Losing the news on the flag saga was a loss for unionism's credibility

Losing the news on the flag saga was a loss for unionism's credibility

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 29, January, 2018

SOMETIMES THE MEDIA gives us beautiful souls in the form of characters who mysteriously shape the news. The Thick of It, House of Cards gave us Malcolm Tucker and Francis Uruquart. Ruthless, devious, fine tuners of the truth.

What's more, they had their facts right before doing so. The world of print is struggling and Scottish print especially for a multitude of factors. The cost saving cutting has lead often to a spiral down as quality reporting does not come cheap, investigations take time and winner takes all. No second prizes for a being a day late on a scoop when you can print that another paper broke the story anyway.

Having dealt faithfully yet sparingly with the press i know first hand that it always helps to:

1. Have a rapport and trust with the editor and the journalist.

2. Be clear, with evidence for and against the case in your mind.

There is nothing worse than hitting the nail just off centre. The nail goes in, wonky and dysfunctional and once in that's it. Pulling it out and having a second go is very suboptimal. Every paper prints mistakes but retraction is a real pain. It hurts journalists and papers reputations when it happens. 


The current flag farrago is straight out of Ulster politics sadly. Some Nat pulls a stunt, the Union flag does not appear when it ought to be right and when pointed out the Nat is rightly hauled over the coals for being needlessly divisive and opportunistic.

If however the said Nat is not in fact the Nat responsible but is the successor to that Nat....well....you lose the news. May I introduce Peter O'Hanrahanrahan above. Westminster report for the Day Today, an epic satire by Chris Morris. Peter is, shall we say, not that industrious or accurate in his reporting. He wings it. It is just that he has a habit of being caught out for by his boss in the newsroom.

Peter frequently loses the news and in one episode he allows a minister off very lightly in questioning enough that he darts to a waiting taxi and escapes his fate. The story here in Scotland is that a spiteful egotist with a hatred of the UK went so far as to change flag protocols when he should have been fixing our education system and health service.

That was not Nicola Sturgeon but her predecessor was crucial. The story was significant and Sturgeon should have been cornered to explain why on first prompting she did not reverse this decision, and to my knowledge my still hasn't.

Notwithstanding the Daily Mail and others have retracted the specific accusation is was Sturgeon to blame and in chasing the original story so hard the Tories have lost the news. So has the Union. This has become another overcooked, underwhelming flagrage from the yoons. That is how it now reads to many.

Paranoia, fake news, personality and identity politics in place of a real investigation that reveals our regional head of government to be abetting the division of society. It's clumsy, it should not have happened. Whether this story was fed into the scrum or simply played by a player on our team we need to do much better. 

The SNP media machine is ruthless. The populist party structure is always so: Leader-Press Office-Payer of Both-The rest. The SNP have honed their media skills over years, much slicker than its ministers for sure. 

What would Malcolm Tucker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVoPdnZzKbM say of all of this?

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