The National:

IAN Blackford took apart Spector editor Fraser Nelson’s attack on the Scottish Government during last night’s Question Time, accusing him of a “gross distortion of the truth”.

In what came as a surprise to absolutely nobody, the SNP Westminster leader was the only pro-independence voice on the BBC programme’s panel and faced the usual SNP-Bad attacks from the Unionists present.

Tory minister James Cleverly, whose bizarre attempts to rewrite history in his defence of Boris Johnson’s devolution “disaster” comments saw even Fiona Bruce take a critical tone with him, and Nelson were desperate to bash the SNP during the episode, which was broadcast from Windsor.

The pair were quick to spin Johnson’s claim that devolution was Tony Blair’s “biggest mistake” as evidence that it’s the democratically elected SNP who are bad, actually.

(This is now the agreed Tory line on what the PM said – if you don’t believe us, take a look in Wales where the Welsh Tory leader is claiming it’s the Welsh Labour-led governments which have been the “disaster”. Hmm.)

During the panel discussion on Johnson’s controversial comment, Nelson called it “daft” but said he sympathised with the viewpoint.

“When I backed devolution 20 years ago I thought it would be very different to what it turned out to be,” he claimed. “Sure Scotland’s got world-class climate legislation but it’s also got some of the worst poverty and deprivation in Western Europe. The life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow is less than it is in Rwanda and it’s shocking.”

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Andrew Neil claim male longevity in Glasgow like sub-Saharan Africa

Nelson claimed he believed before the devolution referendum that a Scottish Parliament would mean more resources are put into addressing poverty, but complained energy has instead gone “instead into talking about the constitution, about an independence referendum, about having another fight with Westminster”.

He told viewers: “It’s pretty difficult to blame Westminster for things that are entirely in the control of the Scottish Parliament.”

But Blackford was armed with the facts. “It’s only the last few years that we’ve had some responsibility for social security.

“We’ve been praised by the United Nations for our approach to poverty, we’ve introduced eight different measures, four of them entirely new – and for example what we’ve done in terms of the £10 allowance for young people which will drive young people out of poverty.

The National:

“And actually, life expectancy in Scotland has increased over the lifetime of the parliament. There’s been a greater increase in life expectancy in London but if you look at the rest of the UK the increasing life expectancy in Scotland has actually been higher than it has in the rest of the United Kingdom.

“So I’m afraid to say that what you’re saying is actually a gross distortion of the truth.”

He added that there has been an improvement in the attainment of young people coming from the most deprived areas.

Isn’t it interesting how right-wing Unionists are happy to watch the Tories drive forward an austerity agenda for 10 years, resulting in increased food bank use and poverty levels, but are the first in the queue to shout down the Scottish Government when it comes to poverty-related issues?

Online, people were furious with Nelson's comments.

Commentator Gerry Hassan wrote that the editor had come out "with his usual line that 'life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow is lower than Rwanda.' This is untrue, a cliche & not helpful to anyone. Is Nelson & the right-wing @spectator in favour of more redistribution & social justice?"

Tom French added: "Bizarre rant from @FraserNelson. Criticises poverty in Scotland but completely ignores the fact that the biggest drivers of poverty over the past decade have been Tory austerity cuts, punitive welfare reforms, and Brexit - all of which Scotland and the SNP opposed."