This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

About a decade ago, in the run-up to the independence referendum, there was a discussion about satire on the now-defunct Newsnight Scotland.

The host, Gordon Brewer, quizzed the comedian Bruce Morton about why nobody was making jokes about politics. Where were the quips about Alex Salmond and Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamont, he asked?

Those jokes were being told, the comic replied. They were being told in comedy clubs and on stages all over the country. They were being told on the internet. They were very good too.

They just weren’t happening on BBC Scotland. 

After this week you can understand why the corporation has been a little cautious about dipping its toe in those waters.

Cartoons of Scottish politicians used to promote their new topical sketch show Noising Up were axed following a furious social media backlash.

The clips even attracted the ire of Christina McKelvie, the Scottish Government's Culture Minister. 

In fairness, the jokes weren’t very funny. 

One of the now-deleted short animations, shared on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, dubbed Scottish Green co-convenor Lorna Slater as “Limo Lorna”.

A cartoon of the MSP – who originally hails from Canada – said she was the “minister for green skills, circular economy, biodiversity, short-haul flights and maple syrup”.

“Join me for my new streaming series, Lorna Slater's Great Green Limousine Journeys, where I'll be changing my climate from Holyrood to stretched limo on a 3,000-mile taxpayer-funded journey around Scotland,” the character added. 

The Herald:
Sure, it's not Jonathan Swift. It's barely even Spitting Image. But you can see the logic of the joke. It's a reference to the time Ms Slater chartered a private boat for a visit to the Isle of Rum earlier this year at a cost of £1,200. It's an exaggeration, a caricature. 

McKelvie, whose ministerial responsibilities include “supporting the creative workforce” said the gag, presumably written, voiced and illustrated by members of Scotland’s creative workforce, was “dreadful”. 

“Nobody wants to be po-faced when it comes to satire,” a po-faced Scottish Green source then told The Sun. 

“And the BBC has a good track record on that with things like Have I Got News For You,” they added.

In other words, the Greens don’t mind ropey gags about Tory or Labour politicians, but they’re not keen on ropey gags about the Greens. 

They even suggested the cartoon could put Ms Slater in danger. 

The skit was, they added, “borderline misogynistic, inaccurate, and above all, stoking the kind of rhetoric that potentially puts public figures at real risk of harm”.

They continued: “It also shakes faith in any trust of the BBC at a time when it already faces many criticisms over its political coverage which is particularly hard for the many excellent journalists working there.”

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It’s quite the reaction to a rubbish gag on a show not very many people (until this week) had heard of. 

You can understand why the BBC wet the bed. 

“Animations of four of Scotland's party leaders were created to support the programme with the intent of helping it reach a new and wider audience,” a spokesman said. 

“It became clear over the weekend that the animations were not working as intended and having reflected on the reaction we have made the decision to remove them from social media while we review their use and assess the programme's social media presence.”

It’s worth noting, that as the spokesperson pointed out, “radio sketch satire has been missing for over a decade in Scotland”.

What the spokesperson didn’t say, but clearly wanted, to was, “and now, you can see why”.

But what Morton said all those years ago is still true. There is satire in Scotland. You just have to look for it. 

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