Do me a favour, ScotGov

There’s something I wish the Scottish Government would give me a hand with.

No, I don’t mean money. I don’t want a tax break, or some kind of benefit payment, or even a lucrative new job in the corridors of power.

I don’t even mean any kind of additional personal privilege. When it comes to priorities for legislative action, it might be very tempting to place ‘removing all speed cameras from my route to work’ at the top of the pile; but I’m not asking for that.

I want the government to make raising my boy easier.

Phrased in this way, my desire may sound like a pipe dream. Parenthood is tough for everyone; it presents new challenges at every turn which are far beyond the power of any government to summarily dismiss. I realise this. I’m not one of those enlightened chaps who writes frequently to their MSP to complain about the weather.

The help I want from the Scottish Government is much simpler than the granting of a parental panacea. It’s well within their power to oblige.

I want them to help him learn right from wrong.

When I was a child, I very quickly understood that stealing was wrong. My parents told me so, my teachers told me so… And importantly, the law of land agreed with them. For a young boy, as yet unfamiliar with concepts of civil disobedience, this fact drew a definitive line under the subject. The law said it was wrong to steal, so it wasn’t just my Mum and Dad spoiling the larcenous fun: it was the position of society.

At an early stage in my development, the law provided an intuitive guide to what was OK and what wasn’t. As an adult, I understand that laws can be changed – new rules introduced, old rules scrapped – but as a child it seemed immutable, a code of legitimacy beyond question. Adults made the law, lots of them thinking about it together. My parents were almost omniscient – and there were only two of them. With all the lawyers, judges and ministers working together to decide how our country should live, it appeared to my youthful perception that a limitless supply of wisdom was bent to the task. The law was right – a true North for my moral compass to fix on.

If David is anything like me in his early years, he will probably accept without thinking that our code of laws illustrate the right way to live. That means our government have an opportunity to help shape his perception of good vs bad, normal vs strange. They can help me teach him the right lessons.

They can help me show David that the love between any two people is worth the same amount.

They can build a Scotland for him to grow up in which celebrates every wedding day with the same joyous abandon.

They can help him to understand that one family is the same as another, in every meaningful way – and that the gender combination of a classmate’s parents is as irrelevant as the colour of their eyes.

Or they can shirk that duty, leaving his mother and I to fight an ancient bigotry alone.

I don’t ask much from my Government, really I don’t. But I do ask that they back me up on equal love, by voting for equal marriage.

When David is growing up, I want him to respond with bafflement and subsequently hilarity when anyone tries to tell him that LGBT Scots should have lesser rights than society as a whole.

So do me a solid, ScotGov. Stop putting it off; do the right thing. Help me raise my boy in a country I’m proud of.


Breaking the Stranglehold (or ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love Privateer Press’)

Games Workshop make the best model soldiers in the world.

If you’re interested in tabletop gaming, the odds are that you’ve heard this slogan before. It’s bullish, corporate-mission-statement stuff. And for the most part, it’s widely accepted.

GW products, specifically the fantasy battle-themed Warhammer and the far-future-based Warhammer 40k, have been the staple of mass market wargaming for more than 20 years. The clear market leader, GW have developed a range of hooks for enthusiasts:

  • Compelling game-settings and mythology, which have spawned a range of successful novelisations and other features – AKA the ‘Fluff’
  • Beautifully-crafted models, supported by a culture of hand-painting and modification
  • A network of stores – or ‘hobby centres’ as GW style them – which provide an environment in which players of all ages can meet to stage games
  • Strategic play experience, which broadly rewards thought, insight and planning

This mix is something of a perfect storm; one which I understand very well, in fact. Taken in combination with another incredibly powerful factor, nostalgia, it’s what drew me back into the game after a long hiatus. GW have managed to create a brand which is potent enough to recall players in their late 20s and onward to the hobby of their teenage years, even when the specific models and rules have evolved beyond recognition from the original experience.

In the years since my return though, I’ve begun to question that brash, italicised assertion at the top of the page.

What really constitutes ‘making the best model soldiers in the world’?

