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Wings Over Scotland

The grand sacrifice 251

Posted on August 12, 2017 by

The mainstream media is now, by our count, up to at least 13 sizeable articles on the Great Yes-Movement Schism Of 2017 – a minor online spat between a tiny handful of people who’ve never liked each other and most of whom the general public has never heard of – and shows no signs of tiring of gleefully revelling in the subject.

There’s nothing particularly surprising or even diabolical about that. As any reality-TV show viewer will tell you, viewers absolutely love to watch people fighting, and doubly so if it’s the summer silly season and there’s no real news. Most of the stories have attracted large responses and therefore lots of juicy and profitable clicks for tired hacks who long ago stopped having anything of any interest to say but still have to honk out 1000 words a week in order to get paid.

But the more sinister aspect of them is the way they’ve been weaponised to (further) demonise and silence the Yes movement. If someone attacks other Yes figures with a provocative, offensive and dishonest piece, the extra bonus for the media is that any legitimately angry response to it can be used as yet more proof of The Vileness Of The Cybernats: “Look! They even turn on their own if they dare disagree!”

For the Unionist press, that’s a win-win every way up, and there are some on the Yes side who seem only too willing to co-operate with the narrative.

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Lies spring eternal 502

Posted on July 08, 2017 by

“Colonel” Ruth Davidson took time out from her holidays yesterday to unleash an extraordinary (and unusually defensive) 35-part Twitter tirade about the reaction to her appointment as an honorary military commander. So barren is the summer political news desert that two newspapers put it on their front page today, giving the BBC an excuse to deem it the day’s biggest story.

But that wasn’t the bit that caught our eye.

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Fury Of The Phantoms 349

Posted on March 13, 2017 by

Alert readers will of course be aware that one of this site’s most frequently-recurring themes is “phantom news”, whereby events or unpleasant opinions that newspapers or broadcasters really want to have happened are conveniently brought to life, either by some random nobody on the internet, or an unnamed “source” or “insider”.

(Or in a real emergency, simply asserted with no evidence at all.)

So when Nicola Sturgeon did something today that nearly everyone in the Northern Hemisphere knew she was going to do sometime soon, but wasn’t expecting just yet, there wasn’t time to prepare actual real people with the required quotes.

In the modern media world, though, that isn’t a problem.

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The phantom unmasked 171

Posted on February 07, 2017 by

Alert readers will of course be aware that a recurring theme on this site is looking for the alleged abusive behaviour by supporters of independence which gets regularly reported in outraged terms by newspapers but is mysteriously almost never supported by any actual evidence of the supposed abuse.

Case studies are almost endless – Labour MSP Cara Hilton, sort-of comedian Susan Calman, historian and hairdressing disaster model Neil Oliver, Scottish Labour shadow cabinet member ordinary mother Claire Lally, nurse/actress Suzanne Duncan/Hunter, popular Olympian cyclist Chris Hoy, currently-resting pop singer David Bowie, tanktop enthusiast and Weetabix impersonator David Torrance, we could go on.

In every case the papers and/or alleged recipients of all these dreadful separatist haranguings screamed “VILE ABUSE!”, swooning at the horror of it all, then suddenly turned deaf and dumb when asked to provide any examples.


So we were quite surprised yesterday when a previous complainant – brutal stickering victim and lonely Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray – actually came up with the proof.

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More phantom news 451

Posted on August 19, 2016 by

For several years now this site has been drawing attention to the weird phenomenon of phantom news – stories presented by the media without even a shred of supporting evidence yet treated as unquestionable empirical fact. And recently there have been more phantoms around the Scottish press than an episode of Scooby Doo.


The thing Alan Roden – who prefers intimidating ordinary members of the public by doorstepping them and vilifying them in his paper – links to in that tweet is an article on the Herald website last night. And it’s a weird article, because it’s an extensive, quote-laden story about something that doesn’t appear to have happened at all.

