Just for a bit of light relief after today’s truly abysmal front-page, Daily Mail columnist Stephen Daisley wrote this yesterday;

“Grievances are the carbohydrates of nationalism; eliminate them and the body grinds to a halt”. 

Evidently, Daisley is not a man who has given serious thought to the Atkins diet.

But more tragically, Daisley used to write clever stuff for STV on-line and now he’s reduced to knocking out what must be for him soul-destroying Daily Mail columns. His STV pieces used to cohere; they had a bit of rigour and honesty about them. His downfall there came because of the trickiness of STV being bound by OFCOM rules not to editorialise but slipping comment in via its website. Then he became a kind of journo folk-hero, especially to journos of the right who would like more Fox TV-type output in the UK. But then instead of going off and writing a clever book or something, he just took the fattest pay cheque he could and went to work for the Daily Mail.

If you read the column linked above, it’s depressing to see how he’s had to temper his undoubted ability to write sharply observed prose with the classically dishonest structure that is the Daily Mail’s oeuvre. Result – bile and bitterness, even free on his own website. Because once you’re in for the pounds at the Daily Mail, you have to see the world through the prism of this right-wing laird.

A quick glance at the column linked above illustrates the point. It starts out praising the Tories, then follows with a few throwaway lines about how an honourable nationalism is possible. Then it proceeds to conflate nationalism with the SNP and describe all people who support independence as folk dousing ourselves in petrol and in search of the Bluebells. Scots consider themselves eternal victims, he weighs in, in a terrible trope he’d not have given the time of day to when writing for STV. The SNP has spent so long lying, he says; “it’s no longer clear what it’s actually for”.

What? The SNP is mono-maniacal about independence to the exclusion of all else AND it’s no longer clear what it’s for? A sub-editor might have picked up this logic-defying clash of two bile streams. That’s the kind of incoherent nonsense which creates the black hole you disappear into when you take the Daily Mail’s money while pretending to everyone that you’re still the same guy as before. Note to Mr Daisley – the SNP, as you correctly observed before you spoiled it – is for independence. It’s Scottish Labour’s anti-referendum crew some of us are sad about not knowing what it’s for.

In the end, Daisley’s bile is all about telling anyone who’ll listen that people who support independence – including the many who don’t support the SNP –  are vile, irrational, self-hating and are best ignored. That’s the Daily Mail and now it’s Daisley. He used to seem such a promising young man; now, he just doesn’t seem to know what he’s for.



16 Responses to The Daily Mail’s Stephen Daisley on carbs
  1. For clarity: STV and STV online are separate entities and OFCOM only has power over broadcast material. I know magic thinking is popular, but we have to resist it and be strict about facts. Because we’d howl if Brian Wilson hounded STV online until they got rid of Indy voices like McGill and Loki

    • Thanks Moira. Yes, we went through all the STV online editorialising a number of times over the years. I sat on the bill committee which went through it in fine detail. It’s a fine line. You might remember Iain Macwhirter trod a different fine line when, years ago, his excellent SH column took strong positions about what he then interviewed politicians about on his BBC show. Technically, he was fine but politically (with small p) he really wasn’t and he had to give up the show. It’s hard for executives to say they’re impartial with open mouthed horror at the suggestion otherwise, then ask journos to to opinion pieces online. Sky could do it on a much larger scale, of course. Whether Daisley pushed it so far to get himself sacked, or was just mismanaged, is hard to say.

  2. I often thought his stuff during indy ref 1 was witty and clever. He kind of annoyed everybody. Havnt read his most up to date stuff, but ive heard most journos, even on the Daily Mail have left leanings and chuckle at the stuff they churn out. Nobody can change like that overnight.

  3. He is like an example taken out of Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” the fraudulent journalist so eagerly seeking to satisfy the needs of the political elite he over does the propaganda. Pravda always did it so much better.

  4. I followed Daisley on Twitter during the first referendum. I often relaxed after an evening of campaigning by reading his “Daisley Mail” column which I found side-splitting. I remember twitter banter between him and Stuart Campbell and thought they seemed like good mates, but later Stuart said he didn’t really know him or remember how the banter started.

    At that time I certainly didn’t think Daisley was a unionist. He seemed if anything quite sympathetic to the independence cause and its supporters. I thought I read something where he indicated he was a Yes.

    The metamorphosis into a sneery hard-line unionist was a bit of a surprise, to put it mildly. The Zionism and the right-wing views even more so. My take on this is that he half-expected a Yes vote and was deliberately ingratiating himself with the Yes campaign to position himself as a Yes-friendly journalist who would benefit career-wise from a Yes vote.

