The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

A fishing expedition 132

Posted on January 14, 2021 by

This is such a strange story.

Because even although it’s part of a transparent attempt from the Record to deflect attention from the many shocking revelations of the last few days around the Salmond affair, it’s still unusual that a newspaper would make a front-page lead out of a claim it knows it can’t provide a single scrap of evidence for.

Read the rest of this entry →

Return Of The Phantoms 215

Posted on October 27, 2020 by

The Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the disastrously botched investigation of false allegations against Alex Salmond, which has been paused for several weeks due to the Scottish Government’s repeated refusal to provide it with material it’s requested, resumes today and enters its final and critical phase.

In the next two months all the key players in the shambolic affair, including the current First Minister, her predecessor and both of their chiefs of staff, will give evidence. But today perhaps the most central figure of all will appear. Or rather, she won’t.

Judith Mackinnon, the civil servant whose prior involvement with the complainers in the case was central to the investigation collapsing on the grounds of illegality and bias, will speak to the committee remotely and in audio only, robbing them of the ability to see her face and body language – things highly critical to any interrogation.

The apparent reason for this, according to a recent report in the Times, is Mackinnon’s being “targeted on social media”. No further details of this “targeting” are given.

And there’s one rather big problem with that claim.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

The ambulance chasers 302

Posted on January 11, 2016 by

We called it early.


In the end it took almost exactly four hours.

Read the rest of this entry →

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?

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • About

    Wings Over Scotland is a (mainly) Scottish political media digest and monitor, which also offers its own commentary. (More)

    Stats: 6,609 Posts, 1,192,767 Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • RSS Wings Over Scotland

  • A tall tale

↑ Top