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Wings Over Scotland

Something to believe in

Posted on May 05, 2014 by

It’s a Bank Holiday and frankly there’s absolutely bugger-all of any interest in the news today, so I hope you’ll forgive me a personal indulgence, readers. I’ve only used the personal pronoun for a couple of Wings articles out of over 2,300 in the site’s two and a half years of existence, because the independence debate isn’t about me. But a curious piece in today’s Herald by David Torrance merits such a response.

If you don’t see what it’s got to do with that video*, bear with me.

The piece is entitled “The avoidance of doubt and a lack of candour in Yes camp”, and is based on a premise that’s flawed from the start – the idea that if all your opponents say you’ve done something wrong, then by definition you must have, and that you should apologise for it whether you think it was wrong or not.

But later on it makes a very direct and specific criticism of me personally:

“The popular, pro-independence website Wings over Scotland, for example, scrutinizes Unionist claims – at meticulous and often eloquent length – but never applies a penetrating eye to its own side. Over the past few days the Bath-based blogger has been prominent in the defence of Mr Salmond.

Compare and contrast with the CBI, whose recent car-crash over its affiliation with Better Together at least concluded with its chief executive Jon Cridland admitting to ‘an honest mistake’.”

The second paragraph is hilarious in all sorts of ways, but let’s focus on the first one. Firstly, I’m pretty sure I haven’t actually been “prominent in the defence of Mr Salmond” over the Putin comments at all. Wings hasn’t run a single article discussing the matter – we’ve made a couple of very brief passing mentions of it and run one cartoon by Chris Cairns, all of them focusing on the sustained media attack rather than the comments themselves.

The line also implies something that we’ve categorically stated on numerous occasions isn’t the case – that Wings presents itself as impartial. In fact it makes no such pretence. This is a pro-independence website created openly and expressly with the intention of helping to win a Yes vote and it’s never claimed otherwise. Torrance’s criticism is a bit like saying “Yeah, okay, Lionel Messi is a great footballer but how many goals does he ever score AGAINST Barcelona?”

But the wider thrust of the piece is built on the equally nonsensical premise that independence supporters see a Yes vote as an instant and infallible cure-all for Scotland’s woes. This is a straw man endlessly attacked by the No camp, who constantly accuse Mr Salmond of promising a utopian land of milk  and honey, and of claiming independence as a magic bullet that kills all monsters.

The fact that the FM consistently says the absolute opposite of those things – that Scotland will face challenges and make mistakes like any other country – is a minor inconvenient detail which is never allowed to get in the way of the lies and smears.

For as long as I’ve been aware of politics (probably early teens), I’ve believed that Scotland should be independent. The matter was rarely discussed in my parents’ home – it was a conclusion I arrived at by myself, much like the way I decided aged around 7 or 8 that the concept of Santa Claus didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

I grew up seeing Scotland as a nation, identified largely through the medium of sport. Only countries played in the World Cup, and the Home Nations and Five Nations football and rugby tournaments by their very names made the fact appear self-evident: how can you compete against other nations if you’re not one? There was no “Great Britain” football team, and the rugby one only existed occasionally and only in the context of its component countries.

So when politics entered my consciousness, the idea that Scotland SHOULDN’T be independent just seemed obviously ridiculous, as absurd as trying to deny that the Earth went around the Sun or that bricks sink in water.

But I’ve also been a doubter my whole life. For no reason I can identify – it certainly wasn’t taught to me, nor can I recollect any particular trauma of being lied to about something – I’ve never taken anything at face value. I always want to see the working. My earliest memory of school is being in Primary 1 and asking the teacher why “people” wasn’t spelled “pepole”, because that was how you said it.

She looked as though it was something she’d never thought about, and then rather apologetically mumbled something about how it just was and she couldn’t explain it, and from that day on I was sceptical about everything.

(Fortunately the era where you tended to get the belt for questioning teachers had more or less just ended by then or my life could have turned out very differently.)

Fractionally over 10 years ago, in February 2004, I wrote an article for an old personal blog explaining why I’d ended up becoming a videogames journalist. My motivation, just as it would be 20 years later with Wings Over Scotland, was bewilderment at seeing things written in the media that I knew weren’t true, and frustration that nobody was challenging them and asking the questions I wanted answered.

Demanding to see evidence and going against a consensus that everyone else is happy to collude with in blissful ignorance isn’t the path to take if you want a quiet, easy life. People can get quite extraordinarily upset if you ask them to prove or justify their beliefs and/or actions. You make a string of enemies, many of them astoundingly bitter ones, over even the most trivial of things.

(One day, folks, maybe I’ll show you just a sample of the vein-popping hatred I managed to attract in 20 years as a games journo, simply by not liking some games that other people liked, and you’ll perhaps understand why I regard even the vilest Unionist trolls as pathetic amateurs not worth losing a wink of sleep over.)

But I can’t help it. Make a claim in my hearing and you better be able to back it up, and if your reaction is to try to scream down awkward questions I’m just going to press all the harder to see what it is you’re trying to hide.

Now, as this site has made clear from its earliest days, independence in itself isn’t a solution to anything. Independence is a principle, not a policy. Nobody sane – or at least, nobody sane with more intelligence than an amoeba – doubts that Scotland is capable of succeeding as an independent country.

Even the No camp, officially at least, agrees on that much. Scotland’s people aren’t uniquely feckless. Every nation that’s ever gained its independence, the vast majority of them far less blessed with wealth and resources than Scotland, has made a go of it. None, once independent, has ever sought reunion with its former partner.

(The exceptions being nations which were divided against their will, like Germany.)

Scotland will have to deal with problems whether it’s a nation or just a region of the UK, and the only article of faith I have is that the best people to deal with Scotland’s problems are Scotland’s people. It’s so staggeringly obvious to me that the interests of Scotland are not best assessed in London, that they will not be best appreciated and determined and solved by the inhabitants of Kent and Surrey, that to suggest otherwise is facile to the point of insulting.


To personalise it: I can’t stand coffee. It makes me nauseous. If I worked in an office with ten other people, who all liked both coffee and tea, and we let democracy decide every day what everyone had to drink at our morning break, I’d either be spending a lot of time thirsty or a lot of time throwing up. If I decide for myself, I get what’s right for me EVERY day, not just now and again when it happens to suit everyone else.

But beyond that, everything is up for doubt. And if you’d forgotten what this rambling monologue was supposed to be about, that takes us back to Mr Torrance.

Because it’s not that I think Alex Salmond is infallible, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not even that I turn a blind eye to his failings because Wings Over Scotland has nothing to gain in the service of its goal by damaging him.

Rather, it’s that what David Torrance apparently doesn’t grasp is the possibility that anyone casting a “penetrating eye” on Salmond’s comments in GQ could ever arrive at a different conclusion about them to the one David Torrance has.

I said earlier that being a doubter makes you a lot of enemies, and it does. But it has an upside too. Because a lot of people like to be told the truth, and in a world dominated by spin and marketing will show their appreciation for simple unvarnished honesty and evidence-backed arguments by supporting them in numbers.

Alex Salmond, throughout his political career but particularly since attaining power in 2007, has been subjected to the most relentless, remorseless barrage of personal smearing his political opponents and a mainly-hostile media can manage. He’s assailed almost daily with crude and often hysterical allegations of lying, along with various other slurs on his competence and character.

Yet he remains, challenged only by his own deputy, Scotland’s most popular and trusted politician by a country mile. And that’s neither an accident nor blind party loyalty. It’s because he credits people with both intelligence and decency, and in doing so displays exactly the sort of candour that David Torrance calls for.

Vladimir Putin isn’t, so far as it’s possible to reasonably judge, a very nice man. Both his policies and his methods of enforcing them are, to many of us, verging on the outright despicable. But that doesn’t mean he’s an idiot. You don’t achieve the level of sustained power he’s achieved in a country like Russia without being at least effective, which is all that the First Minister said he was.

(As this article is too long already, I’m not going to get into the comical hypocrisy of UK newspapers printing comments from one of Pussy Riot’s husbands attacking Salmond because some Russians got beaten up by the police at demonstrations, as if the police had never beaten anyone up at a protest in the UK.)

A leader in the Scotsman last week got halfway to understanding the point:

“In an age when politicians sanitise their remarks for fear of taking sides, Scotland’s First Minister is a breed apart. Mr Salmond has never been afraid to speak his mind, even if it has brought down the wrath of the headline writers, or (occasionally) caused his own side to wince.”

…but then couldn’t stop itself from lapsing into the sort of kneejerk attack it wanted to make all along, despite having identified exactly why it was wrong. Alex Salmond retains the respect of Scots precisely because he’s prepared to be honest with people even when he knows he’ll be pilloried in the press for it.

