The less-deserving pro-independence website

Wings Over Scotland

Word and picture association

Posted on May 25, 2013 by

This, in case you didn’t see it on our Twitter feed, was on the front page of the Independent website this morning (and indeed still is). It wasn’t a mistake.


The piece featured the Scottish author discussing various pieces of news from the past week (the guest is different every Saturday). Topics included Ed Miliband’s suitability to be Prime Minister (or lack thereof), Stephen King’s objections to e-books, corporate tax avoidance and anonymity for people who’ve been arrested.

But while the paper chose to lead with Scottish independence for its headline, for some reason it didn’t carry a picture of Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon or Blair Jenkins, nor even of Rankin himself, whose words the headline comprised.

Instead, it chose to put Rankin’s views about the constitutional future of his homeland in the mouth of one of the two men arrested for the savage murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich. As we write this, 12 hours have passed and the picture is still in place.

The Independent is, ironically, one of the UK papers (though in reality it sells so few copies north of the border it’s a de facto English one) most hostile to independence. It’s hard to think of a reason why the blood-soaked hands of a self-confessed murderer have been juxtaposed with a writer’s belief in self-determination for his country. At least, it’s hard to think of one that isn’t very unpleasant.

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45 to “Word and picture association”

  1. Marian says:

    Absolutely appalling and what an insult to Scotland……and the press would have us believe that there is no need for Levison’s recommendations or a Royal Charter to regulate press standards.

    I also wouldn’t think that Iain Rankin will be very happy when he sees what the Independent has done with the piece about him.

  2. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    It is now changed or, at least, the version I can see is not as you describe.

  3. Lobeydosser says:

     Just looked myself, its still there, down the page a bit.

  4. Seanair says:

    Deplorable juxtaposition by that rag.
    On a brighter note Ian Rankin is more  favourable towards independence than he was a few years ago, when he was quite scathing about the idea. 

  5. ianbrotherhood says:

    This looks more like cock-up than conspiracy.
    But Rankin’s statement is interesting – so far as I’m aware he has always been scornful of independence. Why the sudden change of heart?
    He once rubbed Elaine C Smith up the wrong way on a Newsnight Special debate in Edinburgh when he took some cheap shots at River City (anyone remember where and when that debate was held?) and she promptly wiped the floor with him.  
    Rankin is a master of self-publicity, a BBC-approved ‘safe’ voice who has managed to negotiate the past fifteen years with (arguably) the highest public profile of any living Scottish author, without ever saying anything of any substance.
    If his ‘gut’ is telling him to become pro-Indy, be sure he has good reason – don’t take no wily detective to work out that it will have to do more with the future comfort of Ian Rankin than any burning desire to see independence.

  6. Thistle says:

    Yeah was surprised to see Ian Rankin being more favourable towards independence a good sign.
    Usual nonsense with association of independence and negative imagery.

  7. Hetty says:

    I suspect it wasn’t a ‘cock-up’ at all. Thing is the ‘Independent’ is a popular paper with Labour voters disenfranchised with the Guardian? I watched a programme with Ian Rankin, a sort of auto-biography. he seemed like a nice guy, though rather angst ridden regards the writing process, but in his mini mansion thank you very much, can’t be bad. Must be some reason he has changed his mind, it’s good he has and folk like him should be more verbal about it, they hang about in the wings waiting to see which way the wind blows…fickle, is one word which springs to mind.
    the image to the article is appallingly misleading…they’ll try anything, anything at all, the ‘no’ lot.

  8. Bill C says:

    Ian Rankin was an arch unionist, if this is true it’s a conversion on a par with St. Paul. 

  9. Alan MacD says:

    i have always enjoyed his books……Christ though, what a load of drivel his article in this rag is. Im not saying it isnt accurate or that i dont agree with him, its just guff though….Plenty of “oh dear, im just not sure’ and’im really in two minds’……I always kind of imagined that he had something of an opinion on things like most writers.
    Even put that crap old joke in their about Panda’s.

  10. Jiggsbro says:

    I haven’t read the article, but “My gut instinct is independence could work” is a long way from “Independence would be a good idea”. Apparently, almost everyone on the BT side, from Cameron and Darling down, agrees that independence could work, they just claim we’d do even better in the union (and that independence wouldn’t work, although it could, but it might not, so best play safe, eh?).

  11. Alan MacD says:

    Just kinda wish he grew a big pair of (Alasdair) Grey balls for that article.

  12. ScottyC1314 says:

    Fucking appalling! Not surprising…..but fucking appalling!

