I was trying to remember this morning when it was that the scales first fell from my eyes about what a disgusting, disreputable publication the Daily Record is. It was actually long before the independence referendum and the notorious "Vow". About ten or fifteen years ago, there was a documentary on Channel 4 that featured fly-on-the-wall footage of a young brother and sister being interviewed by a Record reporter. They were in an incestuous relationship, and wanted to bring to wider public attention a phenomenon called Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA), which causes siblings who didn't know each other during childhood to feel a strong attraction to each other when they meet as adults. The Record reporter gave every indication that he was primarily interested in GSA and that the subject would be treated sympathetically, but he must have known even as he was sitting there that he was about to betray their trust. The documentary later showed their shock as they opened the newspaper to discover a splash that essentially branded them as perverts, and only mentioned GSA in passing. The quotes that were included from the interview were all taken out of context and were presented as a feeble 'defence' against accusations that had been ranged against them. Needless to say, the Record hadn't even bothered to give them the courtesy of a warning about what was about to hit them.
Would the Record attempt a story like that now? I suspect not, simply because public attitudes about sex have become more liberal and it would rebound on them. Incest is still regarded as wrong in all circumstances, but there would be a greater willingness to listen sympathetically to a reasonable explanation. But even if the parameters within which the Record are able to ruin lives have changed, their readiness to ruin lives in pursuit of a sensationalist story has not changed at all. Their appalling front page today is just the latest in a long line of examples, and David Clegg's eagerness to promote that front page on social media will be a mark of shame until his dying day.
There is a gloating, mocking air to the words "Alexander Elliott Anderson Salmond, you are accused of..." which leaves no room for doubt that the Record's agenda is political revenge. I suspect that any complainant would be deeply distressed to see their accounts weaponised in that way, and also trivialised by the unmistakeable use of "Cluedo"-type language. Meanwhile readers are clearly being invited to believe that the only salient point is that Salmond has been charged with the offences that are itemised in huge lettering. There is only the tiniest of token nods to the fact that the charges have yet to be tested in court. Essentially Mr Salmond's right to a presumption of innocence has been totally disregarded.
In case you had any remaining sliver of doubt about what game the Record are playing, Salmond is branded at the bottom of the page as "the face of independence", a point expanded on by an article by Clegg that tries to argue that the independence cause has been seriously damaged. Anyone would think it was the Yes movement that had been charged with sexual offences. Anyone would think that politicians from other movements and other parties are immune to criminal charges, or to the possibility of personal misdemeanours that are self-evidently unrelated to their politics. Even very recent history tells us otherwise.
And yes, I know the front page of The Sun is, if anything, even worse.