This question goes to the heart of the unease that I have, as a gamer, with GW and their traditional priorities.

I believe the mission statement is intended to suggest that they create the best ‘model soldiers’ experience in the world; I’d define this as encompassing the actual sculpting of the models, the quality of the “fluff”, the ease and enjoy ability of the play experience… the entirety of the game and it’s components.

However, I suspect that GW have at various stages been too literal about interpreting this mission. Their focus has literally been on producing and selling the models, rather than on the game experience – and as a result, naive decisions have been made which have negatively affected gameplay.

Gameplay and neglect make uneasy bedfellows

I don’t see any need to rehash my previous description of the primary failings of 40k 5th edition; suffice to say, the overpowered nature of vehicles, compounded by the generous undercosting of various strong vehicles in Codices from Imperial Guard onward, left various players fairly disenfranchised.

The issue I want to raise here is about playtesting; specifically, about the potential for catastrophic game balance issues when it is neglected.

In 5th edition play, it was commonplace to find oneself facing off against the so-called ‘Leafblower’ Imperial Guard army list. The highly evocative name originates from the army’s propensity to destroy large quantities of an opponent’s forces in its first shooting phase; the joke was that one could simply remove the drifts of the dead thereafter like rotting autumn leaves.

Let me tell you, this was great fun to play against.

Leafblower was only possible as a result of Codex Imperial Guard’s generous army structure restrictions. Where other forces could select a comparatively small number of tanks, limited by their force organisation slots, IG were able to select several tanks as “squadrons” under a single slot, multiplying their advantage in high points-value games. As I mentioned earlier, their vehicles were also very good value for points. The possibilities were egregious.

Nonetheless, I told myself that GW had probably planned things this way; a remedy would doubtless be included in future Codices.

Allow me to relate the anecdote which left me holding my head in my hands.

A 40k tournament regular, posting on a popular forum, described his encounter with Robin Cruddace (author of the IG Codex) at a major event. Cruddace was playing a Guard army, as was our poster.

So far, so good.

Cruddace fielded what’s known as a “fluffy” army – a balanced force chosen for its depiction of an in-world IG platoon as much as for game strength. This is absolutely fine, albeit not truly competitive.

What’s really unsettling, though, is Cruddace’s reported reaction to the poster’s Leafblower army. He seemed surprised, but enthusiastic about its composition; the poster attributed to Cruddace several comments about “real mechanised platoons” and other positive fluff-related remarks.

Of course, our poster wiped the floor with the poor Codex author – who continued to express surprise throughout at the highly competitive traits of the list and the unwillingness of his opponent to agree reductions to his cover saves for narrative reasons.

My point is this: if this anecdote is accurate, the man who apparently designed the rules of a major gaming product was unaware of the widely understood impact of those rules.

Here’s what I took from this story:

  • Games Workshop is publishing rules which have been insufficiently playtested. Game balance issues ensue.
  • Robin Cruddace is not to blame for this problem. In a game as complex as 40k, an author cannot be expected to write rule books and also extensively playtest them.
  • Furthermore, GW is apparently not tracking the effect of products it has released on the game. If it was, the chances are that its game designers would recognise powerful army configurations when presented with them.
  • If there is no tracking, there can be no feedback to game designers. If there is no feedback, how on earth can we expect those designers to do things differently in future?

Culture clash

I attribute a significant part of this disconnect to a cultural clash:

  • GW don’t design with truly competitive players in mind; reading between the lines, there may even be a distaste for that cut-throat sensibility.
  • However, spiky tournament players DO exist – and in the Internet age, where their strategies and optimised army lists can be widely shared, their influence on the game is pervasive.

This understanding frustrated me for some time. Other modes of gaming I enjoyed understood the impact of the competitive information cascade. Why couldn’t tabletop war gaming do the same?

