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Wings Over Scotland

Smear and smear again

Posted on March 29, 2012 by

So another 24 hours go by, and still absolutely nobody in the Scottish media thinks it at all newsworthy that the country's main opposition party has a deliberate policy of refusing to support ANY Parliamentary motion put forward by the SNP, regardless of its merits. We wish we were more surprised.

Scotland Tonight, which at least engages with its viewers on Twitter, claimed its reporting team were "not excited" by the astonishing revelation, openly and publicly made by a Labour MP, that Scotland's second-biggest political party was more interested in party advantage than the interests of the people. Newsnight Scotland and Reporting Scotland both ignored the story, as did all of the nation's newspapers.

The Herald and Scotsman did both run tiny pieces on the less-interesting prelude that brought the news to light (Labour's ham-fisted refusal to vote against George Osborne's 50p tax cut for the rich), but neither could find even half a sentence in passing to mention the much more significant discovery of the Bain Principle.

The other story covered by Wings over Scotland yesterday DID manage to secure a lot more media attention, though. Following on from the Telegraph and Caledonian Mercury, both Scottish broadsheets were able to find large amounts of space to repeat the powderpuff story about Alex Salmond offering a couple of long-standing SNP members a cup of tea and a biscuit in Bute House.

The Herald put it on the front page – in a piece so poorly researched and edited that it managed to knock £30m off the value of the Weirs' Euromillions jackpot (repeatedly giving the amount as £131m rather than the actual £161m) – and presented the story as dramatically as possible, giving plenty of space to Labour's Paul Martin to make lurid accusations which the paper depicted neutrally (Martin merely "said" things) while it portrayed the SNP spokesman's response as angry and defensive, using phrases like "The First Minister's most senior aide stormed…" and "reacted with fury" .


The Scotsman, meanwhile, outdid its rival with TWO separate stories, featuring on the front page of the website and as the lead item in each of the "Scotland", "UK" and "Politics" sections. And this, remarkably, happened despite the paper also running a leader column which explicitly noted that the Weirs' donation did NOT belong in the same category as those that have been solicited and/or covered up by Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems:

"At the heart of this affair there is a serious problem for political parties. They need money to run expensive campaigns. People who give large sums of money tend to be those who do not hand over cash without expecting something in return. There are people who simply believe in the party cause – the lottery winners who have given £1m to the SNP, for example – but they are few and far between."

It probably goes without saying that the Daily Record also managed to cover the Weirs' so-called "tea party", and it also ran it twice – though it should be noted that both pieces were handled rather more soberly and even-handedly than either of its two supposedly more grown-up counterparts – but didn't consider either Willie Bain's admission or Labour's tax-rate abstention to be worthy of even a few lines.

Supporters of independence are often accused of paranoia by the Scottish media, but no belief is paranoid if it's true. The embarrassingly transparent attempt by the press to bury the story of the Bain Principle, while devoting page after page after page to repeatedly casting aspersions on an entirely legitimate, open and above-board donation which the SNP conspicuously announced the moment it happened and which absolutely everyone accepts was not made with any ulterior motive or seeking any benefit, will do nothing but fuel the nationalists' fire.

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26 to “Smear and smear again”

  1. Bobby McPherson says:

    The Scottish Sun covered it will try to find it n post it here

  2. Longshanker says:

    It's a non story. Bain was dumb to articulate what he did. But I think May's election results last year was notice that the average Scots voter acknowledges the Labouring party's shortcomings.
    What do you propose the headline would be?
    Hardly earth shattering in its dullness.
    The only media conspiracy of silence on this one is, as the Scotland Tonight people alluded to, it's nothing to get excited about..
    How many people know who Bain is? How many know who Salmond is?
    Contrast and compare.
    Largest single donation ever to The Sun King's political party – highly newsworthy.
    Bullingdon Dave's troubles – highly newsworthy.
    Hardly surprising that non-Murdoch vested interests have gone to town with their laughable attempts at making a comparison.
    The Souter accusations voiced elsewhere are much more damaging but too old to be topical, so it only makes sense – in the media term of the word – to go with what they have; Bute house tea and caramel wafers and No.10 flat and 1/4 Million Pounders.
    Basic stuff.