It’s an astonishing insult for the likes of Torrance to suggest that Salmond didn’t know full well that the Putin comments would be used against him. He was being interviewed by Alistair Campbell, for goodness’ sake. The idea that he went in naively not expecting beartraps and tripwires to be laid for him is laughable. But he went ahead anyway, because he credits people with the intelligence to see through the spin and judge for themselves rather than being told what to think by the papers.

(Obviously that only makes things even worse for him in the press, because they’re driven into a furious rage by their growing impotence and irrelevance as arbiters of opinion. Even with plunging sales figures newspapers they retain large online readerships, but those readers now have easy access to opposing views in a way that they didn’t even 10 years ago, and the media hasn’t yet come to terms with the loss of its gatekeeper status.)

Today is the third anniversary of the 2011 Holyrood election. The inability to understand the fact that people appreciate candour even when they might not like the person expressing it explains a very great deal of the behaviour of both the No campaign and the Scottish media over the last three years.

Whatever their views on independence, whatever they think about the SNP and its policies, a great many Scots think that Alex Salmond deals from a straight deck. They’re capable of grasping a moderately nuanced comment about Vladimir Putin, and they’d much rather deal with one of those than Ed Miliband robotically repeating “these strikes are wrong” in response to every question.

They want a leader with some self-confidence, both gallus enough and honest enough to say what he feels, not a slick Eton liar or some weak-willed drip living in constant terror of making anything the media could spin as a “gaffe”.

If David Torrance still, after all the time he’s spent writing about Scottish and British politics, doesn’t understand that, perhaps it’s time that he tried to wrench himself out of the lazy groupthink of the media/political village for a moment and turned his own “penetrating eye” towards a mirror.


* The No camp’s “proud Scots” are Cho Cho. I’m not helping you beyond that.

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176 to “Something to believe in”

  1. Brotyboy says:

    I was made aware of David Torrance’s towering intellect when, at the Five Million Questions interview with Nicola in Dundee, he made the point, in a sort of reply to her warnings about the likelihood of Barnett being squeezed in the even of a No, that in the event of a Yes it was guaranteed to disappear completely.

  2. RogueCoder says:

    You believed in Santa Claus until you were 8?


  3. Dan Huil says:

    I think Mr Torrance lies awake at nights desperately trying to find an introductory link [a play, a book, television programme, etc] which will allow him to make spurious connections and ridiculous conclusions to the referendum debate.
    Coming next: Thomas the Tank Engine defends the union!

  4. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “You believed in Santa Claus until you were 8?”

    Hey, there was no internet back then.

  5. Caroline Corfield says:

    re: independent and went back -apparently a wee bit of Mexico did. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the view, however.án

  6. Caroline Corfield says:

    and Santa exists, just because he didn’t bring you toys doesn’t mean somewhere someone doesn’t get toys from Santa – it’s just highly improbable – but given people go to war on the basis of highly improbable things, I’ve decided my irrational belief is Santa. btw he likes whisky.

  7. Croompenstein says:

    What does David Torrance believe in? I don’t know what gallery this guy is playing to but FFS he could at least try and be more intelligent than he is coming across.

  8. yerkitbreeks says:

    I rather like you writing in the first person.

  9. Rod Robertson says:

    around 7 or 8 that the concept of Santa Claus didn’t stand up to scrutiny. WHIT? Charlatan .

  10. scottish_skier says:

    “Hateful cybernat ruins Christmas for the kids”


    Aye – unionists don’t get it. The electorate don’t zip up the back of the head.

    To have a government which gets a strong majority % satisfied (50-60% sat vs ~33% unsat since 2011) which well exceeds the % who say they would vote for that party (~45%) it is quite remarkable.

    Such things very rarely happen. Countries on the verge of independence are an example (another being a country at war in defence of itself). The electorate in principle agree with aims – in this case independence – of the government even though they retain their own party loyalty.

    Under such conditions, when the electorate feel threatened by ‘external’ forces (the British state in this case), they tend to rally round their own government. Currencygate was a good example; Yes went up and No went down in response. Only a fool would have expected a different outcome.

  11. Macart says:

    That is probably the most comprehensive schooling I’ve seen handed out in quite some time.

    Mr Torrance deserved every word.

    Oh and what do you mean ‘the concept of Santa doesn’t stand up to scrutiny’? I’ll have you know the dram and biscuits put out by the wife every Christmas eve disappear overnight. 🙂

  12. Luke says:

    Excellent post Stu. Yet again preaching the truth that’s so sparcely heard these days.

  13. Well said Rev, it’s always good to hear your personal reflections and indulgences!! Onwards and upwards to a Scotland we all believe in, run by the Scots for the Scots at the expense of no one!!

    On a side note, once again, MASSIVE thanks, love and respect to all you great folks here at Wings who have helped raise funds and spread the info for our short film, ‘Autumn Leaves’. We have now nearly reached our £1500 budget target. Nice one guys!!

    To those who may be interested still and want to support us, it is a comedy/drama set on the night of the referendum and cast includes Sean Scanlan (Para Handy), Barbara Rafferty (Rab C. & Hamish MacBeth) and Carmen Pieraccini (River City).

    You can read all about it here:

    Shout out to Rev Stu for his continued support. Thanks everyone!!

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    I came to the conclusion the man is a charlatan.

    His columns are a series of tautologies ending in a falsehood.

  15. Robert McAlpine says:

    Sickining comments sullying the good name of Chris Cringle.

    I am 35 and I still believe. This year I have asked for 50%+1 or more and I am being extra nice

  16. Alfresco Dent says:

    Wonderful Stu! I’m not sure that so many people do see through this fog of war though. My workplace detests Alex Salmond.

    @ Brotyboy

    I was there too & remember it well. Wee nyaff!

  17. Is David Torrance the guy that NNS sometimes pays to write a column? If so, biggest waste of money since Liverpool bought Andy Carroll.

  18. fittie says:

    Has David Torrance got some personal problem with independence .His father was a keen supporter of independence ,a bit of teenage rebellion from David

  19. Dennis Smith says:

    Bang on. “Independence is a principle, not a policy” – the best 7-word summary of the argument I can recall seeing anywhere.

  20. Well Said

    The concept of “doubt” was interesting but the article just turned into a rant about Alex Salmond.

    Just yesterday Iain MacWhirter wrote about how the media’s only tactic left was to link Indy to Alex Salmond and then character assassinate the First Minster. The very next day Torrance produced a text book example of what MacWhirter was talking about.

    Ignore the facts, twist the context and have a go. The problem the media and political commentators have is the public are not daft.

  21. Jim Mitchell says:

    Alex Salmond, throughout his political career but particularly since attaining power in 2007, has been subjected to the most relentless, remorseless barrage of personal smearing his political opponents and a mainly-hostile media can manage.

    Just like oor Torquil in today’s Record.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    Incidentally, the “great” South African golf professional, Gary Player, turned out to be “sponsored” by the CIA all his globetrotting, apartheid days.

    The knowledge of that and a few other public figures make me wonder who “sponsors” Mr Torrance’s litany of doubt.

  23. Ellie Mack says:

    What’s this about Santa?????

    Next you’ll be saying that the Easter Bunny isn’t real…….. 🙁

  24. orri says:

    Santa exists but has developed the greatest con trick in convincing parents everywhere to do his job for him in the belief that knowing he doesn’t exist will devastate their children.

  25. Bugger (the Panda) says:


    Scratches furry lug and ponders.

    Is there a positiver case for the Union, either?

    Body blows.

  26. AlbaYes says:

    I wish somebody would tell mcbully its a bank holiday..the guy is really getting on my nerves

    A Nation of Drunks

  27. Les Wilson says:

    Imagine this, if all the benefits of being Independent were given to the separate English “regions”, if they had local press and sympathetic TV on their side. Would they go for it?
    I would say without all the negatives we have to put up with daily, an unequivocal, YES.

  28. heedtracker says:

    There’s no Santa?! Also what the whole of teamGB media led by the BBC don’t get after attacking Salmond so hard and for so long, they’re really attacking Scotland over and over and over. A neat example was Unionist reaction to Salmond waving the Saltire at Wimbledon, cringer horror v Scottish pride.

    Some are conditioned to just accept it and ofcourse it’s suits the super rich owners of Scotland, embraced warmly by our cringing Labour Westminster MP’s. And it’s why we have Project FearBetterTogegether desperately trying to frighten the life out of everyone .

  29. James123 says:

    So why isn’t people spelled pepole? Have you ever received an answer?

  30. Nana Smith says:

    Hey just you wait a minute,Santa doesn’t exist! Try telling my husband that,he’s 60yrs and still hangs up his stocking!

