By David Torrance
At the beginning of 2013 a leading SNP strategist said he reckoned 2012 would come to be seen as a ‘year of process’ (he meant the negotiations which led to the Edinburgh Agreement), 2013 would be the ‘year of substance’, and 2014 would, finally, be the ‘year of campaigning’. 

It was a nice way of divvying up the ‘long’ campaign, but was it an accurate summary? Well, yes and no.  While process issues dominated 2012, they were discussed alongside matters of real substance, and while 2013 saw more ‘substance’ (if UK and Scottish Government publications count as that), process still reared its complicated head from time to time. 

There was a small matter of the date, which the First Minister finally revealed as 18 September 2014 in March, producing lots of hackneyed headlines about dates with destiny.  A great believer in maintaining momentum by drip-feeding important information, it deliberately generated the impression that the Scottish Government rather than Westminster was in charge of the referendum process.

Newspaper sub-editors were also kept busy the following month when Baroness Thatcher died aged 87.  Alex Salmond, who attended the semi-state funeral in London, was deliberately low key, determined not to repeat past slips (probably Freudian) about Scots not ‘minding’ the economic side of Thatcherism so much as the social.  Interestingly, the Scottish coverage was measured in tone, a belated acknowledgement that the undeniably traumatic Thatcher era had for too long been caricatured. 

A reference to the ‘Poll Tax’, however, still found its way into the Scottish Government’s White Paper a few months later, a reminder that the political motifs of the 1980s still feature in contemporary Scottish discourse.  Many Scots like to flatter themselves that they somehow didn’t do Thatcherism, and while this is true to an extent, it’s been exaggerated to an absurd degree in the decades since Mrs Thatcher left Downing Street.  Indeed, so strong is her legacy that even independence is now envisaged in – dare I say it – Thatcherite economic terms: low tax, business friendly and entrepreneurial.  The Iron Lady would have been proud. 

Many Scots also like to believe they don’t do Euroscepticism or opposition to immigration, thus why the UKIP leader Nigel Farage got such a rough ride during a campaigning visit to Edinburgh (for, confusingly, the Aberdeen Donside by-election).  It was all a bit unedifying and no one emerged smelling of roses: the protestors were well-intentioned but puerile, Farage over-reacted (calling protestors ‘racist scum’) and Alex Salmond refused to condemn what in any other context would have been seen as intimidatory behaviour. 

Still, polls suggested around a third of Scots would vote to withdraw from the European Union, which was roughly the proportion who also wanted to leave the United Kingdom, or at least bits of it – the First Minister spent last summer talking about the ‘six unions’ of which Scotland was currently a member (monarchical, currency, social, European, political and defence), and how he wanted to retain all but the political union post-independence.  This, as the commentator Alf Young mused, made Mr Salmond ‘five-sixths a unionist’, as is Mr Farage, it’s just he wants to withdraw from the European Union and keep everything else. 

Of course polls are polls, although there was little in any of last year’s to give much comfort to Yes Scotland, which continued to trail Better Together despite a general feeling that the pro-Union campaign had overdone it a little with what the SNP generally dismissed as ‘scaremongering’.  And if Nationalists were guilty of applying that term to legitimate questions about independence as well as illegitimate (mobile phone roaming charges being the most egregious example), it didn’t seem to impact upon public opinion.

According to the US polling guru Nate Silver, who appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, the Yes campaign had ‘virtually no chance’ of winning independence unless some huge catastrophe originating in England proved to be a game-changer.  Sure, Panelbase polls appeared to show a modest drift towards Yes and away from No, but in context during 2013 there was – as Professor John Curtice articulated ad nauseam – no trend in either direction.  Yes Scotland needed to enter the ‘short’ campaign in 2014 with a ten-point lead if it was to stand any chance of winning, but as 2013 drew to a close that remained a pipe dream. 

July provided a sporting distraction with Andy Murray’s long-awaited win at Wimbledon.  Controversially, Alex Salmond celebrated in the VIP stand by producing a Saltire from his wife Moira’s handbag and waving it jauntily behind the Prime Minister.  Viewed by London-based hacks as a major miscalculation, in fact the First Minister had successfully put a ‘kilt’ on what was of course a major news story.  It reminded television viewers that Murray was a Scot as well as a ‘Brit’ and got Salmond a lot of air time the following day.  Shameless, undoubtedly, it was also quite clever, and very typically Salmond.

Otherwise during 2013 Nicola Sturgeon continued to do most of heavy lifting in terms of speeches, debate and general presentation, and she did it very well.  But it was the much-maligned Labour leader Ed Miliband who set the political weather with his annual conference speech in September, particularly his pledge to cap energy prices should his party win the 2015 general election.  Not only did this wrong-foot the Coalition, it also perturbed the Scottish Government, which initially appeared to side with energy companies before unveiling its own bill-cutting policy at its conference the following month. 

