IT was the American writer HL Mencken who first observed that the proper relationship between a journalist and a politician should be that between a dog and a lamppost. At least that’s the cleaned up version. What he went on to say was “ journalists should be pissing on politicians, not getting pissed with them.”

There is no evidence that the quartet of senior London correspondents – the BBC’s and Sky’s political editors, and The Sun’s current and former political editors, had been sharing bottled pleasures with someone connected intimately to the current UK administration, when they simultaneously took to Twitter crediting a “senior government source”.

But the fact that the tweets used exactly the same quote, dissing Keir Starmer in identical words, does not suggest that much in the way of independent minded investigative journalism was going on.

Rather more likely, some Downing Street apparatchik, perhaps a chap with notoriously unstable eyesight, had fired a mini statement round the usual suspects in the hope that some of them might bite. And got a full house for his trouble. Result!

READ MORE: Four identical 'senior govt source' tweets show what's wrong with the UK media

The current Tory Government doesn’t really need tame journalists, however, when it has so many tame newspapers to hand. The Telegraph, erstwhile employer of the PM when he was merely churning out columns for a fee not unadjacent to the monthly earnings of a zero hours hospitality operative, now serves as a de facto government information service.

The deal is that they get exclusive early warning of government policy and stick it on their front page so that the poor bloody infantry in the Commons can find out what the hell is happening. Back in the day, ministers used to get fired for telling anyone anything before the nation’s elected reps got to hear it. Now the convention seems to be letting them be the last to know.

And as back up they have columnists like the Daily Mail’s Sarah Vine who goes so far as to sleep with a senior government source the better to get her scoops. Though admittedly she is married to Michael Gove.

Back in the mists of time I held a lobby card for Westminster when working for a Scottish tabloid. The lobby would get exclusive briefings whilst the rest of the media corps had to feed off whatever scraps were left. It was a system self evidently open to corruption and the likes of Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson both played favourites and froze out perceived foes.

Holyrood, when it arrived, was going to abandon all that cosy nonsense. No lobbies. Maximum transparency. Every man and woman for themselves, and no sooking up to the ministerial classes.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way. For one thing the journalists have loudly complained that the government has abused the Freedom of Information process.

Whilst the government has accused the fourth estate of launching ill disguised fishing operations rather than serious queries. Both have a point.

Yet I doubt the Scottish media corps are sufficiently supine to unquestioningly circulate tablets of stone from SNP central – not least since so many of them are openly hostile to the current government. The problem we have is that the very accessibility of an Edinburgh seat of government, means Holyrood can be even more of a village than Westminster.

Eating, drinking, gossiping in the same small patch tends to lead to political incest. But at least the tweets are more original.