What has David Torrance ever done for us?

Usually Party Political Broadcasts are pretty boring affairs. The latest SNP party political broadcast has managed to generate considerable entertainment for independence supporters, at least those of us who follow politics enough to get the joke. The broadcast was based on the famous Monty Python sketch from the Life of Brian, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”, and featured an annoying guy with a beard, coiffed hair, and hipster glasses who constantly banged on about the SNP, and how rubbish they are. Cue outrage from the usual British nationalist suspects, who immediately claimed that the advert was an attack on David Torrance, who writes a weekly SNPbad column for the Herald, and who has a beard, immaculately coiffed hair, and wears hipster glasses. Cos obviously, every guy in Scotland with a beard and hipster glasses is David Torrance.

You can go to bars up the West End of Glasgow and find that they’re chock full of men with beards, hipster glasses, and enough product in their hair to secure a tent in a hurricane. This is why you’ll often hear the complaint from people who’d gone out for a night in Byres Road making the complaint that they couldn’t get into the venue because it was full of David Torrances. I wear glasses, and used to have a beard, but I shaved it off because people kept confusing me with David Torrance. Although to be honest no one has ever accused me of being remotely hipsterish, or indeed of having hair, coiffed or otherwise. There was also once an SNP party political broadcast which had a shot of a ginger dug in it, but I didn’t complain.

Prior to this week, David Torrance was best known for two things. The first was writing unauthorised biographies of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, which resulted in the stinging retort from Alex Salmond, “Allow me just two observations. First, I hardly know David Torrance. And secondly – and much more problematically for a biographer – he doesn’t know me at all.” That was far wittier and more cutting than anything in the book. After a social media hoo-ha-ette about the number of Tory politicians who went to private schools, David once plaintively tweeted that SNP MPs wouldn’t tell him what schools they went to, and wondered what possible reason they might have for withholding the information from him. Of course the real reason that they didn’t want to tell him was in order to stop him writing an unauthorised biography.

Otherwise, Davey was best known for banging on about politics, specifically politics of the SNPbad school, of which he is the head pupil and the leading exponent. He is in fact, to give him his due, an expert in managing to squeeze some SNPbaddery into just about any topic you care to mention. David wrote about American politics and used it to say how bad the SNP is. He writes about the EU and uses it to say how bad the SNP is. He can write about the life cycle of the Madagascan spotted moth and use it to say how bad the SNP is. It is something of a talent. He is by no means the most spittle flecked or morally repugnant British nationalist journalist in Scotland, but there’s something about David and his heavily producted hair that rubs people up the wrong way. He’s what you’d get if you crossed Alan Cochrane with a comb, dandruff shampoo, and a cereal bar in Shoreditch.

It’s not like this is the first time that party political propaganda has featured someone pretending to be an ordinary member of the public. Like that Scottish Conservative advert that featured ordinary Angela telling us why she was going to vote Tory, only it forgot to tell us that ordinary Angela was a Conservative cooncillor in North Ayrshire. Or a Labour party leaflet that dropped through my door just before an election a couple of years ago which featured statements from ordinary people from the East End of Glasgow, all of whom turned out to be Labour party activists or officials, and most of whom didn’t live in the East End. But none of them had a beard or wore hipster glasses, so that’s OK then.

Most people don’t know who David Torrance is and so won’t have got the joke. I asked a few people who have no interest in politics. One of my relatives thought that he was a character in Game of Thrones, one of the ones who had met a particularly gruesome end – which is most of them. Although to be fair my relative didn’t know what the Herald was either, and was absolutely positive that Tom Gordon used to be one of the presenters of a tartan bedecked Scottish country dancing show on STV in the early 1970s. Now thanks to the outrage of a Lib Dem MSP with far too much time on his hands, a lot more people than before now know who David Torrance is. Although it’s arguable whether any of them care.