An appealing alternative

Feeling as I did, it now seems inevitable that I would encounter and respond to Privateer Press.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Privateer Press are the publishers of the Warmachine and Hordes games. Like 40k, they are tabletop war games; however, they boast two particular advantages in terms of gameplay:

  1. Scalability – Warmahordes (as the two compatible systems are collectively known) is designed to be played at a range of common points values. The largest values allow large armies which might be familiar to players of 40k, but the smallest provide for skirmish games which can be played with tremendous ease. My last 15pt Warmachine game involved the use of 4 models by me and 5 by my opponent. Simplez!
  2. Competitive sensibility – The Warmachine rulebook contains a text as important to competitive gaming as the Magna Carta is to civil liberties: it’s called page 5. On Page 5, Privateer Press lay out the philosophy of their Games System, explicitly enshrining cut-throat competition alongside good conduct and respect for opponents. It’s a fine statement of how to play hard but honourably – and it highlights the apparent gap in GW’s understanding of the player base.

The famous (or infamous, dependent on your perspective) Page 5

These two factors convinced me to sample the game, because they dovetail neatly with two of my own personal objectives since becoming a Father: getting value for my time and money. If I can play games involving less models, I’ll be able to complete them faster; I’ll also have less of a setup cost.
But what am I sacrificing by playing Warmachine in my free time rather than 40k? Faced with this question, I reverted to my original matrix:
  • Compelling game-settings and mythology – this isn’t really an issue for me, but from what I’ve seen, this is still an area where GW have a significant edge.
  • Beautifully-crafted models – in this area, Privateer Press hold their old manfully. The steampunk ‘Warjack’ sculptures are as easy on the eye as any Tyranid monster.
  • A network of stores – without a retail arm, Privateer rely on local hobby stores to present their products and provide a gaming environment. This certainly isn’t as reliable as the infrastructure GW has in place, but as a multi-format gamer I can attest to the excellence and community import of the best independent stores; I am innately more sympathetic to companies which support them through their marketing plans.
  • Strategic play experience – Privateer are no slouches on the strategic gameplay front. There are multiple factors to consider in every player turn and the importance of sequencing actions correctly cannot be understated. I feel that there’s a huge amount of depth in Warmahordes play – and I look forward to improving my understanding of it.

It’s clear that Privateer don’t have all the answers, but after starting small over a decade ago and working hard to build a following, they certainly are bringing something that hasn’t existed before: a challenge to GW’s dominance. I’m not the only gamer who feels this way – some quick forum research will turn up a host of similar remarks from players frustrated that GW hasn’t been catering to them.

Why Privateer Press is the best thing ever to happen to GW

Here’s where things get interesting.

I’m not privy to the inner workings of GW, so I can’t tell you that serious competition has directly inspired change. What I can tell you is this:

  • The community buzz around 40k 6th edition suggests that, for the first time, GW may have conducted large scale playtests with gamers external to the company – specifically gamers who understand the competitive play environment.
  • As I’ve previously mentioned in this blog, 40k 6th Edition “fixes” some of the marquee problems with the previous versions of the game – problems which, if the earlier Imperial Guard anecdote is to be believed, the game designers were not sufficiently aware of in recent years.

Perhaps GW aren’t analysing their competitors – it would be grand hubris, but it’s possible – and responding to comparative weaknesses in their game.

If they aren’t, they are at least listening to the concerns of their customers; those customers are, to a greater or lesser extent, being influenced by the existence of a genuine alternative against which to compare 40k.

The result is the same: as a 40k player, instead of griping about problems of game balance, I get to enjoy a system which has been tuned to a greater degree by input from serious gamers.

Let me clear about this: I am delighted, because I love playing 40k. While much of what I’ve written above is critical of GW, it’s the criticism of someone who remains invested in the game, rather than the rantings of a partisan fanboy.

The future’s bright – the future’s multi-format

My exploration of the wider tabletop world has given me a sense of profound optimism.

On one hand, I’ve discovered a new game which I’m approaching with the enthusiasm of an excitable beginner; on the other, I’m reaping the rewards of my favourite pseudo-monopoly wargame producer being exposed to healthy competition.

The end result is a net positive for both companies: instead of spending my limited cash on Magic Online, I’m now musing over the purchase of additional flying Hive Tyrants and the Butcher of Khardov

I hope that, in years to come, GW’s motto, Games Workshop make the best model soldiers in the world will come with the invisible addendum because the young bucks breathing down our neck force us to.