Perhaps that cut through to the proverbial man in the street, but otherwise 2013 was another year in which normal Scots (if such a thing exists) were generally too busy with their everyday lives to pay much attention to the Holyrood or Westminster bubbles inhabited by political strategists and journalists.  That said, the White Paper (finally published in November) proved a surprise hit in its hard and electronic formats (it was free), although the Great Tapestry of Scotland, a 500ft-long work of art on display at the Scottish Parliament, resulted in queues snaking round the Holyrood block. 

It’s worth bearing that in mind as the ‘year of campaigning’ begins.  Twenty-fourteen will, I suspect, also be full of the usual debates about process and substance, for it was ever thus.  Still, by this time next year we shall have a result, an answer to the question (perhaps now the wrong one) first posed almost eighty years ago when the Scottish National Party was formed in 1934.  For that reason alone it’ll be quite a year.

David Torrance is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.
He is also author of ‘Salmond – Against The Odds’ a biography of Scotland’s First Minister


Will C
2013-12-30 18:04

Re the polls David, here’s what Professor Curtice actually said on his latest blog. I’ll leave you to decide if you have got that one right.

“More importantly, the downward trend in the No vote that we highlighted when TNS BMRB’s previous poll was published has continued further. Back in August TNS BMRB put the No vote at 47%. Since then it has gradually fallen, month on month, such that, at 41% it is now six points lower than five months ago. Over the same period the Yes vote has edged up from 25% to 27%.”
2013-12-30 19:06

“Yes Scotland needed to enter the ‘short’ campaign in 2014 with a ten-point lead if it was to stand any chance of winning ..”

Sorry David, but who said (or is saying) that? It doesn’t sound right to me, but I’m no pollster.
2013-12-30 19:20

I’m a little perturbed by the use of the word “finally” (3 times in the article) almost as a way of saying it took too long or was promised earlier. Certainly that is not the case (as far as I’m aware) with the white paper which I expected in November.

Another slightly annoying assumption is that Alex Salmond should have apologised to Nigel Farage, as far as I can see AS wasn’t there. The people concerned, though accused of it were not SNP or YES supporters some who were arrested were in fact English. To take this objection one stage further I would argue why should Alex Salmond apologise when the police were at the scene and they didn’t apologise?
2013-12-30 19:35

I hope NNS didn’t pay too much for this article – I could have written it for nothing.

I’d hate to think your hard won crowd fund donations would be used to pay for any more from Mr Torrance.

[Admin – Mr Torrance will be contributing articles in the first three months of nexy year. We would be delighted to consider an article from yourself should you wish to contribute.]
2013-12-31 23:27

When I read articles by George Kerevan, Mark McNaught, Lesley Riddoch, Derek Bateman and the like, I feel I get knowledge and insightful comment (e.g. George Kerevan’s excellent article on Christian minorities in the Middle East).

My judgement of the article above has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with the overall content of the article but concerns the lack of insightful, informative comment.

Here’s a suggestion – why not ask David Torrance for an article about his views on independence, not just for Scotland but in general, starting with his definition of independence, whether or not he sees it as desirable when applied to individuals, groups, populations. Does he think the UK being independent is a good thing, and if that is the case why it might or might not be good for Scotland etc

In other words if you are going to make use of David Torrance’s skill as a writer of opinion pieces – let’s at least have something with some guts.

2013-12-30 20:07

“…despite a general feeling that the pro-Union campaign had overdone it a little with what the SNP generally dismissed as ‘scaremongering’.”

Mr Torrance omits [deliberately?] to mention the No camp’s self-definition as “Project Fear”.
John Souter
2013-12-30 20:29

It seems, were Mr Torrance a native of Ireland the referendum wouldn’t have started from where it did. In fact having started it shouldn’t have followed the route it has, nor the purpose it was set to serve to the extent it shouldn’t have started at all.

Which leaves us with erudite twaddle.
2013-12-30 20:45

David, like Michael Fry before you, you are undoubtedly an eloquent right-leaning contributor at the Herald.
However on the subject of the constitution is there a positive case for the union that you might like to present ?
The arguments for reform all seem 25 years out of date, too little too late. Westminster has no appetite to surrender any sovereignty, holding to Powell’s doctrine.
The arguments put forward just seem like desperate pleading to preserve the anachronistic UK.
In place of a positive pro union argument is a constant bitching about the SNP, Salmond & Independence, where unionists Scots are compelled to denigrate the ability & status of their own country. Quite a paradox for those on the right to accept I’d say.

