by Colin Campbell
HAVING sparked a national debate on pensions which has thrown Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP on the defensive, we feel we’re on a bit of a roll.
Whether Inverness MP Drew Hendry feels the same way, we do not know. But we’d guess, probably not.
But at least we’ve attracted plenty publicity for his podcasts. Maybe he should be thanking us.
The furore over who would pay Scots their pensions after independence, in the highly unlikely event that that ever happens, erupted across the media yesterday in the papers, on TV and on radio. The row, moderately to seriously damaging to the SNP, continues.
At First Minister’s Questions, SNP liar in chief Nicola Sturgeon was thrown on the back foot after being challenged on it by Conservative leader Douglas Ross.
This stemmed directly from articles which appeared in Inverness news and views in December and January.
And we couldn’t have done it without Drew Hendry.
On December 17 we reported on a podcast interview he had on his Twitter site with Ian Blackford. The cake lover is both a national embarrassment and a figure of fun. But he’s also in the very top brass of the SNP.
He made the extraordinary claim on Hendry’s podcast that the UK Government would have the “commitment” and “obligation” to pay Scots pensions after independence. And he added: “That’s no different to a UK citizen that chooses for example to live in Canada or Spain or France anywhere else. That’s an obligation of the UK Government.”
We thought this noteworthy to say the least and denounced it as a brazen falsehood, scraping the barrel even by SNP standards.
Because, quite obviously, Scots would not be “UK citizens” after independence. We would have left the UK. That’s what independence is supposed to be all about.
Hendry would have done both himself and Blackford a favour if he had queried that ridiculous claim. But that’s not his style. He just sits, listens to his nationalist guests, and agrees with them.
This was only reported on here and nowhere else. No one else listens to Drew Hendry’s Twitter site podcasts. If he wasn’t the Inverness MP, we wouldn’t either. And in truth we’ve only listened to a few.
However, there the matter was left to rest. Maybe we should have done more to highlight it at the time, but that’s not our style either. After 45 years in print journalism, we’re not here to freelance or try and sell stories to papers. If people want to read Inverness news and views they’re very welcome. If they don’t want to read what’s here or don’t know we exist, so be it.
However, with hindsight, at the time maybe we should have done more.
But on January 24 Hendry had Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes as his podcast pal and we tuned in to that also.
During the conversation he asked her if she agreed with Ian Blackford’s claims on pensions and she said, as if it was a source of amusement, that she “wouldn’t dare disagree” with him. So she did agree.
We reported on that also. Again, we were the only media outlet to do so, because no one else listens to Hendry’s podcasts.
And again, after their convivial exchange, there the matter was left.
Like a ticking time bomb, as it turned out.
Things took an altogether more serious turn when a Unionist activist with media connections happened to come across the two linked articles on Inverness news and views and forwarded the content in them to the staunchly pro-Union Daily Express.
They did their own check to verify their accuracy and on Tuesday featured the pension claims of Blackford and Forbes made in the Drew Hendry podcasts, as first reported here, very prominently on their website. By late Tuesday evening their article was the top read item on the website.
Thereafter, to coin a phrase, the balloon went up. The Express article was picked up on by other national papers, by TV and radio, and spread across Twitter.
And the resulting outrcry was such that yesterday Douglas Ross challenged Sturgeon over Blackford’s pension claims at First Minister’s Questions. Sturgeon, devoid of answers on pensions in the same way as she’s devoid of answers on every other “post independence” question on the economy and just about everything else, was reduced to diversionary bluster about how Ross and the Tories were “afraid of a referendum”.
Rather more importantly, pensioners and those approaching pension age should be afraid of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP and their clueless ignorance on what life would be like in Scotland after independence. Very afraid indeed.
Inverness news and views played a small – no actually rather large – part this week in bringing that to the fore. With the invaluable assistance of Drew Hendry, the Inverness Podcast King.
We say with all humility that there aren’t enough websites like this one around. We wish there were many more. The SNP have too much of the national media in their pocket. They need to be challenged on every devious, duplicitous move they make.
We’re not here to score points or to burnish ego. At least part of our efforts is to monitor the SNP, wherever and whenever we can.
This time we picked up on something that no one else did.
And as a result we helped inflict damage on these charlatans, con-artists and liars. But we are under no illusions that this is only a mere blip for them.
And it won’t affect in the slightest their obsession with independence and their reckless zeal to bring chaos and ruination to our country.