Questions over Glasgow-2014 tweets as Unionists attempt to politicise Olympic ceremony


By G.A.Ponsonby
A senior press officer at Glasgow2014, the official name for the organising committee for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, has been accused of tweeting against Alex Salmond and the independence referendum.
Stephanie Todd, an ex BBC broadcast Journalist, who now works as the Senior Press Officer for Glasgow2014, is alleged to have tweeted the following on Friday evening, just before the London Olympics opening ceremony:

“Poke in the eye to @alexsalmond and the #indyref #openingceremony #london2012 #ProudtobeBritish”

The tweet has since been deleted from her account, following a wave of angry reactions from followers and other tweeters.

Following questions from Newsnet Scotland to both Ms Todd and her boss at the Commonwealth Games organisation, Ms Todd subsequently locked her twitter account.

The tweet from the former BBC journalist prompted angry replies from other Tweeters.

“@stephanie_todd A poke in the eye to those working hard to deliver a fairer more prosperous Scotland?”

“@stephanie_todd Following your shocking “Poke in the eye” tweet, I hope you’re considering your position. Minimum? Apology. Ideally? Resign.”

“Oh dear. Seems like @stephanie_todd has forgotten who she works for.”

“@stephanie_todd She probably got the job for her political views.”

“I suspect @stephanie_todd bosses won’t be happy. Her personal view just politicised her job. #Sillygirl”

“Wonder what @janetteharkess head of media @Glasgow2014 thinks of press officer @stephanie_todd comment “Poke in eye to salmond and #indyref””

Press Officers for Non Governmental organisations are normally required to refrain from taking part in any political activities – they must be seen to be politically neutral in order to do their job. 

Speaking to Newsnet Scotland an unnamed source said it would be highly inappropriate for someone employed as a Senior Press Officer in a committee which is in partnership with The Scottish Government, and which is responsible for organising the Commonwealth Games in 2014, to take an active role in political campaigning.

Newsnet Scotland has contacted both Ms Todd and her boss, Janette Harkess at Glasgow2014 to ask them to comment on the Tweets, but have yet to receive a reply from either.

The apparent attack on the First Minister on the day of the London Olympic ceremony coincides with claims by Unionist politicians that the event will undermine independence.

Speaking in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, Labour MP Douglas Alexander claimed the £27 million ceremony, orchestrated by film Director Danny Boyle, undermined the Yes Scotland campaign with a message that there was nothing better than remaining in the Union.

Mr Alexander said: ““Friday’s opening ceremony was a big cultural moment that will impact on our sense of ourselves and politics here in Scotland even after the athletes have headed home. To win the referendum the Nationalists need to convince us that the rest of the UK has become so foreign a place with such different values that we should split apart.

“Friday’s ceremony did something completely different – by attempting to capture and define the essence of Britishness it reminded millions of us what we so cherish.”

He added: “It captured authentically a modern Britishness that is confident, generous, warm, inclusive and funny.

“From the NHS to Gregory’s Girl to Chris Hoy it was about who we are today. As Scots we may believe there’s nowhere better – but Friday reminded us there’s something bigger and why on earth would we want to give up part of who we are?”

The newspaper also published comments from Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, who added: “There is always a danger of reading too much into these things, but I think we have seen a reclamation of British identity over the last year with the Queen’s Jubilee and the passage of the Olympic torch.

“The ceremony wasn’t just about London or about England, it was about the whole of the UK.  No matter where they lived, I think people will have associated themselves with a lot of what they saw.”

Pro-Union supporters also tweeted about the ceremony’s impact. “After last night and the genuine pride people felt across the UK, why would you want to throw it all away with independence,” said one.

Another added: “Right, well, that’s the campaign to save the Union sorted.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of that Britain?”

A Scottish government spokesman called the claims by Scottish Unionists, that the London Olympic ceremony damaged the case for independence, “puerile”.

“This puerile attempt to politicise the Olympics certainly wouldn’t win any medals.  With the latest poll putting the SNP even further in the lead than last year’s election landslide, and independence ahead of every other constitutional option, Douglas Alexander and his colleagues in the Tory-led anti-independence campaign are clearly getting desperate,” he said.

He went on: “The First Minister loved every minute of the opening ceremony, and the 
Olympics are a global celebration of sport – with over 200 nations across the planet fielding the very best of their talent. This is time to get behind our athletes and sportsmen and women and cheer them on to success – Douglas Alexander and his straw-clutching colleagues in the anti-independence campaign would do better just to watch the Games.”

Recent opinion polls show that support for independence is the most popular when voters are offered the choice of independence, devo-max and no change.  However it also revealed a nine per cent gap between those in favour of independence (36%) and those against (45%) when a straightforward Yes or No question is asked.