Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Leaky Chanter: SNP Attempt to Tartanise Smeargate Failure

Well The Times is running a story today about A Leaky Chanter being the Red Rag of Scotland. it even quotes a week old post by Iain Dale which calls them attack blogs.

But the Times is showing a bit off sloppy journalism when it says, "The respected Labour blogger Tom Harris MP has a link to A Leaky Chanter on his site" as if that was damning evidence that it was Labour run. But hang on a second thinks I the Scottish blogosphere is very incestuous when it comes to links so I checked out some of last years top Scottish Blogs in the Iain Dale love in. Well Jeff as top ranked SNP blog links there is his blogroll as do I. The Scottish Roundup will refer to it including this snigger at the Scottish Tories. So hang on if Leaky Chanter is meant only to be an attack blog against the Nats what is that story doing there. Admittedly most of the posts are anti-SNP but they are in Government.

But hang on Angus MacNeil, the SNP’s Scotland Office spokesman, said:

"With a senior blogger linking Leaky Chanter to Scottish Labour, and Welsh Labour finding themselves red-faced over the Aneurin Glyndwr blog, Labour must reveal who is running Leaky Chanter and what its relationship is to Labour’s blogging operations.

"There is a place for humour but we have Labour-linked blogs in Scotland branding neutral civil servants as SNP staff, making inaccurate allegations claiming ‘phantom houses’ and running fake sites as the First Minister — this is a dangerous path for any organisation to take."

Pardon? How does having a link to another blog link that to your own party. Tom Harris also links to Iain Dale, Guido and ConservativeHome does that make them Labour. Personally I agree with Tom's tweet that this is a pathetic attempt by the Nats to tartanise Smeargate.

There are a number of addition reasons that this rant from MacNeil is ill judged, first it comes so late in the day it cries out of attempting to steal some of the thunder. Although if he'd seen some of the polls at the weekend he may have seen that staying clear of the issue was the best course of action. Also Leaky Chanter does not fit into the modus operandi of a Labour backed attack blog, it is on blogspot not a purchased domain. It could be any manner of types that run it.

  • A disillusioned floating voter not necessarily pro-independence that voted SNP in 2007 and is sick of seeing broken promise after broken promise

  • It may be a disillusioned former Nat (there are a few of these one even sits in Holyrood)

  • Of course it may be a Labour sympathiser doing it off their own bat. Particular seeing the number of Nat propagating blogs out there.

So as well as being ill informed MacNeil's comments are also terribly blinkered as a Labour spokesperson correctly points out at least 12 anonymous pro-Nationalist and anti-Labour websites operating (some of them will also be found on my blogroll). "Angus MacNeil and the SNP need to take a long hard look at the actions of people associated with their own party . . . before making baseless allegations against others."

One thing that MacNeil's misunderstanding of the blogoshere does do in linking him to smeargate is that like Draper and McBride he doesn't get the concept, thinks he can just jump in and make statements without full understanding, grasp of the facts or checking his own house first.


  1. You know as well as I do the crowd (allegedly) behind that site. If it's supposed to be amusing it's not. I speak for most of their posts.

    But whatever rocks your boat as they say...

    I did a different post and wasn't clever enough to put Harrris' clip up, you clever man you.

  2. Well said, Stephen; it seems to be one of those slightly sensationalist articles portraying speculation as almost incontrovertible truth.

    On the other hand, some clearly seem to think that they know who's behind it - indeed, Malc has been naming names - so perhaps that's the basis of the story but the Times didn't want to name names because it has no irrefutable facts.

    Interesting as well that Lorraine Davidson is the author - isn't she an ex-Labour aide?

  3. Subrosa there probably is some Labour person behind it, but unless someone names names it is speculative, but as pointed out there are plenty from the other side Wardog for example that more than redress the balance, especially before the last election.

    Indeed Stuart and the fact that it is in the side panel with the extract "The row over internet smears at Westminster spread to Holyrood when a blogger accused Labour of starting a Red Rag-style website to attack the SNP" (although I only read this after starting to write the piece) when actually Dale said "I don't know the provenance of A Leaky Chanter. Perhaps one of my Scottish readers could help out." I can't think the SNP are looking at trying to use it as a way to try and link Scottish Labour to the smears from Westminster and have missed the mark horribly from not looking at their own back (current) history in the blogosphere.

  4. That last point is key I think. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

    I can say with some honesty that although I write some posts which you may class as "attacking" parties, it is never done on a personal level. I find blogs like A Leaky Chanter unreadable most of the time - hence the lack of linking.

