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Wings Over Scotland

The missing words round

Posted on February 21, 2013 by

This sort of thing does seem to be happening with disturbing frequency at the august offices of the Scotsman these days. Yesterday’s paper ran a story under the stark headline “EU budget cuts ‘will favour the English’, says SNP”.

[EDIT: Also spun into a truly vile column by Michael Kelly today.]


You’ve been playing this game a while now, readers. See if you can guess which words from the headline don’t actually appear anywhere in the story.

They are, of course, the SNP’s supposed quote about “the English”. The article does (eventually) relate some words Nicola Sturgeon DID say – “Wales and Northern Ireland also face significant reductions, whilst England could receive an increase” – which the paper could have accurately reflected in its title by replacing the words “the English” with “England” and removing the misleading inverted commas. But it chose instead to deploy a less truthful and more unwieldy headline.

There’s a none-too-subtle strategy, often used by the Unionist parties and media, of painting the SNP as anti-English bigots. A typical example cropped up just a few days after we launched Wings Over Scotland in November 2011, when Labour MP Tom Harris attempted to claim that (people he alleged to be) SNP supporters had picketed a Labour conference with “anti-English banners”.

The truth turned out to be that the banners Harris claimed had read “END ENGLISH RULE” in fact read “END LONDON RULE”, a profoundly different demand. Harris tweeted the alleged banner just minutes after seeing it and it only had three words to memorise, so it seems unlikely that he’d misremembered it.

Why, then, would he want to get it wrong?

The phrase “the English”, when used by Unionists against the SNP or independence supporters in general, has a silent “bastard” in between the other two words. It’s intended to portray nationalists as ranting stereotyped “McGlashan” figures, driven by racist rather than political motivations.

The use of the definite article is a coarse, derogatory way to refer to a populace by crude and usually malevolent generalisation. “English people” sound human, normal, just like us, but “the English” sound like a menacing horde, akin to “the Vikings” or “the Mongols” or “the Visigoths” – formulations almost exclusively used to refer to rampaging armies of conquest. (See also “the Germans”.)

Headlines reporting the SNP referring to “the English” when they in fact used no such words are not accidental. They’re a slow-acting poison designed to create a negative impression. That it’s harder to get away with them in the age of online scrutiny and social media has made them rarer, but not extinct.

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    58 to “The missing words round”

    1. Triskelion says:

      Sad that there are those who believe it when they read it

    2. muttley79 says:

      The Scotsman’s crusade against the nation, mentioned in its own title, from assuming the full powers of self-government continues.  Two things worth mentioning 1)  Don’t buy the Scotsman.  2)  Don’t click on their online articles as they receive revenue from that.

    3. Peter A Bell says:

      My comment on The Scotsman article in question –
      Experienced observers of the media will be aware that less reputable journalists commonly use single quotes as a device to cover a lie. When some part of a headline appears in single quotes alarm bells immediately ring in the minds of the sensibly cynical.

      In this instance, the phrase ‘will favour the English’ is clearly designed to provide fodder for fanatical British nationalism’s little band of amateur propagandists – “English” being a trigger-word that can be relied upon to provoke a Pavlovian response of spittle-flecked ranting about imagined “racism”.

      It matters not at all, either to the rent-a-hack in question or the unionist circus seals at whom such smelly fish are thrown, that there is no justification whatever for the phrase. It is not actually a quote. The words were not said by “the SNP” as stated. To claim that it was is clearly a lie.

      Can a blatant lie be transformed into something acceptable simply by enclosing it in single quotes? The Scotsman seems to think so. But this is a newspaper desperately reaching for the gutter in a last-ditch bid to recover some of the readers who have been driven away in no small part by just such scurrilous practices. Do we really want to set our moral compass by such a disreputable organ?

    4. Swello says:

      At least they could have been more subtle like Michael Kelly with his great opening line from today’s Zany Comedy Relief
      “Anti-English hatred is the default position of the SNP, so it is no surprise when the party shows its true colours, writes Michael Kelly”

    5. scottish_skier says:

      Nobody in Scotland believes it (anti-English thing). How could they; they live here.
      Telling 7 in 10 Scots they’re ‘anti-English’ for wanting to collect and spend their own taxes, whilst at the same time same time pissing off ‘the English’ by making some potentially think Scots do spend their days walking around hating them, is maybe just a wee bit counterproductive if your goal is preserving the union. But then we’re not dealing with geniuses here are we.

