Monday, 6 February 2017

Dispatches From Daisley

Last week saw a story break about a politician’s attempt to remove a high ranking journalist from his position.  The story about the former Prime Minister’s lobbying of Associated Newspapers in his attempt to remove Paul Dacre from his role as Daily Mail editor sounded very familiar to Scottish ears.  However, Cameron’s failure to have Dacre’ removed from his post is not the only difference from the Daisley affair. With great irony, this affair blew up again at the weekend when the Daily Mail unveiled their new columnist as the former STV head of Digital Content.

Someone from central casting, yesterday.
Cameron’s attempted removal of Dacre was founded solely on a mutual enmity between the two.  Dacre’s loathing of Cameron began with the setting up of Leveson inquiry, while Cameron’s dislike stems from the treatment his government received from such a guttersnipe.  Events, motive and even momentum are clear – this is a story with limited legs given that David Cameron no longer enjoys a position within the UK’s poltical hierarchy.  The same cannot be said about the alleged ‘silencing’ of Wings and Spanner fanboy Daisley – surely the only person in the country to like both ‘personalities’.

Perceived wisdom dictates that the SNP MP’s John Nicholson & Peter Wishart both raised concerns about some of Daisley’s output to his bosses at STV.  One could surmise, if they weren’t in the mood for research, that Daisley’s more SNP critical output would have been the centre of the two MP’s concerns.  That Daisley then, firstly disappeared from STV’s website and then parted company with STV raised the hackles of pretend concerned citizens.  People like J K Rowling and the Observer’s Nick Cohen (writing in The Spectator...), who firmly believe that Daisley was the victim of some vile ‘nat’ plot to silence him.  If only Daisley hadn’t previously shown himself to possess, shall we say unfashionable views.

We could start with his fanboy style patronage of a certain Bath based pro-Scottish Independence website, culminating with a slot guest editing the blog for a day.  We could also include his patronage of the ‘Brian Spanner’ twitter page.  If you’ve never come across this fictitious character, he’s Wings for a pro-Union audience with much more explicitly misogynistic language. And that’s saying something.  It’s likely that it was Daisley’s re-tweeting of one of Spanner’s more off colour rants, while logged in under the STV banner, which sealed his fate rather than some pieces criticising the SNP government. 

The thing that we should be concentrating on however is Daisley’s pro-Israel views, his tweets and his columns in the last weeks of his tenor at STV were undoubtedly written through this filter.  If we were to go back far enough, this gives his ‘Hunky Jim’ tweets a new angle.  The ‘Jim’ being the former Eastwood Labour MP and former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.  Murphy, it shouldn’t be forgotten is a member of the right wing transatlantic think tank the Henry Jackson Society and has previously expressed pro-Israel views firmly in line with US foreign policy on the subject.  Rather than cutesy ‘man crush’ tweets, the ‘Hunky Jim’ tweets look more like appreciation of a kindred spirit.

The absurd thing about the Daisley thing for me is that I’d had Daisley pegged as a one eyed ‘Wings’ acolyte…  but that was before the A Thousand Flowers piece outing Daisley as a self confessed Zionist.  On close inspection of that and Daisley’s subsequent output you’d find cause for concern & complaint if you resided on the left of the Scottish political spectrum.  The SNP, to all intents and purposes look to be big enough and ugly enough to brush off any criticisms, even if some of their supporters seem a tad thin skinned if the use of the #SNPbad hashtag is anything to go by.  The Scottish Green’s on the other hand maybe not, and might have suffered from Daisley’s targeting of their equalitarian and pro-life agenda.

The Daisley affair would have been seen as yet another embarrassing episode of London based media types looking at something happening here and getting the wrong end of the stick.  Even Private Eye managed to print the story and go for the ‘opinion writer silenced by dastardly Nats’ angle rather than the ‘opinion writer loses the plot’ angle, which is more likely to have happened.  If memory serves he kind of lost it about the time of Labour’s supposed anti-Semitic period.  That really should have been that for someone with an interesting world view.  However, like the wronged party in a breakup, Daisley has brought this episode up again.  It seems somehow fitting that his new home is the Daily Mail.  Maybe Daisley swapped tips with his new editor on how to survive political interference….

On reading the piece, it reads more like the petulant ranting of a teenager.  Lashing out at his former employers at Pacific Quay, Cosgrove’s description of Daisley on Radio Scotland as a troll seems apt as his future targets are gently lined up alongside his previous favourite subjects.  This early on, you can tell that Daisley has been signed up with the sole function of destroying ‘Civic Scotland’ with the Third Sector being lined up as Daisley’s initial targets.  Maybe Dacre’s hatred of anything Cameronian spills over to our Third Sector, which looks not a million miles away from Cameron’s vision of the ‘Big Society’. Whatever the motivation, Daisley’s appointment looks like the foundation stone to a full cheerleading role for the Daily Mail in what looks likely to be a tilt at Bute House for Ruth Davidson.

However it’s not that Daisley’s piece doesn’t raise questions, these are the same issues that anyone with a brain can identify without the patronage Daisley enjoys.  In particular the SNP’s conservative policy positions and the lack of radical policy making from any of our political parties.  Daisley’s problem is what has gone before.  In criticising the SNP, he airbrushes from history his own love in with Stuart Campbell.  Maybe if Daisley was serious, his first piece should have been a fulsome apology for his arslikahn pieces fulsomely supporting Wings and a musing over what Campbell did with the money he raised through crowd funding.

Like everything else here in Scotland, a complicated thing like the Daisley Affair was brutally simplified through the prism of post-referendum politics.  There is no other version of events allowed than either that he was the victim of a ‘Nat’ plot or that he espoused anti-government views unbefitting of his position as an editor.  There is more to this than meets the eye.  However, now that this story is back, Daisley has decided to go with the legend of being silenced as part of a vast conspiracy. Probably to huge cheers from his celebrity fans and certainly to the detriment of the facts.

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