  31. Alan G says:

    I for one want to read the ranty emails from Games fans because you only gave Sonic 8.7/10 but game Mario 8.8/10

  32. Nana Smith says:

    Meant to add this a wonderful piece from Stu. Torrance is only jealous as his musings are pretty dire.

  33. Pentland Firth says:

    Well said Rev.
    One small pedantic point though, the Lions comprise players not just from Britain but from Ireland as well. Most of the Irish players selected over the years are citizens of the Irish Republic. Hence the correct name for the select is the British and Irish Lions.

    The establishment of th Irish State in 1922 did not see their rugby players cast out from the Lions, and I’m sure that Scottish independence will have the same non-effect on the eligibility of Scots rugby players.

  34. hetty says:

    Yep well said, the better no camp will slate anyone that dares to question them right up until Sept. 18th. Just as well we do not have to rely on the msm, though some still do. If like me you speak your mind at times and even dare to bring the referendum into a conversation, people either visibly cringe, verbally attack or change the subject. Just discussing that with a yes friend the other day, it seems with many folk it is a case of, don’t mention the referendum!

    My son’s very well off private school educated and very confident young peer in drama group, the other day asked why we had propoganda on our tv with a YES poster stuck to the screen! I wish I had known that at the time.

    Yesterday I was talking to a friend who volunterrs in a local charity shop , she said a young volunteer, private schooled was saying that the head told all of the pupils under no uncertain terms, to vote no.

    Thanks for an engaging, intelligent and positive site to counter the lies and obstructive forces out there, because they still exist big style.

  35. MolliBlum says:

    Haha – your school memory of questioning the spelling of “people” reignited my own memory of P1: Following the daily “Our Father…” the teacher sternly called me to the front of the class and said admonishingly, “You had your eyes open during prayer!” To which I responded, “So did you, Miss”. That was my first encounter with the belt. (Glad to hear it had been phased out by the time you were at school.) Worse still than the actual physical punishment, though, was the humiliation of having to go and get the belt myself (from a high shelf I could barely reach, even standing on a stool) and hand it to the teacher. Maybe that helped to sow the first little seed of dissent and a lifelong tendency to question the all too prevalent and hypocritical abuse of authority… 😉

  36. Bevrijdingsdag says:

    “Independence is a principle, not a policy”

    Love it!

  37. Albert Herring says:

    The No camp’s “proud Scots” may indeed be a right bunch of Cho Chos, however Madama Butterfly is actually Cio-Cio.

  38. Andy smith says:

    I remember when I was in my first year in Secondary school and our registration/re teacher asked the class if they believed in god.

    I’d been reading the books of Erich von Daniken at the time,so I thought I’d stick my hand up and hope to ask the teacher his views on what von daniken had written.

    I didn’t even get a chance to speak, I was subjected to a five minute rant as to what I was even doing at the school if I didn’t believe in god.

    After he finished he still didn’t ask as to why I’d raised my arm, just asked the question again, and,surprisingly, no one raised an arm this time.

    Afterwards I never had the same respect for that teacher or authority in general, always finding that if I asked a question that wasn’t on their own teaching subject,then they knew very little or even less than myself on what I was asking.

    Thank god today’s children have the net to turn to.

  39. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “The No camp’s “proud Scots” may indeed be a right bunch of Cho Chos, however Madama Butterfly is actually Cio-Cio.”

    Depends where you look. And since my reference is to the Malcolm McLaren version, I’m going with the spelling in that one:

  40. Ian Brotherhood says:

    If Torrance wants to hone his journalistic skills, he could do worse than getting his teeth into this, from NNS:

  41. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “One small pedantic point though, the Lions comprise players not just from Britain but from Ireland as well. Most of the Irish players selected over the years are citizens of the Irish Republic. Hence the correct name for the select is the British and Irish Lions.”

    I know. I didn’t mention the name, and in any event the team was never referred to as that in the 70s, which is the period I was talking about.

  42. Robert Louis says:

    Quote: “If David Torrance still, after all the time he’s spent writing about Scottish and British politics, doesn’t understand that, perhaps it’s time that he tried to wrench himself out of the lazy groupthink of the media/political village for a moment and turned his own “penetrating eye” towards a mirror.”

    We can but hope.

  43. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “My workplace detests Alex Salmond.”

    Aye, but I bet they always did.

  44. Chris Cairns says:

    So THAT’s how you spell ‘gaffe’. Just as well I only do the pictures.
    Rev – you could at least photoshop out my spelling mistakes. Honestly …

  45. Albert Herring says:

    “my reference is to the Malcolm McLaren version”

    Fair enough, it seems to be an English translation. Do I get a prize for the Spanish slang?

  46. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “So THAT’s how you spell ‘gaffe’. Just as well I only do the pictures.
    Rev – you could at least photoshop out my spelling mistakes. Honestly …”

    Hey, I normally do, but there wasn’t any room on that one 😀

  47. Papadox says:

    @big_al says: 1:37 pm

    Well spotted, probably one of the best pieces written on the referendum. There is at least one London journalist who has got some idea of what is going on in Scotland and actually put it in righting. Respect to Jon snow. Thanks big al!

  48. HandandShrimp says:

    Given that Salmond made a only a couple of passing remarks about a spread of current world leaders in what is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a political journal, the only thing that surprises me is not the comments themselves which seem fair and balanced but the absolute desperation to which people like Torrance have clung to them.

    “Is that all you got” springs to mind. Verily the cupboard is sparsely populated over in Bitterland. They should be worried.

    Torrance should know better. Boris Johnston is popular and wins elections because, like Salmond, he isn’t the product of a focus group, too terrified to stray from the party line and memorises bullet points and soundbites to ward off the evil of having an opinion. Ed and his “These strikes are wrong” car crash interview is a prime example of a politician terrified to think. People despise that sort of thing. It isn’t a vote winner.

    That said, we have spent little time on the whole Putin thing as in the scheme of things it is irrelevant. I wonder which blog Torrance actually meant? Or did he just make shit up?

  49. Footsoldier says:

    Is Santa not true then? I am shattered by this revelation just as I was when I learned from Better Together that the oil is fast running out and we cannot hack it, independence that is.

  50. Jamie Arriere says:

    I know Santa never existed – even at a young age I knew what fantasy and make-believe was, it was in my head and that it was separate from the real world. He was a man in a suit (usually someone I knew). Anything with flying reindeer was automatically in the same box as giants and beanstalks.

    Also I was a very well-behaved child, so was never blackmailed with ‘Santa won’t come if you…’. Finding a box of Subbuteo under my parents’ bed one November only confirmed it.

    Whereas Scottish music & culture was real. The house was full of it, and people used to come and sing songs & play tunes about places I knew, in language I spoke – which I never heard or saw on British media.

  51. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t really rate David Torrance as an observer of the political scene. He seems to be the pundit of choice on so many fronts yet i can’t recall reading anything memorable by him. His commentaries are never particularly insightful, ascerbic or even witty. He’s not in the same league as the lIkes of Iain MacWhirter, Ian Bell, Jon Snow or Matthew Parris. Maybe it’s because he’s still got a lot to learn.

  52. liz says:

    @big_al – that’s the best article I’ve seen from a reporter from ‘down south’.

    It just goes to confirm hoe parochial the metropolitan ‘elite’ are.

  53. Proud Cybernat says:

    “If David Torrance still, after all the time he’s spent writing about Scottish and British politics, doesn’t understand that, perhaps it’s time that he tried to wrench himself out of the lazy groupthink of the media/political village for a moment and turned his own “penetrating eye” towards a mirror.”

    Ouch! Would you like some smelling salts now, Mr. Torrance?

  54. Jamie Arriere says:

    One last thought before I return to the decorating –

    You’re right, Independence is a principle not a policy. I hope over the next few months that we can give voice to some of the various policies we would like to see after Indy, to paint a fuller picture of the possibilities. (and I don’t mean outcomes, but how we get them – and without having to agree on them)

    Now where’s that bloody paintbrush..

  55. HandandShrimp says:

    My workplace detests Alex Salmond.


    Of course they do, that is what Prime Minister/First Minster is for.

    Most people detested Thatcher, Blair Brown, do detest Cameron and Salmond.

    That doesn’t mean that won’t vote for them though. I can’t see people detesting Lamont less or Ed for that matter.

  56. Doug Daniel says:

    “I decided aged around 7 or 8 that the concept of Santa Claus didn’t stand up to scrutiny.”

    I remember applying torturous logic to try and justify the idea of Santa, because it was blatantly ridiculous, the idea that this one guy could deliver presents to every child in the world. “Oh he must be able to slow down time or travel really quickly” and the like.

