This site spent a lot of the indyref documenting the Scottish media’s obsession with “SNP accused” articles, in which they’d make a big deal out of any random nobody accusing the SNP of some absurdly trivial misdeed.
But today, curiously, absolutely none of them have covered this:
Which is weird, because that seems like, y’know, quite a big story.
The passage above is taken from a post yesterday on the former UK ambassador’s Craig Murray’s blog. It was posted during his trial that same day for contempt of court – something he was able to do because the trial took place remotely and he was actually in his own home at the time.
The post comprised redacted versions of two affidavits Mr Murray had lodged with the court in his defence. During the trial his counsel told the court that he was about to publish them on his website, and neither the judge, Lady Dorrian, nor the prosecuting counsel Alex Prentice QC raised any objection.
Mr Murray tweeted yesterday evening that he’d (further) redacted the original version of the post at the request of the Crown Office, so presumably the version currently visible on his blog is in compliance with their orders and does not break any laws.
So, what just happened is this: a former UK ambassador has published two statements sworn on oath (for which he therefore risks prosecution and imprisonment for perjury if they aren’t true), stating that the former First Minister of Scotland told him the current First Minister of Scotland engaged in a criminal conspiracy to imprison her predecessor on false allegations of attempted rape, and that the Scottish Government had engaged in a criminal contempt of court in an attempt to conceal evidence from a senior Scottish judge.
But apparently in Scotland that isn’t interesting news.
The blog was published at around 1.49 in the afternoon – easily early enough for the Scottish media to notice it, write it up and get it cleared by lawyers. Yet as far as we can discover, not a single one has reported it. Iain Macwhirter’s tweet above is just about the only reference to it we can find from any Scottish mainstream journalist.
That’s quite remarkable, isn’t it, readers?
Even though they’d had ample opportunity to put together a report on the First Minister being accused in sworn court testimony of a very serious crime, the print editions of the country’s newspapers instead went with a mix of pretty mundane stories on their front pages, primarily about Boris Johnson’s mildly controversial PR trip to Scotland today and other mostly insubstantial COVID-related fluff, as viewed through their own respective political prisms.
Even their online sites still, as we write this almost 24 hours later, have nothing on the allegations. But they HAVE all managed to cover something much less newsworthy that happened in the middle of the night.
Well into the evening, Nicola Sturgeon had tweeted a supposedly off-the-cuff and “unscripted” video in which – while constantly stealing glances at a script on the table to her left – she lambasted “transphobia” in apparent response to a tiny handful of members of the party’s quasi-fascist Twitler Youth wing resigning because (and we paraphrase, but only slightly) SNP MP Joanna Cherry still hadn’t been publicly burned as a witch despite their endless outpourings of abuse and defamation against her.
(For some reason Sturgeon did not also condemn that abuse.)
But Nicola Sturgeon being against “transphobia” isn’t news. Her government has been running a massive ongoing public campaign on the subject of so-called “hate crime”, with a prominent focus on “transphobia”, for the last two and a half years.
Nor is it news that half-a-dozen petulant children of no significance whatsoever have left a political party in a tantrum because they didn’t get everything their own way. Somewhere in the region of 40,000 people have left that party in the space of four years – a third of its total membership – and the Scottish media hasn’t run a single story about it.
So why would Nicola Sturgeon tweeting a video saying “transphobia is still bad like I always said it was” get blanket media coverage like some sort of notable development, whereas her being openly accused, on oath, in an actual High Court trial, on the say-so of her own predecessor, of an imprisonable crime doesn’t merit so much as a solitary column centimetre?
Charitably, part of it is fear. So ferociously determined has the Crown Office been to shut down with extreme menace any suggestion of a conspiracy against Alex Salmond that many papers are terrified of broaching the subject.
(Other people in the Scottish media, it should be noted, are salivating at the crackdown. This is former Herald hack Neil Cameron – previously seen fantasising about physical violence against us – working himself into quite a lather of excitement on Facebook last night that Wings might be next in the dock after Craig Murray.)
But there are plenty of legally safe ways to report the allegations. They’re not the subject of any live court case. The Scottish press devoted hundreds of pages to lurid accounts of the false claims against Salmond both before and during his trial.
And Murray’s claims are – at a minimum – credible because they were made on oath, and because Alex Salmond hasn’t issued any statement denying anything Murray said, and also circumstantially because the Scottish Government has gone to such incredible lengths to prevent any evidence coming out.
Sturgeon’s video sparked a furious backlash on social media, as she’d have known for certain that it would, because the exact same time happened the last time she picked a side in the toxic trans debate, several months ago.
The only reasonable, rational explanation for her doing so, knowing it would bring an angry reaction from hundreds of her own members, was as a distraction from the Murray story – one which the media has seized on gratefully.
Or at least, partial explanation. Several people have suggested to us that perhaps the video was laying the ground for some sort of action against Joanna Cherry. Sturgeon, they said, knows her days as leader are numbered as the net of the Fabiana and Hamilton inquiries draws tighter, and creating an excuse to kick Cherry out of the SNP would clear the way for someone more “suitable” to succeed Sturgeon as leader and protect what she sees as her legacy.
It’s a credible case. If Sturgeon is forced to resign before the election, then her obvious anointed heir, Angus Robertson, won’t be able to run for leader because he isn’t an MP or MSP, at which point Cherry would almost certainly be the hot favourite. And it’s not like the SNP doesn’t have a track record of trying to hamper Cherry’s career.
So make your own minds up, folks. Was Nicola Sturgeon setting out to nobble Joanna Cherry, or to distract from Craig Murray’s claims, or both, or neither? And why on Earth wouldn’t the Scottish media report such an astonishing allegation against a sitting First Minister three months before a crucial election?
It really is quite the mystery, and the Scottish Government and Crown Office appear to be trying to put anyone who investigates it in jail, so be careful what you conclude.
We do agree wholeheartedly with the First Minister on one line from her “unscripted” video, though – sometimes, silence just isn’t an option any more.