The Scribe Who Saw Through Sturgeon

Shortly before he passed away, the newsroom colleague I most admired suddenly lost all interest in the papers. I hope he hasn’t gone back to them, for he wouldn’t be resting in peace if he saw the recent four-page feature about our First Minister in the French daily Le Monde, headlined ‘Nicola Sturgeon, reine d’Ecosse’. Actually, we do know how Kenneth Roy would have reacted to a narcissistic besom being hailed as the ‘Queen of Scotland’ because he sought to nip in the bud Nicola idolatry when it first started to sprout here on her native soil.

On 4 May 2016, this wry wordsmith expressed dismay at both Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald publishing front-page, full-page photographs of the Nat chieftain with a respectful caption overprinted on each image. Here is how the marvellously perceptive Mr Roy responded to that in the Scottish Review, the splendid little journal he (along with Islay McLeod) lovingly produced for many years from a small office at Prestwick airport of all places:

Since most of their readers, perhaps all of their readers, would have known in advance approximately what she looked like, we must assume that the editors were making a statement of some kind. Four days ahead of the Holyrood election, they may have been establishing her not only as the poster girl of Scottish politics but as a woman of destiny, the person who will lead us to the promised land, a female Mandela. Although it is tempting to dismiss Sunday’s picture galleries as an aberration of desperate men, there may be a danger that Ms Sturgeon is starting to believe her own publicity. The cover of that glossy production, the SNP manifesto, is adorned by another mega-pic of the leader.

Just under a year later, on 12 April 2017, Kenneth returned to the same subject when he dissected the plane crash of a television interview the FM gave to the BBC after a transatlantic flight that had obviously taken its toll (despite being seated in taxpayer-funded executive class):

Even first ministers are entitled to off-days. Clearly this was one of Ms Sturgeon’s. After her whirlwind tour of America in which she created (or ‘sustained’) the mighty total of 44 jobs in support of Scotland’s failing economy, she may have been suffering from jet lag. Cruel, yet justified: for the interview, nakedly transcribed, was a reminder of Orwell’s theory that muddled language is often a sign of muddled thinking. It also told us something about the first minister…It told us that, after two and a half years in office, Nicola Sturgeon may be developing messianic tendencies: that she is beginning to see herself as the saviour of the nation. Of the 209 words in the published transcript, 17 are ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘me’. In contrast, the word ‘we’, in relation to the administration she heads, occurs only once. 

Heaven (and, alas, only heaven) knows what Kenneth Roy would have made of Ms Sturgeon’s countless Covid briefings. If he were in a mischievous mood (which he often was), doubtless he would have obtained transcripts of each and every one of her televised addresses to the nation so he could tot up the total number of references to ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘me’ in them. A seriously unhealthy amount, I imagine.

Mr Roy would certainly have ripped into that absurd video recording halfway through the Holyrood election, in which the FM stood at a lectern and introduced herself with the words: “Hi there, I’m Nicola Sturgeon and my chosen pronouns are she and her.”

Mr Roy was a master of more than just wry satire, of course. He would have deployed his inestimable muckraking skills to dig deep into the dark conspiracy to destroy Alex Salmond in any way deemed necessary. And he would have pointed up what really lies at the root of Ms Sturgeon’s Orwellian endeavour to turn her political mentor and promoter into an unperson:

I doubt that she has the political intelligence of her predecessor, who is entitled to be regarded as the creator of the modern nationalist movement, who knew exactly what had to be done to make the SNP electable and knew how to do it. Whether Ms Sturgeon has what it takes to complete the journey, I am less sure.

I think we all know the answer to that now, Kenneth. Rest in peace, my friend, by continuing to ignore the Scottish papers. They’re even more dire now than when you departed.

10 thoughts on “The Scribe Who Saw Through Sturgeon

  1. Indeed Sturgeon regularly uses the word I instead of we, no more than as you pointed in the Covid briefings. I think the SNP has unfortunately become a personality cult, and there’s no prize for guessing who the personality is.