  13. Yesitis says:

    I suppose we are just going to have to get used to this kind of thing. I imagine the worst is yet to come. Should be interesting.
    *Jazz hands* Remember, we are separatist scum *Jazz hands*

  14. ianbrotherhood says:

    Aye. Agreed. It’s classic politico-baws patter.
    Rankin has carved out a lucrative niche as ‘the acceptable Jock’ on such essential viewing as ‘Newsnight Review’. This man has spent much of the past decade using all available MSM platforms to whinge about fellow Scottish writers such as Kelman and Tom Leonard – he traduces them as ‘navel-gazers’, but hasn’t the balls to name them.
    Rankin has a massive chip on his shoulder, and it’s nothing to do with being ‘Scottish’ – it’s to do with him not being taken seriously enough by those who decide the shortleet for the Booker Prize. Anyone who is prepared to do-down fellow authors on that basis is not worth listening to.
    This is a technically proficient writer who found a fruitful seam. He continues to exploit it. His work will never be regarded as ‘literature’ because he is is not an ‘artist’ – he’s a journeyman working in fortuitous circumstances.
    Ian Rankin’s vacillations on the subject of ‘Scottish independence’ aren’t worthy of attention in any serious discussion.
    That’s why he’ll still get gigs on Newsnight Review.

  15. Ron Burgundy says:

    Have not read or tried to read the piece from the newspaper mentioned but just by looking at the picture and comment I can see how so many contributors have reached the conclusions they have. This image being paired so closely with the word independence – it is easy to see how this could well be shameless propaganda by a unionist organ.
    But maybe it is a comment that given the increasingly dislocated and divided nature of the Union State as evidenced by this murder coupled with a pile of other evidence pointing to collapsing social cohesion in the south that independence is the only way to avoid being contaminated by the problems of a failing state. Just a thought?

  16. ianbrotherhood says:

    Aw, bless…Ian Rankin may feel like he’s now caught up in something like this:

  17. BillyBigbaws says:

    Their graphic artist has left out the speech bubble!

    It’s true that The Independent takes a Unionist line editorially (who doesn’t?) but they also published quite a few articles by Alex Salmond back in the day, and of course carried the excellent article “How Black Gold Was Hijacked: North Sea Oil and the Betrayal of Scotland.” 

    It doesn’t even shy away from hinting at the involvement of the UK security services in trying to derail the 1979 referendum vote.

    Long time since that was published though, and The Telegraph (of all papers) has a few historic articles along similar lines.  Everybody here will have already read ’em all though.

  18. mealer says:

    I think we’ll see a lot of high profile people move from an anti-independence stance to a fence sitting position.If they think theres a chance of a YES victory they’ll be realising they’ll look as if theyre a bit behind the curve,a bit behind the times if it comes to pass.If they support NO and No wins,they don’t really gain much.If they support NO but YES wins,theyll lose a lot of face.A wise precaution to move to the middle and keep a foot in both camps,just in case?

  19. ianbrotherhood says:

    Great link. Ta much.

  20. Marcia says:

    Tomorrow’s Sunday Herald front page:


  21. Geoff Huijer says:

    Bill C says:
    25 May, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Ian Rankin was an arch unionist, if this is true it’s a conversion on a par with St. Paul. 
    Exactly what I was thinking!
    I remember him shouting from the rooftops about
    how great the Union was etc.

  22. Tamson says:

    The Independent’s editorial line on independence has always been a huge disappointment. Of all the UK papers they have most to gain by adopting a pro-independence line. After all, its former stablemate and namesake, the Irish Independent, has a circulation of 125000. That’s bigger than the Indy’s own circulation of 83000, but in a country over 10 times smaller.
    You’d think someone in the Indy office would look at the marketplace, note their non-existent Scottish sales figures and the market gap, and do something about it.

  23. peter says:

    Off topic but reading the Press and Journal supplement Nick Nairn commenting on Aberdeen said 25% of UK corporation tax came from the North East of Scotland, a pretty fair return and add to the 30% of all UK food and drink exports provided by Whisky and I think we will be ok independent.

  24. Chic McGregor says:

    Wow!   This the guy who swore he would leave Scotland if it became independent.  Never has a dropping penny clanged quite so loudly.  Hope springs eternal.

  25. Celyn says:

    @ mealer
    Ah, a sort of MacPascal’s Wager?   

  26. Hetty says:

    Ahh, I wondered about the ‘I’d leave Scotland if we voted for Independence’ fantasy.
    I wonder who else will be sitting on the fence in the next few months…’It might be a good idea’, and all that. Fickle selfish idiots. On the plus side, Independence is quite clearly forcing some to have to take a reality check…YES!

  27. Holebender says:

    The image at the start of this piece is pretty shocking but… I’ve viewed the Independent article by following the link above in three different browsers and it just doesn’t load for me as shown above. Does anyone else see it the way the Rev does?

  28. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Thanks Holebender
    I thought it was just me or something to do with an “international” version.

