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Wings Over Scotland

One down 80

Posted on July 28, 2013 by

Just one to go.


Come on, Mr McDougall, you and your man know where we are.

An open invitation 177

Posted on July 26, 2013 by

We just had to have a lie down after wading through Tory councillor Tom Kerr’s speech in Bathgate last night. We don’t know if we dare inflict the full incoherent horror of it on you, to be honest. But something quite interesting happened after it.


A local activist stood up and asked Blair McDougall if David Cameron was prepared to debate Alex Salmond on independence, and his answer was enlightening.

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Quoted for truth #6 17

Posted on February 04, 2013 by

This came out quite a few days ago, but didn’t get the attention it merited. Once again, we invite readers to ponder the “invisible hypothetical” of whether the Scottish media would have shown such complete disinterest in a piece of investigative journalism which revealed an elected representative of the SNP and some of its prominent activists discussing their own party’s complete uselessness.

We do accept that Scottish Labour being in shambolic disarray isn’t exactly hold-the-front-page stuff, and is in fact somewhere on a par with “Rain forecast for Hebrides” or “Scottish rugby team beaten at Twickenham”. But clearly the bar for headline stories is rather lower than it used to be, so you’d think it’d at least get a passing mention.

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The not-so-straight debates 168

Posted on January 15, 2013 by

Writing a site like this is in one sense an exercise in idealistic cognitive dissonance. No matter how often the opposite turns out to be the case, you always sort of hope, deep down, that if you highlight someone’s occasional failings in a calm and factual manner they’ll say “Oh well, that’s a fair cop”, and even if they don’t change their ways they’ll at least acknowledge the validity of legitimate, honest criticism.

But as we say, it rarely turns out that way. Last night we picked up on what was at heart a fairly minor semantic quibble with high-profile Scottish-politics commentator David Torrance, arising from the evening’s edition of Scotland Tonight. He got in touch with us on Twitter almost immediately to object in rather strong terms to our views, and an exchange went on until around 2am when everyone seemingly went to bed.

We thought no more of it, although we hoped this morning that there might be some answers to some questions that Mr Torrance had explicitly invited during the debate. Instead, to our surprise (we know, still) and dismay, not only were none to be found, but the entire discussion – at his end, anyway – had completely vanished.

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The Straight Debates #2 24

Posted on May 19, 2012 by

It’s been a while since our first Straight Debate and we’d hoped to have had more by now, but it’s surprising how many Unionists (nearly all of them) aren’t prepared to have a simple and open discussion. Duncan Hothersall, though, is one of the most prominent and hardcore online Labour activists in Scotland. We’d been badgering him to take up the cudgels for ages, and last week he finally agreed. This is how it went.

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The Straight Debates, #1 13

Posted on March 15, 2012 by

Here we go, then. The debut Straight Debate is with Douglas "Edinburgh Liberal" McLellan, a Lib Dem member and activist, and in it we discuss the timing of the referendum, the meaning of the word "independence" and, appropriately enough, the tone of public discourse. (We had more stuff we wanted to cover too, but after we got to 2500 words from just two questions each it seemed a good time to take a break. So here's how we got on for starters.)

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The Straight Debates 4

Posted on March 15, 2012 by

The media and blogosphere is awash with anguished, hand-wringing pleas for the independence debate to be conducted in a mature, reasoned and intelligent way over the next couple of years, but which do very little to bring that situation about. Yet it's a vital goal, because the way we're going whoever wins the referendum will find themselves living in a bitterly divided Scotland torn apart by years of vicious fighting.

Looking to the mainstream media is hopeless, because it's simply not set up for adult discussion. Politicians are crammed into tiny amounts of airtime which encourage nothing but vacant point-scoring soundbites – prepared in advance, often repeated robotically, and on no account to be deflected by anything the interviewer might have actually asked. (Though in fairness, on his night the BBC's Gordon Brewer can be as tenacious an inquisitor as these islands have seen.)

The online arena is no better, overwhelmingly inhabited by partisan sites – including this one – many of which also censor large swathes of dissenting opinion behind cowardly moderation policies. (Which we don't – only a contributor's first comment is moderated, as an anti-spam measure.) It's almost unheard of for opposing sides to undertake any sort of above-the-line dialogue.

So we're going to have a go.

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