Have you heard the one about Charles Kennedy defecting to the Labour Party?
I have to say I didn't until I read Saturday's Herald. I must admit it's one of the silliest things I have read in some time, and that's quite impressive given that I regularly give more than a quick glance to the offerings of the Daily Record.
The Herald reports that "[we have] been told that there have been talks between the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Labour whips, but that they came to nothing."
Journalist Michael Settle draws on Mr Kennedy's well-known displeasure about certain aspects of the coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster and gives undeserved credibility to Mark Seddon (former Tribune editor and ex-Labour NEC member) who wrote in his blog that Mr Kennedy had “been discussing defecting to the Labour Party with four or five Liberal Democrat colleagues”. Who these unnamed colleagues were is anyone's guess.
I don't know Charles personally, but I would think - given his history and his huge contribution towards our party's continued progress - that whatever his concerns are about the coalition he's not likely to seek out a new political home in the Labour Party. This is little more than media speculation based on the rambings of a Labour blogger whose motivations for publishing this "information" are more than questionable. It's a non-story.
Admittedly the Labour Party is doing its utmost to undermine the coaltion and this looks like a classic plant. But why should the likes of The Herald lend it any semblance of credibility?
I also noticed that, in the same article, The Herald argued that Nick Clegg "risked angering his grassroots by signalling he would not walk away from the coalition if electoral reform was blocked." It is an absurd for anyone to suggest that the Lib Dems should give up on the coalition like a petulant child if the AV referendum is lost, or that any referendum on electoral reform should be allowed to become essentially a vote of confidence in Nick Clegg. Lib Dem members will accept the verdict of the electorate because we understand democracy. Doesn't Michael Settle grasp this? Or is he simply trying to find a story where there isn't one?
So, we have one of Scotland's most respected papers offering silliness, empty speculation and more negativity. A democratic society deserves a little more informed and responsible reporting from its quality press; if The Herald wants to be taken seriously it really has to stop going for the esay headline and repeating the tired, ill-informed perspectives of the tabloids.