  5. Indeed true Malc and not even just on the blogs but the comments sections of most of the Scottish press are full of anonymous vitriol from Nationist quarters.

  6. to be honest, macneil was approached by the times for a comment after teh story was ran by iain dale. surely the headline should have been about the conservatives?

  7. but the comments sections of most of the Scottish press are full of anonymous vitriol from Nationist quarters.Stephen - the online bampot brigade transcends political and constitutional divisions. Trying to pretend otherwise is just self-serving tosh.

  8. To be honest even Dale was saying that the two sites weren't as bad as Red Rag but that they were attack blogs. As I said it was sloppy journalism from the Times.

    The fact that MacNeil was drawn into such a ridiculous comment which someone like myself who has been blogging since 1995 can easily pick up on his errors doesn't make it any better.

  9. TBH Richard I have seen too many press threads with nothing whatsoever to do with the topic highjacked for the cause of Independence. The other side of the coin does also have a large number of fluent if not native speakers of Tosh but tend to largely stay more on topic.

  10. Another quibble, Stephen. To say that Leaky Chanter is 'Labour linked', is simply a statement of fact. It is supportive of Labour - therefore, it is linked, in the non-internet sense, to Labour, as both Iain Dale and Angus MacNeil have highlighted correctly.

    That's not the same thing as saying that it it is 'Labour linked' just because some Labour bloggers happen to have it in their blogroll. So why all the silly sniping at Angus MacNeil which follows?

  11. Ok Richard it may be poorly phrased by Angus for the quote. But the double usage of the word linked for the linkage from Dale and then the liankage to Labour does appear to emphasising the point, maybe I should lend Angus my second thesaurus.

    The call from him for Labour to expose the blogger assukes the link is at an official level, if you, Malc or anyone else know more I'd expect the name to actually be pinned down to one individual.

    If it were a supporter the call for this person to be named goes against freedom of expression and if followed through anymore is a dangerous path to take. Think of all the people who don't decalre their real name in the Blogosphere, many of them are known to you and me by name, many more are not, add on all the commenters are we going to demand full disclosure. If an elected representative is demanding that of bloggers what that that mean about 'sources close to' in the world of politics.

    As I also said and as you are fully aware there are plenty of anonymous SNP bloggers and commenters that attack all the non-nationalist parties.

    PS on a personal note I'm am not aware which side it was that decided to get the press looking into a potential smear about me a few years ago. Until they discovered it was a big non-story.

  12. Stephen, did you notice who the reporter was?

    Lorraine Davidson, hardly an SNP fan

    Angus should have just kept schtum, leakerchanter will have there day but for you to say

    "Admittedly most of the posts are anti-SNP but they are in Government."

    What utter bollocks.

    It's no even anti-snp, it's anti-alec Salmond, an acknowledged attack policy of Labour in Scotland, you just have to visit their website to see it.

    Salmond was right, the Labour party in Scotland are better defined as the anti-SNP party.

    They had better think of some policies and quick.

  13. Well said, Stephen.

    Richard: I am surprised and dismayed that you should contrive such an argument. Are the extreme anti-English comments on Bebo, Facebook and from certain Scotsman cybernats "SNP-linked" because they express support for your party?

    "To say that the racist cybernats are 'SNP linked', is simply a statement of fact. They are supportive of the SNP - therefore, they are linked, in the non-internet sense, to the SNP..."

    Your logic, not mine!

  14. PS on a personal note I'm am not aware which side it was that decided to get the press looking into a potential smear about me a few years ago. Until they discovered it was a big non-story.Same thing happened to me at uni, presumably as a way of trying to get at George Reid. Completely unfounded - as I told the hack in no uncertain terms, and as I also let the lowlife who 'tipped' him off know.

    It happened again last year, when someone with Lib Dem sympathies calling himself 'Doh' on the Scotsman boards tried to accuse me of being a racist. His justification? Someone calling himself Richard and giving their location as West Lothian had said something he considered to be off colour, who had linked elsewhere to one of my blogposts. Outstanding powers of deduction I'm sure you'll agree, but completely wide of the mark.

    I'm still waiting for D'oh to apologise. Just as well I'm not holding my breath :-)

  15. SU - I don't think there's room for much doubt that Leaky Chanter is written by Labour staffers. That's why Iain Dale linked it to Labour - that's a world away from linking the bampot brigade, as I described them earlier, to an individual party.

    The SNP is happy to disassociate itself from the 'bampot brigade' to whom others are keen to link it regularly. I note that Labour has yet to disassociate itself from Leaky Chanter or its Welsh equivalent.