    6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Anti-English hatred is the default position of the SNP, so it is no surprise when the party shows its true colours, writes Michael Kelly”

      Ooh, hadn’t seen that. Excellent timing. Same picture, too.

    7. FreddieThreepwood says:

      ‘A slow-moving poison’ is correct. This drip, drip, drip of misdirection, falsehood and innuendo seeps into the minds of the ‘less engaged’ politically. It sits there, undetected even by the host until the moment comes when they are called upon to have that rare thing – a political discussion. Suddenly up it pops as a fully formed, hard and fast opinion. What makes it all the more pernicious is that the host, unable to recall where these ‘facts’ came from, simply falls back on an adult version of the playground ‘Just because – right?’ and any counter arguments bounce off them like tennis balls off a Sherman tank.
      All the more reason for each and every one of us to do what we can to raise awareness of these non too subtle tactics of the MSM. Did I mention that march in Glasgow on Saturday today already …?

    8. Cuphook says:

      On one level it’s funny; but, what the hell? The Scotsman is trying to encourage racism.

    9. Triskelion says:

      So, they used single quotes, still it is clearly an atempt to distort what was actually said. Makes me wonder if there’s any law that refers to this, is there?

    10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Don’t click on their online articles as they receive revenue from that.”

      Readers! Getting a bit bored of hearing this one. People know how the internet works. They can decide for themselves if they want to read the thing under discussion or not.

    11. frankieboy says:

      I hope the Scotsman dies soon. I don’t read it or give them any clicks but what is shown on here (thanks Rev) is simply stomach churning. I admire your strong constitution. Your stomach must be like a galvie bucket (not in size but in strength)

    12. NorthBrit says:

      According to the government’s legal “opinion” we are “the English” as Scotland has been extinguished (presumably having being on fire previously).  
      So you nasty nats are actually self-hating Englishmen.  And the Scotsman ought to follow through on its principles and call itself the “[North] Englishman”.  

    13. Paul Martin says:

      Its a typical Uncle Tom Peterkin piece. Believe me the use of Uncle is entirely intended in my phrasing.

    14. Jeannie says:

      And they’re not at all worried about the huge cut in European funding for Scotland, I take it?  That worries me quite a lot.  And it would worry me even more if I lived, say, in the Highlands, which tends to need this type of funding.  But when did Labour really worry about the effect on the people when they’ve got a chance to spin it to promote their first love – the Party.

    15. Macart says:

      Hmmmm, eejits like those highlighted keep banging the intolerance drum. I’m sure though they are quite content to have the likes of Mr Farage on their team. 😉

    16. douglas clark says:

      Quite astonished that my post appears to be ‘up’ on the Michael kelly thread. I said:

      Nicola Sturgeon is the new target for the ‘Better Together’ attack bots. It is actually quite alarming to see a clarificatory statement:

      “The Deputy First Minister added: “Michael Fallon, the UK minister for structural funds, has agreed that our officials will work together to identify alternative allocation methodologies to ensure the UK government recognises the importanceof a fair allocation of funding.”

      treated with such disdain in this august journal.

      Perhaps Mr Kelly should consider the role of a leader of any devolved administration in the current UK. I recall Boris Johnson saying that money was better spent in London than elsewhere.

      In the Huffington Post, he said:

      “I’m making the argument to the Treasury that a pound spent in Croydon is far more of value to the country than a pound spent in Strathclyde. You will generate jobs in Strathclyde far more effectively if you invest in parts of London.”

      It is important that the public are aware of the issues. It is also important that our Deputy First Minister can speak clearly without being accused of anti-English hatred by her enemies, and make no mistake, Michael Kelly is exactly that.

    17. M4rkyboy says:

      I lol’ed when it got to the part in Michael Kelly’s article about the ‘Mother country’.

