Government officials, ministerial denials, attack blogs, smears, sound familiar? In the last few weeks Scottish politics has been caught up in its very own blogging scandal. Dead-tree-press hacks have declared war on the nationalist blogosphere, picking off anonymous bloggers one by one and claiming five or so scalps so far. The biggest story yet has been that of the SNP MSP staffer Mark MacLachlan and the hitherto anonymous Universality of Cheese blog. MacLachlan worked for SNP Minister Mike Russell and was outed by the Screws. The Scottish Government was quick to dump MacLachlan when the news broke and the word is that Salmond’s chief advisor Kevin Pringle wrote and published MacLachlan’s resignation and apology without his approval. The story has been simmering away but looks set to come to the boil.
The story has reached the dizzy heights of First Ministers Questions in Holyrood. Ironically it’s Labour that are putting the boot in, there is no denying that they are behind this war on nationalist bloggers, feeding the names and titbits to the hungry Scottish hacks, keen to reassert their status over the bloggers and the “cybernats”. Mike Russell began by denying all knowledge of the blog, but it seems his sacked former staffer is not going down without a fight. MacLachlan now claims to have the proof that his former boss knew of the blog and most damningly even provided content for it. The Herald got wind of this and led to MacLachlan running email correspondence on the reactivated blog. The Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray pushed Mike Russell hard over his claims that he knew nothing of the blog. If Mark MacLachlan can prove otherwise it would be curtains for the Minister and a heavy blow to Salmond’s already wavering administration.