NOTHING has defined the 2022 version of the SNP than the reaction of the party’s bottom feeders to Wings Over Scotland returning to Twitter.

The pro-independence website, which The Herald has described as one of the most influential players in Scottish politics, had previously been unsparing in its criticism of some of these careerists and counterfeits. Like the rest of us, Wings had also despaired at their low intellectual calibre.

Sadly, this has been borne out by what happened in the immediate aftermath of the Wings Twitter ban being lifted. Knowing that their deeds would once again be subject to proper scrutiny, they mass-reported Wings Over Scotland for imaginary Twitter violations and the suspension was re-imposed.

It was the first recorded example in the modern age of senior UK politicians belonging to a single party actively working to squash free speech.

Not perhaps being the brightest of operators, they obviously hadn’t thought this through. Buoyed by donations by a wide range of pro-independence supporters, the blog, which had been mothballed for the last two years, looks set to resume.

Fear and loathing

THE politicians who boasted about silencing Wings on Twitter now face their worst nightmare: entire articles listing their malfeasances and inactivity and funded largely by people they are supposed to represent. And all because they were fearful about messages limited to 280 characters.

The bizarre behaviour of the SNP’s professional wing has united friends and foes of Wings. Among them is Roddy Dunlop, the Scottish KC who has not been slow in criticising this website and has felt the rough edge of its tongue in return.

Dunlop issued the following tweet: “If he’s been banned on the basis of what I’ve seen – which is nothing – crowdfund only for solicitors costs: I’ll do it no win, no fee.”

Leading the cheers for the SNP’s pyrrhic victory over free speech was this column’s old friend, Pete “Slippers” Wishart. Alas for Pete, scrutiny of his ineloquent grandstanding at our expense will resume once more. And all of it paid for by supporters of his own party.

At the other end of the political intelligence scale to that occupied by the SNP’s scarecrow wing is Henry Alfred Kissinger, the astute former US secretary of state and national security adviser to Richard Nixon.

Kissinger was one of the few at the top of Nixon’s administration to escape the Watergate apocalypse. Indeed, he’d warned his hapless boss against bugging the Oval Office, one of the acts that later led to his downfall.

Kissinger, a keen football enthusiast, was one of the leading advocates for the game being taken seriously in the US. As he prepares to enter his 100th year, my Washington sources tell me he’ll be cheering on the US as they begin their World Cup campaign against Wales in Doha tomorrow.

Kissinger, a German-born Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, deployed his love of football to great effect during the Cuban missile crisis which ended peacefully 60 years ago this week.

President JF Kennedy was desperately seeking evidence of Soviet Russia’s physical presence in Cuba and aerial reconnaissance pictures were proving inconclusive. Kissinger, though, was convinced otherwise. The photographs had shown the markings for football pitches. “They don’t play football in Cuba,” he said.

Grim outcome

KISSINGER’S love of football was also evident during another mission to advance America’s geopolitical ambitions. I discovered this during an assignment in Grimsby a few years ago (please don’t ask).

During this trip, Peter Craig, the Glaswegian senior reporter on the Grimsby Telegraph showed me a picture, taken in 1976, of the great US statesman on the terraces of Blundell Park, the home of Grimsby Town FC.

He was accompanied by the local MP Anthony Crosland, who was also foreign secretary in James Callaghan’s Labour administration. The Mariners, pride of this fine old fishing town, were playing Gillingham and Kissinger wanted to be there. And, of course, it provided an appropriate backdrop for some soft diplomacy for this wily, old political puppet-master.

Kissinger was seeking to persuade Britain to bend to Iceland’s demands to increase its North Sea fishing territories at the expense of those traditionally fished by the trawler communities of Hull and Grimsby.

This was Iceland’s price for allowing the US to use its territory to monitor Soviet submarine activity.

Kissinger, as he usually did, got his way, but it came at a terrible cost to the local trawlermen.

In the first half of the 20th century, Grimsby possessed the world’s largest trawler fleet which fished the rich fishing grounds of the Humber estuary.

Grimbarians recall a time when you could walk from one side of the docks to the other across the decks of 1.000 jammed-in fishing vessels.

Almost overnight, however, they disappeared … along with the jobs of the trawlermen which sustained this town