    I can’t help feeling this is fairly analogous to support for the union. People perform logical gymnastics in order to try and justify supporting the thing which allows Scotland to be dominated by the Westminster establishment. “I don’t want to put up more borders”, ignoring the fact a border already exists. “I’m an internationalist”, refusing to acknowledge that “international” without nations is a one-world government. Or the classic “I’m a proud Scot”, while simultaneously telling people Scotland would go to hell in a handcart if we voted for self-government.

    And just like when someone finally realises there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, ex-No voters seem to look back in bafflement at why they didn’t wake up to reality sooner.

  57. Susan says:

    “the Bath-based blogger”. Why does he mention Bath, Is he trying to undermine Rev or the good people of Bath?

  58. galamcennalath says:

    The more I read stuff about the Independence campaign, the more I come to the conclusion that BT / Unionists / their media chums have been struggling since they realised there would actually be a referendum. Critically, there was never meant to be one, but faced this that reality, there was no obvious strategy for them to adopt. They were all in a little London based bubble, all thinking within the same parameters, all believing the same narrow information they actually took as truth. They had, and still have, absolutely no idea what has been going on slowly and largely quietly in Scotland over the last few decades.

    The simple thing would have been a positive defence of the Union, but with its record, that was going to be a tall order! Their best hope was to keep those told pollsters they would vote No, on side – make sure they stayed No. Early polls suggested keeping Nos as Nos would deliver a majority.

    Thus Project Fear. It wasn’t a very good strategy, but honestly, other than offer FFA/DevoMax early on, what else could they do?

    Project Fear failed. So what do they do now? The only option I can think of is to widen the negative scope to include personality smear and add subliminal messages of potential violence. We’re seeing both now.

    I guess they believe their only chance is to stick with their rotten out-of-the-gutter strategy.

  59. Andy Crossan says:

    well I got the connection with the aria , mind you I was subjected to madame butterfly and other operas when I was younger, giving a working class kid from Glasgow an odd knowledge of music
    the other thing I was given was the idea that I should question everything and make up my own mind,especially when it came to newspapers and governments

    the more we can get “pepole” to do the same (question everything not listen to opera) the closer we will get to self determination

  60. call me dave says:

    Quiet day 🙁

    Here is an depressing example of pals getting together in a committee to talk down the present SG.

    Chairman Davidson with his puppet Roy and Mundell giving evidence on behalf of the coalition in cahoots at Westminster on the bedroom tax back in February.

    They spent their time feeding each other the ammunition to shoot the SG.

    After comfort break (fast forward to) Research which comes under scrutiny.

    Scotland research funding much higher as part of UK 13% but its population share 6% better not to separate.
    UK at big research table, punching above our weight, Scotland too wee… Charities raise funds for research, Scotland will get crumbs
    Again they are feeding each other the ammunition, even when they miss their cue the witness is reminded they have brought the wee bit of paper with them..Oh dear, yes so I have!

    Scottish scientists won’t get to use all the facilities.

    Aye right! It’s a farce.. but it’s all given authority and the official stamp because it happens in Westminster.

  61. Helena Brown says:

    Well said Stu, I am proud of you and of every word you uttered. We must have been similar kids, trouble is though I gave up not only on Santa but with the likely hood of god at age seven. My Mother was often in despair of her wee lassie, we never even agreed on the wedding either, she wanted church I insisted registrar office. I am so picky I drive Husband mad, I drive myself mad too.
    David Torrance is an erse, and deserved every word you said.

  62. Vronsky says:


    “she said a young volunteer, private schooled was saying that the head told all of the pupils under no uncertain terms, to vote no”

    I’ve heard several reports of this happening at state schools, including one pupil being told by her teacher that she was ‘extremely stupid’ for stating her intention to vote Yes.

    @andy smith
    On RE in schools, remember a classmate being belted by the teacher (a reverend) for remarking that he found biblical stories ‘a bit far-fetched’. Another pupil was similarly punished after the rev asked him if he wouldn’t prefer to marry a virgin. ‘Isn’t it better to be last than first?’ says he. Whack.

  63. HandandShrimp says:


    Jason made this comment over on the Guardian. I haven’t read the blog so I have not seen the whole piece but the snippet is interesting

    Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, on his blog:

    “I have come away from Scotland deeply impressed by the high quality of debate, and the relatively low quality of many of the arguments put forward by the No campaign. I’m equally impressed by the range and quality of people who constantly surprised me by their commitment – often recently determined, to vote yes. My sense too is that where the vote on Scottish independence is concerned, Westminster politicians just don’t get it.”

  64. BuckieBraes says:

    I’ve just read David Torrance’s article again.

    ‘…Nothing is capable of knocking the faith of today’s Yes campaigners that independence remains the best option in 2014.’

    Well, exactly: because it’s what we believe in, and seek to convince others likewise. In this sense, why should our faith be ‘knocked’? It would be a strange state of affairs if we all started going around saying, ‘Mibbees aye, mibbees naw.’ Faint heart never won referendum.

    That is not to say that we deny the enormous challenges an independent Scotland will face in addressing, for example, post-industrial social and economic problems. But these are already there, under the union. The UK/Westminster system has failed us and there is no sign it is going to serve Scotland any better in the future. So, Mr Torrance, that is why so many of us believe independence remains the best option.

    Anyway, I wish Mr Torrance good luck with his ‘short tract’ on federalism. Just as he is intrigued by our supposed ‘lack of doubt’, I’m bemused by those who keep banging on about a federal UK, when it’s clearly a non-starter. Those whose assistance would be needed for this project to materialise – the citizens of England – are, by and large, not interested in making it happen.

  65. MolliBlum says:

    @ hetty: “the head told all of the pupils under no uncertain terms, to vote no”

    Aren’t teachers in Scotland under obligation of political impartiality? Or does that apply only to state schools???

  66. heedtracker says:

    This debate alone was excellent, the YES speakers were all confident and I learned stuff too. The bettertogther team were quite weak though, fear, doubt, we must vote no to save England from England etc. If only there was a way to harness the energy from all the head shaking of the no’s.

    Did you know that the devolved federalism that is the world economic power of Germany, was set up by the British after WW2. Lesley Riddoch told us that.

  67. Les Wilson says:

    Having seen and heard Torrence numerous times AND read a few of his questionable articles on NNS?, I have concluded that I have absolutely, no time for him at all.

  68. TheItalianJob says:

    Brilliant piece of writing Stu. I read through everything you write, unlike some of the other nonsense written by so called journalists in the MSM. I usually give up either 1/4 or 1/2 way through reading some of their articles, as the pieces are too poorly written and researched to back up their arguments.

    Keep it up and we will have you as our one of our top journalists in an Independent Scotland. I’ll buy into your writings wherever they are, either in print form or website.

  69. anton le grandier says:

    Now this is a fine piece and exactly encapsulates why the naysayers are,its their favourite word,”doomed”.Scots are not fools,mostly,and embody a wide variety of views but they certainly do know when they are being TAKEN for fools and respond accordingly.A point which the No camp seem unable to grasp particularly from Westminster.Ach well,so we go on.BTW,”honest mistakes”?Not the kind,shurley,of which Scots refs have been accused?

  70. Bevrijdingsdag says:

    I’m sure Torrance believes to have understood what Alex Salmond said, though I very much doubt if he realises, what he meant.

    Life is like an ashtray, full of little doubts
    Cannon O’Fodder :).

  71. Jim Marshall says:

    Terrific piece Stuart, one of your best. “I grew up seeing Scotland as a nation, through the medium of sport”

    I grew up seeing Scotland as a nation, through the medium of our authors,poets , artists and song writers. It often astonishes me the level of ignorance of Scots of their cultural heritage. This is because it has never been part of mainstream education.

    Ask any Scot who was the most prolific writer of Scottish songs and the answer will be Robert Burns. Ask who they think was the second most prolific writer of Scottish songs they will be stumped. It is unlikely they will have heard of Carolina Oliphant.

    Similarly ask them to name four great English painters,they will readily come out with answers, then ask them to name four great Scottish painters. Stumped again.

    Our cultural heritage has been suppressed and substituted with that of England.

    This is just one aspect of life in Scotland that I trust will be remedied by independence.

  72. galamcennalath says:

    HandandShrimp says:
    Jon Snow of Channel 4 News

    The full article is ….

    This is the most accurate and honest appraisal to have originated outside Scotland (and Bath 🙂 ) . Jon Snow is spot on, here.

  73. Andy-B says:

    Good article Rev, I didn’t realise you took so much stick as a games reviewer, should stand you in good stead, for the likes of Mr Torrance and co when they attack you.

    Speaking of character assassination,Torcuil Crichton in the London owned Daily Record, today relentlessly attacks Alex Salmond, its probably his most despicable character assassination to date. Wisely the DR hasn’t provided a link, to this tirade of abuse, or at least I can’t find one.

