Torrance knows pantomime villains get more clicks than journos

Inevitable Torrance Twexit piece

Inevitable Torrance Twexit piece

David Torrance has published his article again. You know the one I mean. The one that besmirches a whole movement based on the behaviour of its worst members. The one that twists the true nature of some actual events in order to paint himself, and by extension, all unionists as victims. The one that too many of us fall into the trap of getting worked up about.

As you can see from the text to the right, in this particular article he does this in two main ways. He suggests there is a failure of the leaders of the SNP to get to grips with the behaviour of the pro independence movement as if all 1.6 million of us are automatons dancing to the tune of our Bute House overseers.

Secondly, he suggests an ad hominem attack contained in a letter that Salmond wrote to the Herald licensed a hoard of thoughtless minions to inflict vile torment in 240 characters or less upon Torrance’s cartoon avatar.

The ad hominem attack in question was in response to this article in which Torrance said of Salmond:

And in spite of lofty rhetoric about being “positive”, divide and rule was a hallmark of his style, as was phoney outrage.

Anyone not perceived as a threat was treated with charm and thoughtfulness, but for those who fell outside that category condescension, pettiness and often downright rudeness were the order of the day.

I can think of no other politician who behaved as badly as often and, more or less, got away with it.

The text of Salmond’s evil reply was as follows.

Now that I have time on my hands to read newspapers, I noted the musings from my self-appointed biographer David Torrance
I understand, of course, that thus far the general Scottish response to the referendum is the exact opposite of what Tory-leaning David would have wished, and also he must be totally devastated by my standing down – thus depriving him of a lucrative income stream.
However, allow me just two observations. First, I hardly know David Torrance. And secondly – and much more problematically for a biographer – he doesn’t know me at all.
It is clear to me who is most guilty of playing the man and not the ball and who is displaying phoney outrage.

The truth about the abuse that Torrance has received on twitter is that it is inevitable. In fact abuse spews from the dark fringe of the negative energy he stokes in order to make a living. When Torrance talks of Ulsterisation instead of just some degree of polarisation. When he tars all yes voters with the same brush, when he compares Salmond to Trump and so forth, he does so deliberately as he knows that more people will click on something that is preposterously provocative. Articles that are ridiculously biased are easily read by people on both sides of the debate.

The yoon and the cybernat can both have their prejudices confirmed by Torrance. The cybernat can mock the gross caricature of nationalism and the yoon can wallow it its unremitting truthfulness. Torrance’s style of broadsheet trolling relieves both sides of the burden of analytical thought.

The truth is that any public figure who riles any mass movement of people will get some level of abuse. The only notable thing about the phenomenon is that it is selectively reported by the mainstream media. You are infinitely more likely to see a nasty cybernat or a nasty corbynista story than anything about the just as vile idiots that abuse on behalf of establishment causes.

Here is the tweet that started it all and in watching the video one has to conclude the Torrance does make one valid point:

The clip is void of context. It is only thirty seconds long and it is not clear from the clip what his broader point was. He certainly wasn’t saying that Scottish people can’t work cameras which is what it was construed as by most of his critics. I tried to find the whole clip on the BBC website in order to form a cogent opinion but couldn’t find it so I am not passing judgement. Too many people were too eager to jump to conclusions based on too little evidence just for some shits and giggles on twitter. However, if this were not the case David would be seldom read as his bread and butter relies on stoking this type of reaction. It’s just in this particular case, like the boy who cried wolf, he probably didn’t deserve the reaction he got.

The Torrance Twexit came on the same day as a couple of other stories showing the poor standard of what classes for journalism in Scotland. There was this story by reformed cybernat, Aiden Kerr, regarding an SNP MP boycotting Barrhead travel. A story, and I use the term loosely, which was based purely on a flippant tweet reply to unionist troll. There was also the coverage of a web Q&A Alyn Smith had with the users of Reddit Scotland. Smith answered a lot of questions from members of the public but everyone who reported on the debate concentrated on one thing.

SNP MEP calls for vote on monarchy in event of Scottish independence

Which he didn’t really do. A person asked him if he was a republican and he dodged said question by suggesting he would be happy for the people to decide.

Anyway, you can’t really blame Torrance for showing no balance, or STV for sitting and watching twitter all day to create news articles from tweets, or broadsheets for digesting an extensive online debate which was mainly about Brexit to one key emotive issue. They do it because that is the kind of rubbish that we are more likely to react to.

It’s why I’m not that bothered about the Scottish 6 debate. In principle I see no reason why Scotland can’t produce its own news to the same quality as the BBC manages in London. However that quality, like the quality of the current output, will most likely be rubbish. It will be rubbish for the same reason that Torrance is rubbish. The majority of us prefer it that way.

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