On The Times in Scotland –  sometimes only ridicule suffices!

By stewartb

Too many of the political journalists that inform Scotland’s public serve up partial and partisan reports on a daily basis. Their output demonstrates an intent – and that of their editors and owners – to further the interests of the Union, to sustain the current constitutional status of the UK.

As regular readers of TuS will be aware, this mission frequently taints their professionalism: reasonable critiques of their output expose a lack objectivity and a lack of balance when it comes to Scotland’s polity. Political journalism in Scotland is rarely presenting the voting public with ‘the best attainable version of the truth’!

However, this blog post highlights another characteristic, another professional consequence. It shows how in desperation to write negatively about the Scottish Government, the SNP and/or the independence cause, a senior journalist can plumb the depths of trivia, seemingly unaware of how ridiculous this has become. What follows also highlights how a news organisation – even a newspaper once lauded internationally for its ‘seriousness’, once viewed as a ‘newspaper of record’ – accedes to trivia appearing on its front page, regardless of reputation, so determined it is to damage the party of government in Scotland.

The news where we and they are!

Compare and contrast front pages of The Times on Thursday, 18 May. The top headline in the England edition is about a serious, politically sensitive topic – immigration: is it not also an important issue for Scotland? Well, it’s not on the front page of the Scottish edition.

So what replaces the immigration story on the front page in Scotland? It’s a piece penned by no less than the paper’s Scottish Political Editor, so one’s entitled to expect something of substance, something worth reading – especially if you’ve paid to read it!  And it is on the front page!

The story below the headline

The Scottish Political Editor’s piece is as devoid of substance as the headline suggests. Often a headline writer can find a ‘hook’ in a news story and construct, yes someGrouptimes contrive, a message that grabs attention and implies significance even if ‘over-delivering’  on or misrepresenting the actual content of the article which then follows. Today’s contribution to this journalist’s oeuvre is so trivial that even the creative headline writers at The Times could not effect a disguise.

So what do we actually learn from the article given front page prominence? A Scottish politician of interest to the police was on vacation in Italy when said police called to arrest him for the purpose of conducting an interview. And before trigger happy readers could react, we learn there wasn’t even inappropriate swanning off from work here. We’re told the politician was on vacation whilst the parliament he sits in was in ‘recess’. 

But he was on holiday – and in Tuscany no less! But did he fly there and back; did he travel with the plebs or with rich people, in first class; how many foreign holidays does he take in a year; does he stay in luxury hotels; does he have a taste for champagne on his hols? The Scottish Political Editor of The Times doesn’t tell us any of this (at least not yet!). Given the state of much political journalism in Scotland nowadays it seems almost reasonable to enquire – why ever not?

But let’s be fair to the investigative skills and determination of the Scottish Political Editor of The Times: there is more to this scoop that gained him front page status.  He exposes more about this politician: we learn that he lives in ‘a large Georgian home’, and names the attractive village where it is located.  Doesn’t this information greatly enhance your knowledge and understanding of ….? Holidays in Tuscany, living in a large Georgian home: readers of The Times in particular will be shocked by all this wealth on display!

However, on carefully reading the article – did I say it was written by the Scottish Political Editor of The Times? – loyal readers may find some reassurance. The Scottish Political Editor of The Times tell us (with my emphasis):  ‘Officers targeted him again 13 days later when he returned …’. ‘Targeted’ – really?


14 thoughts on “On The Times in Scotland –  sometimes only ridicule suffices!

  1. The Times used to be a serious newspaper but as with the rest of the UK media is now reduced to click bate tabloid sensationalism.
    Propaganda disguised as news.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree, fully with that.

      I did notice for the first time yesterday, maybe it has gone on for some time, that the Herald constructed a story attributing both “The Sun” and “Mail on Sunday” for its content. Is it now the case that the Herald has no longer any staff left to do it’s own “Journalism”?. Ok I know that “Journalism” is a bit of a piss-take at the Herald.