If you really want a reformed union then its vote Yes for a seat at the table.
2013-12-30 20:55

Just what I expected from Mr Torrance – where is his vision for the union? Why does he just denigrate the efforts of independence supporters without counterbalancin  g with union benefits! Not for me I’m afraid!
2013-12-30 20:55

David, this is not an interesting article – you’re going to have to up your game. Bland, middle of the road comments which largely reach no conclusion and it’s difficult to understand why you spend more time mentioning Salmond rather than taking a good look at the negativity surrounding the No campaign, and why. Poor stuff.
2013-12-30 22:18

but otherwise 2013 was another year in which normal Scots (if such a thing exists)

I would think that most Scots are “normal”.

Are only those that support No the normal ones. Or is there an explanation for your supposition?
Jo Bloggs
2013-12-31 10:47

Thepnr, I think what David Torrance is driving at is the idea that to designate somone as a ‘normal Scot’ could be seen as condenscending. We’re all individuals, after all. Viewed thus, the concept of a ‘normal’ anything is something of a sociological chimera.

2013-12-30 22:46

C’mon you guys, gie the laddie a chance! He’s no been written for NNS afore although some of his stuff has been on the site. A few months o’ oor comments will maybe help him see things differently afore September! We will be expecting answers to the questions raised and he cannae dae what the rest o’ the Noes dae an jist ignore them.
2013-12-30 23:01

The first piece from Mr Torrance is pure run of the mill pick & mix scottish media blurb. There is absolutely nothing ground breaking or insightful. Is this supposed to be erudite commentary?
Largely factless opinion and not very thought provoking, sorry – must try harder.

Does Mr Torrance care to opine on the BBC manipulation Story ?

Perhaps a piece delving into the funding issues of both camps ?
2013-12-30 23:23

About 6 months ago I registered with you gov where you were asked various questions about what party you supported. I said I am a SNP member .I have been asked to complete many surveys mainly to do with newspapers I do not read and TV showsI do not watch.I have not been asked my opinion on Scottish politics that is why I do not consider the polls a true reflection and I am confident of a Yes vote next September
2013-12-31 07:21

Me too – and I have been on their panel for several years but cannot remember the last time I was included in a political poll regarding Indpendence.

As YouGov know exactly where their panel members’ political sympathies lie it is easy for them to select panels for individual polls that will reflect the views desired by those (usually Unionists) commissioning the particular poll.

One only has to look at the Comments on the on-line Scotsman, Herald and Record together with the broadcast debates in particular the audience reactions thereon to see that the polls are rigged and that in no way do they reflect the way the wind is blowing.

As regards Torrance becoming a more or less official NNS writer a good comment was made above – namely that he will or should now be compelled to answer any points brought up by those commenting on his articles.

2013-12-30 23:29

A reasonable summary of the campaign thus far, Mr Torrance. I think it is to the good that you have stepped into the fray here at NNS. I say this only becuase I think it is important that undecided voters deserve to hear both sides of the referendum debate. Given that Cameron, Darling and Better Together have no particular desire (for strategic purposes naturally) to enter into open debate or to present the case for the Union then it seems that ‘poisoned chalice’ has fallen upon your shoulders. Don’t mean to burden you.

Debate is good. We can all learn from it. No one should sleep-walk into anything. With your contribution here on NNS, I sincerely hope that come voting day next year, we will all be better informed of BOTH sides of the debate and, as such, will be better able to make an informed decision.

Good luck to you.
2013-12-31 00:26


I would love to reply to you but I do not have enough characters available to do so.

In order to provide satisfactory answers to a lengthy and rambling article I would need at least 3k characters. You’ll have to debate on your own.

Pity, really, it might have been interesting.
G. P. Walrus
2013-12-31 00:51

Why should Alex Salmond have been ashamed at waving the Saltire to celebrate Murray’s victory?
2013-12-31 06:16

A little bewildered by much of this piece especially the final para reference to the Question! This perceived introduction of negativity relating to the question is a little unwelcome and the motivation behind it puzzles me.
Peter A Bell
2013-12-31 07:25

We can always rely on David Torrance to present the cosy consensus of the unionist media. Fresh insights and acute analysis have no place in such a project.
2013-12-31 08:25

A reasonable summary of the campaign thus far,as portrayed by the media.Who are an integral part of the NO campaign.Infact,they are the NO campaign at the moment.Nearer the poll,NO will pay people to deliver leaflets.Labour activists won’t do it because once they get immersed in the debate they tend to move to YES.A great big chunk of the NO vote is as soft as butter.Thats worth looking into.
2013-12-31 09:27

Not particularly objectionable, although I fail to see why a pro-union voice is given air time here – isn’t complete dominance of the mainstream media and the state broadcaster enough of an advantage that we somehow have to be even handed here?