It’s a great time to play tabletop wargames.

40k 6th edition: a tasting platter

This weekend marked my first opportunity to play Warhammer 40k with the brand new, 6th Edition rule set.

I will not deceive you: I approached the experience with some trepidation.

There are several reasons why the change in rules gave me a tickle of anxiety:

Firstly, as a prodigal player, 5th was the rule set that I came back to. It wasn’t just an iteration of the game – it was definitive for me, the only 40k which I had clear memories of playing.

Secondly, 5th edition had some problems; by the end, one in particular was serious. Vehicles were disproportionately durable and, as a result, they were ubiquitous. This trend, once solidly established, divided the various factions into two distinct tiers: the haves and have nots of efficient armoured units. In a further evolution to the metagame, the armies which had both strong vehicles and easy access to anti-vehicle weapons formed an upper strata amongst the available options.

By the end, it was Tankhammer 40k – and it was miserable. I feared that, if the issue wasn’t dealt with in the new edition, I wouldn’t want to play the game for another 4 years.

Finally, I was nervous about how it would impact the collection of models I had painstakingly assembled and painted over the course of several years.

Rules changes had already proved relatively expensive for my Tyranid beasties – a new army reference book released two years ago turning many of my favourite units into over costed underperformers – and so I was pessimistic that the refresh would nerf a host of the new models I had bought since that overhaul. As a new poppa, I am not replete with spare funds, so I knew that no large scale replacement programme could occur this time.

While it’s certainly early to make definitive judgements, I think I can say that from my first experience with the rules, the nightmare scenarios have been averted.

While there are certainly some changes in the way the game plays – as there should be to keep it fresh – the largest share of the fundamentals have remained constant. This game feels clearly like an evolution of 5th edition, not a ‘tear it down and start from scratch’ project.

The changes that have been made seem intended to achieve one of two things: fix a known problem, or expand the scope of the game. Nothing feels as if it has been tweaked for the sake of it.

A couple of excellent examples spring to mind.

Games Workshop have ‘fixed’ vehicles by introducing ‘hull points’ – essentially a wound statistic for armoured units. In the past, many weapon strikes on vehicles would result in glancing hits which achieved little; now, such hits remove hull points, with the result that armoured targets are far less likely to swan through multiple game turns absorbing overwhelming amounts of fire to no end.

By the same token, they’ve expanded the game by introducing a whole new set of rules for flying monsters and vehicles. Before, a flying vehicle would simply be a tank that moved slightly further… Now, it has a range of different qualities such as being harder to hit whilst in motion, lightning quick progress across the board, but counterbalanced by lack of manoeuvrability whilst zooming around – all elements which are very evocative of jet-propelled war machines and simultaneously give the game additional depth.

The last of my major concerns, about the forced retirement of chunks of my army, was the most resoundingly quashed of all… Because the new rules have given me back my favourite unit of all time, the flying Hive Tyrant.

Relegated to the bench after the Tyranid army revision made him as durable as a heap of shaving foam, the increased threat range and new protection afforded to this huge green monstrosity whilst in flight makes him a genuine option again.

In fact, I was so taken with his apparent improvements that I decided to run two in my test game against a friend’s space wolves. The results were, frankly, incredible.

Both equipped with two sets of twin-linked devourers – which, to those unfamiliar with Tyranids, amount to giant bio-machine guns – they rampaged around the field raining death on several forlorn units of space marines.

The new rules dictate that flyers which soar above the field of battle must move a minimum of 12″ in a straight line and can only turn up to 90 degrees – representing the difficulty of flying at high speeds and theoretically making it tough to stay focussed on a single target without landing. Well, that may be the intention, but my Tyrants were able to fly squares around the enemy with considerable ease, comfortably hosing destruction onto various squads without really being threatened themselves.

Of course, I’m not foolish enough to think this will be the norm in 6th edition. Our experience of dominant flyers tearing up the game suggests that anti-aircraft fire will quickly become ubiquitous in most lists… Which will make Tyranids poor relations once more, as we really don’t have any. C’est la vie.