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who entirely coincidentally went to the same school as David, think it’s terribly unfair of the SNP to lampoon a journalist in such a manner. He’s written a stiff letter of complaint to Ofcom. Still, it’s not really the fault of the SNP that David Torrance happens to look like the guy you get when you ring up an acting agency and ask them to send you a generic Tory-boy of the kind that would be invented by Frankie Boyle on an off-day.

You’d think that Alex ought to be getting on with the day job, instead of writing furious letters to Ofcom every time someone with a beard and glasses appears in an SNP party political broadcast. It’s a Trumpian character assassination, screamed Alex, because the Lib Dems would never ever do that sort of thing. Oh no. Just ask the former MP for Edinburgh West Michelle Thomson. She wasn’t monstered and vilified in Lib Dem election materials at all. The very idea. The truth is that the Lib Dems pretty much wrote the play book on dirty fighting in politics.

The Lib Dems have so little to do, such a lack of purpose or meaning, that writing pointless letters to Ofcom actually counts as doing their day job. The only people in Scotland less recognisable than David Torrance are Lib Dem MSPs. All that Alex Cole-Hamilton has achieved with his complaint is to get more people laughing at him than were laughing at the party political broadcast. Alex has now eclipsed James Kelly as the most-ridiculed MSP, and that’s quite an achievement. Asking what you needed to do in order to make James Kelly look statesmanlike used to be a rhetorical question, but due to Alex’s intervention, now we know. What has David Torrance ever done for us? Well he’s given us a bit of a laugh on a cold winter’s day.Β  So thanks for that if nothing else.


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0 thoughts on “What has David Torrance ever done for us?

  1. It doesn’t help when The National runs a story with the headline ‘The SNP’s new video stars a character who reminds everyone of David Torrance,’ now, Paul, does it? Let’s not be disingenuous here. πŸ™‚

  2. Have to admit, the idea of it being David Torrance didn’t occur until I read it in the top billed news article on the Herald website. It’s still there – the most important news of the day.

    I also noticed that in the Herald profile pics with most published articles, Torrance wears heavy black framed glasses, but in the pic with the whiny article he’s wearing clear framed ones like the PBB actor.

    Did they go looking for a pic where he looks similar, to help with the manufactured outrage, perhaps? Surely not? Other than glasses and a brown beard, though, there’s not much similarity.

    But TBH, even if they were taking the piss a bit, it’s hard to have much sympathy for one of the leading lights of contrived anti-SNP writing.

  3. No, you’re all wrong.
    The SNP PPB based the moaning party pooper on the grumpy couch potato Dad, Stuart MacKenzie, in ‘So I Married an Ax Murderer’, who rasps when his fuzzy red headed son blocks his view of the footie on the telly:
    ‘Look at the state of him. It’s like an orange on a tooth pick.’

    My son, when he was a teenager, thought that my brother, his uncle, and father of six, was the spitting image of the Myer’s father from Hell.
    Be warned, my brother has not seen the PPB yet.
    NS may get a lawyer’s letter when he gets ’round to watching this slur on bespectacled bearded redheads.
    Paul, I have the sense that you enjoyed penning this wee whimsy.
    Cole Hamilton wins this week’s award for Outstanding Work in His Own Idiocy, knocking James Kelly into second place by a neck, a brass neck.
    It was a photo finish but, though, mind.
    Do these numb nuts not have advisors?
    I may use:- ‘Look at the state of him. It’s like an orange on a tooth pick’ soon.

  4. The main Facebook gripe is: How can the SNP take credit for the free personal care of the elderly, when that got the thumbs up in 2002. Infact, they insist that everything that the SNP is claiming Credit for, wasnt anything to do with the SNP. All I can say, is that Union supporters are well and truly rattled about this latest SNP PPB. :-))

  5. I rarely watch PPBs, but Alexander Cole Hamilton’s furious intervention spurred me (and it seems tens of thousands of others) to seek it out. I guess folk in the SNP’s head office will be toasting the Lib Dem idiot this evening.

