British State Spin and Lies Exposed

_82118755_telegraphAs Telegraph spin and smear gets exposed Jamie Maxwell explores the backstory.

Scottish politics has one iron law at the moment: any party caught facilitating Tory success faces utter ruin.

This was Labour’s experience during the independence referendum. The party’s decision to campaign alongside the Conservatives in defence of the Union shattered its credibility in once rock-solid urban constituencies. Now Labour is heading for a rout of biblical proportions on 7 May, as the SNP soaks-up the bulk of Scotland’s sizeable left-of-centre, anti-Tory vote.

For this reason above others, I’m sceptical of the Daily Telegraph’s “bombshell” story this morning.

The Telegraph claims to have a copy of a memo written – take a deep breath – by a British government official based on a conversation he/she had with the French Consul General based on a conversation he had with the French ambassador based on a conversation she had, in February, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

In that conversation, Sturgeon is alleged to have told the ambassador that she wanted David Cameron to be re-elected as Prime Minister because she didn’t see Ed Miliband as “prime ministerial material”.

The story itself suffers from some basic technical difficulties. The SNP has categorically denied it. The French Consul General has categorically denied it. The author of the memo expresses doubt about the central claim. The Telegraph failed to contact any of the relevant parties for reaction or comment before publishing – a telltale sign that a journalist lacks confidence in his or her supposed newsline.

But it’s the premise of the allegation that I find most problematic.

Since the referendum, a consensus has developed among political commentators that, despite its public stance against the Tories, the SNP is actually very keen on another five years of Tory government. According to this theory, another English Tory administration hell-bent on austerity and Brexit would boost support for a second independence poll.

However, a second independence poll will only happen if the SNP has the numbers at Holyrood – the “mandate” – to legitimately demand one. Post-Edinburgh Agreement, this has become a bedrock SNP belief. The party views Holyrood as the seat of Scottish political authority and the source of any future referendum – and, again, that referendum depends on the SNP remaining the largest party in the Scottish Parliament.

Now, I can think of no better way for the SNP to commit Labour-style Hari Kari in Scotland than by enabling – indeed by actively willing – the Tories back into power at Westminster. It would immediately destroy their current, treasured status as the party best equipped to defend and promote Scotland’s interests. It would vindicate everything Jim Murphy has said about SNP strategy since he became Scottish Labour leader. Above all, it would shred, in an instant, the SNP’s long-cultivated anti-Tory credentials, thus violating the iron law of Scottish politics.

And there is an attractive alternative for the SNP, too.

Nicola Sturgeon can make Labour redundant at the Scottish level by extracting concessions on devolution and austerity from a weak Labour government at the UK level.

Why vote for Labour in Scotland, at either Westminster or Holyrood, when a more robust, effective and ambitious political surrogate exists in the form of the Scottish nationalists?

Moreover, if the last layer of Labour control in Scotland – its phalanx of 40 MPs – falls, would it really be harder for the SNP to win a future referendum under a red UK government that it would under a blue one? I doubt it. The Labour Party is the lynchpin of unionism in Scotland – if it goes, so to, eventually, does the Union.

So it’s not just the technical veracity of the Telegraph’s “devastating” memo that looks shaky this morning. It’s the working assumption of the UK commentariat. The SNP doesn’t want Cameron re-elected. If it did, it would deserve to share Scottish Labour’s fate – and the Scottish electorate would duly oblige.

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  1. George Gunn says:

    On every bulletin last night and all day today (Saturday) the BBC Scotland has led with this story as if were fact.

  2. Jim Bennett says:

    Of course, the real story is how the story came into the hands of the Telegraph. Impartial civil service my arse!

  3. Marian says:

    I see that elsewhere it is being suggested that the Scotland Office may have had some involvement in this smear attempt.

  4. No one who has an inkling of the dirty tricks played out during the referendum by Unionist parties, believed this garbage even in their wildest wavering moment. It has smear all over it, coming 24hours after Sturgeons towering performance in the leaders debates, and the admiration coming from south of the Border.

    It’s bad enough having Nat followers in Scotland, but admirers of their politics down south? The Establishment are panicked – again. How sick does this country have to become in relation to democracy before any decent politicians, if they exist, will condemn this charade? Notably, Malcolm Chisholm, is the only man so far to say he doesn’t believe it.

    Not only is it the smear of SNP wanting to see Tories in govt. It is also the implication that our FM is two faced, and gossipy – to civil servants she barely knows? It’s crass, but has the hallmarks of the SLab lie department, as it plays to their rhetoric so well.

    Our FM is careful, precise, intelligent and disciplined, and that’s why we know this smear is only an indication of the level of threat felt by the old boys.