Other aspects of the game remain unexplored for me – the all-important ‘Allies’ principle, which allows players to selected units from the forces of other aligned armies, counted amongst them. However, I’ve certainly seen enough to make me want to play on and find out what’s to come.

6th edition feels like a well considered product, which is a welcome outcome for those of us who had become frustrated by the clearly inadequate play-testing regimen for 5th. I sincerely hope they keep up the same attention to detail as more armies are revised… It only takes one or two poorly thought-out, over-powered units to slip through the net to create a stifling play environment for everyone.

So if you’ve been taking a break from 40k, or if you’re a curious soul wondering if you should dip your toe in the water, my message to you is this: it looks to be a game worth playing… And I, for one, intend to play as much as possible over the next few months.

Who watches the Scotsmen?

I read with bewilderment, this lunchtime, a statement by the board of Clyde FC which offered some insight into the thinking of the SPL and SFA on the car-crash which is ‘the Rangers issue’.

Laid out clearly, for all to see, is the incredible blind-spot of the SPL as a commercial organisation – alongside the staggering impotence of the SFA as a governing body. Allow me to explain these two statements in a little more detail.

The SPL conundrum or ‘You can’t have it both ways’

It would appear from Clyde’s account that Neil Doncaster, SPL CEO, presented the SFL clubs with a rather crude Hobson’s choice. The Scottish game is, according to Mr Doncaster, poised for financial meltdown unless the ‘Son of Rangers’ is admitted to the first division of the SFL; admit them or accept the consequences (to the tune of £16m in lost television revenue and sponsorship monies). The consequences, in this case, also include the withholding of the £2m ‘settlement agreement’ which the SPL is committed to provide annually to the SFL.

Mr Doncaster’s case was simple: football is a business, the clubs and leagues are businesses… so act like it. We cannot wave goodbye to this amount of revenue.

I have to say, it’s a very reasonable position for a business. But there’s a problem with this outlook, because as Clyde have noted,  Mr Doncaster has not followed the reasoning through to its ultimate extent.

SPL clubs – and increasingly, SFL clubs – have recently borne the brunt of a fan-power tsunami. Supporters of all stripes have contacted their clubs to make their feelings known about ‘the Rangers issue’; there is no doubt that a significant majority are opposed to any preferential fudge in favour of a ‘Son of Rangers’ club. As Dundee Utd discovered several weeks ago, the strength of this feeling is great enough to have perilous consequences for season ticket sales.

Now, there is a school of thought which says that Scottish Football is more than a business: it’s an institution, a collection of clubs which transcend P&L accounts and balance sheets to existing as keystones for their respective communities. If one believes this synopsis, then it might be reasonable to assert that irrespective of how ‘the Rangers issue’ is settled, fans will just keep coming back anyway – because what would their lives and identities be without Dundee Utd/Aberdeen/Hibs etc? Perhaps this is behind Mr Doncaster’s decision to ignore the implications of concerted fan action on the clubs’ collective bottom lines.


But one thing is sure: you can’t have it both ways, Mr Doncaster. Either the clubs are businesses which are at the mercy of their customers, or they are institutions which will withstand any financial onslaught by weight of historical inertia. They can’t be one when considering the sponsorship which pays your wages, then another when debating whether to give their fans the finger.

The SFA debacle, or ‘Don’t just do something, sit there!’

The SFA has a clear role to play in Scottish Football. It’s notionally the governing body, invested by FIFA with the power to license clubs and leagues, sanction transfers, run the national team and generally safeguard the health of the game in this country.

Over the past few months, a picture has emerged of an organisation that:

  • Holds deeply conflicted interests, particularly in their continued employment of Campbell Ogilvie, a man actually implicated in the Rangers EBT scandal
  • May already have known that Rangers did not meet the financial requirements for League competition last season, but allowed them to compete in any case
  • Is liable to be overruled by FIFA with regard to sanctioning Rangers for seeking legal redress outside of sport, should it fail to impose appropriate punishments

With this as the backdrop, the SFA appear to have decided that inaction is the best policy. While they have the power to simply state that the ‘Son of Rangers’ club will be refused SFA membership unless it enters the third division, they are paralysed by fear of what will happen if they exercise that power; in truth, they are probably also paralysed by fear of what will happen if they fail to do so.

