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Wings Over Scotland

2012: WTF? Of The Year 53

Posted on December 31, 2012 by

We must admit, we thought Ian Davidson would be a shoo-in for this particular award after his unforgettable implosion on Newsnight Scotland in August. But then we read something twice as mad and half as comprehensible. It was a piece from STV News in October, based on some comments by unfortunately-named Scottish Labour “deputy” leader and hereditary MP Anas Sarwar. We’ve read it eight or nine times now, and we still have genuinely not the slightest clue what he’s wittering on about.

We’re going to step through it line-by-line and see if we can get it to make any sense. Feel free to join in if you’ve got any ideas, because we’re stumped.

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2012: Repeat Fee Of The Year 19

Posted on December 30, 2012 by

This’ll probably come off sounding sarcastic and snide, but it honestly isn’t meant that way. In a world where it’s becoming harder and harder to get paid for journalism, we’re genuinely full of admiration and no small amount of jealousy that weel-kent pundit Gerry Hassan yesterday managed to extract yet more money from the Scotsman by writing the same article for roughly the 50th time* this year.

The piece, in which – shock of shocks! – Gerry calls for a more mature, serious and respectful kind of debate about independence, comes at the end of a year in which the publications who keep commissioning him to write that same piece have determinedly undermined any possibility of that more mature, serious and respectful debate about independence ever happening, by engaging in a concerted campaign of smear, innuendo and malicious spin directed almost entirely against one side.

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2012: Death Of The Year 38

Posted on December 28, 2012 by

Now don’t panic, readers. We wouldn’t, of course, be so crass and tasteless as to celebrate the death of an individual human being. (Though it’s hard to sensibly dispute that a great dark psychological weight will be lifted from the Scottish psyche whenever Lady Thatcher finally gasps her last.) Instead, for the latest of our “Wingy” end-of-year awards we’ll be marking the passing of something that started the year full of health and vigour and promise, but has ended it as a tragic corpse, lying unnoticed by the neighbours for months until the smell became too much to ignore.

We speak, of course, of Unionist blogging.

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2012: Paid Troll of The Year 30

Posted on December 27, 2012 by

With very few exceptions (notably the Guardian), it’s almost unheard of for senior media commentators to ever participate in below-the-line (BTL) discussion on their own articles. Less frequent still is for articles to be amended with provocative challenges expressly soliciting abusive comments from readers. (“PS This article has been up for five whole minutes, without me being denounced by Cybernats. Where are you all?”)

Yet such was the extraordinary spectacle that was served up to startled readers of the Spectator (annual subscription: £111) back in October of this year.

In an outburst so bizarre we genuinely suspect it can only have been motivated by an office bet of some sort, the magazine’s editor Fraser Nelson embarked on a critique of the SNP’s autumn conference unencumbered by such trivial inconveniences as having attended it. The piece itself was some pretty standard right-wing bombast of the sort more often peddled by Alan Cochrane on sister paper the Telegraph, notable only for a more sneering tone and the mind-boggling assertion that “Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reform agenda could yet make British poverty history”, but Nelson’s numerous interjections in the comments below took it to a rather less mundane level.

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2012: Socialist Unity Of The Year 24

Posted on December 27, 2012 by

In a year characterised by a marked increase in heat, as the Holyrood opposition focused its efforts almost exclusively on personal attacks against SNP ministers in an attempt to decapitate the Yes campaign, very few things could be said to have united a wide spectrum of the political sphere, from the radical arch-left to soft nationalists and Labour traditionalists alike. But a speech in September saw almost the entire Scottish media and blogosphere react with one astonished, horrified voice.

You don’t need us to tell you which one, do you?

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2012: Moderator Of The Year 22

Posted on December 26, 2012 by

Disappointingly, since we examined the state of censorship in Scottish political blogs back in April, the situation has only got worse. Even those sites which previously sat atop the table for freedom of debate have gone backwards – Bella Caledonia now snootily demands a WordPress login before it’ll deign to allow you to comment without days in the moderation queue, and Lallands Peat Worrier has tragically fallen foul of the dreaded Curse Of Captcha – while many of the others have tightened their grip even further over the year, allowing only the most anodyne of opinions to be aired.