    Crichton who’s as proselyte of Ed Miliband, must have felt awful at having to comment on his hero, when Miliband denounced , zero hours contracts, on a trip to Motherwell recently only to find out, that the Labour ran North Larnarkshire Council, employs hundreds of people on zero hours contracts.

    Strangely the DR has no link to this story either, I wonder why?.

  74. G H Graham says:

    Torrance is an idiot. Actually he’s worse than that because he has fooled himself into believing he isn’t.

    Torrance has created in his own mind that by linking spurious data points that have no fundamental connection or correlation, he has uncovered or revealed a pattern or trend that from a journalists perspective, is a story.

    But that is the limit of his intellectual capacity. Having taken inspiration from the competing gutter titles, he works a charade where he thinks that by lifting a nonsensical argument to one that might be considered only laughable, that he has expanded & enriched our understanding of a complex situation.

    But he hasn’t because he can’t. Compared to the work of his colleague, Ian Bell for example, his columns are like an English B&B menu. At first glance it looks interesting. But once you take away all the local sounding produce, all you end up with is greasy bacon & rubber eggs.

    Torrance’s work is indeed like a full English breakfast. It quickly fills you up but by lunchtime, you have regretted digesting the rubbish food & are now looking for something more tasty, more complex & more entertaining.

  75. Murray McCallum says:

    “… he credits people with the intelligence to see through the spin and judge for themselves rather than being told what to think by the papers.”

    Exactly right. We need more politicians like that.

    I picked up on the “Bath-based blogger” too. Imagine if every article was written like that?

    The Buckie-based business editor was extremely critical of the Perth-based political correspondent, with only the Lossiemouth-based editor at large finding any common ground. Follow us next week for more geographically based job titles.”

  76. tom says:

    I see from Irish Times business section that Osborne is boasting that UK government is undercutting Ireland’s corporation tax and so winning business. Is this what unionists mean when they talk abou a race to the bottom?

  77. the bunnyman says:

    lovely read and the very reason as to why Wings has been on my Tool Bar these last few years. i salute you, sir, but i know you will not entertain such sycophancy 🙂

  78. iain taylor (not that one) says:

    I think many folk respect Salmond, as I do. I don’t agree with him on everything, but his opposition to the Iraq invasion when he was an MP (in the face of all the WM flag waving) won him my respect.

    I respected Cook for his resignation over the same issue, but didn’t agree with him on much.

    While I understand some leaders attract hatred from sections of the public – Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Cameron – I don’t understand that reaction to Salmond from so many.

    Since I don’t buy or read newspapers (maybe the Sunday Herald has changed that) or watch live TV, maybe that’s why.

  79. TJenny says:

    Murray McCallum – lovin’ the concept. Maybe BBC Scotlandshire could run a weekly ‘Geographically based report’. Along the lines of the wonderful ‘Gay Weather Forecast’. 🙂

  80. Doug says:

    To misinterpret Puccini:

    Are you suggesting that the Proud Scots have misunderstood Westminster’s (Pinkerton’s) intentions? They thought the marriage was love rather than convenience. They were shafted and left holding the baby, having changed everything about themselves (way of life, religion, nationality) to fit in?

    They now stubbornly believe, in spite of all evidence, that Pinkerton will return, make things right, fix their problems? How will they react when its all over?

    Sonething like that?

  81. clochoderic says:

    Lionel Messi, eh? – Hmmm…

    Your style of commitment is more reminiscent of Doug Rougvie in his prime, Stu.

  82. TJenny says:

    Something very weird going on with this site. Comments reduced in size and wont allow zoom in – text just look like wee dots – what’s up? (hope this comes out ok as I can barely read it) – Too wee? Or maybe I’m just too stupid – but WOS is deffo NOT too poor. 🙂

  83. Flower of Scotland says:

    Nice piece Rev! Good reading, not like the tripe Torrance has been writing for years! He,s always slagging off,either the SNP before there was a referendum, or the YES vote now! Nothing changes. I always thought he sounded really bitter! Ah well Bittertogether!

  84. LizM says:

    My memory of questioning accepted facts got me barred from history at an English Grammar School after I called the teacher a liar.

    Her version of history “Elizabeth 1st died, Scotland was given to England and James 1st ruled over both”.

  85. iain taylor (not that one) says:

    Having read a few of the comments, it seems our education system is in a bigger mess than I realised, with teachers telling pupils how to vote.

  86. Taysideterrier says:

    Rev Campbell V’s Torrance live TV debate? (-;

  87. TJenny says:

    Ah – OK again. 🙂

  88. Jim Marshall says:


    What is even worse, this re-writing of history also takes place in Scottish schools. Very brave of you to speak up.

  89. mogabee says:

    And these words are why Torrance is where he is, scrambling for a position and struggling to find it.

    Whereas Stu. is given our cash, our time and our respect.

    (not going into the Santa discussion…inflamatory)!

  90. Chris Cairns says:

    What Torrance (deliberately?) misunderstood about the Salmond/Putin nonsense was that he had absolutely no opportunity for the quiet, measured clarification Torrance says he should have made (although, as the Rev says, Salmond’s comments hardly required such). Right from the get go the co-ordinated, blanket and entirely manufactured media ‘outrage’ turned this non-issue into an old fashioned media storm.

    Salmond was pilloried, ridiculed and condemned from all sides, subjected to the most outrageous misrepresentation and calumny from every paper, broadcaster and unionist politician in the land. In such a violent and wholly unwarranted shit storm Torrance thinks Salmond saying, ‘Look, for the avoidance of doubt this is what I meant … sorry for any misunderstanding’ would have somehow nipped it in the bud?
    Aye, as they say, right.

  91. Robert Roddick says:

    Santa Claus is jist like the devil; It’s yer faither dressed up.

  92. Andy-B says:

    Here the Guardian, derides the thought of a possible Scots currency, several suggestions are the “Bucky” or the “Connery” or even the “Bawbag”.

  93. Lynn Blair says:

    ‘Demanding to see evidence and going against a consensus that everyone else is happy to collude with in blissful ignorance isn’t the path to take if you want a quiet, easy life.’

    – Agreed. We choose to home educate four children rather than passing on responsibility to a council run education department. That seems to push a few buttons. Result? Maybe others suspect that what you’re telling them is the truth, but it’s rather inconvenient to admit it and take action. It’s easier to follow the sheep and do as others do.

    I suspect that lots of ‘No’s’ realise there’s a good deal more to the Independence debate than they’re willing to consider. This would explain a lot of the ‘what will happen to my pension?’ brigade. They think there’s safety in the status quo. Remaining untouched by the arguments means they don’t have to question their own motivations and (perhaps) suspect priorities.

    I like your writing Stu. I like hearing you use the word ‘I’. You work hard enough to deserve your say. What makes a difference is realising that the personal is political – too few people do.

  94. mogabee says:

    First time EVER my comment disappeared so will repost.

    And this article is why Torrance is where he is, scrambling to find a position but unable to. About time he just came out as the Tory he self-evidently is!

    Whilst Stu. gets our cash, our time and our comments.


  95. Totally irrelevant, but what the hell …

    People is spelled people because it’s borrowed from Mediaeval French. “eo” was an old spelling of a French vowel pronounced like German ö, which is written eu in modern French – where the word is now spelled peuple. English didn’t have the sound ö so English speakers pronounced it as “paiple”. Over time the vowel in the first syllable evolved into “ee” but the spelling never changed.

    So now you know.

  96. Jim Marshall says:

    Wee Ginger Dug

    Double Dutch to me.

  97. Onwards says:

    I read the article and to be fair, writing around the subject of having doubts makes for an interesting topic.

    But it’s telling I don’t known one case of a YES voter moving to a NO..

    The principle of a country controlling it’s own affairs seems like so much of a no-brainer, that the unionist side has to resort to scaremongering to prevent people coming to that obvious conclusion.

    And even if you do agree with unions within Britain, then surely it is preferable to have a partnership of equals..?

    And that is only realistically approached from the basis of sovereign states with bargaining power.

  98. bunter says:

    Aye there is constant attack on A.S. at the moment and todays Daily Retard article by the muppet Crichton is another example. Its obviously important to the Unionists that the SNP and Salmonds reputation and poll ratings be damaged ahead of the EU vote and referendum.

    It would be nice if we could use this site and others to return fire on the Labour troughers and proven liars as we can be sure of a media blackout on any negative SLab stories over the coming weeks.

  99. When Newsnet Scotland announced they were going to employ Torrance, I gave up on them. No doubt they are still providing good articles, but I don’t want to read anything written by him.