  6. I want to complain Paul. As you must be aware from meeting me twice in various yes podiums over the past months, I have a beard, hipster glasses and I talk about politics incessantly.

    I have been cruelly misrepresented in this Monty python style broadcast!. To compare me to David Torrance is s gross insult to me and thousands of similarly besoectacled, facially hirsuit Yessers.

    What have bearded Tory imposters like Torrance ever done for beard and spectacle wearer’s eh? I’ll tell you! Nothing! We’ve all been likened to this whining hairstyle of a man. Its like being judged “Trump like” if you happen to be an orangeman.

    • Gordon – do yourself a favour and start wearing contacts. And shave at least 4 times a day. Personally, If I was ever mistaken for Diddy David, I’d cut my own head off… πŸ˜‰

  7. My opinion on the SNP broadcast is that it was good and about 1000% better than the ones shown during last years elections. More of the same please.

    As for that Torrance guy I do not give a toss about him or the twisted lies he spouts.

  8. Thanks WGD as ever your writing is a joy to read. I am sitting trapped at home suffused with self pity. My flu going on a bit longer than I thought or want.

    I was sent the PPB and enjoyed everyone in it enjoying themselves. It was a tad cheesy but good fun. I never gave DT a thought. Honestly wee soul if that PPB registers at all in his list of things in which to take offence.

  9. “and enough product in their hair to secure a tent in a hurricane”

    Now that’s a peach. Cheers Paul, you jist keep on keeping on.

  10. Perhaps we should start calling the Tweetabix “Big Ginger Beard”. Or perhaps not…

    As to the Cole-Hamilton; I’ve always had a deep suspicion of double barrelled beards. Sorry, names.

  11. Just watched the PPB after google search – brilliant! More please of direct attacks on yoon media “personalities” – particularly those working for the vile BBC.

  12. Has to be said. Takes some amount of wossiname to consider someone the subject of a PPB. Mind you it takes a similar amount of the same substance to stand up on that bod’s behalf and manufacture a grievance to place before Ofcom.

    And it is entirely manufactured.

    The Yoon response to the PPB is quite something and tells you quite a lot about them.

    They have what? 99% of the meeja in their corner. Over the past five years especially they’ve obfuscated, slandered, lied, misled, misrepresented, insinuated and inferred on a daily basis. They’ve demonised, denigrated, alienated, trolled and enraged half a nation. Done their level best so they huv. They have carte blanche to say what they like, when they like.

    Quite the monopoly.

    Yet one PPB in response and they go all huffy and outraged.

    Hmmm. Clearly not big on folk answering back. Here’s me thinking a debate means there’s more than one point of view involved. (shrugs)

    • Sociopathic bullies like playing the victim. Thinner skin that the one on the top of freshly-made semolina. Take themselves WAY too seriously.

    • If answering back upsets them so much then we need a lot more of it! I love winding up people who rise to it so beautifully.

  13. Also begs a question a question or three.

    Who is really trying to stifle and suppress the debate? Who is trying to close down the right of redress? Who is trying close down access to public opinion?

    Worth a thought.

  14. Well done to the team that produced the party political broadcast.
    And thank you, Nicola, for emailing me the link!
    (Such a good start to the day to have an email from Nicola Sturgeon.)
    Time to turn up the heat.

  15. So, two things happened this week. The first, only politics anoraks are aware of. That would be the smash and grab of some 111 powers from our Holyrood parliament’s remit by Westminster parliament and government. How did that happen you say?



    It appears our public broadcaster FAILED to inform its own public that their parliament had been the victim of a smash and grab on their powers.

    A public broadcaster that FAILED to inform the public that this constitutes a breach of their devolution settlement and creates a looming constitutional crisis.

    A public broadcaster that FAILED the public, though TBF the entire meeja pretty much let that whole episode slide with only the barest of whispers.