    So many people like McColm and Maddox and Carrell have pinned their colours firmly to the anti-independence mast and they might have found their services a bit surplus to requirements after a Yes vote. Daisley was positioned to clean up. Yes supporters thought he was a nice, funny guy who occasionally poked fun at Yes with good humour and a twinkle in his eye.

    But then the vote was No, and the mask slipped pretty quickly. At one point I thought there wasn’t actually a real Stephen Daisley there at all, but rather he was prepared to write to curry favour with whichever side he thought would advantage him. But sadly I think the nasty right-wing Zionist seem to be the real deal.

    • My post crossed with Doug’s and I think we agree. I wasn’t aware of the nasty stuff in Daisley’s past output while I was enjoying his 2014 material. If I had been, I’d have been more wary of him.

      I think it was a cynical ploy to be in a position to capitalise on a Yes vote, and done so cleverly that it didn’t really harm his prospects when he reverted to type after the No vote.

      It’s a pity because there’s genuine writing talent there, and there must be a genuine wit. But it’s possessed by a very unpleasant young man. His ability to act the good guy makes him all the more dangerous.

    • That is pretty much my experience as well though some of his attempts at humour back then were a bit ‘Meh’ to me.

  5. Is he a decent journo currently masquerading as a Daily Mail columnist, or a Daily Mail columnist who masqueraded as a decent journo for a wee while? My money is very much on the latter.

    Even during the referendum, during his “good” stint, there were signs that there was something darker behind the jolly “LOLZ, I love pugs, me” facade – there was the story of the guy whose life he effectively tried to ruin in 2007 while working for the News Of The World, and when someone found his personal website with the right-wing screeds he’d written for The Times of Israel, I remember being quite taken aback that this was in fact the same guy who spent the referendum producing fairly witty, balanced output. And it didn’t take long after the referendum for him to start producing anti-abortion nonsense and the like for STV.

    There was no space for another right-wing male ScotPol columnist in 2014, so he found a different niche, and that’s allowed him to raise his profile in a way that he wouldn’t have if he’d just stuck to the NOTW/Daily Mail type stuff. Quite cunning, really.

    • Neither he is out to make money and feel like he is at the center off the action. He might have been better working as a public relations propagandist for a corporation instead of pretending to be a journalist. He likes the idea but not the reality. He wants to in with the powerful and be financially rewarded for being of service.

  6. I arrived here via the Twitter exchange between @ericjoyce and @Mike_Blackley (Scottish Political Editor of the Daily Mail). I’d more or less given up following links to Daisley articles, for reasons similar to Caroline Wilson’s comments above.
    Despite Mr Blackley’s indignation, I think that Eric Joyce’s review was rather generous to Daisley’s article – which seems to have moved over to entertaining a certain target audience, rather than any semblance of analysis.

  7. Dais has drunk the kool-aid, taken the shilling, licked the schtick.

    He now works for the ‘Legs’ press with the clout this offers.

    I pity him now, where before .. well, just disliked his politics.

  8. I just assumed there were two Stephen Daisleys. One that used to write the eloquent, funny STV stuff and, just as he retired, another who pens landfill indy-bashing articles, left school and started as a journalist.

  9. I have to say I have somewhat different (admittedly minority) take on Daisley’s writing. I often found his style just too contrived for my taste, particularly during his ‘late STV period’. Particular irritants were the contorted attempts to shoehorn literary allusions or references to political history into his pieces. These seemed designed more to scream, ‘you do know, I actually went to uni – I’ve read stuff, you know.’, rather than to develop a theme or elucidate a point. As such, I don’t think we need shed too many tears that he’s now found his (no doubt, lucrative) milieu – good luck to him. At the very least, there will be little necessity for Stephen to expend energy in pursuit of such contorted references or, even to pay lip service to impartiality. To be fair, I doubt he would expect it either.

  10. It’s the unionists who display aberrant thinking
    Supporting a system of governance where major decisions which affect your country are made by a government in another country that you didn’t elect,ain’t normal.
    The ein volk,ein reich rhetoric from May just doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny and is presumably only intended to impress EU negotiators that she speaks for Scotland as well.
    Neither May nor the Daily Mail represent mainstream Scottish thinking.

  11. It’s good to see a level headed article about Daisley. He has become so synonymous with cybernat-baiting claptrap that both he and the majority of respondees are not worth reading.

    The position he takes is designed to stoke grievance, which creates the reaction he describes. It forms a self fulfilling, cyclical news feed which adds nothing to either side of the debate.

    Others do this too, but Stephen epitomises it – like you say, what a shame that a competent brain like his isn’t put to use developing debate rather than causing friction.


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