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Wings Over Scotland

Lies spring eternal

Posted on July 08, 2017 by

“Colonel” Ruth Davidson took time out from her holidays yesterday to unleash an extraordinary (and unusually defensive) 35-part Twitter tirade about the reaction to her appointment as an honorary military commander. So barren is the summer political news desert that two newspapers put it on their front page today, giving the BBC an excuse to deem it the day’s biggest story.

But that wasn’t the bit that caught our eye.

Because the 19th (!) tweet in the series said this:

By “the Highland Spring treatment” Davidson wasn’t referring to the waterboarding torture of suspected enemies regularly carried out by armed forces all over the world, including those of the UK. Rather, she meant the latest entirely fabricated piece of Unionist fake outrage against the Scottish Government.

Les Montgomery – head of the Scottish-based mineral-water company of the same name – is a longstanding opponent of Scottish independence, and was used in campaigning material by the “Better Together” campaign from as early as 2012:

Last week he made comments about how independence was still bad, the Scottish Government should concentrate on its “day job” instead of thinking about another referendum, and it should get on with facilitating Brexit, from which Highland Spring stood to benefit.

And that’s all fine. He’s entitled to that view, and businesses do as a whole dislike any sort of uncertainty or instability. Equally, the Scottish Government would be entitled to point out that it was elected on a manifesto commitment to seek another indyref in the event of Brexit. But then things got weird.

A Scottish Government official had contacted Highland Spring in the wake of the remarks to see if it could assist the company with Montgomery’s demands that it should be “focusing on employment, investment, those kinds of things”. Absolutely nobody who was party to the conversation has suggested that anything untoward went on during the conversation.

But the company issued a clarification about Montgomery’s comments, saying:

“The statements made did not mention indyref2 and were not intended to offer an opinion on whether Scotland should or shouldn’t remain a part of the UK; from either the perspective of Highland Spring or any individual member of staff.

Instead, they were intended to outline a view that it is key for businesses in Scotland to have stability and clarity around ongoing important political issues, for the good of the Scottish economy and businesses. We’re sorry if people have taken this the wrong way.”

And that was enough for the Unionist media to shriek “INTIMIDATION!”

It didn’t matter that both the Scottish Government and Highland Spring – the only two bodies who knew what had been said – strenuously denied the allegations.

As far as the punditariat were concerned, an allegation that nobody but the press had ever actually made – and which everyone involved on all sides flatly denied, with Mr Montgomery himself saying the clarification was “categorically not as the result of any influence from, or conversations with, the Scottish Government” – was unquestionably and empirically true, and that was that.

The Scottish Government’s “intimidation” of Les Montgomery is – and we really can’t overstate this – entirely fictional, just like the “fears” of the Daily Mail yesterday over the delivery of broadband in 2021. They deny it happened, he denies it happened, his company denies it happened, and nobody else was present. We’d bet you a pound to a penny that if you asked him tomorrow, he’d still say he opposed independence.

But we suppose it at least makes a nice change for Stephen Daisley to be the author of the inventions rather than the subject of them.

Another recent example of the phenomenon was the Mail’s stupendously ludicrous fit about SNP chief exec Peter Murrell and a “wild claim” (supposedly made by him in a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation about the draft indyref2 bill) that the 2014 independence referendum had been rigged.

The headline was carefully worded to imply that Murrell himself had made the claim. But all he’d actually said was that some people had felt that way – but not Yes Scotland or the SNP – and that an extremely minor technical administrative change would help alleviate any public concerns.

Scotland’s press now can’t even be bothered putting misleading spin on stories – enthusiastically backed by the Unionist parties, it just flat-out makes up stuff that hasn’t happened and which nobody has even claimed has happened. Readers should expect a lot more of it in the coming months.

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501 to “Lies spring eternal”

  1. yesindyref2 says:

    Mmm, I think it was HoL rather than HoC – I’ll have to check it out when I’ve got time.

  2. Ghillie says:

    That’s interesting Yesindyref2.

    I’ll ask my Dad, he should remember what happened with all those other blossoming nations that were in many cases much smaller and with fewer resources than Scotland.

    Though possibly not as valuable to the British Empire.

    Worth a bit of research I think.

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