    18. Nikostratos says:

      I believe it ! I believe it ! Err! but then I would.

      Perhaps Mr Kelly could be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred
      worth a try.
      I suggest
      ‘Curry making has always been a sublime melange of the esoteric
      and the experimental ‘
      ‘The phrase “the English”, when used by Unionists against the SNP or independence supporters in general, has a silent “bastard”’
      We Unionists would call that an example of Freudian Projection.
      “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
      Friedrich Nietzsche

    19. Vronsky says:

      I hope the Herald, the Scotsman and the BBC go on for ever.  Else, what will we have to talk about?

    20. douglas clark says:

      So far, I have survived a massive cull on the comments on Michael Kelly’s rant! I am fairly sure there were pages and pages of comments, but I am one of the brave 38 left standing.
      What is that all about?

    21. Nikostratos says:

      @north brit
      ‘Scotland has been extinguished’
      yes Scotland was extinguished given up sold
      Put an end to in 1707 to the tune Why should I be so sad on my wedding day.
      Just as England died  and was extinguished on the same day.
      Both reborn as Great Britain and the beginning of the most successful
      and glorious and continuing Union the world has ever seen.

    22. M4rkyboy says:

      Better Extinguished,eh Niko?

    23. Baheid says:

      Gonna click your jack boots and give us the beat

    24. Nikostratos says:

      @ douglas clark
      Dougy I have just phoned the Scotsman I think
      you will fine yourself  culled  momentarily!

      But as the last of the brave 38 we shall honour you

    25. Cuphook says:

      The US ambassador to Britain has told the BBC that his country would not take sides in the Scottish independence referendum debate.

    26. scottish_skier says:

      Can you expand on the ‘glorious’ bit you attribute to the union?
      Is that not taking things maybe just a little too far? I mean it’s not as if we wake up to the sound of angels singing every morning.

      Also, I take it you support Greece joining the UK union? After all, Lizzie’s beau’s Greek isn’t he? UK and Greece have a lot in common economically too.

    27. CameronB says:

      I would think its a bit of a weak case to get a prosecution on, but does appear to be heading towards incitement.

    28. Simon says:

      I am English, I live in Scotland, I mix in nationalist-minded Scottish-culture-based circles filled with native Scots, and I have never ever come across any anti-English sentiment, except once on the internet. Once ever on the internet!

    29. CameronB says:

      I’m beginning to think our Niko has got some connection with Golden Dawn.

    30. douglas clark says:

      Not culled so far, as at 19:14.
      Indeed, I have put up another post about the blessed Micheal Kelly that hasn’t been culled either. Just in case it is, you can read it here, I think it is one of my better efforts, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?
      “I am sorry, you don’t know how sorry, to have to return to this article. but this beggars belief:

      “The SNP has reverted to type. After a year in which all the arguments for separation were knocked over like a row of dominoes, those who would cast us free from the mother country have decided to fall back on the negative theme which has taken them so far in the past. Suspicion, distrust and, indeed, hatred of the UK government is now back on the bill.”

      In what sense is England – I assume it is not Ireland – that Michael Kelly describes as the “mother country”?

      This is the language of the imperialists of the 1950’s who also claimed that we would be betraying ‘kith and kin’, if we were to permit any country that had not already been an utter disaster for their indigenous population, ‘free’. Most of them had to fight for it, one way or another. We have a referendum.

      We had a weeping and a gnashing of teeth back then. It was led by a group called The League of Empire Loyalists, which now might be the title of a comic book. I haven’t heard much about them in the last, ooh, 35 years or so, and they were moribund then.

      It seems that ‘mother country’ and I suspect, ‘kith and kin’ are still words and phrases that exercise the likes of Mr Kelly.

      (Perhaps he could tell us whether the League of Empire Loyalists are moribund, except in his imagination? Perhaps not.)

      This is all a tad strange, given his, otherwise Celtic nature. There is little in his biography about where he was born or just how his cognitive dissonance developed.

      He seems to me to be able to support Irish independence and not Scottish independence. Quite how he reconciles these two views, with an attachment to a ‘mother country’ that is frankly not his own is inaccessible to this reader..

