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Monday, 14 March 2011

The Sunday Post and Lorraine Davidson

The Sunday Post yesterday carried a piece on page 12, encouragingly headlined ‘The SNP are still smiling and ready for the battle to begin’.  This temporarily brought a smile to my face, especially in the light of the positive, objective reporting elsewhere in the paper. That is, until I read the byline for the report, which was clearly meant to be news and not an opinion piece.

It was written by Lorraine Davidson, former spin doctor to Jack McConnell, biographer of the same Labour Leader and former First Minister entitled ‘Lucky Jack’, and who might reasonably described as having very strong past and current links to the Labour Party in Scotland.

But Lorraine has returned to her former profession of journalist, and I am sure would like to be seen as an objective knowledgeable political commentator on Scottish politics, free from bias, and not still in the grip of old loyalties.

But perhaps you can judge for yourself whether she has approached this admirable ideal, from her first seven paragraphs in an article which, I repeat, was presented as objective political comment.

Sunday Post page 12, March 13th 2011

The SNP faithful gathered in Glasgow this weekend for their final conference before facing the electorate.

Alex Salmond’s party are behind in the polls, they’ve broken many of their promises and at the end of a term in government they’ve made little progress towards convincing voters they’d be better off in an independent Scotland.

If that sounds like a disastrous set of circumstances in which to go into an election, it appears nobody has told Mr. Salmond and his followers.

If nothing else, the nationalists are up for the fight ahead.

The economic circumstances have dictated this election can’t be won through bribery.

The SNP have tried to use the downturn to craft a message which gives the impression they are on the side of hard-up voters.

From freezing council tax bills to promising to continue free higher education, the SNP want voters to believe the party is on their side.

The above sounds to me like the kind of  piece that could have been written by a Labour spin doctor, or even Andy Kerr, which I’m sure is not the kind of impression an objective political journalist, or even the Editor of The Sunday Post wants to create.

But I am absolutely certain that it wasn’t written by either of them - not even they would have been so unsubtle.

No, this is Lorraine’s own work, and she must look on it and reflect, especially on the high standards set by some other Scottish journalists, and perhaps draw some valuable lessons from their work.


  1. Peter, there is a bit of a gulf opening up which is going to make life for these pro-labour journalists a wee bit dodgy if their allegiances are held against them come independence in Scotland.

    Why are they so subjective - it is in neither their professional nor personal interests to do so.

    Even they must think it's a gamble with their future at stake.

    Freedom of thought and speech is laudable but to act like a professional lemming - seems to be an act of loyalty quite beyond the pale.

    Coral are making Alex Salmond 100-30 to be FM and not even quoting a price for Iain Gray!

  2. I have no objection to her saying such things in a comment piece - in today's Herald, Andrew McKie mounts a sad frontal attack on the SNP and the First Minister, but it is opinion, which he has a right to.

    What I object to is opinion pieces being presented as objective political analysis and reporting, and that is how Lorraine's piece struck me.

    The Coral odds are good news - the bookies usually get it right. But Labour voters are a dogged bunch - I know, I was one for 50 years.

  3. Lorraine Davidson's pieces in the Sunday Post and Sunday Times are always of this ilk. She is still very much a Labourite and yet to behave like a real journalist.