  29. Chic McGregor says:

    Hetty says:
    26 May, 2013 at 1:52 am

    “Ahh, I wondered about the ‘I’d leave Scotland if we voted for Independence’ fantasy.
    I wonder who else will be sitting on the fence in the next few months…’It might be a good idea’, and all that. Fickle selfish idiots. On the plus side, Independence is quite clearly forcing some to have to take a reality check…YES!”
    Since it was some years ago and my memory can get things wrong, I’d better put in a caveat, but I’m pretty sure he was one of those who said they would leave.  IIRCC he already had another house in Paris.

  30. Graeme Purves says:

    Rankin has never been against independence in principle.  His line was always that we weren’t yet ready for it, whatever that meant.  Perhaps he thinks we have grown up?
    Anyway, all conversions to the “Yes” cause are welcome.

  31. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Surely the end of the Scotsman cannot be far away, and probably before The Referendum.
    Unless, somebody with deep pockets, no external oversight, no public accountability and the motivation steps up support.

  32. scottish_skier says:

    Labour/unite signing up folk to the party even though these people had no idea they had been signed up.

    Aye, typical Labour. Just like those postal vote surges.

  33. Dorothy Devine says:

    Of those high profile writers ,manufacturers who have announced they are going to uproot should independence become reality , when they adopt  the more positive line of
    ” maybe” I wonder ,what the correlation is ‘twixt book ,bra and tea cakes sales and how much that influences the “maybe”.

  34. Graeme Purves says:

    Bugger (the Panda) says:
    26 May, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Surely the end of the Scotsman cannot be far away, and probably before The Referendum.
    I suspect that The Hootsmon will be kept limping along for its propaganda value, even though that is diminishing.  It will probably close late in 2014.

  35. Vronsky says:

    This sort of juxtaposition of items in order to influence the reader or viewer is quite an old trick.  Of course it could just be a cock-up, which is the wonderful thing: it’s deniable.  The BBC were doing it years ago, when any news item about Harold Wilson or his government seemed to be followed by a report on the declining value of the pound.  I was a Labour supporter back then and wrote a wee song, the chorus after each verse being a chromatically descending line (I think I was unconsciously influenced by the habañera in Carmen):

    And the pound continued to fall today on the foreign exchange…

    Fast forward  a few years and I was an active member of the SNP.  A local newspaper published an editorial insinuating sectarianism by the SNP (the editor was a member of the Labour Party and a notorious bigot).  It appeared alongside a big spread about a local convent.  When challenged about the positioning of these articles, the editor merely giggled and said he hadn’t noticed it until we mentioned it.  We spoke to his boss and got a printed apology – remarkable, looking back.  Bet it wouldn’t happen now – the apology, I mean.

  36. Fay says:

    Did a sibling ever hit you, then tell your parent that you hit them? So as you would then get into trouble ? I did my little sister was, still is, an arsehole. I remember the injustice, trying to tell my Mum the truth which made her madder still because she thought I was lying my way out of it. 
    Thays how I feel today, most days in fact, I feel it for me, for my fellow Scots, for my Country and for Alex and Nicola who deal with far worse than I do every day and deal with it all with the utmost dignity, I’m at a loss at what to do though.

  37. mealer says:

    don’t let them get you down.Part of the NO campaign is to talk Scotland down.To undermine our self confidence.To  cause despondency among the ranks of YES activists.To lower our morale.My advice is to remain upbeat and positive.Keep a smile on your face,right up to the finish line.Our cause is just.

  38. Les Wilson says:

    To agree with other postings, items like this in the “Unionist” press emphasis that in Scotland we need our version of Levison. How else will the MSM become accountable? and even then…….
    It is an absolute disgrace, for all Scots, if they believe in Independence or not, I do also believe that many English who view this will start to think that what Scotland says about the Unionist” press in Scotland is in fact quite true! Possibly an own  goal for this rag.

  39. Fay says:

    Thank you mealer I don’t let them know how I feel, and your kind words and encouragement has really helped x

  40. BillyBigbaws says:

    @ scottish_skier,
    We are in some real trouble if Gregor Poynton “wins” the Labour “selection process” to be MP for Falkirk. 

    He is the current UK Political Director of Blue State Digital – meaning we could soon have one of Better Together’s top PR men in charge of one of Scotland’s most populous constituencies.

    No room for complacency on this one, I fear, with Mandelson getting involved as well, and the front-running candidate mysteriously dropping out, seeming to give Poynton a clearer run. 

  41. Thistle says:

    Agreed about Gregor Poynton. Just incase you not aware BSD were bought by the biggest advertising agency in the world in 2010 WPP Group run by Sir Martin Sorrell which is a real concern. 

  42. BillyBigbaws says:

    Didn’t know about that Thistle, thanks for the info.  Gives me some more stuff to google tonight!

  43. mallo says:

    Does he say anywhere in the article he´ll be voting yes? He just says we can do it not if he´ll be votiing yes.

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