  5. robert graham says:

    the source of this smear ! look no further than the three shit shifters murphy -tornarse -and the tuba player can’t remember his name & (cant be arsed looking for it) tornarse was as far as i remember was run out of OZ and told to take his brand of hatred & bile with him the fact murphy uses this thing as his bagman says more about murphy and his whole character who is more right wing than a lot of tory members and is only able to hide this because of a compliant media

  6. Alan says:

    Didn’t take long for the dirty tricks to start after the end of the debate. This ratchets up the lying to the next level. More reason to be out of the whole vile, corrupt system that the UK has become.

  7. johnmoss2014 says:

    I found this story amazing when it came out and I’m equally amazed at how quickly is has been taken apart.

    Why the Telegraph never contacted either party involved, Nicola Sturgeon or the French ambassador for clarification, before going to press is very telling. Could this simply be a smear campaign?

    If anything, attacking an open, popular politician like Nicola Sturgeon will only serve to galavise public opinion against both the Labour and Tory parties in Scotland.

    If this story was intended to undermine the First Minister then it clearly missed the target by a mile.

  8. Garrion says:

    More wizard japes and high jinks from the boys in Whitehall and Cheltenham…

  9. Donald Mitchell says:

    But is she wrong?

    1. jimnarlene says:

      She never said it, therefore she is neither right nor wrong.

  10. MBC says:

    It’s so transparently obviously a crude smear job to discredit a popular and effective leader put together by the blue-red Tory commentariat who haven’t a scoobie about how Scotland thinks.

    What’s worrying is the role of the British civil service in aiding and abetting them.

  11. David McCann says:

    Completely agree. And I also think ‘black ops’ are at work. See Craig Murray at

  12. gralloched says:

    Same tactics from the pig-press. Relax only the English could be stupid enough to be fooled by this sort of b/s. BTW I’m English.

  13. Malcolm McAllan says:

    I would tend not only to look at tories for foul play, but the liberals also.

    The liberals staff the Scotland office. The Scottish secretary and the Scotland office was to close under devolution as it was not required with the Scottish Parliment in place. The SNP won the 2007 election and the liberals and labour reversed policy and kept the office open along with position of Scottish secretary continuing.

    Some points for others to draw there own conclusions:

    Senior Scottish liberals are looking increasingly desperate, they realise their careers are finished if they loose their seats.

    Civil servants don’t act alone, their political masters determine what they do.

    Civil servants would not have where with all to leak this unless they had been told to whom and what to leak. Going in blind would leave them open to dismissal and criminal action, e.g official secrets acts, etc.

    That after 12 hours the story has fallen part and now appears to be back firing, suggests to me the perpetrators don’t have the network to cover their steps.

    Lastly does this extend beyond tories, liberals and telegraph? Sky has moved from a position of reporting what they believed to be a genuine story to one of reporting an investigation into whom and why this dodgey story was leaked. Conversely bbc are focusing on whether the memo is genuine or not, thus keeping the story going.

    Malcolm McAllan

    1. MarkAustin says:

      Just a quick correction. It’s not Liberals but Liberal Democrats—a party that abandoned Liberalsim years ago. As a member of the continuing Liberal Party, I wish people would not make this mistake.

  14. claim says:

    “When filming at the SNP conference in Inverness, Catriona Renton had claimed on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show that Alex Neil had confirmed the SNP’s desire to see David Cameron become the Prime Minister at the next general election.”

    “The recorded interview with Mr Neil that followed Ms Renton’s claim contained no such confirmation. The BBC were forced to issue a personal apology to Alex Neil.”

  15. Connor Mcewen says:

    This is just the starter for 10.Consult Tommy Sheridan for example on Andy Coulson.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      The headlines on the days just before the election will probably be quite ‘interesting’. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two stories that are actually libellous. Yes, the culprit might run a mealy-mouthed ‘apology’ and an attempt to strike said libellous story from the record, but only after the damage is done.

  16. Tinto Chiel says:

    C’mon, Jamie, grow up. Stop all this sensible analysis, pointing out the nonsensical claims of a desperate Establishment. Just repeat after me: SNP baaaaaaaad!


  17. arthur thomson says:

    It is interesting how this notion that the SNP secretly wants another tory government is and has been emerging. I suppose it is only natural that corrupt people, who are involved in politics to fulfill their personal desire for power, think everyone else is like they are. I imagine that most ordinary, moderately intelligent Scots will take my view that the smear is just that – a smear. What it will confirm is not that ‘all politicians are the same’ but that the MSM and Westminster politicians generally are liars. On the face of it, that is unfair to specific politicians who are actually decent people but they have to defend themselves by publicly distancing themselves from this smear and those who have orchestrated it.

    I imagine the SNP will get more new members, support and valuable publicity from this affair. That would be a just outcome.