  100. heraldnomore says:

    Nice one Wee Ginger Dug, but how does that explain ‘peepell’, as in wearrapeepell, which may just be local spelling from the quaint fishing village that is Larkie

  101. Luigi says:

    The British establishment and MSM do not understand Alex Salmond. Alex Salmond, on the other hand understands them completely and plays them like puppets.

    Salmond knows that a hostile media would ignore him completely if he played safe, so he has to bait them occasionally with a juicy morsel they think they can use against him (only to look foolish later).

    The MSM were daft enough to think that Alistair Campbell trapped Salmond – hilarious!

    Alex Salmond has being playing this game with the media for years, and still they don’t understand that they are the ones being manipulated.

  102. call me dave says:

    Even mister Bateman rates Torrance ‘NOT’

    tiddledeedum… tiddledeedum…sighhh! Slow news day

    What can Newsdrive fill the time in with? 🙁

  103. Mary Bruce says:

    Really enjoyed this piece, RevStu, nice to read a bit of bio for a change. Loved the links, (“Now that’s what I call a haircut,” lol, what a cutie). It’s a real insight into twenty five years of honing your cut-through-the-crap analytical skills, what an amazing gift.

  104. Nuada says:

    Stu, coffee sickens you too? Brother from another mother! Last family get together, twenty-one coffees, one tea – guess who?

  105. Viking Girl says:

    It dawned on me when I was in Primary school in the fifties that my country was not free. Call me precocious but that’s the truth.
    I agree with what you said about the media. They never expected any competition here, and now they’ve got it, big style, from elsewhere. They’ve had it too easy for too long in the UK.
    I was told recently by a friend that there will be a No vote because ‘No-one trusts Salmond.’ After I had reminded her about the 2011 vote I had to tell her it was die hard Labour folk like herself that don’t trust Salmond, well, they’ve got a lot to lose, haven’t they.

  106. Morag says:

    I rather like you writing in the first person.

    He does write in the first person. It’s just that he usually uses the editorial plural. Today is a singular day.

  107. Morag says:

    Even with plunging sales figures newspapers they retain large online readerships….


  108. Bevrijdingsdag says:

    He’s the Bath based blogger
    Stands ten feet tall
    He’ll tear all those to shreds
    Who have the gall
    To undermine his work, or
    Steal his ball
    He’s the Bath based blogger
    Crawl Torrance, Crawl.

  109. CameronB Brodie says:

    I gave him until here;

    It is impossible to separate restoration of pride from the means – mostly unpleasant

    @ D Torrance
    Yes, that was myself you met on the hill and I stand by what I said. Perhaps you can speak to your optician about getting a stronger prescription?

  110. JLT says:

    There is one aspect of this campaign that I have seen over this last year that makes me pause about the ‘No’ camp.

    When we look at the ‘No’ camp, it’s not uniformly the same voice. We have seen ‘No’ folk who are willing to listen; we have seen ‘No’ folk become ‘DK’s’, and we have even seen ‘No’ folk decide that ‘Yes’ is the answer for a better Scotland.

    However, there is one element there that makes me almost pity them. These are not members of the OO, SDL, or any other weird partisan or movement; they are just ordinary Joe’s.

    And yet, I have found when discussing independence with them, they are completely vehemently against independence. no matter the argument you put to them; no matter the reasoned answer; no matter even when you are even showing them the absolute facts; they will shriek or rant that ‘it is never going to happen’, or ‘I like the UK as it is’, or ‘you have no real answers’ or ‘you are going to ruin Scotland as well as the UK with this referendum’.

    These are people who are blindly refusing to accept that independence is a real possible option; that there is a very real chance, and I think most of us here, now believe that it will happen (though it really depends on what happens in that last month when the scare stories go stratosphere with threats to peoples jobs if folk decide to Yes – personally …I think a lot of folk will be severely pissed off if this is the final argument for remaining in the Union one month out. Threatening their jobs. I can see a lot of folk voting Yes just to spite the Union for its threatening behaviour).

    Seriously, I have no idea how these people are going to react on the 19th of September. I’m not talking about riots or violence to others; they are not like that …but are they going to ditch friends because they voted Yes. I can see some folk out there howling for a second referendum within 5 years to debate about re-joining the union (though I think that will be kicked into touch before it ever gains legs). Personally …I can see at least two folk that I know who may have nothing to do with me ever again if it is a Yes win. Their loss, I know …but it is still not a nice feeling. Hopefully, over the summer, the polls show a good increase in the Yes vote. That might just prepare them for the possibility of independence. God help them if it finishes 51% Yes-49% No.

  111. TJenny says:

    CameronB Brodie – I also met David Torrance on the Hill accompanying Colin McKay (Radio Clyde + STV indy debate pundit). DT stood shifting from foot to foot as he said he was almost late to meet someone. CM, on being told I was a WOSer, said that although the site had some good articles, the Rev was a whack-job and nuts. I bristled and retorted that he couldn’t make these kind of excoriating comments about Stu without explaining his reasoning, and he replied, memorably, accompanied by a laugh and a wee patronising pat on my arm:

    ‘Of course I can, I’m a journalist!’

  112. gerry parker says:

    I would prefer the writings of John McLeod rather than Torrance, he is a much better wordsmith.

  113. frances says:

    HandandShrimp says: That said, we have spent little time on the whole Putin thing as in the scheme of things it is irrelevant. I wonder which blog Torrance actually meant? Or did he just make shit up?

    I think the Putin thing is all about the European elections. The forces of darkness (aka Labour and their team) will, no doubt, spend the rest of this month demonising Alex Salmond in a bid to stop the SNP gaining a third seat.

    They did exactly the same thing last year leading up to the Council elections. The public were bombarded for abour four whole weeks prior to the vote.

  114. ronnie anderson says:

    Cho Cho ah thought you were wantin us tae dey the Conga Rev.

  115. Papadox says:

    Scotland is the Westminster version of Cinderella. We are kept under the stairs washing, scrubbing and serving the three ugly selfish sisters, Tories, labour and liberals, while they ponce about showing how important they are acquiring all the westminster loot for their own selfish benefit.

    We get brought out every five years to vote for the labour sister then get returned to the kitchen so labour can get on with partying and enriching themselves in the big house, Westminster at our expense.

    We are ignored and treated with utter contempt and kept out of sight out of mind. We are used and abused by the politicians who are supposed to work for us, however they tend to forget that and we unfortunately have allowed this situation to take root. They use us for their own greedy ends and otherwise treat us as stupid and ignorant cannon fodder.

    This will not happen after independence!

  116. Catherine says:

    I can’t stand Torrance’s pretendy balanced and measured style. He is clearly a unionist but pretends he is neutral. Which is precisely the opposite to what he takes issue with in your blog. Personally, I enjoy reading opinion pieces, as long as I know what I am reading. Nobody can pretend to be surprised at the content of your articles, as you make it quite clear which side you are on.

    I congratulate you on being naturally critical, but I feel that as not everyone has that gift, this should be taught in school. I am lucky to have had an education where I was taught that, when looking at a newspaper article for instance, I should ask myself who was writing it, why, to look and see if they used emotional language, and if so for what purpose, etc. I feel many people just accept what they read, and don’t try to find other sources of information, even though they are readily available today.

    This is why we are lucky to have you to do the hard work for us, as long as we remember that you are not neutral, and make our mind up.

  117. Lynn Blair says:

    I think you mis-quoted me Morag! I’m aware of the editorial plural. What I said was I liked the use of the word ‘I’. It’s more direct and in this case it’s appropriate. Just a personal preference I suppose, but I’m interested in the personal. It brings stories to life.

  118. caz-m says:

    A statement I have never understood, regarding the Scottish Parliament is,

    “It is designed so that NO Party can have an overall majority”.

    What the hell does that mean?

    The SNP were in power after the third GE and after the fourth GE/2011 they were a majority government.

    This pattern shows that Scots prefer ruling themselves than being ruled by Westminster.

    So, the next logical step in this pattern is of course, full Independence, which the Scots will vote for on 18th Sept 2014

  119. Taranaich says:

    To delve a wee bit into your videogaming past, I’m quite surprised and gratified to see your reasoning for getting into the referendum and Scottish politics aren’t that different from your reasons for becoming a gaming journalist – not least because I can readily identify exactly the sort of thing you’re talking about.

    I found very few reviewers were remotely reliable in the days where I could afford to get gaming magazines (though I do agree with PC Gamer that Age of Empires was, remains, and will always be superior to Warcraft 2, and that Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight is the greatest of all Star Wars games), either giving nothing but great reviews or nothing but terrible ones, with no actual, honest attempt at aggregating a decent appraisal of any given game.