      So, I will stick with the idea that Mr Kelly has issues. Or irons in the Westminster fire that we know not of.”
      I am sure that a censor of truthieness such as your good self will be able to persuade Johnson Press to remove both comments. It is what Unionists do. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. The Tories have got you by the balls on that one. The lap dog tendancy in the Labour Party is a sight to behold. Who would ever have thunk it?
      Just out of curiosity has any Labour leader ever made a tit of anything? I am exercised by what a fuck up PFI has turned out to be.
      Best wishes.

    31. tartanfever says:

      The dreaded mis-leading headline.
      Complained again to the BBC today over their online story yesterday about the Forth Road Bridge and how they claim the engineering issues have been ‘resolved’.
      I read the report and looked at the quotes from interviewees used in the story, and nowhere is the word ‘resolved’ used. Of course, it gives the impression that the bridge is no longer decaying and any issues have been sorted.
      The phrase most commonly used in the report is that the rate of deterioration has been ‘reduced’ or slowed down, not ‘stopped’ as the word resolved implies.
      Of course, it’s a handy headline to bolster some MSP’s chance at mud-slinging during FMQ’s today as we witnessed, dutifully reported yet again by the BBC.
      It’s time this organisation stopped making the news and started reporting it.

    32. muttley79 says:

      This Niko character eh…

    33. douglas clark says:

      Your pictures?
      I take it is a reference to a Frank Miller comic book?
      I’ll need to dig it out again, it was brilliant, so it was.

      There was a treasonous guy pointing out the secret way to defeat them. Just saying.


    34. Nikostratos says:

      @ douglas clark
      You have been culled


      Sort by:


      Name withheld
      6:51 PM on 21/02/2013
      This comment is under review
      Do not underestimate the power of the dark side of the Union
      ‘ I mean it’s not as if we wake up to the sound of angels singing every morning’
      I have some pills which can change all that @ 10 Bawbees a pop

    35. Craig Evans says:

      I see Mr Murphy is at it again on Labour Uncut; he is suggesting the councils should be encouraged to name streets after fallen service personnel.
      now I would suggest sending them to fight illegal foreign wars with inadequate equipment and weapons shows the respect the he hols our service men and women in!
      he just does not get it, does he?

    36. Vronsky says:

      “should be encouraged to name streets after fallen service personnel.”
      How about naming streets after all the people Our Brave Boys have murdered?  Can you have a street sign longer than the street?

    37. scottish_skier says:

      I have some pills which can change all that @ 10 Bawbees a pop
      I assume they’re red or blue?

    38. Dcanmore says:

      Ramped-up hysterical rantings from a ‘newspaper’ in its final death throes. When the circulation becomes low enough it will end up as an internet-only publication and therefore even more invisible.

    39. Boorach says:

      The phrase “the English”, when used by Unionists against the SNP or independence supporters in general, has a silent “bastard” in between the other two words. It’s intended to portray nationalists as ranting stereotyped “McGlashan” figures, driven by racist rather than political motivations.
      Just as the same word is silent each and every time unionists refer to ‘the  SNP

    40. Jeannie says:

      Thanks for the Tom Lehrer link, Vronsky.  The Masochism Tango is pure genius.  I’m an avid Lehrer fan – have all of his songs over 4 or 5CDs.  Just desperate for an article entitled “Scottish pigeons banned from UK airspace” so I can post one of my favourites – you’ll no doubt know which one that is.

    41. douglas clark says:

      Niko baby,
      As of 20:46 hrs I can still see both my comments. Those at 5:41 and 6:51 respectively.
      What is it with this post @ 7:51 that says it’s away? It wasn’t, and I don’t care.
      Don’t get me wrong. I expect both posts will be deleted. once they have worked out in their tiny little pea brains that they are a tad subversive of the béssed Michael Kelly, hero of the revolution that never happened. It is as if they were you Niko. delusional until the last.

    42. Nikostratos says:

      @ douglas clark
      You there, Ephialtes/.Niko. May you live forever.

