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Wings Over Scotland

(Dirty) business as usual

Posted on February 07, 2012 by

Well, we had quite the fun time yesterday. Having revealed by virtue of our ace investigative-journalism skills that the Telegraph’s dear Alan Cochrane had something of a beam in his own eye when it came to attacking the First Minister for using the word “Gauleiter”, we were mildly surprised when the Telegraph – which normally has a pretty liberal comment-moderation policy, certainly when it comes to its readers hurling abuse at the Scots – experienced a sudden outbreak of censorship.

Comments on Mr Cochrane’s column – which rumour has it are moderated by Alan himself – referring to the mildly embarrassing hypocrisy started to disappear at a rate of knots. We counted over 22 comments either linking to or quoting our piece which vanished, before the moderator gave up as user after user simply kept re-posting them. The result – as tends to be the case when people try to suppress information on the internet – was the biggest single day’s traffic in Wings Over Scotland’s history. But over and above our daft wee comedy tussle with Mr Cochrane hovers the wider agenda.

Last week we noted a comment on Twitter by Glasgow-born Labour MP and Guardian columnist Denis MacShane in which he likened Alex Salmond to Slobodan Milosevic, and alleged that the FM “supported” the late Serbian leader’s “butchery” in Kosovo. This outrageous, unambiguous and libellous slur went completely unreported in the media, with even Scotland’s so-called “quality” press – the Herald and Scotsman – not deeming worthy of mention the fact that a Member of Parliament had just accused Scotland’s elected First Minister of backing genocidal mass murder.

MacShane’s comments have no secondary definition. Nobody uses “Slobodan Milosevic” to refer to a petty bureaucrat. No-one has ever said “Jeez, did you see that traffic warden just then? What a right little Slobodan”. MacShane has absolutely no defence, no claim of being “taken out of context”. When we highlighted it we reported his entire tweet, accurately and in full.

Salmond, of course, DOES have such a defence. The word “Gauleiter”, as we’ve comprehensively discovered this week, is in common usage even in the respectable press when used to mean an over-zealous jobsworth of any sort, not a Nazi. No sane person on Earth can conceivably have imagined that Salmond was using the word in anything but the former sense. And yet, unlike the total silence that greeted MacShane’s comments, the Scottish media were all over him like a rash.

Calls for Alex Salmond to say sorry for ‘Nazi’ slight, runs the Herald’s headline, slyly copying the Telegraph in putting the word “Nazi” in quotes to imply Salmond had said it, even though he hadn’t. All three opposition parties get lined up to attack the FM in the piece before an SNP spokesman gets to reply, and the paper then pointedly notes the cases of Tom Harris and Ken Livingstone, who were sanctioned for explicitly and directly comparing people to Nazis. Again, the sneaky implication is that Salmond also did such a thing, even though he didn’t.

The Scotsman, meanwhile – having already covered the story extensively on Monday – runs an almost identical story to the Herald’s, but also features a second piece in which the paper manages to rustle up a German journalist to say that Salmond’s “Nazi slur” (again, using the headline to reinforce the same flat-out dishonest portrayal of events) “could have cost him his job if he’d said it in Germany”.

We had a quick Google for “Salmond Nazi” and gave up trying to count the newspaper results after the first 10 pages. (Though we did pause to note that the white-supremacist website Stormfront carried a comment asserting “The SNP are the worst type of “nationalist”, with the jew Salmonds’ programme of multi-culturalism & subserviance to the dictates of the globalist EU.” If racist thugs think you’re the worst sort of nationalist, you’re probably doing something right.)

Googling for “MacShane Slobodan”, “MacShane Milosevic” or “MacShane Salmond”, on the other hand, returned absolutely no results, other than those referencing our own feature on the subject. Not a single newspaper had felt compelled to record the incident. Could there possibly be a connection between the relative coverage levels and the sides of the Scottish independence debate the two men concerned inhabit?

We wouldn’t like to say.

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1 to “(Dirty) business as usual”

  1. Morag says:

    Article in the Herald today, where Prof Matt Qvortrup compares those arguing that the Scottish government has no right to hold a referendum with Slobodan Milosevic.

    Slobodan Miloševic was anything but thrilled by the referendums on independence in Bosnia, Croatia and other republics on independence from Yugoslavia. To claim that Scotland does not have a legal right to hold a referendum on independence is to use the very same argument as Mr Miloševic . And, it seems unlikely that any British politician would want to adopt a position that failed for a notorious dictator.

    At least in this comparison, coherent reasons are advanced!

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