  18. macart763 says:

    At this point in time Heywood has acceded to the FMs request for an inquiry. The repercussions of which don’t bode well for either the supposed leak or the Telegraph. With the FM and both the French consul general and ambassador stepping quite heavily on the premise of the telegraph story, the new story becomes the who and why? With the involvement of French government officials at diplomatic level this has become somewhat of an international stooshie. I’m wondering if the instigator thought this one through?

    I’m sure both HMG and the Telegraph will spare no effort in getting to the bottom of this unfortunate episode (cough).

    In their own time.

    1. MBC says:

      My money is on a Cameron-Carmichael scam.

      Apparently Cameron was looking smugly pleased with himself when asked about it today, and there’s not been a cheep out of Carmichael. SO has refused to comment.

      1. Who stands most to gain?
      2. Who doesn’t care a hoot about the Scots or understands them?
      3. Who controls Torygraph, FO and SO?

      As several others have said, the really stupid party is Miliband and Labour in swallowing and revelling in the pigs swill.

      Irvine Welsh had it about right when he tweeted: ‘Labour still trusting in the Tory establishment that’s shafting them’.

      But don’t expect to hear anything from Heywood ever again. If we’re going to get to the bottom of this we’re going to have to do it ourselves and keep this going and going.

      1. macart763 says:

        They’re certainly a good bet that’s for sure. I don’t think the instigators anticipated quite how quickly the French government officials would respond. They’ve been caught short and with high visibility. Now its about deniability. Heywood had no choice but to accede to the FMs request for an inquiry under these circumstances. One way or another it concerns the civil service. Where it goes from there? You could pick half a dozen candidates and they’d all be a perfect fit, but as with the referendum the CS is looking pretty compromised at this point.

        Scottish Office is the most logical place to start and I’m sure even the French Government will take a keen interest in the outcome of the inquiry. This discussion was at diplomatic level, no ifs, buts or maybe’s. Only certain departments would have been briefed on the minutes of such a discussion so theoretically it shouldn’t be too hard to find the culprit. Now someone has attempted to use this meeting and these channels to set up a smear. Worse a debunked and failed smear. Eventually a scapegoat will have to be supplied. Its simply become too high profile for any other outcome.

        Wonder if the bookies are running odds?

  19. Clydebuilt says:

    Jamie….missing your articles in The National…..

  20. bringiton says:

    Since the BBC and the rest of the unionist press are claiming that the memo definitely exists,then who was responsible for ensuring that it entered the public domain?
    The Torygraph know who they got the dodgy dossier from but aren’t saying.
    At some point,either this fabrication was processed by the civil service or was entirely cooked up by politicians with an axe to grind (Help me Rona comes to mind).
    The unionist press are trying to big this up by passing it off as an “offical” transcript of a meeting between our FM and French officials and so inferring that it was given out by a government official.
    This raises a number of issues with regard to our civil service.
    They now appear to think that it is OK to involve themselves in political campaigns…so if you fly with the crows…..stand for election along with the other politicians and allow us to hold you accountable for your actions in office.
    No one can now accept anything these public servants say as having credibility.

  21. Frederick Robinson says:

    Listen: when the SNP can seek, against the wishes of the bulk of the UK (but ‘it’s nothing to do with you lot, south of the Border, even if you’re Scots born and bred!’) and achieve, what is PUBLICLY and EXPLICITLY, a ‘Referendum for a generation’, with all that entails in the way of enthusiasm and hysteria, then – when that referendum produces, for the SNP, the ‘wrong’ result, and there ensue endless excuses, and rumours of plots by Westminster, Whitehall, the UK population apart from the Chosen (by the SNP’s criteria) People – suddenly the aim is for the ‘Referendum for a generation’ is to be repeated in next to no time (hopefully, with enough SNP and Bella Caledonia propaganda, sorry, input, to reverse the opinions of any apostates), to get the ‘right result – after that very public volte face, it does not take the deepest form of cynicism to doubt the word of the (at the time of the Referendum, Second, now) First Minister of the Scottish National State over what was said in an informal conversation. She may have said it, may not. Since it’s possible to diametrically reverse publicly-made statements without breaking sweat, what does it matter?

    1. patmctavish says:

      Oh Frederick you are way too complicated. Take a breath and try to say that again!

    2. The Long Decline says:

      But why would the French ambassador also deny it? You seem a little bit delusional.

    3. gonzalo1 says:

      108,000 snp members and a 46% rating in the opinion polls would seem to fly in the face of what you are saying, sir

  22. Monty says:

    Froth that is getting far too much attention. Have we seen a gear change though in SNP policy. A few months ago in the days of red Tory blue Tory when it seemed more likely that the SNP lead in the polls would melt away perhaps a Tory govt seemed the best long term electoral result for the cause of independence. Now it seems likely the SNP will get around 40 seat if the Tories do win the SNP group could end up looking like the feeble forty. Working with labour gives a chance of influence and making labour look even more redundant in a Scottish context. So no more comments about red Tories instead big up a progressive alliance.