    43. red etin says:

      This headline was fairly blatant and was exposed by asking a simple question:-
      I live in Scotland but I’ve got an Englsih granny, will I get favoured status?
      Subtle suggestion of anti-English sentiment? No, just crass editing.

    44. Angus McLellan says:

      I was at Professor John Kay’s talk this evening on The Economic Challenges of Scottish Independence at Glasgow Uni.

      It was quite entertaining for a talk on the dismal science. Yes, Kay mentioned his fears that a Sterlingzone might not work. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but they’re worth thinking about. His view was that a separate currency was, as with most things, no big deal. For me, but clearly not for the questioners including Magnus Gardham, the big surprise was that Kay dismissed the economic arguments as being ultimately trivial.

      The question was, he said, one for the heart, not the head. If you’d like that in more exalted language, you can do much worse than look to one of Scotland’s greatest philosophers, David Hume, writing a generation after the Union, who proclaimed that Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

    45. Lochside says:

      Interesting that Michael Kelly refers to his ‘motherland’..but then again he can’t refer to his ‘fatherland’ as let’s face it, he never had one…Father that is!

    46. Vronsky says:

      Lovely to find another fan.  It was Lehrer who said after the award of the Nobel peace prize to Kissinger that satire was no longer possible.  He duly retired.
      I had thought that his name was one of his jokes, but it really is his name. Lehrer: teacher.   Reminds me of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five, profession optometrist (geddit?).  If Ian Brotherhood is looking in, maybe we could create a wee parlour on Facebook to exchange book reviews ‘n’ stuff.  I’ve got lazy recently, need a task.
      And now I’m off to the park.

    47. Jeannie says:

      No poisoning the pigeons, you!

    48. CameronB says:

      @ Jeannie
      I must have a dark imagination.

    49. Jeannie says:

      @Cameron B
      Oh, all right….just for you
      Song starts around half-way along.

    50. CameronB says:

      Now if it was seagulls…

    51. Vronsky says:

      Ooooh – thanks Jeannie.  I kept finding videos that had been pulled for copyright or sumpin.  This thread could get diverted – too many of us like stuff in seriously bad taste…

    52. Jeannie says:

      Aye…many a word spoken in jest……

    53. ianbrotherhood says:

      @Vronsky –
      If you’re into Vonnegut you might enjoy (some of) this – was intended as a sort of tribute, wrote it not long after he died.

    54. Kenny Campbell says:

      Does Kelly not have previous regarding support for Irish nationalism ? I haven’t read the piece but I’m pretty sure he is one of these McGeady Scot’s….born in Glasgow heart in Galway bollocks in a box in London Labour HQ.

    55. douglas clark says:

      Still there!
      Not that we do it for fame or fortune, but you’ve only thumbed down one of my posts on Pravda, sorry, The Scotsman.
      I kind of see why Tris likes you over at Munguins Republic.
      You are quite amusing. I have tried to keep my picture off the internet for reasons that should be obvious, but you found me out!

      Quite loveable really.
      Best wishes and keep taking the pills…..

    56. Embradon says:

      Every time I see or hear Michael Kelly I long to ask him “What happened to all the money when you were running Celtic?”

    57. Joe Middleton says:

      Given the relative size of Scotland and England it is an undoubted fact that
      England is the dominant power in the relationship and under the banner of
      Britain England gains world power at the expense of Scotland and Wales.
      Jack Straw admitted this very point in a BBC interview some time ago:
      “historically England called the shots to achieve a union because the union
      was seen as a way, among other things, of amplifying England’s power
      A broken-up United Kingdom would not be in the interest of Scotland, Wales or
      Northern Ireland, but especially not England.
      Our [England’s] voting power in the European Union would diminish. We’d slip
      down the world’s GDP tables.
      Our case for staying in the G8 would diminish and there could easily be an
      assault on our permanent seat in the UN.”
      Tony Blair on devolution:
      “Sovereignty rests with me as an English MP, and that’s the way it will stay”
      (Tony Blair, Scotsman, 4 April 199).
      Referring to an assembly’s tax powers, Blair said: “The powers are like those
      of any local authority . . . it’s like any parish council” (Scotsman, 4 April

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