      But, is this what now passes as “Journalism”. God it’s more ridiculous than I thought!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830”.
    Effectively Colin Beattie bought an auld hoose, and gets occasional sympathy ‘doon the pub’ over moanin aboot his energy bills and reminded he was the daft bugger tae tak it on…
    Kieran’s attempt to project wealth from 200 years ago onto the place in the present day is at best idiotic, quite why PS didn’t target Colin on his return flight is left to imagination, of which Kieran appears to have an infinite supply.
    By contrast, “a large” Georgian from Foulkes at the Commons Bar doesn’t elicit a single batted eyelid at the Times, not even from the Times Scottish Political Editor…
    Kieran should just formally request an internal shift to the Scum, where “Exclusive” is the MO…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe we could have a month where we ban all unionist media. Where every single independenista in Scotland doesn’t watch BBC News or listen to their crappy radio programmes. Where we don’t buy unionist newspapers or journals and don’t click their online publications. For a whole month just read or listen to indy news, people’s media.
    If you really need a fix go to the local library and read it there. Starve the feckers of their money. If it is successful threaten to do it again. Advertisers will take notice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Someone once joked that if under an SNP government the cure to all cancer was discovered the headlines the next day would read :’ ‘Nasty NATS deal devastating blow to the funeral industry’

    Media hostility toward any party or supporter of Scottish independence now borders on the pathological. It is almost as bad as it was during the Festival of Lies in 2014.

    Last month Gavin Esler stood in for Sir Keir Starmer as guest speak of the John P MacKintosh Memorial Lecture. He went bonkers when I asked him this question:

    Not long before Scotland’s independence referendum you fronted a peak viewing BBC documentary about a chirpy chap leading a local grassroots group called ‘VOTE NO BORDERS’.

    Later it was discovered No Borders had No members because it was the creation of a London based PR company financed by a London based millionaire hedge fund manager and big doner to the Conservative Party, Malcolm Offord.*

    So the questions is this : When did you first find out that Offord was a conman and ‘Vote No Borders’ was a hocus pocus, astroturf fake ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember this well. It cannot be repeated often enough in order to inoculate the public against such con tricks preparatory to the next electoral event to decide on Scotland’ future.

      And in this vein, I recall this written for Bella Caledonia back on 3 October, 2021:

      ‘.. readers with long memories will remember Offord’s astroturf ‘No Borders’ campaign from 2014 which posed as a grassroots group but had loads of money. As National Collective pointed out at the time No Borders begin life with a warchest of £140,000 – despite the group having absolutely no profile prior to their launch ..

      ‘No Borders – and Offord – portrayed themselves as the real deal – just spontaneous interested non-political actors. Their site said at the time: “It’s a people’s campaign voiced by ordinary Scots. They are people who see a bright future in an evolving UK. And they reject the physical and psychological borders that Separation would create. They’re proud to be Scottish. And they’re also proud to be British.”

      ‘Offord claimed No Borders was intended to be an open forum for ordinary people: “There are no politicians; there are no celebrities. It’s a mechanism, on a non-party-political basis, to begin to use non-political language, just to voice some of the reasons why we want to keep the union. That doesn’t mean to say that the union is perfect in any way: it has to evolve.”

      ‘But No Borders was – like a precursor to the Vote Leave dark money scandal – a well-heeled vehicle that was anything but non-party political. It was in fact funded by the PR company Acanchi Ltd – of which Offord was also a director. The reality was the No campaign didn’t have a grassroots movement so they had to create one. The reality is that the people that sang about No Borders brought you Brexit.

      ‘As Fraser Dick wrote at the time: “As well as his donations to the Conservative Party, Offord is an advisory board member to the right-wing think-tank established by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith, the Centre for Social Justice. The contents of ‘Bankrupt Britain’, a paper written by Offord and published on the ConservativeHome website, suggest Offord would back Duncan-Smith’s vindictive and humiliating welfare reforms that have pushed tens of thousands of Scots to beg for handouts at foodbanks. The paper ‘Bankrupt Britain’, written in 2009, lays out a blueprint for austerity – calling on public spending to be reduced by a third, and claims that the entrenchment of poverty in Britain is due to the high amount of unmarried mothers.”

      See https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2021/10/03/bankrupt-britain-and-the-offord-affair/

      On 18 May 2023, The Scotsman profiled Offord on the occasion of his appearance on BBC Question Time from Inverness:

      ‘Born in Greenock, Malcolm Offord (or Baron Offord of Garvel to give him his official title), is a Scottish financier and Conservative Party politician who sits in the House of Lords as a life peer. He is currently Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exports.

      ‘A fierce critic of the prospect of Scottish independence, during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum he was a director of anti-independence campaign group ‘Vote No Borders’ who ran a controversial advert claiming that after independence Scots would struggle to get treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

      ‘He stood as a list candidate for Lothian in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election but failed to be elected.’

      Who needs to be elected to have agency in Westminster over Scotland’s affairs?

