On Saturday January 19th Good Morning Scotland broadcast a discussion featuring two journalists. The segment lasted over 11 minutes.
Listeners heard Iain Macwhirter of The Herald and David Clegg of the Daily Record attack the SNP with a stream of quite outlandish claims.
So bizarre were some of the claims being levelled by these so-called impartial journalists that we’ve decided to highlight them and respond to them. The rogues gallery of clips can be heard below, as can our own response.
Iain Macwhirter: “[The Salmond issue] certainly overlaps with this intense debate in the SNP now about the next independence referendum”
The Alex Salmond issue has nothing whatsoever to do with the debate over when to call the next independence referendum. Both are completely separate issues.
Iain Macwhirter: “Of course this whole Alex Salmond business erupted in part because Alex Salmond was saying very publicly that he intended to return to active politics and help lead the next independence referendum.
There is no evidence the ‘Alex Salmond business’ had anything to do with Salmond’s intention to return to active politics. The allegations that prompted the investigation were made by two women in January 2018. Salmond announced his intention to return to front line politics on May 17th 2018. The sexual harrassment story broke on August 23rd 2018.
Iain Macwhirter: “And a lot of people in the party saying, well, we need an insurgent like Alex Salmond. We need someone to not just play the legalistic constitutional game, but push history forward, push matters forward and try to engineer an early referendum of some sort.”
This is fantastical stuff from Macwhirter. What evidence has he that there was a faction within the SNP who wanted Salmond [insurgent indeed] to engineer an early referendum? How exactly was he supposed to do that?
Iain Macwhirter: “A lot of people in the party are saying you have to take the opportunity now, you can’t afford to wait. And of course this has collided with the whole Alex Salmond business, this latest story is extraordinary. His supporters say he’s been written out of history. They’ve removed his name from the SNP website. It’s like Trostsky after the Russian revolution.”
Again we see this attempt to link two completely different issues – timing of a second independence referendum and the ‘Alex Salmond business’. They are not linked. The website story is a tabloid smear that has already been debunked. That Macwhirter trots it out is as embarrassing as his description of the story as “like Trostsky after the Russian revolution”. Trotsky? Really?
Iain Macwhirter: “We’ve been talking prematurely about a civil war for many years in the SNP, but now there really is a possibility of it happening.”
There is no civil war. What we have is a media that is trying its best to give the impression there is one. That BBC Scotland is providing a platform for this kind of stuff is quite shocking.
David Clegg: “We get into this issue about how Nicola Sturgeon behaved in the immediate aftermath of finding out about the allegations against Alex Salmond about whether her three meetings and two phone calls with him about the issue were appropriate. That issue all continues and as we’ve been discussing, so maps onto this gradualist or fandamentalist to independence.”
A panel will decide whether Nicola Sturgeon acted appropriately. This time it is David Clegg who links the Salmond issue with the campaign for independence. This is agenda driven clap-trap. Linking the Salmond issue with independence is mere invention by journalists. The two are completely separate.
David Clegg: “Oddly Alex Salmond was always known as a gradualist but now he’s become the figurehead for the fundamentalists.”
More extreme rhetoric. Who are these ‘fundamentalists’ Clegg speaks of? Along with the use of the term ‘insurgent’ they sound quite unhinged. Is that the intention?
Iain Macwhirter: “He’s far from a forgotten figure in the SNP and you saw that by the ease with which he raised over a hundred thousand pounds for his legal defence from a crowdfunder amongst the SNP membership.”
Salmond’s crowdfunder wasn’t “amongst the SNP membership”, it was a public appeal into which anyone could contribute. Many who did were not members of the SNP. The money was not to pay for his “legal defence” it was to pay for his legal action against the Scottish government.
Iain Macwhirter: “And as I say, this whole controversy erupted and the whole sexual harrassment affair erupted after he was announcing he intended to return back to politics.”
It did indeed ‘erupt’ after Salmond announced he intended to return to front line politics. Three months after in fact. But where is the evidence that both were related? This is smearing.
David Clegg: “My understanding is that the first meeting between Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff and Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein, which set in course all this controversy over meetings, was actually an attempt to persuade him not to return to front line politics because they feel he’s discredited because of his links to Putin.”
This is the most laughable claim of the lot. If David Clegg has evidence that Alex Salmond has links to Vladimir Putin then he has one hell of a story. In the absence of such evidence [something more concrete than a TV talk show sold to RT] this is merely yet another smear.
Iain Macwhirter: “If you did hold [a referendum] like in Catalonia two years ago then, you know, the likelihood is that ‘No’ voters would just boycott it and undermine its legitimacy.”
If the Scottish government calls a consultative non-binding referendum then its legitimacy will likely be tested in court. If the court ruled in favour of the Scottish government then the referendum would be legitimate, regardless of how many ‘No’ voters boycotted it.
The discussion was a one sided charade with no counter arguments aired. Not only did presenter Gordon Brewer fail to offer any challenge to the claims, he implicitly endorsed many. This is not informing the public. This is promoting agenda driven innuendo, political smears and, in some cases, demonstrable lies.
And … It was all predicted.
Six days ago this site published an article which contained the following:
And there’s more of this coming. The Scottish media will push this smear as it did previous smears. One journalist even boasted that Unionists could use the Salmond story to effectively bring down the SNP administration.
If this smear follows the same pattern as previous attacks then we’ll see journalists invited onto BBC Scotland to push the story. Hacks will tell listeners and viewers exactly what their newspaper editors want them to, that the SNP is under seige and that independence will suffer.