… or fours, or even more?
Yesterday I posted a piece on the ‘Named Person’ scheme and Holyrood. I said I’d return to the subject of the quality of many of our MSPs. Today’s post doesn’t fulfil that promise but does focus on a few SNP MPs and MSPs who’ve thrust themselves to the fore on social media in the last few days.
Let’s take first the case of Pete Wishart, old friend to this blog, who tweeted disapproval of a journalist online, not just disagreeing with something he’d said but asking if his employer knew he expressed those views. The journalist concerned was STV’s Stephen Daisley who I find mostly perceptive and amusing. The usual crowd of cybernats piled in to hammer Daisley on Wishart’s coat-tails. Combined with my reading that a group of SNP MPs met with STV at the Commons to discuss their news coverage I find all this slightly sinister. For the record, I am not uncritical of Daisley. He recently wrote a piece on the Brain family that I disagreed with strongly. I am not complaining to his employer about it.
Case No.2 is Joanna Cherry MP and QC (she uses her professional qualification in political discourse so I will). She has been engaged in an extended exchange on Twitter on the question of whether an independent Scotland would have had automatic or easy access to EU membership if the 2014 referendum had gone the other way. She said yes, her protagonists said no. They asked for evidence. She’s a lawyer, that should come easy to her. Eventually she posted a link to … a Herald article that cited the views of two not particularly prominent lawyers. As far as I could see they had not been commissioned professionally to give their legal opinion on the subject: they had a point of view. Meantime, she had been bombarded with copies of documents and links to sources that made very clear that there was strong evidence for the opposing opinion.
The approach to evidence, for a QC, seems sloppy at best. With those letters behind her name, she also reminded at least one person (not me) that Twitter was not a defamation-free zone. Silly woman! I assume that’s not defamatory. If it’s sexist, well she called one of the people attempting to engage her in debate a ‘silly man’ so sauce for the goose etc.
The third case is slightly different – several SNP MSPs including Gail Ross who posted a meme about the impact fracking would have on Scotland. This was in the wake of a vote in parliament on the subject that looks to have been a bit of a mess for most parties concerned and in which the SNP abstained. By way, I assume, of defence a number of their MSPs picked up a meme devised by someone else that contained some ludicrous statements including, if fracking goes ahead, ‘Within 20 years, Scotland will be a wasteland.’ I can see many, and complex, arguments both for and against fracking. But Scotland will be a ‘wasteland’ if it goes ahead? All I can say is, get a grip.
So here you have three cases, all within as many days.
- An MP who seems to threaten a journalist online.
- Another, legally qualified, who produces evidence that if she were arguing a case in court would be thrown out as woefully inadequate in the face of opposing evidence and who infers that she might take legal action against opponents on Twitter.
- Several MSPs who are daft enough to circulate a claim that if fracking happens in Scotland the country will be a ‘wasteland’ in twenty years.
I’ve ranked these three cases in order of what I regard as seriousness. The first, the threat to the media, I do find sinister. This is the party you may remember whose supporters hounded BBC reporter Nick Robinson during the independence referendum and wants more responsibility for broadcasting devolved to Scotland. [After drafting this post, I realised I had recorded a further example involving Stephen Daisley as victim here, this time involving John Nicolson MP]
The second case, well maybe she was angry and, goaded by some intemperate opponents on Twitter, went a bit further than she might have intended. But, as she tells the world, she is a QC and her response seems neither measured nor proportionate.
The last case is where the word loopy comes in. What quality of elected politician would circulate approvingly a graphic and text from an unknown source (well, a page on Facebook called ‘theindygirls’) that contains such contentious nonsense?
Finally, one dictionary definition of loopy is ‘mad or silly.’ I draw no inference about the mental health of these politicians we, or our fellow citizens, have elected to govern us. However, I would certainly stand by the relevance of the word ‘silly.’ Why, a QC even used it. It must be acceptable.