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SNP hate figure:  Faisal Islam, the political editor of Sky News (photo: ITN)

If the media were the rat race and snake pit of popular imagination, Faisal Islam would have chosen a different career. Conscientious, serious and cheerful, the   political editor of Sky News would never have stayed in journalism and would never have wanted to stay either.

Instead, he has become a British success story. His parents arrived from the subcontinent in the 1960s — in a sign of how our times have changed for the worse, they passed through Kabul and marvelled at the sophistication of its café life. The name they gave their son means Islam is never going to pass as a man whose family came over with William the Conqueror. With that in mind, a correspondent on Twitter asked last month if he had had trouble covering UKIP, whose members can give the appearance of being borderline or actual racists.

Islam replied that just once in his career had he met fanatics who had made it as clear as they could that an accident of birth barred him from covering politics in these islands. The “only place in the world I have been questioned about suitability to report a story on basis of nationality — not UKIP, an SNP rally.”

An activist at an SNP conference in Aberdeen had asked: “Why don’t Sky send a Scottish reporter?” Scotland, Islam said as he digested the implications of the insult, was experiencing “straightforward dark nationalism”. Islam’s Sky colleague Niall Paterson backed up the story. He said nationalists also questioned the right of Scottish reporters to report if, like him, they had once lived in  London. He was, apparently, a “quisling”.

That very night, swastikas and Qs for quisling were sprayed on Labour and Conservative party offices in Scotland. They had campaigned successfully against independence. Therefore they were traitors.

Before that we witnessed a grim moment, which revealed the dark side of Scottish nationalism better than anything I have seen. In the last days of the Scottish referendum campaign, a well-organised demonstration equipped with professional banners marched on BBC Scotland’s offices in Glasgow. The protestors demanded that the BBC sack its political editor Nick “the liar” Robinson after he had upset Alex Salmond, then the First Minister of Scotland.

I had to take a deep breath and let this Putinesque act sink in. Supporters of the ruling party in Scotland were mobbing an independent broadcaster to intimidate it into sacking a correspondent and giving its leader favourable coverage. When Salmond lost, I thought the Scots had had a narrow escape. He, however, does not seem to realise he has lost. At the SNP conference in March he asked for the power to control BBC Scotland be devolved to Holyrood, so its anti-nationalist bias can be “resolved”. I’m sure you can imagine the frightened, forelock-tugging journalism that capitulation to his demand would bring.

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Martin S
May 20th, 2015
8:05 AM
This is what the march on BBC Scotland's offices in Glasgow looked like: http://youtu.be/sodlIuiZ15c

Jim McNeill
May 7th, 2015
7:05 PM
Well. There's no way that Nick Cohen wrote this piece, he's obviously lain up somewhere sleeping off a dodgy burger while his half-wit brother-in-law has pecked this out on the keyboard. The mortgage won't pay itself. Because there's no way that Nick would stoop to the inept propagandist's trick of conflating a few incidents in two long political campaigns and expecting us to believe they expose the SNP's real beliefs. While he asserts that you can only find anti-Scottish bias in the BBC when "academics with stopwatches ... chop up programmes and work out how many times their side had had the last word" (actually a 5 year old could do it with crayons), somehow this same approach is fine when he's using it to calumnise the Scots. The article is topped with a picture of Faisal Islam captioned "SNP hate figure" (completely contradicting Nicola Sturgeon's comment in the article), rants on about the "dark side of nationalism", and in my favourite section paints a picture of "a well-organised demonstration equipped with professional banners [marching] on BBC Scotland’s offices in Glasgow". Complete drivel. Along with many other recent supposed anti-nationalist articles, the gleeful Scot bashing just cannot hide itself. Nick, when you're feeling better, if you still need some stick it to the Jocks material to please your paymasters, there's a decent job to be done dragging the "anti-zionists" of Bellacaledonia and the Radical Independence Campaign into the light. And if you're going to call me a cybernat I'll proudly stick it on a badge and add it to the "Zionist Troll" one I've got from those plonkers.

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