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Pot, meet kettle

Posted on February 06, 2012 by

We were perhaps a little unfair on Alan Cochrane earlier today. After all, the core of his comment about Alex Salmond’s reaction to being banned from commenting on the Six Nations at the weekend:

“We could be generous and suggest that calling the hapless BBC mandarin a “Gauleiter” displays either an imperfect knowledge of the English language or of 20th century history – or both. But knowing our Dear Leader as we know, it is entirely possible that he thinks it is perfectly all right for him to liken those who dare to defy him as some kind of Nazi. “
(Alan Cochrane, the Telegraph, 5 February 2012)

…is a fair point, strongly made. After all, what sort of thoughtless idiot would casually toss around a highly-charged, potentially-offensive word like “Gauleiter” in reference to an obviously petty and trivial matter?

“I am on the horns of a dilemma this weekend. I have been invited to a posh dinner in the Scottish Parliament later this week and there are to be pre-dinner drinks in the Members’ Bar at Holyrood.

Although I have accepted the dinner invite, I am somewhat constrained in accepting the one to the pre-prandial cocktails. The reason is that the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association, of which I have the honour to be a member, is boycotting the said watering hole. We have taken this principled – if unusual – stance because we have been offered only limited rights of access by that Gauleiter of Holyrood’s catering facilities, Labour MSP Duncan McNeil.”
(Alan Cochrane, Scotland On Sunday, 22 January 2006*)

Whoops! Still, you have to admit, if the First Minister has sunk to Alan Cochrane’s level, maybe he DOES need to stop and think for a minute about his comportment.



*Observant viewers may be wondering why we’ve apparently jumped to conclusions given the lack of a byline on that piece. But even as we linked this morning to the other instances of Telegraph writers using the ‘G’-word, we felt absolutely certain that a bombastic old Tory buffer like Alan Cochrane MUST have called someone a Gauleiter in print himself at some point, and as we poked idly around in Google the same page kept coming up with “Alan Cochrane” in the search terms.

Mr Cochrane was once Deputy Editor of SoS and continued to contribute to it for some time afterwards, so that fitted, and the writing seemed an excellent match for our man – pompous tone, gratuitous use of French, a Scottish political journalist who hates both Labour and the SNP? That’s practically a one-name shortlist already. But the page itself lacked any sort of solid evidence as to why it was appearing for a search string including “Alan Cochrane”. We hunted around for some kind of index page that might provide the smoking gun, but fruitlessly.

Then we had a “Doh!” moment and thought, why are we making this needlessly hard for ourselves? Let’s go straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were. So we rang up The Scotsman’s main desk, explained truthfully that we were trying to discern the author of an old archive piece, and a delightful and cheery receptionist called Jennifer put us straight through to the Library department.

There a a rather gruffer and wearier-sounding figure, who didn’t give his name and sounded as if he’d been shut in a dusty basement for the last 20 years, asked us if we knew the date and title of the piece. We said that we did, supplied the info and within a few seconds back came the answer we’d been hoping for – “That was Alan Cochrane”.

Investigative journalism, there, folks.

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14 to “Pot, meet kettle”

  1. Morag says:

    Nice one.  Bet nobody in the mainstream media picks up on it though.
    We get the message.  It's OK for Paxman to call Salmond "Mugabe" and accuse him of planning to run a one-party state, but it's not OK for Salmond to use a common word for "overbearing official" because it has Nazi connotations.

  2. Peter A Bell says:

    …imperfect knowledge of the English language…

    As something of a language buff, I have been extra irked by the always grating Alan Cochrane's untoward fuss about Alex Salmond's use of the term "Gauleiter". The "imperfect knowledge" is Cochrane's, not Salmond's. As any journalist worthy of the name should be aware – or willing and able to find out – the word in modern usage refers to any pettifogging bureaucerat.
    Could it possibly be that Cochrane actually was aware of this, but was happy to make himself appear stupid in order to attack our First Minister? He should be advised that, while the former was rather more successful than he might have wished, the latter failed at the first hurdle of credibility.

  3. Elaine says:


    Gauleiter is a perfect word appropriate in the circumstances, however when there is furore to be stirred up or political capital to be made, then all sorts of allegations and mock horror is feigned by journalists who should know better.


  4. John White says:

    Interestingly, in today's Cochrane piece any post that refer to this article or links to it, is being deleted. This included moderate questions directed to Alan C. asking whether he wrote the piece you quote………….

  5. RevStu says:

    I've noticed 😀

  6. John White says:

    The best thing today was discovering this site

  7. Matt says:

    " After all, what sort of thoughtless idiot would casually toss around a highly-charged, potentially-offensive word like “Gauleiter” in reference to an obviously petty and trivial matter?"
    I wonder who would do that?
    The sort of thoughtless idiot that translated the discovery of a medieval haggis recipe into 'an English land grab', perhaps?
    The next 2 years are going to be excellent spectator sport, whatever the outcome.

  8. Morag says:

    I wonder how Google knew.  His name isn't anywhere in the source code that I can see.
    The thing I find odd about this is the lack of comment around the steamie of Cochrane's use of the term "Dear Leader" to describe Salmond.  That's right.  In the same actual sentence where he is condemning Salmond for a word as anodyne as "gauletier", he himself in effect identifies Salmond with Kim Jong-il.
    Unless of course that comment was being modded off as well as links to the above information.
    Nice.  I love the smell of unionist hypocrisy in the morning.

  9. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I prefer the epithet
    Politikal Kommisar.
    The spelling with a K has an oblique reference to the pastime of the London political and media scene although its fashion was some while ago in Austria.

  10. RevStu says:

    "The thing I find odd about this is the lack of comment around the steamie of Cochrane's use of the term "Dear Leader" to describe Salmond."

    Possibly because Cochrane's been using that forever and everyone just rolls their eyes at it now.

  11. Jock MacSporran says:

    Cochrane recently referred to Alex Salmond as "Il Duce" – a title originally taken by the facist dictator Mussolini. He repeatedly uses highly derogative terms to abuse Salmond and other leading SNP politicians. How far does Cochrane have to go before he's sued for libel? 

  12. Morag says:

    The trouble is, insults are not libel.

  13. Shodan says:

    Last time I looked purple faced Alan is was deleting comments and references to this place and what is being dubbed COCHRANEGATE. I've seen quite a few things vanish now. He must be burning with fury after sitting there lording it over and dishing it out from up high and now the peasants are rebelling and making him look like a fool.
    Cover ups are always entertaining when they are inept.

  14. David Ferguson says:

    I'm another who discovered this site as a result of the Cochrane article. Great piece of work – I will be  a regular visitor in the future.

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