    Secondly, we discovered in fine satirical form, just what the Scottish government does for us in that day job some folk keep banging on about.The same someones who reckon their day job is to take our cash and do SFA about researching and creating counter policies of their own. Their day job apparently consisting of mainly hating that their historic self entitlement got kicked into touch by the folk they are now actively putting in harms way with their actions. (way to go on winning back public approval)

    Regardless, the Yoonitariat have gone into self righteous metdown. Who knew that would happen?

    So are we all clear yet on what constitutes really important issues that the public are kinda entitled to know about? Why we rarely hear about those issues and whose responsibility it is to give those issues the widest possible airing?

    One government has complete access to the media and one does not. One government and its media can shut down debate. The other isn’t even allowed to post a PPB without the world falling in.

    You want to know what is rotten about our democracy and practice of politics, then you need look no further than this week for an epic example.


    • I used to think that I was being paranoid about this, but it’s so bloody blatant every day in life now that I fail to see how it’s not obvious to everyone!

      • People see what they want to see Anne. They see what they’re used to seeing and so all is right with their world. To look outside of your comfort zone is a big step for many. To look in those places where opinions and worldview differs.

        For many it took social injustice to come knocking on their door before they dared challenge what they were being told on a daily basis. Demonisation and fear works, but those who use it as their tool of choice should be aware, that it only works up to a point. Beyond that point lies the societal backlash toward politics and the media you see coming to the fore in the UK today.

  16. The SNP are WAY too PC and smug and milquetoast. They need to get FAR tougher and angrier in their media and political dealings. When dealing with criminal psychopaths, kind words and inclusive gestures will only be laughed at and counted as weakness. Just ask the Democrats in Chimpland. Speak truth to power…and they’ll laugh and sneer at you, call it fake news (or not cover/mention it at all), and continue doing what they want regardless.

    “You tell the truth, you go to the guillotine/you lose your head but your conscience is clean/don’t buy into no-one else’s dream/SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, AND SAY IT MEAN” – Foetus.

    If the SNP don’t take the kid gloves off, we’re ALL screwed. Period. They need to WAKE UNAWARE PEOPLE UP by an offensive-truth offensive. I mean, where is being ‘nice’ getting the Scottish people? Holyrood is dying the (unnoticed by most) slow death of a thousand cuts, we’re being systematically raped and murdered as a country by southern psychopaths…and the SNP has a gay guy and morbidly obese women and black and Asian people in its PPB. Which is fine, I am genuinely all for inclusivity (don’t even START that conversation with me, not in the mood), regard everybody as equal, but this whole softly-softly approach is a FARCE. It’s getting us KILLED. WAKE UP!

    • Agreed. All these years of vile, incompetent Tory govt in WM and the polls at best still only show us 50/50 for Indy. Just what will it take? And yet, as I understand, the SNP collude with the print media at Christmas/NY just like SLAB, in providing prepacked news items.
      The PPB is mildly amusing and informative, but do we really think unionists will volunteer to watch it?

  17. According to local scuttlebutt the reason why Greenbank Grove has the pavements treated as a priority while Greenbank, Park, Road, Loan, Row, Rise, Gardens and Lane are ignored is due to a certain politician, initials ACH, living on said street.

    One couldn’t possibly confirm such outrageous allegations but there’s nobody prepared to deny it.

  18. It seems to have worked. More please, SNP. How about Colonel Blimp as Monty Python’s exploding person in a restaurant?

  19. On a different topic does anyone know how we measure economic growth in Scotland? It’s not as if we monitor sales accross our borders to compare this year with last. How are the figures created. Is it mainly guesses like Gers. I ask as it is low compared to UK as a whole.

    • As they say on QI, Andy, ‘nobody knows’.
      They make them up.
      Tesco, Asda, M&S and the like do not submit figures on Scottish Income and taxes separately, so they are simply not included.