    As for Alex Salmond, unlike Sturgeon Salmond is a giant on the podium, quoting Scottish history whilst spelling it out why we must obtain independence.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The answer to that final question was clear to me long before the Referendum. Sturgeon absolutely wrecked that, presiding over the establishment of the totally dysfunctional Yes Scotland, the utter refusal to nurture non-SNP initiatives and, of course, the gifting of the Playbook to Defeat Independence to the Unionists – others may remember this document as ‘The White Paper’.

    That Salmond and the grassroots were able to rescue such a dire situation and come within a whisker of victory is remarkable. Salmond made mistakes throughout his leadership but the only lasting one was his complete misjudgement of and trust in Sturgeon.

    The one thing that I didn’t consider at the time was that she might have done this deliberately rather than through ineptitude. That the passage of time has led me to suspect this speaks volumes.

    It has been very interesting to watch others catch up and catch on while, at the same time, intensely frustrating to see many others cling to her like only cult members cling to their blind faith.

    All energy is expended on maintenance of her image; those that think the interminable Covid briefings were driven by anything else are in desperate need of a reality check.

    But I wonder if all is as rosy as she thinks in that regard. After more than a year of almost daily prime time, choreographed TV broadcasts, Brand Sturgeon made so little progress last week as makes no odds. Her answer to this will be, as always, to take greater control and seek yet more publicity. There is nothing a little bit more of Nicola can’t solve after all.

    But nobody new is buying and that’s before the vast majority learn what Brand Sturgeon really stands for.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Nicola Sturgeon will always live in the shadow of her predecessor because he’s a giant and she’s a dwarf in comparison and that’s why she resents him so much, that’s why she tried to destroy him & that’s why she tried to use every power he’s bestowed on her to bury him and failed miserably yet again like every other thing she’s ever attempted in her miserable existence even before her political career began.

    She is an actress and a con artist, she’s a failed party leader a failed first minister and a failed human being and although she may may be flying high now, her days are numbered and history will not be kind to her.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your friend saw through the narcissistic excuse for an independence politician and he was not wrong. She/her says I and me constantly. She sees herself as the government and will never go for independence. That’s where all that ridiculous “Gold Standard IndyRef” nonsense comes from. Once you see her lie, you cannot unsee it. I hope all of her machinations surrounding the hounding of Alex Salmond see her resign in disgrace and never be allowed near our parliament again. The information is trickling out slowly and I don’t think it will take five years for her to fall.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In time, once all is known, I suspect that the name of Nicola Sturgeon will replace that of Dr Samuel Mudd for assignation to those deserving of the most notorious of reputations.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There is another danger on the horizon, as if we needed any more, and that is that while our attention and energy is caught up in shining a light on NS’s deceptions and shortcomings, in the hopes that our fellow Yessers will see the light… the actual ground that needs to be covered in order to achieve Indy doesn’t get done.

    It is a variation on a technique – a distraction technique – Donald Trump and Boris – occupy the space of outragous and corrupt clowns – and suck every single bit of energy going, as folk point at them and say look at those outragous, corrupt clowns – how could this happen.

    Anyway, good to know there are and always have been wise heids in oor midst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, Daisy. I believe this is the fundamental difference between Alex Salmond’s term in office and Nicola Sturgeon’s: he did try to prepare; and there was never the slightest doubt that he was determined that independence could be achieved. His legacy has been squandered, and there never was the slightest intention to take Scotland to independence. That pretence has run its course and even the most devoted followers are going to have to accept that reality.


  7. Hello. I’m one of the people whom someone described as a ‘troll’ when talking about the last days of Wings over Scotland. I’m a Unionist. My history and my kin are of no consequence. But we need to settle the matter of independence and I’m willing to listen.


  8. Liked Kenneth Roy a lot, Jaggy. Always honest and straightforward, with a wit that sparkled. Not sure, though, if this adulation is a sign of the shallow puddle times in which we live, although, granted, Ms Sturgeon certainly doesn’t appear to object to the adulation and idolization. The trouble with idols is that they invariably have clay feet.


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