  3. RevStu says:

    "The Scottish Sun covered it will try to find it n post it here"

    Couldn't find it on the website when I looked, if you uncover it I'll add it to the piece.

  4. RevStu says:


    1. It actually IS news if the opposition party opposes reflexively without ANY consideration of the merits of the motion concerned. Even in an adversarial system they're not meant to oppose purely for opposition's sake, and Labour have frequently denied doing so, only to now admit it.

    2. This was a Westminster motion. The SNP are not the government at Westminster, and the motion attacked that government. At Westminster, Labour and the SNP are ostensibly on the same side. So by your own rationale of "opposition party opposes government", Labour should have supported the motion.

  5. Peter A Bell says:

    Longshanker seems to conceive of the role of a political opposition in much the same way as the British labour & Unionist Party's branch in Scotland. And he is just as mistaken in believing that this role amounts to no more than opposition for its own sake.
    A significant part of the role of the opposition is to scrutinise government proposals with a view to ensuring that the measures under consideration serve the interests of the people of Scotland. The Bain Principle precludes all scrutiny and eschews any consideration. It holds that measures must be opposed regardless of anything other than the fact that they are proposed by the SNP. That the measure might be beneficial to the people of Scotland is explicitly rejected as irrelevant.
    We saw a perfect illustration of the Bain Principle in action at FMQs today. Richard Simpson was tryin to justify his group's continued opposition to minimum alcohol pricing on the grounds that it would generate windfall profits for the supermarkets. He went on to insist that steps must be taken to "claw back" these windfall profits. He did so apparently oblivious to the fact that his party also opposes the so-called "Tesco tax" which is intended for this very purpose.
    That the Bain Principle makes idiots of the likes of Richard Simpson is hardly a matter of concern for anyone. Other, perhpas, than Simpson himself. But the Bain Principle also exemplifies the contempt of the British Labour & Unionist Party for the people of Scotland and its total disregard for the solemn duties of its pariamentarians. That should matter to all of us.

  6. Longshanker says:

    I knew I should have run with the first headline:
    Bain's so interesting and he's so well known that I missed that he was an MP and not an MSP. Oops. Banged to rights.
    So what? It still makes for dull news – even if it could be called news.  I'm not even attempting to contradict your assertion that Labour hate the SNP to a degree which can only be called pathological. That's a historical given. Labour deserved May 2011. Reap what you sow etc.
    And just for badness, I hope they get the kicking they deserve in Glasgow come May.
    Your assertion however that the Scottish press would be compliant in burying this discovery stretches credibility though; The Daily Ranger or Mirror, maybe but highly doubtful. But the Herald and the Scotsman. Hmm. Set me straight on what their motivation to bury it would be. I fail to see it.
    If they thought there was mileage in the (non) story they would have run with it. Their silence isn't complicity in some anti-SNP conspiracy, it's knowing what will interest their readers – dull stories don't.
    It's the law of circulation figures – you know that.
    Peter A Bell
    Sorry to disappoint you. I'm not making that mistake at all. The only assertion I'm making is that the Bain tweet is a non-story.  Historically, Labour will oppose just about anything the SNP do or say. It's classic blackwhite mentality.

  7. RevStu says:

    "It's the law of circulation figures – you know that."

    The Herald and Scotsman's circulation figures are plummetting through the floor. Ideology, in fact, DOES seem to be trumping business sense.

  8. Longshanker says:

    I wouldn't use the word 'fact' regarding your implication/assertion that news stories are selected on an ideological basis.
    Unless you've got some insider knowledge, which I'd be absolutely and genuinely  riveted to hear about, your assertion is only based on opinion shaped by your own SNP/pro-independence prejudices.
    Otherways, if you can prove it, it's a story I'd be prepared to buy a newspaper to read.
    Deadlines, topicality and reader interest are the main driving priorities behind a News Editor's selection of news. If it's newsworthy it goes in, if it isn't it doesn't.
    Agree with you regarding the impact of the Internet, but that's a print media wide problem not just the problem of two struggling Scottish right leaning newspapers.
    The Guardian, for example, is losing circulation and money hand over fist due to its current online giveaway bonanza.

