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Wings Over Scotland

Glass half smashed

Posted on January 13, 2013 by

Readers will recall that earlier this week we heartily recommended a fantastic article written by Irvine Welsh for Bella Caledonia. Talking of the “Trainspotting” author’s happy times living with family in England and discussing how Scottish independence could enhance British cultural unity, it was an enormously positive piece which was widely acclaimed and warmly received pretty much everywhere.

Scotland on Sunday saw it through rather different eyes. Ignoring the uplifting message of friendship entirely, it grasped on a couple of isolated lines (so to speak) from the 5000-word essay and used it as an excuse to run a story headlined “Irvine Welsh says young people better off dealing drugs than studying for meaningless degree”.

After being on the website for just a couple of hours (at time of writing we can’t confirm if it was in the print paper), the piece mysteriously vanished, not even being visible in Google Cache. But an alert Wings Over Scotland reader was on the cut-and-paste case. If you want to see SoS’s twisted interpretation of Welsh’s words, they’re below.


Irvine Welsh says young people better off dealing drugs than studying for ‘meaningless degree’

Irvine Welsh has suggested that it could be more beneficial to sell cocaine than to study for a degree

Published on Sunday 13 January 2013 13:48

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has suggested that it would make more economic sense for young people to deal drugs than studying for a “meaningless” degree.

• Studying for degree is little more than “prison of debt”.

• Scottish political separation “could provide cultural unity” for UK.

Speaking on an online blog, the writer said that studying for a degree at university now amounted to no more than a “prison of debt” and that if he were in the shoes of young people today, he would invest in cocaine. He also said that an independent Scotland could bring a positive political change and that ‘assumed Englishness’ had undermined the country.

Writing on, Welsh hit out at the lack of opportunities for young people and the unaffordability of further education.

He said: “I was personally liberated by the welfare state, specifically the Butler Education Act. This meant that my college fees would be paid in full by the state, and I would also receive a full grant, which amounted to 2/3rds of my dad’s wages. Now all that has gone, and I personally would never enter the prison of debt, in order to go to University for a degree that has been rendered pretty meaningless.


“I would choose to invest any resources I had in other directions; like many bright, eager young kids from poorer backgrounds now do, I’d probably buy a rock of cocaine, cut it and sell it. And repeat. It simply makes more economic sense.”

Turning to the question of Scotland’s place in the Union, Welsh added: “From the viewpoint of the Scots, it has foisted 35 years of a destructive neo-liberalism upon us, and prevented us from becoming the European social democracy we are politically inclined to be.

“Therefore I’m advancing another proposition: political separation could promote the cultural unity that the UK state, in its current form, with its notions of ‘assumed Englishness’ is constantly undermining.”

Irvine Welsh’s books are often based on his upbringing in Edinburgh, with heavy focus on drug use and the question of Scottish identity often featuring.


EDIT: Interesting post-script Twitter exchange from alert reader Leo Miklasz. Kenny Farquharson is Scotland on Sunday’s deputy editor.

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30 to “Glass half smashed”

  1. Davy says:

    Having read the article through your own blog, it takes some really feeble type of mind to transplant it into the form published by the Scotland on Sunday. Just sums up their whole paper, crap. 

  2. McHaggis says:

    Another SoS cringe-fest which I tried to link to from several tweets, all of which were broken. Well done to whoever managed to copy and paste before it disappeared.

    Irvine Welsh seemed less than happy with their interpretation but was disappointed they took it down.

    How sad, negative and grumpy it must be to be a unionist.

  3. cath says:

    Heh! I remember someone posting under your originalsomething like, “Great article. But I wonder which few lines the media will take totally out of context to make him look bad?”

    Well, now we know.  

  4. David Lee says:

    There’s something deeply sinister about the way it was so hastily deleted. Another sign of the Scotsman’s terminal decline.

  5. Oldnat says:

    David Lee

    I’m not sure that it’s “sinister” – just very revealing of the inability of the SoS editorial team to make intelligent decisions. 

  6. MajorBloodnok says:

    Clearly it was published before their lawyers saw it… assuming they can still afford lawyers.

  7. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Oh Dear. Kenny Farquharson wouldn’t be lying through his teeth. There must be a reasonable explanation. Would love to know out what it is. Can’t really expect the sub-editor to know what’s going on, can we?  

  8. cath says:

    “revealing of the inability of the SoS editorial team to make intelligent decisions.”

    Or evidence of some kind of split perhaps? One faction who wants to to the same hatchet job on Welsh as they did on Gray. And another who is starting to see the folly of that?

    Strange rather than sinister.     

  9. Richie says:

    They didn’t manage to hide it completely.
    There’s a text only version of the google cache here

  10. ronald alexander mcdonald says:


    The Scotsman “crap”. No, it’s not that good. It’s descended from the gutter to the sewer.  

  11. Doug Daniel says:

    Amazing, just amazing. As I was reading Irvine’s article, I thought “ha, I bet the Scotsman will claim he’s promoting drug dealing.” But I didn’t think they ACTUALLY would. At worst I thought they might twist it to make it sound like he was speaking up for the union. 

    Just shocking really. What an absolute joke of a paper. We just aren’t going to be able to have a sensible discussion with them involved, are we?

