Anger as Better Together Chief gloats over Ricky Burns ‘pumping’


By a Newsnet reporter

A senior figure within the anti-independence campaign has caused anger after appearing to gloat at what he described as the ‘pumping’ suffered by Scottish boxer Ricky Burns in his world title fight on Saturday night.

Rob Shorthouse, who is the Communications Head of the Better Together campaign, also described the playing of Flower of Scotland before the fight as a “debacle” and suggested the “writing was on the wall” for the Scottish fighter after the anthem was played.

Tweeting, Shorthouse wrote: “What a pumping ricky burns is taking here.  writing was on the wall after the flower of scotland three verse debacle.”

Challenged by another user of the social media site who criticised Shorthouse’s apparent “uncontained glee” at Burns’ difficulties, a defiant Shorthouse responded, “haha. That did make me laugh. You sad, sad man.”

The comments from the Better Together official followed Burns’ fight with Mexican Raymundo Beltran which saw the man from Coatbridge retain his title after judges scored the contest a draw.

However controversy surrounded the decision with many believing Beltran had just shaded it.  Burns was floored by a left hook in the eighth round.

It later emerged the Scot’s jaw had been broken in the second round and he had fought through considerable pain.  Burns needed surgery following the fight.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said on Twitter: “With Ricky in hospital – it’s not good – clean break to jaw from second round.

“Ricky is now in surgery to have a titanium plate in his jaw.”

Burns himself had earlier tweeted: “Jaw definitely broken. In agony here. Honestly don’t know how I managed to get through that fight.”

“Thanks to everyone for their support.”

Following the verdict, Shorthouse, tweeted: “What a lot of pish. Burns is a very lucky boy.”

Shorthouse is the former communications chief at Strathclyde Police who, according to the Herald, was recruited by Better Together on a salary of £100,000 per year.

Speaking to the Herald at the time, a source at Better Together said: “From our point of view his experience and background is outstanding, with an ability to reach beyond many of the usual message-carriers and across all parts of Scotland.”

Mr Shorthouse joined the civil service in 2001 and is a former senior communications officer for former First Minister Jack McConnell.

In 2006, he was seconded to be head of media and public relations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bid team, and he became the Scottish Football Association’s head of communications in 2007.