  9. RevStu says:

    "I wouldn't use the word 'fact' regarding your implication/assertion that news stories are selected on an ideological basis."

    Where did I do that?

  10. Longshanker says:

    RevStu said:
     "Ideology, in fact, DOES seem to be trumping business sense."
    Looks like an implication/assertion of ideology led story selection to me.
    I'm open to your explanation of what this sentence actually implies/asserts/means.

  11. RevStu says:

    The word "fact" and the phrase "seems to be" are hard to equalise in the mind.

  12. Erchie says:

    I expect Longshanker, with his obvious Troll name, will ignore the times the SNP voted for Labour/LibDem motions in Holyrood when the SNP were in opposition, but they agreed with the motion.
    And that the Daily Record, seeing the same effect that RevStu points out, decided to go lighter on the SNP and hired Joan McAlpine
    By this line, if a puppy was drowning, and it needed a vote to send forces out to rescue it, poor dead pup I'd the SNP put forward the motion. It's that ridiculous

  13. Longshanker says:

    The word "fact" and the phrase "seems to be" are hard to equalise in the mind.
    I see.
    However, the word 'conclusion' and the phrase "seems to be" would be easier to equalise in the mind.
    In fact, the basic misunderstanding of 'facts' speaks volumes about certain types' inability to distinguish between facts and conclusions.
    In conclusion, it implies ludicrously pathological incapability to stick to previous points raised due to aforementioned inability.
    Advice: Ideologically speaking, stick to doing comedy, your grasp of newspaper priorities plainly exceeds your talents. That's a fact.
    Thanks for the laugh though. Cheers.

  14. RevStu says:

    I'll get right back to you on that as soon as I work out what the hell any of it means.

  15. MajorBloodnok says:

    Longshanker – will ye no ge' it a rest.  My eyes are bleeding wading through your inchoate guff.

  16. Tormod says:

    The media / labour / tory relationship is so bad we have got used to it.  Which is a shocking indicator of the inscestious relationship they have.
    Christ on a stick even this is bad for them, so there are now folk tweeting and commenting on threads that this story has been given help by labour to the torygraph who are using it as smoke screen for the tories.

  17. Longshanker says:

    Rev Stu No surprise there.   MajorBloodNok   Inchoate guff is the belief that Bain's tweet was of any interest to anyone other than mad dog conspiracy theorists.

  18. Kenny Campbell says:

    It would seems that even on the internet every ying requires a yang. Here we have Longshanker(even has stereotypical anti Scots moniker). On the Herald comments page  its Michael McKeown from West Midlands(pseudo Scottish name) and on twitter #indyref its strongerunited1. One and the same, figuratively if not actually. Well they could actually be the same as well I suppose.

  19. Kenny Campbell says:

    If nothing else they keep the independence minded folk from getting carried away.

  20. Longshanker says:

    Something to hide? Hypocricy in action. Why so predictable?

  21. Longshanker says:

    You seem like one of the good guys. I know there's plenty of you out there.
    I've only ever posted as Longshanker and I'm a West coast of Scotland native – born and bred etc.
    If you don't mind me asking, why would you consider 'Longshanker' as a moniker to be anti-Scottish?

  22. RevStu says:

    Something to hide? Hypocricy in action. Why so predictable?”


  23. Kenny Campbell says:

    Is Longshanks not a hommage to Edward I ?

  24. Longshanker says:

    Missing link?

  25. Longshanker says:

    The moniker is Longshanker. Not Longshanks. I've used it in varying forms since 1996.

  26. AdolfHitlerer says:


    The moniker is AdolfHitlerer.  Not AdolfHitler.  I’ve used it in varying forms since 1933.

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