I thought I’d be moving on from what I hoped was my second and final contribution to this subject – A squalid sideshow – SNP MP denies involvement in silencing journalist, fails to prove case – but more detail has come to light on Twitter that is worth recording.
First, and most notably, both John Nicolson and Pete Wishart have remembered after all that they did discuss Stephen Daisley with STV although their confessions, in response to queries from the Daily Record’s editor Murray Foote, were qualified:
- FOOTE: did you explicitly mention Mr Daisley when you spoke with STV?
- WISHART: Yup. Think I also said his contributions were crap (or something like that)
- FOOTE: have you discussed specifically Mr Daisley’s output with his bosses at STV?
- NICOLSON: Yes fleetingly – the issue of SD’s pro Spanner tweets and whether this was appropriate for an STV editor.
Who knows what words were actually used or the immediate context they were set in? Answers to those questions might help gauge whether people are right to be sceptical of what was said and what subsequently happened to Daisley. Perhaps someone else involved in the exchanges might have a similar flash of memory they’d like to share with the Record?
Beyond those revelations, Twitter has been full of both irrelevancies and highly pertinent discussion. I saw two protagonists waste a lot of energy on whether minutes of meetings could be produced that proved/disproved the nature of any discussion between the MPs and STV on Daisley. As a veteran of many business meetings, I can assure them that the most significant exchanges often happen well away from any minutes – ‘Alan, while you take your coffee, perhaps a quiet word about young Daisley, if I may …’
Then again, I have been taxed with the character of young Daisley himself. Did I really agree with his views on … the misogynistic Spanner, Palestine, the unborn child, the general right wing tone of his writing etc etc. I reconstruct these examples from memory. I don’t even know his views on most of these subjects and what I might think of them if I did is irrelevant. The actions of Nicolson and Wishart are.
A number of people popped up to ask if MPs were not allowed their views on the media. Of course they are. But, as someone else said, these are not just two random guys expressing an off-the-cuff opinion. One is the chair of the Commons Scottish Affairs committee (Wishart), the other a member of the culture, media and sport committee, where I have no doubt he was influential in their recent recommendation for a BBC Scottish Six news programme (he also has a track record of criticising Daisley going back at least a year). It is understandable that the management of a Scottish media company would at least listen carefully to what these two MPs might say.
There is however, a difference between listening and being influenced by. I liked the comment of another journalist that any attempted interference by politicians in his work would have led his editor to respond with ‘Bugger off.’
That phrase seems an appropriate point to return to Pete Wishart’s ‘his contributions were crap.’ How delicately expressed, and how dignified. And how wrong, not only as a judgement on Daisley’s output but how wrong even to use the word. Remember, a senior politician of long standing, and chair of a Commons committee. Imagine the tables turned:
- FOOTE: did you explicitly mention Mr Wishart when you spoke with the leader of the SNP group?
- DAISLEY: Yup. Think I also said his Scottish Affairs Committee chairmanship was crap (or something like that).
Wishart and Nicolson would not have appreciated that undignified and inappropriate response. It is even more undignified and inappropriate for an elected legislator to say the same of a journalist with the explicit intention – denied of course, but then why say it? – of influencing or silencing his output.