Newspaper editors and their readers have reacted angrily this weekend to the lifting of the media blackout on Nicol Stephen. A voluntary understanding between the media and the voters had led to news outlets observing an almost complete silence on the Liberal Democrat leader since the party lost power in the Scottish elections last May.
It’s feared that following his ‘outing’, Mr Stephen could become a “bullet magnet” for his political enemies. Already opposition parties are saying that he is a total liability and that he shouldn’t be let out alone. An internet website, thought to be linked to the Scottish Liberal Democrats, broke the news that Mr Stephen was going to go into action on the front-line at his party’s conference in Aviemore this weekend.
In his first interview since the reporting ban was lifted, Mr Stephen said: “It’s very nice to be sort of a normal person for once. I think it’s about as normal as I’m going to get”. He went on: “Lucky there’s no civilians around here because it’s a no man’s land. If I go up north, I have to keep my face slightly covered on the off chance someone will recognise me”
Away from the public eye, the Liberal Democrat leader has in recent months seen front-line action on a number of fronts. Skirmishing at First Minister’s Question time, Mr Stephen has been hitting the nationalist forces of Mullah S’al-Omand where it hurts, using live ammunition. However, because of the blackout, these have received zero coverage in the press.
It is claimed that in the autumn Stephen led his troops into a major offensive in the hotly disputed Trumpland province in the badlands of the North East. However, after initial success, it appears that this offensive was beaten back by nationalist forces supported by local tribes who wanted to increase their income from the lucrative international trade in the illegal drug ‘golf”. Stephen’s forces are now thought to control less than 10% of the country.
Stephen has also attempted to reconstruct an alliance with forces loyal to the opposition leader Wendi al-Xandr. His supporters have agreed to participate in the setting up of a new power-sharing constitutional convention. However, this received a set back when al-Xandr’s foreign backers insisted that the convention was a means of taking powers away from Scotland. Wen-di al-Xandr’s militias have now targeted Stephen and hope to destroy him politically now he is out in the open.
A spokesman for the Society of Editors, said that he was “very disappointed” that a website had broken the voluntary agreement not to report anything about the Liberal Democrats. “This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude of the UK print and broadcast media as a whole who have entered into an understanding over coverage of Stephen”. Normal disservice will be resumed at the earliest opportunity.