    And really, I’ve found it’s all-too-common across the board. It’s astounding how few journalists actually know a bloody thing about what they’re talking about. “Science” correspondents barely know their hadron colliders from their hydrogen peroxides, “Comics” journalists can’t seem to fathom the idea of comics that don’t involve superheroes. My own bugbear was palaeontology news, which was either several years late, or managed to get everything backwards.

    Case in point: a while back, one palaeontologist put forward a paper where he suggests that Torosaurus and Triceratops were the same species, where Triceratops was the juvenile form of Torosaurus. As such, Torosaurus would be absorbed into Triceratops, as in taxonomy, the earliest name takes precedence (hence why we have Apatosaurus and not Brontosaurus). But because journalists saw “Triceratops was really a young Torosaurus,” they took the EXACT OPPOSITE conclusion – that our beloved Triceratops “didn’t really exist,” and we’d have to start calling it Torosaurus. In other words, the complete and exact opposite of what the new paper was about.

    How in God’s name can people who are paid to do this for a living make these sorts of mistakes with such regularity? Think of ANY OTHER PROFESSION, and what happens when you fail in the absolute basics of the job? If a teacher was teaching her students information proven to be false, they’d have to either go back to school themselves, or be kicked out of teaching. If an engineer made a critical design flaw which ruined the project, he’d be fired. So why is it a journalist is never punished for reporting the news inaccurately?

    In my ideal world, journalists would be held accountable for their mistakes. If a politician said “yes” and journalists reported they said “no,” then that journalist would either have to go back to journalism classes to go back over the differences between “yes” and “no,” or find a job somewhere else. A sheepish non-apology (“we apologize if anyone was misinformed”) won’t cut it.

    But that’s just me…

  120. YESGUY says:

    Rev loved the article more please … I keep telling people that the referendum is not all about politics . It’s about how we feel how we see ourselves in the world. Emotion can not be taking out of it so don’t feel you cannot express yourself please do . Your words are exactly how i feel . Just much better put.

    Thank you

  121. Helpmaboab says:

    I can identify with your youthful experiences. I’ve a clear memory of asking my Grandfather, when aged about 8 or 9, “If Scotland is a country why doesn’t it have a parliament”? He didn’t provide a satisfactory answer.

    As for Madama Butterfly? It’s a beautiful but godawful-depressing opera. (spoiler alert!) Cio-Cio-San ends up commiting hara-kire.

    Are you predicting ritual suicide for Better Together? Or perhaps the reference is to their habit of insisting, implausibly, “Un bel di vedremo”?

  122. ronnie anderson says:

    Rite noo REV whit yer next devious trick.

    Ur we gonna see WINGS OVER THE FRINGE,weil lit me telt You


    an fur by awe that, Dey you know any WRITER,S of any

    QUALITY ?!,you need comediens,singers, acters,jugglers

    ect, ect , ect, an a bit of money, sos there,s nae chancety

    of Wings at the Fringe, just a thought.

  123. Paula Rose says:

    (someone was offering a blog site with help if anyone wanted to add to the debate, a friend asked me today about how to do such a thing, are you reading this or can someone remember who, I’ve been up and down a few threads already)

  124. TJenny says:

    Paula rose – is that you warping lyrical?

  125. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    T Jenny @ 3:55

    Glasses not working, again?

  126. Paula Rose says:

    No dear (TJenny in case anyone jumps the queue) certainly not for me to write – if that’s what you mean, otherwise more like wefting at warp speed.

  127. Democracy Reborn says:

    Torrance’s problem is that his reach exceeds his grasp…

  128. CameronB Brodie says:

    A useful idiot more like. Grrr.

  129. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Paula Rose

    Posted for an earlier post by T J, see time stamp.

  130. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    This thread is becoming a tad surreal.

    Who’s zoomin who?

  131. CameronB Brodie says:

    Just for clarity, I was replying to TJenny’s quote from Mr. T.

    ‘Of course I can, I’m a journalist!’

  132. Paula Rose says:

    @ BtP – I knew that! (that’s in italics)

  133. TJenny says:

    BtP – just catching up – WOS has been a bit jittery for my laptop over past 24 hrs. Couldn’t access for ages and got a splendidly scarlet type faced message saying something along the lines of ‘unable to access as the parse fields don’t match’? I know, I have no idea either but, in the words of Free, ‘All right now”! 🙂

  134. TJenny says:

    CameronB Brodie – it’s actually a quote from Colin McKay – Mr T just smirked and stayed schtum!

  135. CameronB Brodie says:

    Speed reading Jenny and I’ve been known to miss the odd word or two, even when they are dead obvious. I’ve got all the excuses, I have, even needing to get glasses myself. I’ve no doubts about self-determination though. I’m glad I don’t find that odd as it gives me a strangely human feeling. I think I have a right to that opinion. 🙂

  136. Muscleguy says:

    @Ellie Mac
    I know the Easter Bunny is real, they get shot in their thousands every Easter in Central Southern New Zealand. It’s the Great Easter Bunny Shoot. Held annually where blocks of farmland infested with the blighters are handed to teams of hunters who compete to shoot the most wabbits over the weekend.

    I’ve seen the videos and laughed at the year one team cheated. They had been out previous weekends you see and tried to present them as fresh, but colder than anticipated weather meant they hadn’t thawed out enough.

  137. TJenny says:

    CameronB Brodie – s’Ok – just don’t want any of us WOSers quoted for ‘mistruth’. 🙂

  138. CameronB Brodie says:

    Getting myself a bit confused there with the familiarity. You are, of course, also Ms., Mrs. or Mr. T. I hope I haven’t left out any other possible permutation. 🙂

  139. CameronB Brodie says:

    I got that wrong, as well. I’m confused. 🙂

  140. TJenny says:

    CameronB Brodie – Mr T = David Torrance, I’d presumably have to be Ms,Mrs or Mr Jenny, no?

  141. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I am off to lie down.

    When is Brian Rix due on stage?

  142. Douglas MacLean says:

    Another excellent and thought provoking article.

  143. CameronB Brodie says:

    Ms,Mrs or Mr Jenny, no?

    Yes, but I had given up by then. 🙂

  144. Morag Graham Kerr says:

    Lynn, I wasn’t quoting you at all. That was a cut and paste from Yerkitbreeks.

  145. Morag Graham Kerr says:

    I’m kind of trying to work out when the robin nesting season starts.

  146. faolie says:

    Good stuff Stu, nice to see a personal piece.

    Having that poster for my facebook cover but. It’s brilliant (with a wee Photoshoppy tweak to make it fit).

  147. David says:

    @ Paula Rose, asking about blog sites. The 3rd of May article “a pro journalism tip” has some comments by Scots Renewables, starting at at 1:45am

    “Does anyone with time on their hands want to take over a ready to rock independence blog and make it really sing for the next four and a half months ?”

    Is this what you are thinking of?

  148. faolie says:

    I mean the Yes poster of course. Not that shameful picture of these naked louche cybernats 😉

  149. David says:

    @ Paula Rose, correction, the article “a pro journalism tip” was on the 2nd of May.

  150. Caroline Corfield says:

    @Paula Rose I think it was Rogue Coder who was offering the website/help, but can’t recall the thread

  151. Tam Jardine says:

    I have stopped buying the herald so missed out on David’s piece – couldn’t read via herald website link and can’t for the life of me delete cookies to read on the herald site. I’ll live.

    David Torrance’s long crusade against our first minister fails to fully appreciate that Alex Salmond is not the Yes campaign. For example, it would do no good for the Yes campaign if our First Minister were to be photographed at an illegal dogfight in a multi story car park. It would have absolutely no relevance to the question of whether, in 10 years, 50 years or 300 years Scotland and the Scottish people would better off financially, emotionally, spiritually or culturally with independence for example.

    It would have no relevance on whether we can rescue the current swathe of society that has been cast adrift, or stop generations in the future falling by the way side.

    And it certainly would have no relevance to the absurdity of a country as rich in all manner of resources with such a low population suffering from deprivation and inequality on this scale and for so long.

    I guess David is fairly well off. By any measurement I rub along ok as well. With 2 decent enough full time jobs my family can afford the mortgage, to eat well and take the occasional holiday. I daresay David will manage just fine with a no vote and we probably will get by ok (for a while at least). Thing is, it ain’t really just about those who are doing ok. It’s about the 1 in 5 bairns being brought up in poverty. It would take a fairly blinkered conservative to suggest they are better off in the UK.

    I walk or take the bus from my nice wee sandstone terrace to work on Leith Walk. Last week I saw a guy I physically manhandled out of my shop 10 years ago because, as he was buzzing gas from a can up his sleeve, it seemed unlikely he wanted to buy anything. I looked down from the bus last week and he’s still buzzing gas (and smoking at the same time which seemed unwise).