  23. MBC says:

    I think Nicola should pursue a libel case against the Telegraph. Veritas is the only defence against defamation.

    1. Alastair McIntosh says:

      Those of you trying to follow the constant developments on the Daily Telegraph website about their Sturgeon-French story, but hitting up against their paywall once you exceed a certain number of payviews (and would consider it unethical to pay for “journalism” of this type), may be interested to know that simply by accessing the site either “incognito” (Chrome), or by opening a secondary but different browser, one can continue to monitor what might be the subversion of our democracy without emptying one’s sporran into the vaults of our Imperial Masters.

      1. Mary says:

        Thanks. Very useful.

  24. davie says:


    This is the sort of guff that you may post on CIF or various other national BTLs with the hope of confusing the issue at hand and giving succour to those that want to belive, despite all the odds, in the integrity of the UK state.

    To do it on Bella just makes you look mad. I’m glad a couple hours has passed with you being totally ignored (maybe we’re all just watching The Voice final – the Jocks are even coming out top on that).

  25. Peter Arnott says:

    The idea that the SNP secretly want the Tories to win so that people in Scotland will be unhappy so that will be good for the SNP…which one hears all the time from Jim Murphy et al..isn’t cunning political caricature of your opponent so much as it’s an insight into the wish fulfillment fantasy that ScotLab occupy these days.
    They really want to believe their own caricature of the SNP as being so fanatically obsessed with constitutional change that they’d commit electoral suicide in Scotland by making a deal with the Tories. This is wishful thinking on behalf of Scottish Labour whose entire strategy on the SNP is first to pretend they didn’t exist, then to wish they didn’t exist, and finally, to beg them not to exist. None of which has gone terribly well.
    As for whodunnit…well…Thing is, whoever came up with this has to be some one who believes in the myth of the Nats being a) fanatics and b) stupid. They need to be in the government , but not Tories. (The story isn’t pro-Tory) They need to work, it seems, at the Scottish office. As well as deluded, they need to be arrogant and not very bright. Has everyone come to the same conclusion yet?

  26. robert graham says:

    apologies for my last intemperate remarks today (steam out of ears syndrome) I had meant to say McTernan will be behind this non story he has links with the Telegraph and this is the guy who is pulling dear soft spoken Jimbos strings the same guy whose opinion of the scots is as being narrow minded bigoted and racist now that is not a description Jimbo would would agree with would it now ? the same guy who was doing his best to make sure Margret Currans appearance at the invitation of one of the biggest arms manufactures table the other week remains a dirty little secret kept out of sight from the voters in the east end who she has tirelessly ignored over her entire political career well honey bye bye yer taxis waiting and we aint paying anymore live with it the same goes for all the totally useless labour mps bye bye

  27. Clootie says:

    Who was involved!

    Quite amazing timing post the debate polling. The article is launched by the Telegraph then grabbed by the Daily Mail/BBC. It appears that unionist MPs and MSPs were on standby with sound bites. The Labour tweets and posts appeared as if co-ordinated and synchronised.

    This was a full blown unionist assault with each sector playing their part in feeding their MSM.

    A return of Blue,Red and Yellow Tories working together.

    1. macart763 says:

      Yes, it does appear some coordination was involved Clootie. The main thing is that it has backfired spectacularly. What happens now is about tracking down both culprit/s and instigator/s. I don’t think there’s any doubt of both party and media collusion. Why isn’t so hard to speculate. Who and how should provide some interesting viewing.

  28. james says:

    If this was said.why was it not brought up right away.instead of leaving it till after The Debate. Think about it and then you will find that it said to tarnish the SNP support which is growing every day and even in England so I believe.

  29. Barontorc says:

    Maybe the diplomatic channel via the French will stick it to the perpetrator. Peut etre, Rhona could help out?

  30. emilytom67 says:

    It is almost certain that “black ops” are involved we are a huge threat to the “establishment” more so now that those in England are looking at things differently.I would give a lot of credence to what Craig Murray has to say,I read his book and it gives you a small glimpse of how government in these islands works and it is not very pretty be it the blue tories/red tories “a rose by any other name” applies,he comes across as a reasonably principled guy something that can,t be said about most if not all of the other “actors”

  31. By coincidence there’s just been a law past on 16/03/2015 that forbids Civil Service operatives leave to talk to anyone about confidential private business of said Civil Service-UK-branch.

    Courtesy of Conservative Cabinet Secretary Frances Maude making’ a surprise change to the civil service code requiring nearly half a million Government employees to ensure you have ministerial authorisation for contact with the media’

    Should be fun now watching the WM cabal having to exercise this new law on themselves,as the Scottish Office falls under their remit,and Carmichael is in charge of the compromised department.

    Sunday Herald states above info from an article on page 13 by Rob Edwards

    Pass the popcorn.

  32. gonzalo1 says:


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