Our award for Moderator Of The Year, though, goes not to obvious suspects like Better Nation or Labour Hame (RIP). While both still reject wholly inoffensive comments by the bucketload lest they cause their delicate readers to faint at the prospect of civil disagreement (and the former now closes comments on stories as soon as three or four days after publishing them), at least within a few days the “offending” item tends to be deleted altogether so that the would-be commenter knows where they stand.

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2012: Question Of The Year 8

Posted on December 23, 2012 by

While we’re not planning to shut Wings Over Scotland down during the festive break, obviously political stories are likely to be a bit thin on the ground with Parliament on recess and everyone plonked in front of Doctor Who full of turkey and booze. So to fill the gaps we’ll be resorting to some traditional methods – scattered in among new articles will be some end-of-year awards, best-ofs and perhaps the odd reprint of stories from earlier in the year when we had only a fraction of the readership we do now, and which most people therefore won’t have seen.

So let’s start with our favourite piece of terrier-like interrogation from the nation’s broadcast journalists, reporters and presenters. These are the people ultimately charged with holding our politicians to account on our behalf – literally so in the case of the BBC – so it’s vital they keep on top of their game with a firm grasp of the issues and an ability to cut through the waffle and obfuscation of their interview subjects and get to the heart of the matter.

So for a gem that dates way back to almost the first political programme of the year but which nobody managed to better for the entire 11-and-a-bit months that followed it, our first-ever “Wingy” goes to… Raymond Buchanan of BBC Scotland!

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Unionist of the day 29

Posted on December 10, 2012 by

Just one plucked from a fine crop of halfwits on Tory MP and former minister John Redwood’s blog. A warm welcome, readers, for Mr Bert Young. (We’ve tidied up some of his formatting for him a bit – no spaces before punctuation marks, Professor – but the comment is otherwise presented unedited and in its entirety.)

“A part solution to the SNP’s position is to bring the N Sea oil ashore in England! Extending the pipe work and off-loading the ships South of the Border is a simple matter and would bring home the message to the SNP that Scotland simply cannot afford to be “independent”. The N Sea Oil is owned by International organisations and not by Scotland; its source is in British and International waters. The SNP ‘s case is completely demolished unless they explain how they are going to pay off Scotland’s rightful share of the National Debt and maintain the sort of life style they have been able to enjoy under the UK umbrella. I cannot believe that any rational thinking Scot would want to support Scotland withdrawing from the UK.”

Better together!

We got a birthday card! 89

Posted on November 01, 2012 by

It’s got flowers on it and everything.

Gemma Fox is a rather strange lady who makes Lego dioramas of Royal Marine Commandos and who we had a childish but enlightening recreational argument with on Twitter last night. (Funnily enough after a long and tiring day visiting the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton.) James Mackenzie is a Green activist and one of the editors of the once-popular and increasingly-ironically-named Better Nation blog.

(Mackenzie threw an impressive hissy fit earlier this week when we very politely challenged him to support a seemingly-baseless allegation about another blogger, even going so far as to claim “harassment” on the basis of someone responding civilly to comments made in an open public forum. Presumably, as a Better Nation editor he’s just not used to people answering him back without being able to censor them.)

Ms Fox generously warned us last night that we had until “2000 hrs” this evening to delete unspecified tweets from our account, and that we should also “warn yer pals”. (We’re not quite sure who that means, but it might be you, so we thought we’d better let you know.) If we vanish suddenly at 8.01pm under legal action – the threat of which we’re sure is real and serious, and definitely not just the mad rantings of a delusional internet lunatic – speak kindly of us when we’re gone. We had a good run.

You couldn’t make it up 32

Posted on October 16, 2012 by

Look, it’s not that we like to brag about our predicting skills, but:

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Ruth’s Laughter Show 57

Posted on October 09, 2012 by

We established earlier today that Ruth Davidson’s leadership of the Scottish Conservatives appears to be some sort of performance-art comedy stunt. With that in mind, we’ve managed to capture some footage of her appearance at the “United Kingdom In Action” session of the Tory conference as part of what appeared to be some sort of improv panel (also featuring Ruth’s double-act straight-man David Mundell and supporting artists from the other three parts of the country), and here present some shots of her barnstorming routine in front of an ecstatic near-sell-out crowd.

Once again, we lazily interactively invite you to suggest captions in the comments.

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Johann’s Hat Shop 40

Posted on October 02, 2012 by

Johann Lamont seems a bit confused today over whether her cap fits or not. Can you help the Scottish Labour “leader” get dressed in time for her big important speech?

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