The only point which I disagree with is the representation of Ed Miliband – far from placing anyone on the back foot with an energy “policy”, he is a nobody – the wrong brother – saying nothing of consequence, and achieving nothing over than a tory/ukip government for the UK in 2016. The price cap nonsense is not a policy, it was a gesture… as is the giant shoulder shrug that it caused in the population. Miliband is an empty suit.
2013-12-31 09:45

“generated the impression that the Scottish Government rather than Westminster was in charge of the referendum process.”

Come off it, David. The SG decided to have a referendum (delivering a manifesto commitment), decided the question, decided the date, decided the franchise and legislated for these. Who do you think is in charge?
2013-12-31 09:46

In every poll to date the great unknown has been those who declare themselves undecided. The drift has been from NO to UNDECIDED and positive gains made by YES. For the length of this campaign to date many a media source has lumped the undecided in with the firm no vote. With the aforementioned drift from firm no to undecided this is beginning to look like a grave miscalculation on the part of the media.

Could it be that undecided meant just that? Could it be that since there has been a significant drift from no that their fear and uncertainty agenda is beginning to stumble and fall? Certainly the YES vote has remained rock solid and perhaps, just perhaps people are becoming more open to listening to a more positive narrative of their country’s future.

Have a good new years all and all the very best to NNS.
call me dave
2013-12-31 10:14

Much raking over the coals in this article and a bit like the curate’s egg.

Nine months to go, will Mr Torrance lay his cards on the table before then or keep laying a false trail, anticipating that mythical jam tomorrow?

Sweet an sour in the Herald.
2013-12-31 10:23

David Torrance is part of a Unionist triumvirate along with Kenneth Roye and Alf Young. I am certain they meet often for soup and a cucumber sandwich.
However I think it right that NNS offer a platform to such views.
They have provoked an excellent response judging from the comments sofar.
It is a pity that Mr Torrance is not given the opportunity to respond to comment as happens on other blogs whilst they are still warm.
2013-12-31 10:28

I think a few of the comments have been ridiculously harsh simply because Mr Torrence hasn’t said everything they might wish to hear.

The simple fact is that David Torrence is a well-respected and well-known commentator in Scottish political circles; his inclusion to the NNS team will hardly hurt the profile of the site, and in fact will help to further legitimise the endeavour, especially to those who might seek to dismiss NNS as, ‘that online pretendy wee journalism thing’.

The article was a summary of the year, and it did exactly what it said on the tin. Taking umbrage with the language used being less than fervently pro-nationalist is hardly the point. I think David will have plenty to offer in the coming months and look forward to his next contribution.
Peter A Bell
2013-12-31 10:45

You say that the article was a “summary of the year” as if all that was presented was a time-line of events. Not so. What we were offered was not a neutral summary but an account from a particular perspective. A perspective which I would characterise as representing a synthesis of everything that is deplorable about the biased “Scottish” media and the ill-informed London media.

The only thing Torrance adds is his sneering contempt for Scotland and an over-egged pose of world-weary cynicism that he imagines will come across as metropolitan sophistication.

His analysis is vacuous. His writing is vapid. His insights are non-existent.

His name is David TorrAnce. And he is not exempt from criticism.
2013-12-31 11:20

Well I didn’t expect an account without any perspective.

Peter, I do enjoy your contributions and commentary on a variety of media – but I think people are getting a bit too worked up about this one. The way you are portraying Mr Torrance (thanks for the correction) is a bit over the top.
2013-12-31 11:35

Im with you on this Peter – and said so on inoffensive posts which did not apaear from earlier. I thought we might just get a more considered view from Mr Torrance (than normal) on this site and insight of erudite analysis through the fog of the usual Scottish press blurb but no.

Why do mainstream newspaper journalists refuse / avoid getting their teeth into the meatier No Campaign issues ??

Is it such a no go area –

Bias of BBC
Vitol & various new BT donations
United with Laboue (a success story ??)
Westminster reports (unbiassed ??)
Peter A Bell
2013-12-31 14:46

Good point about “meatier No Campaign issues”. But I suspect further comment from me on this matter will not be welcome.

2013-12-31 10:28

NNS. A mistake giving this man a place to air his anti Independence views.
The same man blocked me on twitter for disagreeing with his views.
2013-12-31 10:38

Early days, but this isn’t up to the usual standard of NNS. Lost interest half way through.
2013-12-31 10:50

OK, Can’t resist and this will take some time….