      It is allegedly that the Treasury, HMRC, OBR, IFS (sorry, the ‘respected’ IFS) and Jackie Bailiie’s Abacus calculate ‘guesstimates for GERS and so on.
      Therefore the ‘4 times as much tarde’ meme is also made up.

      If a Scottish Farmer sells a pint of milk to Sainsbury to be sold on to a Scottish customer in Scotland, then that would be us ‘trading 4 times more with rUK, than the rest of the EU’.
      Aye, that’ll be fuckin’ shinin’ bright.

      There is a whole slipstream of bilge gushing from the sluice gates of SS Engerland that We Scots are too wee too poor, and too stupid.
      It exists.
      It is not a myth, and Tornface and his best buddy Coca Cola are two of the biggest perpetrators of this treasonous shite.
      What a Fine Bromance.

      A kid-on Lib Dem arch right wing Tory, and Coca Cola Hammie boy.
      A marriage made in Bruntsfield.

  20. If the PPB was deliberately lampooning Torrance then that is a positive step forward. The Scottish Government needs to be seen to be serious and responsible but the French have shown that there is a place for humour even in serious situation. Offering to lend a tapestry of the Brits getting their arses on plate while extracting extra millions for the Brits – no borders – barbed wire border wall, is seriously humorous.

    Yes. It is time the SNP went on the offensive – literally. The polls suggest that there is shrinking support for the SNP from a Scottish electorate who have taken all the good that has been achieved for granted. There is a very real risk in standing back and watching everything unravel without putting up a fight.

    SNP communications need to be cutting and stinging. Sites like WGD and Wings are brilliant but the SNP definitely needs to up the anti, using humour where possible but harsh words where necessary.

    • I can’t remember the exact words which the First Minister used, but the meaning was that in 2018 we will be assertive.

      This is not a mutually agreed separation, this is a very messy divorce from an abusive and abusing partner. Being polite has its place, but not when the other side is destroying you physically and emotionally.

      • David Mundell actually said that we ‘risk’ out trade with rUK if we leave their UK and declare Self Determination.
        Ergo, this man threatens our economy and welfare on behalf of his English overlords.
        They are a fifth Column, the enemy within.
        We Yessers don’t threaten to cut off relations with our neighbour to the South. Far from it.
        NS Mike Russell and the SG are bending over backwards to make Brexit with a Tartan Twist work, to hostile and belligerent reaction from the YOON Red Yellow and Blue Tories Up Here, and complete dismissiveness Down There.
        We are one step away from open rebellion; not guns and bombs rebellion.
        The pen is always mightier than the sword.
        But I am ‘on the side of’ the EU27 now. Belgium isn’t threatening to reduce my income, Les Pays Bas impoverish my country Italy drive me into 18th Century colonial Feudalism.

        England is.
        The Union is over,Les.
        By October swithering don’t knows, will ‘know’.
        Freedom or Feudalism.
        A No MacBrainer.
        Hope you rocked over the Holiday, Les.
        Meeting up with the guys to plot plots, monger rumours, and sink a few.

  21. …. now that SNP PPB was enjoyable !! …. a lot more “bite” in the message and (for me anyway) the subliminal message was that whether in the workplace, or the Bar, or coffee shop etc. and one is lambasted by Unionist propaganda …. don’t just meekly acquiesce to the rubbish being spouted, counter attack with demonstrate able FACTS …. and if the parody was on Torrance, it is no more than he has earned !!

  22. It certainly has spread far and wide. A dear family friend who is also a French Colonel, currently working at Versailles, emailed me to say how amused he was by the SNP PPB.

    We have a bet that the UK won’t leave. He thinks ‘England’ will change its mind and remain. Not in a million years, mon cheri.

    My friend was also previously in favour of the UK staying ‘united’ but now hopes Scotland can break free of England’s ‘madness.’

  23. And there was me, not knowing who David Torrance was, thinking that the tedious twit in the PPB was meant to be a younger David Mundell…

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