitly implicated himself in a far more serious crime.

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Put in our place 393

Posted on December 09, 2015 by

So now Scotland knows where it stands. Alistair Carmichael is innocent.

There’s officially nothing wrong with a minister of the UK government deliberately lying in an attempt to undermine the democratically-elected First Minister of Scotland before a general election, smearing foreign ambassadors in the process, then openly admitting his wrongdoing but refusing to stand down, flicking two fingers at his own constituents and the whole country.

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Right you are, then. Duly noted. On we go.

Two countries 251

Posted on December 08, 2015 by

Earlier this year, a Secretary of State in Her Majesty’s Government leaked an untrue memo to the press, with the intention of undermining the democratically-elected First Minister of Scotland and damaging her party in an imminent general election. He then went on national TV and lied about doing so, in order to protect his own reputation.

The newspaper he leaked the smear to printed it without making the slightest attempt to ascertain its veracity, for which it was nominated for an award (even after having been strongly censured by the press complaints watchdog). The “journalist” involved has never retracted or apologised for the story. Others have defended it.

The minister’s colleagues and other opposition politicians gleefully leapt on the smear and propagated it, mostly failing to retract their accusations after they were shown to have been false. Others shrugged that it was normal and fine for politicians to tell “brazen” lies and that complaining about it was “bullying”.

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These facts are not in dispute. Tomorrow morning we’ll find out what they mean.

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Humbled and inspired 330

Posted on November 04, 2015 by

Some of you may not have seen this from last night, and it needs to be seen.

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Nothing but repeats 193

Posted on September 04, 2015 by

Summer is, as we’ve said before, the “silly season” for politics. Wings readers will have noticed that like everywhere else, we’ve been rather lighter on content than usual for the last three months as politicians celebrated their general election victories by giving themselves long holidays – sorry, “time for constituency work” – and in the absence of a referendum campaign to fill the gap there wasn’t much going on.

So we can’t blame the media for raking over old ground in search of anything to fill threadbare column inches with. But it’s less excusable when the things they choose to reheat, repackage and reissue are ancient, endlessly-disproven lies.

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To lie with impunity 112

Posted on July 06, 2015 by

We reported last night on the mealy-mouthed semi-correction the Daily Telegraph has finally been forced to grudgingly publish with regards to its incompetent and inaccurate creation of the “Memogate” scandal. The paper – we’re loath to prefix it with the word “news” – has now suffered the full weight, such as it is, of the press regulator IPSO, and will not have to answer any further for its actions.

And that just leaves us with the source.

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The belated truth 113

Posted on July 06, 2015 by

At 10 o’clock on a Sunday night, three months after publishing the original falsehood, the Daily Telegraph has finally quietly pushed out the sort-of admission that it told a lie before the general election about the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, wanting David Cameron to remain as UK Prime Minister – a claim intended to damage her party politically in the aforementioned election.

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The toothless press watchdog IPSO has allowed the Telegraph to merely publish its adjudication by way of correction. No apology is offered to the First Minister, and the Telegraph can’t quite bring itself to concede that its facts were wrong, even though they’ve now been denied by every single party to the incident – Ms Sturgeon, the French ambassador, the French Consul-General and the former Secretary of State for Scotland who leaked a memo about their meeting to the press, Alistair Carmichael.

(More on him in a few hours, incidentally.)

Such, we must apparently accept, is justice for the British media.

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The awful truth 178

Posted on May 31, 2015 by

This is Robert Hutton – UK political correspondent for Bloomberg News and author of the book “Would They Lie To You?” – and former Labour spin doctor Damien McBride on Radio 4 this morning, discussing the fate of Alistair Carmichael.

(The Week In Westminster, BBC Radio 4, 30 May 2015)
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That’s going to be an awkward lunch.

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A dereliction of duty 233

Posted on May 29, 2015 by

An alert reader today drew our attention to a detail we’d missed in a recent article in the Shetland News. It concerned Alistair Carmichael’s leaking of a false memo in order to smear Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP while the Orkney & Shetland MP was still Secretary of State for Scotland, and took the form of a quote from Carmichael’s Holyrood counterpart Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland:

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Two questions immediately leap to mind.

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The People Versus Plutocracy 130

Posted on May 28, 2015 by

Just a quick update on the Alistair Carmichael fundraiser:

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In barely 48 hours, almost £37,000 has been raised by the general public to challenge the election of a British MP under false pretences. We don’t believe there’s any sort of precedent for that. It would now seem beyond any reasonable doubt that there will be an official legal challenge to the former Secretary of State.

However greatly it may be to the chagrin of metropolitan commentators like Michael White, it appears that the people of Scotland, having been awoken in large numbers by the independence referendum, are simply no longer content to sit back meekly and allow either the political establishment itself or the media which claims to scrutinise it keep its house (or Houses) in order.

The events of the last few years have made Scotland increasingly disinclined to put its trust in self-appointed gatekeepers, and willing to take matters of politics directly into its own hands. Whatever the eventual outcome of the independence story, the electorate seems not to want to go back into its box, where attention is only paid to it twice a decade. If so, the referendum will have brought about a far more wide-reaching victory than anyone ever imagined.



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