David, I’m not quite sure what you are trying to say here. Are you complaining that it is a long campaign? It would also seem obvious that both process and substance will co-exist throughout the campaign. Is that a bad thing? And so what if the SNP managed to “deliberately generate the impression” that this IS Scotland’s referendum. It is not westmister’s referendum. Is that what you are complaining about?

You seem to be trying to drip feed us the line that Margaret Thatcher wasn’t so bad. To my mind there is no substance to that. She was every bit as bad and worse.

2013-12-31 11:01

I really really enjoyed Derek Bateman’s article. I am a big fan I love his style of writing. Powerful stuff.

Not so keen on this article I got to the bit that said ‘Many Scots also like to believe’ and gave up.
2013-12-31 11:05

You were only a wee boy of 2 years old when she became Prime Minister of Britain. You have never known anything but the Britain that was unfortunate enough to have that harridan in power. I lived through the years when she destroyed lives, families and communities. I saw the rise of the greed culture that is now eating the precious United Kingdom from the inside. I didn’t want it then and I don’t want it now.

I’m not sure what exactly you are trying to say about Europe. Perhaps you should go and read some of Derek Bateman’s blogs to see what a journalist with experience makes of it.


[Admin – We would politely ask that you do not post a series of messages in this fashion. If you would like to challenge Mr Torrance’s views in an extensive piece then please submit it to the site for review.]
2013-12-31 11:09

I’m not convinced that all those who contribute to the support of Newsnet, will be best pleased at this use of financial resources?

The breath of fresh air that is Newsnet may become tainted by Mr Torrance’s views which are clearly coming from his Ultra-Unionist leanings. Not too many people who spot an arsonist pouring petrol on their garden shed, go out to offer him a box of matches?

The debate is so strong and well-reasoned, on this site, that it is completely unnecessary to pay someone who consistently presents heavily weighted arguments in support of the Unionists. Still, I expect that some will disagree, and that is the beauty of this site; unpaid comments are given every opportunity to show their support for the Unionist argument.
2013-12-31 11:20

As for Nigel Farage, as someone else rightly pointed out his “rough reception” had nothing to do with the SNP or the Yes campaign, so other than trying to muddy waters over some sort of implied bigotry or xenophobia I’m not sure what you are trying to say. Maybe you can enlighten me. Cont…

You place a lot of store in “the polls” just as the MSM does. Polls are as much a tool of the state as the MSM is. They are used to convince people that they are “thinking right”, that they are one of the crowd, that they are not alone. That they are in the majority. It was done right up until the last Scottish election. It did not work. The people of Scotland chose otherwise and they will do so again come the referendum.
2013-12-31 11:23

This article reeks of bitterness and the predictable unionist girning we have come to expect from the Salmond haters and baiters. It has added precisely nothing to the sum of human knowledge. Batemans last article on the EU was thought provoking and challenging.

The two MEPs mentioned were directly challenged on Twitter to answer the question he has put to them. As yet they have not had the moral fiber to step out of the Twitter bubble and expose them selves to open debate from an open letter. The Unionist way is to ignore questions and block those who ask them. You only have to ask Torrance a reasonable question on Twitter to have him block you. The same happens on the BT site and many other failed unionist web sites. Labour Hame, Tory Hoose. Hilarious couthy wee names, and nothing else. The independence of Scotland is inevitable, Torrance knows that.
2013-12-31 11:25

I’ve donated in the past to NNS.You have done some great work however no more donations to pay for unionist writers. I can get that through the MSM.
2013-12-31 11:38

Scots have often been told they had ‘virtually no chance’ of winning…well, anything. We’ve often proved the naysayers wrong. It wil be the same come the referendum. Any number of American “polling gurus” can come over and tell us we’re losing in the polls. It does not mean a thing.

Then we jump to Andy Murray and Eck’s “shameless” waving of a Saltire when a Scot wins Wimbledon. I’d have “shamelessly” waved a Saltire too had I been there. I’m guessing you wouldn’t, I’m guessing you’d have been waving a Union flag “shamelessly”. Well, like to tell me?

[Admin – We again would politely ask that you do not post a series of messages in this fashion. If you would like to challenge Mr Torrance’s views in an extensive piece then please submit it to the site for review.]
2013-12-31 11:51

Thatcher has been caricatured for too long? Are you kidding? I’m with X_Sticks when it comes to the ‘Iron’ Lady. It was the plundering of Scotland’s oil wealth which paid for her ‘economic miracle’, and we haven’t even begun to test the depth of those dark waters.

I’m ‘kind of’ onside with NNS regarding dialogue with a Unionist. When all comments are firmly YES, it’s just not healthy. Becoming a bastion of YES ideology might be great for morale, but we don’t want to become a members only clubhouse. We should keep our eyes on the prize, and that means recruiting undecided voters, and that requires someone to articulate what Unionism actually means.

