Quite why yesterday was a bad day for my ‘team’ I don’t know.
It was a late-night jibe lobbed in my direction on Twitter by someone (anonymous of course) whose brief profile included the hashtag #scotref, so at least I knew where he was coming from.
I assumed his use of the word ‘team’ was an arcane reference to a comment on my own Twitter profile about changing my photo because nationalists kept accusing me of looking like Alex Ferguson. Anyhow, after I told him I had no interest in football whatsoever, he came back with his killer blow. No, the team he meant was ‘unionism.’
‘Unionism’ had a bad day? Really? I couldn’t be bothered to go back and ask him why but I could think of only two things.
The first was a meeting between UK and Scottish ministers about more devolution post-Brexit. I wrote about it yesterday and don’t intend to do so again, except to add that Messrs Swinney and Russell seem to have emerged saying that they were going to withhold their consent from something or other at some stage.
The second was a flurry around an article a Times journalist posted online about politicians and book-reading. It included a comment that Nicola Sturgeon seemed to genuinely enjoy reading and it cited books she’s mentioned previously. It’s more general thrust was whether politicians asked to suggest books for those newspaper summer reading/Christmas gift lists chose tactically in order to enhance their reputation. I saw it before it was withdrawn and found it mildly informative, droll even.
It was withdrawn because unfortunately it included a claim, quickly proven to be untrue, that ex-SNP politician Alex Salmond didn’t read books. Apart from having his article removed from The Times website, the journalist concerned apologised to Salmond. So you’d think that was that.
Far from it.
Nationalists on Twitter were already in full froth. The article was shameful (never mind the nice things said about Nicola). They personally knew that Salmond was an avid reader. The journalist had failed to check his sources. He was a yoon. The whole MSM was corrupt. The Times should be boycotted (I didn’t see that one but I’m sure someone said it somewhere).
Included in all this was a tweet from SNP MP Joanna Cherry:
Ms Cherry’s insistence on including her professional status in her self-description is well known. I had always thought there was something vain, even pompous, about it. After all, there are many other MPs who might claim equally honourable and distinguished backgrounds – doctors, professors, military officers, other QCs even – who make nothing of it in the way they describe themselves for political purposes.
But now it appears there may be something more to Joanna’s use of the letters ‘QC.’ Why would she ask ‘as … a lawyer’ for a copy of an article she suspects may include an untruth? The implication – I can think of no other – is that she is going to somehow assess whether it is untrue from a legal point of view. And as a layman I can only believe that is to assess it for defamation. What other purpose would she have?
I don’t know if she thought she was going to do a homer for someone, Alex Salmond, she described in another tweet about the same subject, as a ‘friend and colleague’ (ex-colleague, surely?). In the advocates’ ‘stable’ she still seems to be affiliated to, her expertise is described as professional negligence, in particular clinical negligence; personal injuries, in particular psychiatric injury and work related stress; mental health; public and administrative law; employment law. Nothing about defamation there.
It’s all very reminiscent of another SNP MP (ex- this time), ‘Mr’ John Nicolson, who used his professional background to challenge and then seek the dismissal of journalist Stephen Daisley from STV (you can read about that saga here, first, and then here).
By the way, Ms Cherry’s hunt for the article that was concerning her yesterday included these tweets:
I can’t see the reply of Stuart Campbell (who runs the Wings website) as he blocked me on Twitter aeons ago. Presumably he sent her a copy of the article. Still, it’s good to see people with a legal interest in friendly contact with each other, he at present pursuing a case for defamation against Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
Whether Alex Salmond does or doesn’t read books is all pretty trivial stuff, but it’s interesting to see how not only Ms Cherry but a whole tribe of online nationalists rushed to defend the man the moment the allegation was made. Of course, with his ‘show’ at the Edinburgh Fringe looming any publicity is, as they say, good publicity. At least there’s less chance he has to trudge the Royal Mile handing leaflets out for it.
Of more significance about now ex-politician Alex Salmond were his lies and mis-judgements in office. In case a passing professional negligence lawyer is even now reaching for the Dummy’s Guide to Defamation, I present m’lud, my evidence on the issues at hand.
And on judgement, a letter he wrote to the chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland not long before it went belly-up, at huge cost to the UK taxpayer, a letter that curiously I’ve omitted to include in this blog before:
You can also read an infamous speech he gave at Harvard just before the financial crash which contains many errors of judgement I’ll leave you to find.
That at least is serious stuff unlike the bumf around his book-reading habits. Meantime, in case you’re wondering, my team is doing fine, thanks.