Why is the media focus only on the negative?

The Edinburgh tram extension has opened, connecting Leith to the existing tram line and extending the way to Newhaven. There has been relatively little coverage of the new tram line in the Scottish media because the extension has been delivered on time and within its £207 million budget, thus providing the Scottish press with little opportunity to indulge in its favourite pastime of heaping opprobrium upon the SNP and the Scottish Government.

Heaven forfend that the Scottish public learn that Scotland is capable of delivering major infrastructure projects on time and within budget, a feat which is beyond the abilities of the Conservative Government in Westminster. They’ve presided over a London Crossrail which cost £18.9 billion, almost £4bn more than its original budget and more than three years late.

Currently the HS2 high speed rail project connecting London with Birmingham is forecast to cost well over £40bn – although it was originally projected to cost £20bn. The project is currently running two years behind schedule.

The National:

But rather than celebrating a Scottish success story, last night's edition of BBC Reporting Scotland chose to focus on businesses in Leith which had experienced issues with access during the tramway's construction.

The anti-independence Scottish media would not be the anti-independence Scottish media if it was not indulging in carping negativity even about a good news story about improved public transport delivered on cost and within time which will give a much needed boost to a hitherto neglected part of the Scottish capital.

The success of the tram extension breathes new life into the plan for a second tram line in the city, a north-south tram route from Granton to the Royal Infirmary and from there on to Dalkeith. Proposals have also been made for additional tram lines to Newbridge, Granton, Dalkeith and as far as Musselburgh, eventually giving Edinburgh a comprehensive tram network with several lines.

Boorish Tories back at it

At First Minister's Questions today, the Tories revealed their boorish selves, booing and jeering when Emma Roddick, the Scottish Government’s equalities minister, called on Douglas Ross to "reflect" upon the impact of his American extreme-right-inspired culture wars comments on an upcoming drag story time event to be held at a library in Elgin.

Roddick said: "Unless Mr Ross also wants to stop children going to the pantomime, I suggest he apologises for his comments, reflects, and attends the reading session in Elgin library, because he may learn something."

In recent months the moral panic fueled by often misleading and inaccurate right-wing claims about transgender people and drag events has led to a significant rise in hate crimes directed against members of the LGBT+ community. Reports of homophobic hate crimes across the UK have more than doubled over the past five years, shooting up from 10,003 in 2016-17 to 26,824 in 2021-22. In the past year alone, the figure soared by 32 per cent – the biggest yearly rise since record-keeping began.

However, a survey in 2021 found that only one in eight victims of a homophobic or transphobic hate crime actually report the incident to the police. These crimes are not merely "someone said something to offend me on Twitter”, they include violent assaults and intimidation and abuse.

But Douglas Ross will continue to pursue his extreme right-wing culture wars obsession, because that and constant attacks on the SNP are all that he has got to disguise the fact that he's the second rate branch manager of a corrupt and morally decayed party which has absolutely nothing to offer the people of Scotland.

Statistically speaking you are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by a Conservative politician than by a drag queen at a story time event.

The SNP’s independence convention

The SNP have announced that their upcoming Independence Convention later this month will not after all "officially decide" the party's new independence strategy. Remember, the UK Supreme Court decision last year closed down the possibility of a referendum being held under the aegis of Holyrood without permission from the Westminster Government.

Originally the event had been billed as giving grassroots SNP members the chance to debate and decide on a new strategy for achieving a recognised vote on independence. However the party has now decided that this will instead take place at the party's annual conference in October. SNP sources say that this is to give time and space for the planned regional assemblies, the details of which will be announced over the coming days.

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Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn (above) said: "It won’t be just a one-off thing. We'll have the convention then we’ll have a series of regional assemblies where [we] can also discuss other things like the General Election strategy and preparations, but what they will discuss is taking forward a proposal for independence."

He added: "To me it seems like the right way to do it, to have a general discussion and to come back to conference and make the decision."

Deputy leader Keith Brown said that more information about what options will be on the table will be made available over the next few days, he said that these options would come "directly" from the First Minister.

However, the decision to postpone the adoption of a definitive strategy until October has been greeted with dismay by many in the wider independence movement. Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the founder of Believe in Scotland, said that the SNP must "stop dragging its feet and decide a preferred road to independence”.

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Others have noted that the decision only exacerbates and intensifies the existing frustration and divisions, meaning that for the next few months the wider independence movement will continue to argue within itself rather than unite around an agreed strategy and get to work on boosting support for independence among the wider public in Scotland.

A senior SNP source told The National: "I think it’s pathetic – it only opens up more space for division and frustration, while what we should be doing is setting out a plan, democratically adopting a plan, and campaigning on the basis of the plan."

It is imperative that the SNP rediscovers a sense of urgency in its pursuit of independence and demonstrates to those who have joined or rejoined the party in recent months that their faith in it as the only credible vehicle for Scottish independence is not misplaced.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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