Torrance isn’t here to agree with us, but we are very much here to disagree with him, and by doing so constructively, we expose how weak the case for Unionism actually is. It is that debate which will inform public opinion. Don’t tell me, show me – then let me make up my own mind.
2013-12-31 11:57

One thing you sure got right was “she did it very well”. Damned by faint praise indeed. She debated the pants off two ‘Secretarys of State for Scotland’. I look forward to seein you on the same platform with her. That will be enjoyable. I’m sure you’re looking forward to that one. Or maybe not. Ed Milliband? Setting the political weather? You’re having a laugh now, aren’t you? Either that or you really have got rose tinted specs on.

You seem surprised that a White Paper outlining a possible future for the country of Scotland should be a “hit”, even if it is free. I find that quite telling.
2013-12-31 12:05

The decision to get David Torrance to present his opinion really has not garnered popular acclaim – so suggest it be reconsidered, or at least appears as a topic alongside a counter-balance piece by some other notable commentator.

What clearly irks is the platform offered to espouse views which are not NNS’s usual direction of travel and as others point out, this is something already given saturation global coverage by the anti-independence media.

Whilst press freedom is one thing, it’s quite strange to see it also featured by NNS and what really is the point?
2013-12-31 12:13

I think you think you are clever because you’ve managed to research a couple of books. From what I have seen you lack enough experience to be trying to tell anyone else what to think. Perhaps you just worked with (the lonely) David Mundell too long.

I don’t think you are adding anything of value to the debate, but I will await your next article with interest. I hope further input to NNS is of a much higher quality. I would not be happy with my money being used to fund such poor fare.

I also call on NNS to change their moderation policy. If we are going to have to read stuff like this from Torrence without the tools to debate/refute then I am afraid I will have to withdraw my support.
2013-12-31 12:14

In crude terms,two thirds of Scots don’t really feel very British at all.Two thirds want rid of trident,which only seems possible with independence.Two thirds want a progressive welfare system/society which is not on offer from London parties.Two thirds want to be a part of the EU,in contrast to noises from the South.Yet two thirds say they’ll vote NO according to a lot of opinion polls.I call it the two thirds conundrum.I would be very interested to hear Mr Torrance’s opinion on why this apparent anomaly exists.Perhaps he could address it in his next article.Im looking forward to a wee bit more analysis and opinion from him amongst his commentary.
2013-12-31 12:42

Admin – We again would politely ask that you do not post a series of messages in this fashion. If you would like to challenge Mr Torrance’s views in an extensive piece then please submit it to the site for review

What is the point in having comments at all then? Why should my response require “review”? I’m not writing an article, I’m responding to an article. There is a difference.

I really think NNS needs to take a look at their policy or what was a pillar of the independence campaign is going to fail.
2013-12-31 12:57

I’m trying to keep an open mind on this one which looks to be the most commented article on NNS for some time; click bait perhaps.

Maybe the strategy is to attract readers from the author’s usual outlets, and for them to linger, to read the comments and then to feast on other articles.

Or maybe it’s to show that we’re all grown up and balanced and willing to embrace views from all sides. If there’s to be more from Mr Torrance in the next few months I’m hoping for a sharp increase in quality, should I decide to read what he has to say. Not overly impressed so far.
2013-12-31 13:03

x sticks,
The mods are asking you to make your comments a bit shorter.I think that’s fair enough.And they’re offering you the chance to write a fuller piece if you want.Thats very reasonable.
2013-12-31 13:25

Yes, mealer, I do understand, but you can’t properly refute some of the nonsense in the Torrence article in a short post.

I don’t want to write an article, I don’t claim to be a journalist. I do want a comments function that allows proper debate. Don’t forget that NNS started because of the draconian moderation at the BBC.

[Admin – Newsnet Scotland was set up in frustration at the lack of balance that existed within the Scottish media. The internet allows each of us to say what we want through blogs and websites.

On this site you are encouraged to contribute as a citizen journalist and have your views published. You need only to be able to articulate your points in a clear and concise manner for it to be considered.]
2013-12-31 14:02

It was set up by Alex Porter in his frustration with the BBC. I was there.

I may be encouraged to contribute as a citizen journalist, but I am not encouraged to contribute as a commenter?

[Admin – The creator of Newsnet Scotland is still very much part of this team and it most certainly wasn’t who you say it was. As someone who knows the story of how Newsnet Scotland came about, I can assure you that you were not there.]

