Severin Carrell of the Guardian is at it again. He's based an entire article on routine comments made by Angus Robertson in a radio interview, in which the SNP group leader at Westminster basically reiterated that the party will be demanding the fast-tracking of welfare, job-creating and tax powers for the Scottish Parliament. Not very interesting you might think - but of course what Severin does is shamelessly pretend that Robertson somehow said the exact opposite, and has abandoned the SNP's demands for the fast-tracking of these powers. We're breathlessly told that Robertson's new "doubly significant", "gradualist approach" somehow contradicts absolutely everything said by the SNP during the election campaign, and even by Alex Salmond two days after the election.
What makes this particularly bizarre is that Severin supplies lengthy quotes from Robertson which helpfully demonstrate that what was said in the interview is utterly identical to all previous statements on the subject from the SNP -
"I want to see maximum decision-making in Scotland as soon we possibly can"
This reiterates the well-rehearsed message that there should be a phased transition to full fiscal autonomy, but that this will take several years.
"Unfortunately, the most important thing to be aware of and to recognise and respect is that Scotland voted no in the referendum last year, which means we can’t realistically have all the powers we want to have as quickly as possible."
This reiterates the bleedin' obvious that full independence will not follow on from a No vote to independence, and again underlines the SNP's view that full fiscal autonomy will take several years to implement.
"Firstly, it’s delivery of the Smith Commission proposals, secondly it’s following the discussion of further powers beyond that, which will emerge from discussions between the first minister and the prime minister"
This reiterates what Nicola Sturgeon has said before and after the election, namely that the Smith Commission proposals should be implemented as soon as possible, but that they should be significantly beefed up to include the fast-tracking of welfare, tax and job-creating powers.
"And then there will be vigorous debate in the House of Commons during this parliamentary term and about the additional powers that we can hope realistically to have further devolved."
This reiterates that the SNP will be pushing for movement closer to full fiscal autonomy after achieving the Smith powers and the additional fast-tracked powers.
The game that Severin is rather tediously playing here is to reinterpret Robertson's timetable for full fiscal autonomy as if it is some sort of revised, slower timetable for the fast-tracked powers that the SNP want over and above Smith. To misunderstand plain English to that extent requires either stupidity or a deliberate intent to mislead - and in this instance it's hard not to suspect the latter.