      I recall the Vote No Borders cinema advert with the Great Ormond Street claim had to be withdrawn after: ‘A Great Ormond Street spokeswoman said there was very little risk that independence would impede Scottish patients going there. The hospital was used routinely by patients across Europe and across the world because it had very highly specialised expertise, often not available abroad.’ (From the Guardian 29 May 2014).

      This scaremongering from a Tory was matched by Labour’s Gordon Brown: ‘Almost 45,000 Scots now get help every year from the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Mr Brown suggests these links could be put “at risk” after a Yes vote.’ (The Scotsman, 21 July, 2014)

      Newsnet on 22 July 2021 had this headline: ‘Anger at media refusal to correct Gordon Brown ‘transplant & transfusion’ misinformation’. It reported: ‘Mr Brown said a Yes vote would see Scotland, “break all constitutional links with the rest of the UK”.

      ‘The MP for Kirkcaldy said: “Nowhere are these connections more deep-seated than in our willingness to support each other’s health and give to each other, when in need, blood and even organs such as hearts, lungs and livers and not primarily as a commercial transaction but as a gift, and often creating a lifelong bond.

      “Simply to chart those links and see the willingness to help each other in times of trouble should leave all of us bursting with pride at what we have achieved by co-operation and working together. None of this must be put at risk.”

      Newsnet provided a link to a letter from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) which stated: ‘I can confirm that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.’

      Thanks Daphne for the reminder: it brings it all back! We must never forget the ‘ethics’ of – the depths that were plumbed by – the ‘Better Together’ coalition in order to achieve their aim. These and other examples need to be communicated to help ensure more folk in Scotland are alert and sceptical in the face of the inevitable future Unionist scares.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Please excuse the breenge but here’s a film no one will ever see on the BBC. It is the story of an activist from Musselburgh who campaigned during a certain referendum. You know the one we we’re told nobody wanted. The one 96% of Scotland ended up registering to vote in, yup, that one. The trailer looks good.


  6. I peruse the Headlines of the ”Scottish ” newspapers on display in the shops most mornings .
    With the exception of The National , there is NEVER , repeat NEVER , a positive story about the Scottish Government /SNP /Nicola Sturgeon .

    The news stories are invariably misleading with selective quoting of information to give the worst possible view of the Scottish Government , while those in the Daily Mail and Daily Express ( they are as Scottish as Brigadoon ) could best be described as overflow from the English Sewage system .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Get Rid of all unionists papers in Scotland
    They do not represent anything Scottish


  8. Kick out all English funded papers


  9. No He reads it or believes it. Especially in Scotland.

    A Tory rag of nonsense. Given over illegally by Thatcher to Murdoch. A bunch of total criminals. To regurgitate right wing propaganda for favours. Back handlers of public monies. Adverts and nonsense. Phone hacking, illegal surveillance, bribing public officials. Totally against the Law. Murdoch about to keel over after ruining the world. Supporting illegal wars,killing people and causing mass migration. Murdoch should have been in jail years ago for breaking US business Law. A total hypocrite. The Times a load of nonsense. No one buys it or reads it. Going out the door along with the Tory cabel of criminals feeding off each other.

    Support for Independence still strong. To challenge the Westminster psychopaths and the abusive Press non Dom tax evading owners. In collusion with Westminster for corrosive favours. A few month more to go to get rid of them. Disgusting liars. Westminster and the gutter Press,


  10. The Cops are totally out of order wasting £Billions of taxpayers monies. On countless malicious complaints. An absolute scandal. Rangers fiasco, Alex Salmond show trial and now this catastrophe.

    An absolute waste of time and monies. Wasting £Billions in unsolicited flagrant prosecutions by unionists. Wasting Scottish revenues and resources unlawfully.
    The Westminster Gov underhand corruption.

    The Police in Glasgow put two young females in the cells for having a rape alarm. Said it was an offensive weapon after entering and searching a property illegally with not just cause. Then producing a lying report. That could easily be challenged. A rapist was rapping remales in nearby tenements. Never caught. The Police are unlawfully charging abuse women under the Domestic abuse Act. It cannot be dropped or appealed.

    The Police are a Law unto themselves. Their budget should be cut. Wasting £Billions of public monies unlawfully.on instruction from unionists. A militant force. Westminster unlawful detention at force. A blantant abuse of democracy. In every sector of society. Including killing people. Knife deaths up 200 a year in London S/E since Austerity and social support facilities cut.. NHS funding cut £20Billion 2015 to 2020. Education cut £6Billion a year. £30Billion. Welfare cuts £16 Billion. Tax cuts for the wealthy,, The UK the most unequal place in the world.


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