Nicola Sturgeon just dropped the first tactical nuclear weapon of the Election. Not in a speech or an interview on TV – she bypassed traditional media to slam the Daily Telegraph in capital letters on her Twitter account as soon as the first editions dropped. And she didn’t miss them.
She might want to scrap Trident but the redoubtable Nicola let loose at the Tory paper for claiming she wanted Cameron to win the Election. A view she apparently expressed in a private conversation with the French ambassador in February, one that she entirely denies.
BOOM – “@Telegraph don’t you think you should update this story with the statements from both myself and the French Ambassador that it’s untrue?” she blasted.
BANG – Too late. The Daily Mail has jumped all over it and splashed in Scotland: “NICOLA: I WANT TORIES TO WIN” and for good measure their English readers are served the headline that she is the “MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN IN BRITAIN”.
WHAM – this is going to get dirty and social media is the new attack weapon. Forget cuddly focus group messages and soothing words for the voters. Twitter is now the blunt force weapon of choice. Who needs a phalanx of advisors and PR men when you can drop the enemy right in the goolies in 140 characters?
In my view, the battlefield just got levelled. When I was Editor of the Scottish Sun I was “advised” to drop a tub load on Malcolm Rifkind when was a Tory Minister. Maggie had decided he was disloyal. Not “one of us”. Same with Heseltine. In a later election, the paper undoubtedly libelled a senior non-Tory threat to Maggie by running a patently untrue item of scandal. Maggie won, he got paid out tax-free. Cheap at half the price.
None of that will wash this time round. Nicola will most certainly have you if you try it on.
- At the start of the week, I wrote about Hobbit actor Martin Freeman launching a Labour supporting video on YouTube. He must have known he would cop a tsunami from one or other of the newspapers. The Daily Mail grants his wish today in a double page spread under the headline “Red Ed’s Hypocrite Hobbit is a Tax Avoider”. I’m sure the loyalty-gong will sooth the pain if Ed gets the keys.
Steve Sampson is the former Northern and Scottish Editor of The Sun and also served as a Director of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail as well as Business Insider. He now leads a series of digital initiatives and investments.