2013-12-31 13:06

Oh dear! I read this in the hope of a substantive contribution to the debate from someone who is not persuaded by independence. What do I get? Salmond had the temerity to wave a Saltire at Wimbledon. Worthy of inclusion? Yes; if you wish to perpetuate the crafty, dodgy, untrustworthy character as portrayed by unionists of all persuasions when referring to our FM. Bit of a Jack the lad that Salmond. Unfortunately for the British establishment, not a union Jack the lad. Touch of the tricky Dicky about him too. You remember tricky Dicky don’t you? Cameron’s recent “joke” that he wouldn’t share a drink with our FM, as he’d have to check his wallet afterwards, not only insults Salmond, it insults us all. Please David, (Torrance and Cameron) in future, try to rise above the personality attacks. We need better contributions from your side. Efforts that don’t rely on the tribal or personal.
2013-12-31 13:29

You know if we are going to win this thing we are going to have to engage with people who do not agree with us in a persuasive rather than confrontational fashion.
We do need to change minds, we can’t win with just the people who support us now. So we have to be able to win the argument without alienating the person that we are trying to bring round to our way of thinking.
2013-12-31 13:30

I personally think that the inclusion of a unionist voice here at NNS is very important and some people here need to cool their jets a bit. How many of us complain about the one-sided, biased nature of the MSM in Scotland?

We should remember that we are not complaining that the MSM, by and large, present unionist voices denigrating independence (rather than presenting their own positive case for the union)but that they mostly fail to offer a platform to those supporting independence to air their perspective. In other words, we want our MSM to be balanced and it irks us that it is not.

NNS is attempting to do what the MSM in Scotland SHOULD be doing and by doing that I think will help produce a better level of debate from both sides and, hopefully, will drive the readership of NNS upwards. It is then up to those of us who support independence to present that case and to show why the union is past its sell-by date.
2013-12-31 13:45

Like you, I don’t have a problem with the inclusion of a Unionist point of view on NNS. It could make for healthy debate which I don’t have a problem with.

I do have a problem in that the writer of the article has free rein without constriction while we who are commenting are severely restricted in our answers.

2013-12-31 13:38

Sad to be proven right with this….utter drivel from start to finish. This is doing nothing but alienating loyal readers and supporters. At the moment I feel cheated that I helped fund this and I will not do so again if NS persists with giving unionists a platform to regurgitate the garbage we get on the BBC & from every other MSM outlet in the country.
2013-12-31 13:43

I thought that bringing David Torrance onto NNS might be a good way to bring some of those who would not normally have come to the site for a look. However, it will take articles with more invention and insight than this one brings to better illuminate the way forward.

Perhaps something to investigate and offer insight into the thinking of those moving from No to DK or to critique the strenghts and weaknesses of each of the Campaigns … since the assertion was that would be the focus for 2014.

And to finish with “Still, by this time next year we shall have a result, an answer to the question (perhaps now the wrong one) first posed almost eighty years ago when the Scottish National Party was formed in 1934.” is pretty bland and obvious. Apart from an unexplored expression that the Question is wrong, and ignores all those Scots who asked it from the Edinburgh Riots onwards. I hope for better next year.
2013-12-31 13:54

Suppose this is what NNS wanted all along, lots of posts on Torrrance articles.

But if its the same guff in the press whats the point.

Surely Torrance can defend the union square on without having a go at Salmond etc.

He should take a damn good look at No Campaign style, funding, direction, BT campaign and link to Schools via teachers, (is this balanced with YES Scotland material ?) changes in Scottish Sec etc, but no stay with the cosy same old stuff.

OK then David – Defend what you love best

Defend Thatcher years, Trident in Scotland, Bedroom Tax, UK taking EU Agricultural funding, Lack of Oil fund, Afghan & Iraq wars, Olympics funding, Londons relentless infrastructure funding, HS2 etc.

We’re all ears – but dont expect an easy ride like the Herald & Scotsman.
Training Day
2013-12-31 14:01

The inclusion of the usual unsupported assertions firmly grounded in Mr Torrance’s blinkered and hackneyed Unionist perspective is damaging NNS. Why should anyone fund the site to read what they can read any and every day in the MSM?
2013-12-31 14:05

I hope that 2014 is not the year of the campaign, but the year of searching and questioning and challenging debate into “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.

The definition of Campaign: An operation or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose.

Campaigning is to me an attempt to influence with no guarantee of a substantive or truthful base. As the Yes response is good across the whole political spectrum, we should be able to have a grown-up debate about the Scotland we want to build and then the decision about how we get there is simple.
call me dave
2013-12-31 15:22

Oh dear! NNS have alienated a few folk with this initiative it seems.

How can Mr Torrance say one thing in public (Herald) and then say another thing in public (NNS), is he trying Labour party tactics? Surely , unlike Labour,his message will be the same!