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The Formula 452

Posted on August 04, 2016 by

Have you ever wondered how you try to poison and shut down a debate and a political environment that you fear you’ve found yourself on the losing side of, readers? Well, it’s funny you should ask, because as it happens we’ve got a visiting professor – an expert authority on the subject – with us today to give us a demonstration.


Make sure you’ve got your pens and notepads ready. He’s got a very busy schedule and we can’t afford to have him here for long.

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The ambulance chasers 302

Posted on January 11, 2016 by

We called it early.


In the end it took almost exactly four hours.

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The Record’s Revenge 209

Posted on February 25, 2015 by

You can never accuse the Scottish media of being knowingly underhysterical.


Tonight the Daily Record snuck out its semi-apology for telling the Scottish people the biggest lie we’ve seen on the front page of a newspaper since its parent the Mirror published fake pictures of soldiers urinating on Iraqi prisoners.

You can tell they’re not awfully pleased we forced them to make that “correction” by reporting the lie to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, because they even reference it in the editorial above.

Speaking of which – well, heck, where do we even start?

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The worst of the worst 235

Posted on June 12, 2014 by

We spent much of yesterday evening trying to actually track down the “vicious barrage” of vile cybernat abuse that Labour and “Better Together” activist Clare Lally says she was subjected to after being revealed to be rather less of an “ordinary” member of the public than the No camp presented her as at its recent Glasgow rally, and which has received wall-to-wall media coverage.

As yet, we’ve drawn a blank. We’ve made repeated requests, some to people who’ve contacted us angrily claiming to be her friends or family members, for evidence of any abusive comments at all. All have been met with an abrupt outbreak of silence.


Scotland 2014 devoted almost its entire 30-minute show to the issue last night. To depict the terrible onslaught, the above tweets were all they could come up with. The entire affair, readers might feel, is starting to smell distinctly piscine.

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Cybernats and phantoms 247

Posted on May 20, 2014 by

One of the long-term goals of Wings Over Scotland is to put itself out of a job. By teaching people how to read newspapers in such a way as to understand what they’re NOT telling you, and to be wise to methods they use to create completely false ideas while not actually saying anything untrue, one day we’ll hopefully reach a situation where there’s no need for us to exist and we can go on holiday or something.


There’s a nicely subtle example of the craft of malicious spin in today’s Scottish Daily Mail, but it also sharply illustrates another toxic aspect of the media’s coverage of the independence debate – the rise of the phantom.

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What might have and what did 84

Posted on May 12, 2014 by

It’s been fascinating to watch the media slyly turning Chris and Colin Weir’s quite understandable objection to being defamed by loathsome right-wing newspapers and MSPs into an attack on “cybernats”.

But this morning Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph – who we rarely read even for laughs now, so far gone is his grasp on reality – added a particularly deft twist which we thought worthy of note for those who like to study how the press does its business.


And yes, we entirely meant that double entendre.

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The triple standard 116

Posted on May 30, 2013 by

When UKIP’s Nigel Farage was recently made rather unwelcome in Edinburgh, a whole slew of Unionist politicians and commentators – most notably Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie – took to the nation’s airwaves and newspaper columns to piously condemn the protestors who peacefully but loudly voiced their disapproval of Farage’s policies. Angry online No supporters, as is their wont, were less measured in their fury at the “suppression” of Farage’s free speech.


Today, the subject of the media’s blanket outrage – there are sizeable stories in the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Daily Record, The Times, Express and many more – is the saintly British Olympic cyclist, Sir Chris Hoy. The unfortunate sportsman has been the subject of what the Mail calls “vile abuse” for some comments in yesterday’s papers in which he ostensibly refused to take sides in the independence debate (but in reality could barely have made his position any clearer).

But another similar (and rather more serious) story, about online abuse directed at a Scottish public figure every bit as well known as Hoy, inexplicably gets only a microscopic fraction of the coverage.

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