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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: Clue Of The Year 41

Posted on December 30, 2012 by

On Friday, the Guardian reported Ed Miliband’s New Year message to the people of Britain. The key passage was one in which he promised this would be the year his party actually came up with some policies:

“One nation Labour is about reaching out to every part of Britain, it’s about a party that is as much the party of the private sector as the public sector, a party of south as well as north, a party determined to fight for the future of the United Kingdom, and a party rooted in every community of our land.

I’ve set out a vision of what this county [sic] can be, one nation, and in 2013 we will be setting out concrete steps on making that vision a reality from business to education to welfare.”

There’s a pretty big hint there to Scottish voters about the consequences of a No vote in the independence referendum. But in case anyone needs it spelling out: you don’t create “one nation” by letting the different parts of it have powers to create their own individual approaches to business, education and welfare, which is why this year Johann Lamont started the job of softening the Scottish people up and getting them used to the idea of Holyrood obediently following London policies.

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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: Teacher Of The Year 18

Posted on December 23, 2012 by

Johann Lamont actually taught English, hard as that can be to believe sometimes. But for the sake of the children of Rothesay, Springburn and Castlemilk, we hope she was never asked to fill in on a Geography class, judging by this remarkable extract from her speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee back in March:

“But let me tell you one phrase which really is meaningless. North of the border. And here is another one. South of the border. Because we have no border. We haven’t had one for three hundred years. We don’t need a border to be Scottish.”

You kinda do, Johann. How can you be Scottish if there’s no such thing as Scotland? And if there is, how do you know whether you’re in it or not, unless it’s got borders?

If there’s no border, how do we know whether a crime committed somewhere near Berwick comes under the jurisdiction of Scots law or English law? How do we know if the Scottish NHS or the English NHS is responsible for looking after the victim? And how do we know whether to charge the future lawyers who’ll fight the court case for their law degrees or not, if we don’t know which country their university’s in?

Okay, we know you’re working on that one.

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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