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December 13, 2009


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It would seem from The Herald of today, 17 Dec 2009, that Mike Russell was not as "completely unaware" of Mr MacLachlan's activities as he first sought to project.

Poor Mark was seemingly labouring under the false impression that his SNP sources were actively encouraging his blog to cast out unattractive information and that he was doing his party cause some good.

Well, it would seem that Mike Russell and Cllr Rob Davidson might be called upon to elaborate on their denials of cooperation and encouragement.

In their rush not just to disown Mark but to impale him on his own sword they might have forgotten the first rule of politics and journalism - don't get caught!

Now if this is some sort of Unionist media conspiracy as some commentators would like it to be, it looks as if the SNP are doing a pretty fine job of making fool's of themselves without any assistance from us poor, maligned Unionista's.

Hee hee and have a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year - even SNP party members and especially Mark MacLachlan who I hope finds a new job very soon. It's a very high price to have paid.

"That political editor is pissed off and makes a few enquiries"

I'm not sure that we can really assume that line anymore... in today's article Maclachlan seems to suggest that an anonymous commentator on the cheese blog successfully got his details by offering photographs of the journalist in question and that's how they got his details, I've read elsewhere today that this wasn't a single request either but a repeated attempt.

"makes a few enquiries"

That seems to contradict to what I've read about the News of the World & Scotsman articles which reported said that they had contacted 'researchers.'

I've no idea who's right or whether it's even connected to the journalists but there seems to be a point of principle in there somewhere about the conduct of the media itself and at which point they found out about his identity and whether this was a story before that happened.

How did the journalist find this obscure blog?

How did the journalist find this obscure blog?

Was the journalist the anonymous poster?

Was there even an anonymous poster?

If it wasn't the journalist, who was snooping?

"offending employee...."

Mike Russell might find that he's on very shaky ground here, he like the journalists has sought to conflate the SNP's own code of conduct with the expediency of media spin and 'closing down' a story..... it's an old but effective media angle.

The article today doesn't carry any quotes from Mark about suing the 'snp', that seems to be a further case of journalistic licence.... Mike Russell on the other hand might well be worried.

I agree that this isn't any kind of conspiracy theory, to be fair, I haven't suggested that it is, it's simply looking at the events and tactics used in this case as it is applicable to the wider (political) blogging world.

That it happened to a nationalist blogger in the pay of a constituency office is in some regards co-incidence, it's obvious that the journalists in question were investigating this blog before they knew who ran it, which begs the question, what would have happened had the author not been in the employment.

Do you think the story of an obscure blogger describing a political editor in florid language would have made it into the paper anyway?

If that's newsworthy, it speaks volumes for the state of the Scottish media.


An anonymous blogger makes a post calling the Political Editor of Scotland's top selling Sunday news paper a "c***" - pictures off him definitions, etc etc. That political editor is pissed off and makes a few enquiries and finds out that the offending blogger is a paid employee of a Scottish Government minister!!! - one that happens to be launching a white paper on Independence, his partys flagship, the day immediately follwing his next publication date. On checking he also finds, albeit amongst lots of other stuff, some pretty unsavory blog postsd about Labour MSPs and a top tory minded QC.

There is not a country in the world whose mainsteam media would not report this. Nor is there a country in the world in which the offending employee would keep his job once events had played out.

As one of the cheese blogs "20 or so subscribers", and one of its fans, indeed contributors. I am sad for what has happened to Mark. But I dont think the case tells us much beyond the obvious, nor to I believe there is any widespread plot out there to get "nat bloggers". There are certainly a few unionist minded cyber-provocateurs who have enjoyed spooking a few into thinking there is, and more than a few "cybernats" only too keen to confirm the conspiracy.

But, a few voluntary retirements aside, we are all still blogging last time i looked, pretty much unrestrained, if occassionally unispired. And the police state aint knocking on any doors. Even the cheeseman is back - and threatening to sue the SNP!!

"but not unlimited, thankfully."

That's kind of my point Aye we Can, who is defining those 'limits' in the blogosphere, to date it seems to be the media who operate under the press complaints commission, which is funded by those very same newspapers but reputedly operates independently of it.

God forbid we become a litigious society like the states where litigation runs rampant, lawyers get rich, politics narrows and people's engagement with politics polarises.

No Thanks, I think I'd rather have an unlimited blogosphere anyday.

If you don't like what your reading, you can always browse somewhere else, let's be frank about this, blogs are generally run by private individuals, not multi-billionaire corporations.

"If someone crudely abused or libeled me, Id like some comeback."

The individuals that were named do not appear to have taken any legal action, that route remains open to them if they wish, but it is in effect a private legal matter.

Instead, what we've witnessed is a media led witch hunt, where the media have made any libellous material widespread by playing clever games reporting on what others have said.

In effect, by using a proxy, hell mend the outcomes for that individual.

In effect the media have as usual acted as judge and jury, allowing little or no comeback and being very very selective. Only in Scotland would this have been made the news, it's a sign of the poverty of ambition in our news media.

All of this makes today's article all the more significant, a chance for the subject of a tabloid story to get his side across.

The cheese blog, from what I can see, appears to have less than 20 subscriptions, the papers are in the tens of thousands.

To compare the two seems to be extremely unfair.

In many ways, this is actually quite a watershed, a route back at the media who chose to use their power to smear private bloggers venting their disbelief on their own websites.

The "disbelief, objection, argument, humour and satire?" seems tragically lacking in many of the blogs I've visited that deal with Scottish Politics, indeed, there is a distinct mediocrity that seems to be creeping in with more and more bloggers directly linked to the parties themselves.

Steve, "disbelief, objection, argument, humour and satire?" form the essence of most good blogs. whatever the country. Indeed go look at the now re-opened Universality of Cheese blog's archive and you will find plenty. It's when Monty, out of charachter, turned to crude abuse that he ran into trouble. And working for a Government minister made him doubly vulnerable

In looking for plots and attempts to "curb people's views", too many conspiracy theorists have overlooked this pretty simple truism. Not so much playing by mainstream media rules , but rather applying common sense.

The web offers us all near unlimited freedom of expression - but not unlimited, thankfully. If someone crudely abused or libeled me, Id like some comeback.

Isn't it time people stood up to the trash journalism that we regularly accept as news in this country, we really can do better.

Accepting it and then citing rather condescending 'play by the rules' nonsense is making Scottish political blogging look like a middle class McChattering class with no teeth, compare it to the English blogging scene and it's pathetic the lack of teeth that Scots blogger's display.

'Politeness' & perceived 'etiquette' are the oldest tricks in the book to curb people's views, narrowing the breadth of voices and the expression of those voices.

Where's the disbelief, objection, argument, humour and satire?

Instead we have diluted commentary on the leading blogs that would struggle to set a match on fire never mind the heather.

Is Scottish political blogging signing it's own self referential death certificate by foundering about trying to adhere to the mainstream media's rules & interest?

Well done Mark for setting the record straight in the Times today, there were a number of points that needed to be said and he did so eloquently and powerfully.

Why anyone has concern for Mike Russell and the SNP in this debacle is quite beyond me and seems to completely miss the point of the whole affair, in any other nation, this story wouldn't have made the papers, welcome to Pravda Scotland, the best wee 'free media' in the world.

Extremely unfair Alan

Or "News International gets another bite at the story it and Mark generated" ....with the SNP and Mike Russell again dealing the collateral damage

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