Maybe the Herald will swing towards a YES vote in the near future but it is unlikely.

I am a small monthly contributor to a few YES sites and will keep supporting them to the end and beyond if need be. So I’ll sample the Torrance medicine for a while.

Meanwhile here’s a lassie who’s not too feart or stupid to believe the ‘Labour will save us’ rubbish.
2013-12-31 16:05

A definite mistake by NNS in publishing this article, and I hope you take on board the many comments. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many admin messages on one post.

What can we expect next – a platform for Alistair Carmichael or Ian Davidson?
2013-12-31 18:52

Quoting BillDunblane:

A definite mistake by NNS in publishing this article…

To refer to the simple publication of an article as a “mistake” for the reasons people are listing in these comments shows how incredibly small-minded and childish many of the posters here are.

Mr. Torrance has a view that disagrees with yours, and several others. His article reflects that. Is it poorly written? No. Are there any errors in it? None that I can see. In what sense then, is it a “mistake” to publish? Because the views do not chime with a self-impressed clique of Newsnet Scotland readers?

If articles like this are all it takes for people to cry foul and behave like children, demanding censorship of articles and ideas that they don’t like, then bring on MUCH MORE of them.

However many it takes, infact, for these voices to be driven elsewhere. They are a liability and will damage the credibility of the Yes campaign with their nonsense.


2013-12-31 16:33

Arguably slightly O/T, today Genevans are celebrating the bicentenary of the restored Republic of Geneva, which was occupied by France during the revolutionary wars.

Perhaps less O/T, in 1815 it chose to delegate some functionality to the Swiss Confederation, which now has 26 “owner” Cantons where real power lies. Switzerland now represents the ultimate form of Devo-Max, which everyone seems to agree would have been favourite to win next September had not Westminster insisted on one Yes/No question.

Mr Torrance’s articles elsewhere suggest he may not be against Holyrood having real powers, so I wonder if he would tell us how he thinks Devo-Max could ever come about with an unreformed Westminster and how he thinks Westminster could ever reform itself enough to make such an outcome possible.
Early Ball
2013-12-31 17:07

I must admit I am surprised at some of the comments. One positive in having an article with a different viewpoint is that the article can be debated and hopefully taken apart in the comments.
Fraser Nelson’s ill-informed piece in the Spectator was completely rubbished in the first comment.

I personally would not have taken this course of action but who am I to criticise the guys who run this site. They have done a great job and have taken risks. Some work some don’t but they are trying their best and should be applauded.
2013-12-31 19:00

I bought this mans book, ( Salmond against the odds ) and all I got out of it was, for every little word of praise for Alex Salmond, there was a negative, or complete put down, I actually wondered if he were a unionist. After reading his piece above I am even more assured he is.

Everything he writes has little digs throughout, the book on the white paper was a massive success in uptake. But only because it was FREE is more or less what he says. I do not see this man being an asset to NNS.

However, I believe it is only right that he is allowed a platform here, as this is our main grievance with the MSM, they do not allow us pro- Independence our point of view. At least here, we are allowed to reply to him.
He can’t block us as he does on twitter when he is asked a question, he obviously likes to dish it from what I have seen, but he sure as hell can’t take it. Well here, he will have to accept that he will be challenged on everything he writes.
Ian Brotherhood
2013-12-31 19:31

Mr Torrance should be congratulated on entering the lion’s den – he would not have done so unless he has a positive case for the preservation of the UK.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of it in this article. Maybe next time?
2013-12-31 19:43

Will C first post in corrected the Polls overview from Curtice, just to emphaises that though small, it does show a trend of the NO vote coming down.

I don’t mind a Unionist leaning journalist posting, even to put a case up for the Union, but this article was disappointing in its addressing of trivia. More bite next article please.
2013-12-31 20:47

b]wow what a reaction! I regularly canvass and seize every opportunity to inform my friends family and work colleagues of the very real benefits of Indy and never fail to point out the potential cost to Scotland and Scots of a No Vote. I enjoy sharing posts in a framework where negativity toward Independence has been absent. Admin I am not convinced that the development of a different type of forum is a move that should be pursued. Until now I have found NNS an inspiration an oasis away from the usual mainstream propaganda and endless negativity. By effectively allowing infiltration by a pundit who regularly fails to articulate or inspire a positive vision of INDY is not welcome and in my opinion dilutes the effectiveness of NNS. For me that is –
Informing the debate in a positive way. the online equivalent of the ”Scots Independent” .
2014-01-01 01:13

Did not read anything new or different in this DT article from anything he has written in the past. Same obscure assertion with no clear critical or alternative response.
He needs to up his game as a serious political commentator if he wants to be taking seriously.

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