    Another person who is hardly better together in the UK. Will he still be doing the same in 10 years time if we vote Yes? Probably, if he is still around. I am under no illusions that a Yes vote will solve all our problems David. It does embody a willingness to try and it does mean that the politicians who we elect can legislate to change our country rather than accept decisions made on our behalf by a remote and often belligerent westminster.

    I’ll probably stick with the SNP for the first election. If they don’t measure up, we’ll get rid of em and give someone else a try. That’s how democracy is meant to work. That’s how I’d like it to work in Scotland.

    That figure for child poverty is 1 in 5 at the moment. What does it have to reach before everyone starts waking up and demanding change? 1 in 3? Or will the affluent no voter just stick with the status quo as long as they are ok?

    David Torrance
    IT’S GOT FUCK ALL TO DO WITH ALEX SALMOND. You are a clever guy and I am sure you could turn your analytical brain to dealing with the real problems this country faces but until you understand this one basic fact and start looking at the long game you will be forever solving soduko puzzles of your own creation rather than getting on board and rolling your sleeves up.

    Vote Yes.

  152. Paula Rose says:

    Thanks David (and Caroline) missed whilst speed skimming!

  153. fairiefromtheearth says:

    Reapeaters eh Rev good at repeating things just not so good at understanding or working things out for themselfs, i would rather have a Gaddafi as a leader, a man who went to the UN and spoke out against all the wars of aggretion i wonder what happened to that pensioner oh thats right Quatari special forces stuck a knife in his arse and beat the shit out of him before they killed him. Tony Blair should be worried if this is what happens to the people who speak out against war what happens to the war criminals eh middle east peace envoy lol lets bomb syria eh Blair peace envoy work it out bawbag.

  154. fairiefromtheearth says:

    oh and i think we should drop every member of parliment who voted to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq into one of these countrys just to see how gratefull the people are to have been liberated.including the Scottish parliment as they keep on telling us that we voted for the wars too, of course the press are blind to the FACT that 85% of scots were against the wars.

  155. CameronB Brodie says:

    I was going to post these links in Quarantine, but I couldn’t find the link. Has it been retired?

    The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia

    The Last CIA Whistleblower: Drug Trafficking, Training Terrorists, and the U.S. Government

  156. Paula Rose says:

    CameronB – go to off-topic, go to the bottom of the page and go left for Quarantine.

  157. CameronB Brodie says:

    Thanks Paula, I hadn’t spotted those links. It is interesting what you can find if you look. Anyway,these look good here.

  158. Chic McGregor says:


    My last post didn’t appear.

  159. Iain says:

    The referendum has resurrected Torrance’s career. A couple of years ago he announced that, as a freelance, he’d had to leave Edinburgh for London because of lack of work up here. I don’t know if he was doing much in London, but this is his big chance to attract attention and he’s grabbing it.

    As for posts attacking teachers: don’t condemn the profession on the basis of one or two stories. I know a number of teachers, and most of those whose opinion I know are in favour of independence.

  160. Chic McGregor says:


    In my admittedly limited experience (my wife is a teacher) the impression I get is, while I think the penny is dropping for many in the teacher profession, super shallow pseudo leftyism is still a prominent if not still predominant reality.

    Hopefully there are enough piled up along the drop line so the tipping point is reached before R-Day.

  161. dadsarmy says:

    I think David Torrance is a bit lost. He’s decided things need to change but can’t work out how it should change and how that change should work. In that he’s in common I think with a lot of ex- “more powers” devo plus / more / max people, many of whom I think are still undecided whatever they say in opinion polls. Whatever he says it wouldn’t surprise me if he looks over his shoulder to see if people are watching and puts an X in the YES box when it comes down to it.

    As for the Salmond attacks, it’s curious that someone who wrote a biography about Salmond understands the man so little. I guess to understand anyone you have to have empathy even if not agreement, and that quality is singularly lacking.

    Anyway, yet another mention for Wings over Scotland, that can’t be bad! There’s no such thing as bad …

  162. wee folding bike says:

    I teach in a state secondary and try very hard not to let pupils have any idea which side I’m on in this vote.

    There are no flags or stickers on my bikes, I don’t carry any Yes (or No) flyers with me and my Facebook photo is the handlebars of a Brompton S6L or the same Brompton outside Freddie Mercury’s front door. Pupils would be able to see it if I put a Yes image on there.

    I know some staff are less restrained, and there are some voting either way, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate in this instance. I’m happy to answer factual questions about the referendum, and pupils are starting to ask them more often, but I’m not giving them any opinion.

    They know what I think about other things. For example, I don’t use a car for getting to work. It would be difficult for me to hide that one and they do ask me why I choose to cycle. I can’t be giving a great example as the bike shed is still full of bins rather than bikes. Mine sits under the desk all day.

    Going to Scottish Opera’s Butterfly in a few weeks. Non folding bike will be locked up outside the Conservatoire. I’ll be in the cheap seats.

  163. Morag Graham Kerr says:

    Which performance? I’m going on the 29th.

    I used to chain my bike up near the stage door when I was a student. The Academy was still in the Atheneum at that point!

  164. wee folding bike says:

    Saturday 24th.

    I’ll be in the second row from the very back.

  165. Marker Post says:

    So tired of the unionist press. No-one believes that Scotland will instantly become a land of milk and honey, and no-one in the Yes camp ever says it. It is just a sop to real journalism, to understanding the real drivers of the debate. It is just another way of dumbing dowm the argument.

  166. Robert Peffers says:

    Can I put it this way? Since I read the very first thing I had access to written by David Torrance I assessed him as an irrelevance. About as sincere, truthful and useful as a lump of set and discarded concrete. Just as thick and solid as set concrete too. He acts exactly like those my old Granny used to describe as suffering from, “The spiled wean syndrome”. ‘Nuff said?

  167. TopCat says:

    Thanks for that Rev. I read the Torrance article in the Herald today I new it was negative against Alex Salmond but it was so obviscating (not sure that’s a real word) I could not understand exactly why. So well done Sir.

  168. Bill McLean says:

    Torrance’s biography of Alex Salmond was simply awful. He didn’t know whether to praise or be critical so when he praised he immediately followed it with one of those unspoken “but’s” we all know so well from those with no back bone. An awful writer kept alive by controversy like this. Like the MSM, apart from SH, and the BBC, I think we should just ignore him!

  169. Alex. Walker says:

    Santa Claus at aged 8.

    Many people, adults all in 2010. Believed in Nick Clegg and we all know the results of those believers who live with regret and anger knowing the rest of us are living in the hell they endorsed.

    At age 9 I discovered Santa Claus was wearing a Railway Uniform and had a red nose.

    My father also had both a red nose and…….?

  170. Alex. Walker says:

    For the boxing afficionados :-

    In the 1930`s or 1940`s in the American city of Philadelphia, they had their own boxing version of ” Rocky ” ( of movie fame ) but this guy got invariably knocked-out in the early stages of bouts.

    So often in fact that he earned the nickname Fainting Philip.

    Anyway, he actually got his Rocky-chance and was awarded a title bout – and boxing histoy was made.

    The city`s newspaper, I think it was the “Philadephia Globe” ran the headline the next day :-


  171. Alex. Walker says:

    Tracy Herbert and Max Kaiser on the RT Network (RIGHT NOW) have come out in support for Independence for Scotland and offer the potential currency “SCOTCOIN” as a virtual coinage?

    Both Tracy and Max have just taken Geo. Galloway apart.

    Isn`t it intriguing that gorgeous George is lecturing fellow Scots versus Independence after he got to vote for himself in London to become an M.P. there – and subsequently got to vote for himself in Bradford to become an M.P. there? Rogue Trader.?

    Maybe the threat of being Excluded from his multiple English Seats in the House of Commons motivates him more than Lord Ashcroft`s Funding of George`s Scottish Lecture Tour for the Tories and Mibbe-land.

    Freedom is a fight that George supports for every country on the planet – except Scotland.?

    By the way, Tommy Sheridan Failed to show up for the guest spot on the ” Kaiser Report ” again.

  172. Oui Things says:

    At school you could’ve thrashed me to within an inch of my life with a belt, and i’d still be voting Yes.

    The threat of doing Gym in my Y fronts on the other hand…

  173. Eman says:

    And the point of the sexist video is? Whatever the ‘joke’ or clever obscure message it’s put me right off this site which I had been enjoying and reading every day. How do you expect women who are campaigning for independence (or any woman for that matter) to feel comfortable with this? This how to sell out potentially 50% of your readers (althought the vast majority of your comments seem to come from men so maybe you don’t care). So disappointed.

  174. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “And the point of the sexist video is?”

    Oh for the love of God. I really thought we’d made it through that one without any complete morons. Wrong again.

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