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Wings Over Scotland


We have several questions 52

Posted on March 01, 2021 by

So this is a thing now:

And basically, what?

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The Big Secrets 101

Posted on March 01, 2021 by

After this morning’s mini stats post, quite a few people have asked in the comments if there’s any means of comparison between Wings and mainstream media outlets. And the shortest answer is no. The Scottish press is terribly coy about its online readership, offering almost nothing by way of verified figures.

(For a meaningful comparison it would also be necessary to separate out their politics coverage from general news, sport and everything else, which they’ve never done.)

But what used to be possible was at least comparing their print sales, via the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures that newspapers published monthly (for national media) or six-monthly (for supposedly “regional” papers like the Herald and Scotsman), which we kept a record of in our Reference section.

When we went to look at the page today we noticed we hadn’t updated it in just over a year, and figured it could do with a dusting and sprucing. But we were in for a surprise.

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Truth always has an audience 134

Posted on March 01, 2021 by

Wings Over Scotland pageviews, March 2020-Feb 2021.

No wonder only dogs can hear Pete Wishart’s screeching now.

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Sunlight is the best disinfectant 266

Posted on February 28, 2021 by

Bath, readers – which some of you may be aware isn’t even in Scotland – is a pretty darn pleasant place to while away your days, all things considered. Packed from head to foot with gorgeous Georgian architecture the colour of set honey and nestling amid a clutch of lush green hills, it’s like a miniature version of Edinburgh in sandstone.

It’s big enough to be lively and have plenty of culture, with theatres and museums and venues and galleries and cinemas both multiplex and arthouse. Countless movies and TV shows have been shot here, from contemporary episodes of Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected to a whole string of period costume dramas, and the “Little Theatre” cinema seen in Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr Fox” is based on our real one.

It’s also very handily placed. Situated on or close to two main railway lines, you can hop on a train and ten minutes later be in Bristol, an ugly and unlikeable but still vibrant and eventful city. 30 minutes takes you to the classic English seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare, or the unfairly-maligned Swindon. Stretch it to an hour and you can be in a whole other country, in Barry Island or the impressive Welsh capital of Cardiff. 90 minutes gets you to London, and a couple of hours will see you in any of a bunch of places on the south coast (my personal favourite is Weymouth), all direct. You can even get straight to Edinburgh or Glasgow with only a single change of train at Bristol.

Having a car unlocks lots of other magical and fascinating places that are well within daytrip distance, like the ghost villages of Tyneham and Imber, the striking Cheddar Gorge, Longleat safari park and the world’s greatest museum ever, the batshit-mad Oakham Treasures, as well as Lacock, an entire 13th-century townlet entirely owned by the National Trust, which gets invaded by Nazis every year.

(If you love a stately or historic home, you can join the Trust and visit somewhere new within 40 minutes’ drive just about every week for a year. Then you run out.)

In short, Bath is fab. But there’s a downside.

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The Great Festival Of Squirrels 175

Posted on February 28, 2021 by

It’s the second sunny day in Bath since last September, readers, so we’re going to go out and feed the wildlife, but we thought you’d enjoy a quick roundup of some of the distractions the Sturgeonite elements of the Scottish media are punting today in a desperate attempt to avoid dealing with the devastating contents of Alex Salmond’s epic evidence session at the Fabiani inquiry on Friday.

We’ll make this quick.

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Judges, Juries And Horseshit 486

Posted on February 27, 2021 by

Iain Lawson’s fine blog today reveals that Nicola Sturgeon has already taken it upon herself to answer Jim Sillars’ complaint from Thursday – which was sent to Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, not to the First Minister – about her breaking the Ministerial Code by casting doubt on the jury’s verdicts in the Alex Salmond trial.

It’s certainly an innovative approach to justice – we presume that if we were to murder someone tomorrow the police would now simply forward the allegations to us and allow us to find ourselves not guilty without any external input.

But it was the precise nature of Nicola Sturgeon’s self-acquittal that really left us with an uneasy feeling about the current state of Scotland.

