Listening to Derek 'Braveheart' Bateman on his hilariously biased 'Newsweek' show has long been one of my guilty pleasures on a Saturday morning. 'Braveheart' pretty much dispensed with any attempt at even-handedness years ago and 'Natweek' is now engaged in full-blown agit-prop for separation.
One of my favourite moments came when he found an Irish 'economist' (actually a discredited Irish financial journalist) who was wheeled out to kick lumps out of Labour for suggesting Ireland was an economic basket case. The Irish journo administered the said kicking and everything was going swimmingly until 'Braveheart' made a snide comment about Tony Blair and asked how Blair was viewed in Dublin.
Imagine 'Braveheart's' horror when the journo went off-message and declared Blair a hero to many in Dublin for the part he played in the peace process.'Braveheart's' disappointment was palpable, descending into an hysterical cross between Iain MacWhirter and Alan Partidge, he desperately tried to shut his wayward guest up.
It was with 'Braveheart' Batement's antics in mind that I watched in bemusement at the increasingly erratic behaviour of our First Minister over his failure to get himself on the telly at the weekend. I was disappointed but not surprised at The Sunday Herald buying the SNP line about BBC censorship, the rest of the Sundays wisely gave the nat spin a very wide berth. It was so obviously an attempt by the SNP to continue their 'mood music' about big bad London stifling the plucky wee Scots that I thought it might just float away into the tartan ether of nat grievances.
So well done to the BBC for standing up for themselves and pointing out some inconvenient truths for the First Minister. The biggest and most embarrassing fact to come out of this fiasco is the revelation that the First Minister's staff had attempted not once but three times to get their man on a BBC show. The first couple of shows knocked him back, the third said they'd check and get back to him. They checked and were advised it wouldn't be appropriate for him to appear and declined the First Minister's offer. It was at this point that the First Minister lost it, shrieking that the BBC was a 'tin-pot dictatorship' staffed by nazis: it takes one to know one, I suppose.
The really worrying thing about this whole sorry tale is the continuing downward spiral of the SNP's campaign for separation. From the heady days of May last year when they boasted of running an unremittingly positive campaign to now when we have the First Minister of Scotland behaving like a swivel-eyed loon screaming incoherent abuse at public servants and his closest allies smearing his opponents and forging letters.
If they go on the way they are going for another two and a bit years I shudder to think how low the separation campaign will sink...