Frogs and scorpions

Stewart McDonald says he was “pissed off” at the ‘war on cybernats’ headline which The Herald slapped onto Neil Mackay’s ‘exclusive’. Alyn Smith says he’s unhappy with the way the story was “framed”. All of which serves only to emphasise the appalling naivety of these leading figures in the SNP. The Herald was always going to put a provocative headline on an article which had no purpose other than to provoke. And the article was always going to be “framed” in the way it was, because that is the framing which achieves the kind of sensationalism that Mackay was aiming for.

Experienced politicians should have known this. They should have been aware that the whole ‘online abuse’ shtick is a contrivance of the British state’s propaganda machine. They should have instantly recognised a Unionist bandwagon and avoided it like the proverbial plague instead of jumping on it with such alacrity.

Perhaps they were reassured by the fact that it was Neil Mackay they were speaking to. If they thought at all before shooting their mouths off, maybe they assumed they could trust a declared supporter of Scotland’s independence cause. Somebody should acquaint them with the tale of the scorpion and the frog.

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

Mackay may be pro-independence, but he’s certainly a journalist trying to make a living writing for the mainstream British media. And they don’t pay for articles thoughtfully dismantling and artfully reframing well-established British Nationalist tropes.

A journalist manipulating a politician’s words is as unsurprising as a scorpion stinging a frog.

And let us not forget that Alyn Smith, Stewart McDonald and Angus Robertson represent a party which has far more reason than most to be constantly aware of the need to control the message. If, as seems evident, that need is not being forcefully impressed on those in a position to speak for the SNP, then somebody in the party is failing abysmally at their job.


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