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The star witness 155

Posted on February 27, 2021 by

The Longest Day 390

Posted on February 26, 2021 by

In the end the four-hour session ran for almost exactly six hours, and Alex Salmond looked like he could have done another six standing on his head. Now, it would be only fair to acknowledge that this site was on his side before the start, but by any rational objective assessment the former First Minister delivered the performance of his life.

(We use “performance” there in the Lionel Messi sense, not the Laurence Olivier one.)

The contrast with every other witness who’s appeared before the committee was night and day. With Salmond there was no evasion, no hesitation, no forgetting, no “I’ll get back to you on that in writing”. (We recommend the Twitter feed of Scotland Speaks for some choice clips.)

Every question was answered fully, directly, fluently and immediately, without recourse to notes, and the content was never less than devastating from his opening statement to the final surprise bombshell. We were exhausted just watching it.

His words, tone and body language all absolutely radiated candour, solemnity and honesty. When the SNP members tried to trip him up on some arcane point or other, he was on them like an extremely calm hawk, methodically tearing their assertions to ribbons with the correct fact or quote at his fingertips, and ice in his veins.

Salmond came across like a man who’d been planning this day for almost a year and wasn’t going to mess it up. And he didn’t. Heavens, how he didn’t.

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The Lion’s Den 547

Posted on February 26, 2021 by

Just a couple of hours now.

From 12.30 this afternoon, Alex Salmond will attempt to tell the people of Scotland the truth about what happened to him in the last two years – a grave injustice which saw an innocent man have his reputation dragged through the gutter, be placed under incredible personal stress, be left greatly impoverished by proving his innocence, and then have the jury’s verdict endlessly traduced by the media and a gang of criminal conspirators protected from the consequences of their lies by lifelong anonymity.

His job will be a difficult one. Every single person in the room will be bitterly hostile to him – the four Unionist committee members because he’s Alex Salmond, and the others because he represents a deadly threat to the First Minister.

The inquiry’s convener – a woman sacked by Salmond years ago – will attempt to prevent him from presenting large swathes of evidence, despite having made him swear to tell “the whole truth”. The SNP members will try to run down the four-hour session with questions designed to only deflect from the real issue – the actions and behaviour of the Scottish Government. Andy Wightman will probably just cry.

We’ll be extremely surprised if there aren’t some attempts to slyly re-try Mr Salmond and paint him as a guilty man who cheated justice, and to drag up salacious details of the allegations in an effort to smear him in front of the cameras.

We believe Alex Salmond will be more than equal to the task.

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The Fall Of Saigon 268

Posted on February 25, 2021 by

When the Faculty Of Advocates – the most senior body of lawyers/QCs in the country – is handing out barely-veiled smackdowns like this to the First Minister, then you know you’re in some pretty uncharted jungle.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland is a rogue state.

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Heavy Is The Crown 123

Posted on February 25, 2021 by

Is the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service of Scotland institutionally corrupt? I don’t believe so, but it’s certainly a troubled organisation.

The cost and reputational damage to it from the Rangers FC case are of a magnitude never seen before, and the actions in the Alex Salmond case and related actions by the Lord Advocate and Crown Agent have called its independence into question.

There must be structural change and individuals must be held to account.

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The brick wall 188

Posted on February 25, 2021 by

I was until this week a member of the SNP’s Conferences Committee. After being elected last November I sought to fulfil my “manifesto” pledge — that is, to attempt to restore the power of the membership, which has been systematically eroded by the party leadership over the last two years, through conference, the proper constitutional vehicle for all internal party democracy and governance.

I had hoped that Stewart Stevenson, the new National Secretary and convener of the Conferences Committee, would be similarly inclined.

In summary, my endeavours have been ignored.

In the three months since our election (supposedly more than halfway towards a spring conference), and despite repeated emails, documents and requests for meetings, the Conferences Committee has never been convened.

As a result I have resigned from both the committee and the SNP, and the reasons for my doing so are outlined below.

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