    The shark has well and truly been jumped.

  12. AnneDon says:

    I think the editor is more to blame than the writer of the piece. They took the offending sentence out of context and made it a headline. The rest of the report is a (restricted) precis of the Irvine Welsh’s essay, concentrating on the latter, less personal, paragraphs.


  13. Valeman says:

    Is anyone surprised that  Creepy Farquharson, Scotland on Sunday’s deputy editor denies all knowledge of the article. Pity he and his underlings weren’t clever enough to delete all references to it though, a quick look at the Hootsmon’s timeline on Twitter shows the article still advertised with link.

  14. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    You have to select “text only” version to view through that link wheras cutting and pasting Richies takes you straight to the text version. 

  15. Ron Burgundy says:

    My idiot brother continues to buy the daily and sunday Johnson rags on some kind of promotion deal they offered him to dicount the cover price.
    Shows their panic over circulation. I hope that you can convince all those around you never to soil themselves by buying these things EVER in the hope that they go bust ASAP.
    Imagine breathing fresh air again without the Unionist toxins

  16. Vronsky says:

    “I’d probably buy a rock of cocaine, cut it and sell it. And repeat. It simply makes more economic sense.”

    I’ve more than once had coffee with a youth worker who explained to me that kids in the school playground could make a few hundred a month selling stuff they’d been given.  These wee mites earned many multiples more than their parents, and the suppliers they met dressed well and drove wonderful cars.  The kids aspired to be like their suppliers. They didn’t want to be like their parents.  Trying to tell them that they are behaving in a socially damaging way is just foolish abstraction. They were having a great ride – how can that be wrong?

    I confess I haven’t much time for Welsh as a writer, but as a social observer he’s often dead right, and he’s dead right about this.  Please grip the realities, and ignore The Scotsman.

  17. Dave Smith says:

    What rotten, stinking insult to failed states allows such a loathsome state of affairs to continue?
    One of the first tasks of an independent Scotland will be dealing with both the lack of opportunity and hope that leads to this foul trade and the trade itself. It may be impossible to eliminate entirely due to the powerful interests behind it so very radical thinking will almost certainly be required. Probably the foremost will be removing the profit motive itself. How that’s done is where the truly original thought is required.

  18. Embradon says:

    ronald alexander mcdonald says:
    13 January, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    The Scotsman “crap”. No, it’s not that good. It’s descended from the gutter to the sewer. 

    Sounds as if it has gone down the drain?


  19. Doug Daniel says:

    I’m trying to work out if Dave Smith is referring to drug dealing or tabloid journalism masquerading as serious news that feeds the public with misinformation and downright lies!

  20. charlie says:

    The Boy Welsh is right, rather than take a 1% benefit rise, you would be better off taking a punt on drugs. It’s terrible but it’s the market driven way. You could work for a merchant bank but I’ve no idea how many Leithers work in that sector as compared with Surrey-born private-school gadgies….

  21. Dave Smith says:

    Fair one, Doug. It works with both really, doesn’t it? 🙂

  22. Al Ghaf says:

    It’s SHITE writing for the Scotsman! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the Daily Mail. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are second rate wankers. Can’t even find a decent argument to be positive about. We’re ruled by effete assholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference! 

  23. Dal Riata says:

    @Al Ghaf

    That’s barry, man, Pure barry! LOL!!


  24. Indy says:

    It looks to me as though Kenny F had not read it and took it down when he had. He also altered one of the stories yesterday because it was misleading – the one on Michael Moore.  Obviously it doesn’t make up for years of Scotsman bias but it is progress of a sort so welcome.

  25. Luigi says:

    With articles like these, I’m afraid that the Scotsman awaits a similar fate to that other well-known Scottish comic, the Dandy.

  26. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “He also altered one of the stories yesterday because it was misleading – the one on Michael Moore.”

    Any more info on that?

  27. kininvie says:

    It’s entirely possible that the story was the result of the notorious disjunction in newspaper offices between print and online. Few senior journalists or execs have much clue about how online stuff works and leave it in the hands of young tyros or casuals doing the updating shifts when the print boys have gone off to the pub. So something like this can happen very easily, and then a rapid exercise in ninja editing takes place. It also happened on the Mail with their infamous ‘plastic Brits’ story

  28. Leo Miklasz says:

    I’ve had a helpful twitter exchange with Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts editor at Scotsman/SoS. He suggests it’s showing up as an Edinburgh Evening News piece:

    Andrew Eaton-Lewis ?@aeatonlewis
    @leomiklasz For the brief time it was online it seemed to be labelled as an Edinburgh Evening News story. […]  But I don’t know the full facts and am not sure I should make any further comment. I thought Irvine’s piece was great though.

    I’ve contacted the EEN editor Frank O’Donnell to ask to confirm this and explain why the piece was pulled, will see if I get a response. Other inquiring minds are free to do the same at @fodonnell23 . Suggests to me that all is not well in the Johnston Press world, with the overlap of Scotsman/SoS/EEN articles on their website – in this case it would seem an EEN article, bafflingly published on Sunday (when the paper doesn’t come out), has effectively alienated one of Scotland’s top authors from the Scotsman/SoS and I suspect some people are not too happy about it. Joined-up thinking there.

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