Our governing body is unwilling to govern. This effectively makes Scottish football a ‘wild west’ environment, where the outlaw with the biggest gun gets to set the agenda, as the sheriff weeps in his office, staring at the badge in his shaking hand and swigging from a bottle of warm whiskey.

The buck accelerates

The man with the biggest gun, currently, is Neil Doncaster… or so he thinks.

That’s the reason why Mr Doncaster has handily passed responsibility (for what he sees as Scottish Football’s financial meltdown in prospect) to the SFL clubs. It is they who will be obliged to make the decision on which his future likely hangs, they who will ‘take the heat’ – a position which also suits the cowering SFA – and in light of the official rejection by SPL clubs of a ‘Son of Rangers’entry into the league, it seems their decision will be a final one. Doncaster clearly believes that his implicit threats will seal the deal in favour of a first division entry, but I disagree with him.

One huge, £16m gun is impressive to brandish, certainly – but is it more or less deadly than the massed ranks of firepower represented by season ticket holders walking away all over the country?

In such a firefight, my money is on the fans. The Scottish game will survive in some form as long as an appetite for competitive football exists amongst Scots; poison the product with corruption, demonstrate that the leagues are anything but truly ‘competitive’ and that appetite will wither.

What good is a TV deal, when no-one wants to watch?

Finding the thread

A Twitter feed is a wonderful thing.

Not always, of course. I can’t unequivocally endorse any source that frequently produces a stream of terrible puns, or results (via retweets) in my having to read anything which Guido Fawkes has to say.

Occasionally though, my feed can help me see patterns with beautiful clarity… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Barely a day goes by without quotes from, or commentary on, the Leveson inquiry reaching me via Twitter. The extent to which the entire hacking scandal and subsequent legal process has gripped those I follow is striking; it’s also a reflection of how gripped I am personally by the whole affair, as I have actively followed some of the more knowledgeable individuals in search of their Leveson insights.

What has inspired this ferocious appetite for information? Well, I won’t retread the details of the hacking scandal in depth; suffice to say that one or more powerful press organisations have crossed a moral and legal line with their conduct, perhaps also trying to evade detection and punishment for these transgressions. The people of the UK, by and large, are pretty unhappy about this.

Last week, a new story began to flood my digital awareness, with the revelation that traders acting for Barclays may have lied to manipulate a hitherto obscure interest rate known as LIBOR; the net effect of this deception may have been a negative impact on the borrowing costs of vast swathes of the UK population, perhaps stretching to other financial markets. The response from Barclays has been relatively tepid: apologies have been issued and the non-executive Chairman has stepped down, leaving the actual decision makers who presided over this shady and damaging activity untouched.

The feelings of financial commentators – and as they wake up to the implications, the wider populace – are significantly less tepid.  The discovery of this incident is seen as a loud, clear indicator that the banking culture in the UK, far from having learned its lessons in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, is still operating under a prevailing, dark amorality. Anger is building amongst a people who have already begun to feel the pain of cuts; they see the organisations they blame for their tightening belts acting as if nothing has changed, continuing to wheel, deal and excessively consume with the support of their tax contributions.

News is emerging that RBS has sacked ten traders in connection with similar practices. As the scope of the scandal widens, a clamour is building for a ‘banking Leveson’ to be established. It’s a demand I believe the Prime Minister, lurching as he does from PR flashpoint to PR flashpoint , will find hard to ignore.

Both of these issues are relatively far-reaching in their connection with the public. Before I come finally to the point, I’d like to illustrate one with a more parochial appeal.

For those familiar with Scottish Football, it will be unsurprising for you to learn that I am interested in the demise of Rangers Football club. If you know nothing about Scotland, Football or the two in tandem, allow me to offer a short synopsis:

  • Rangers FC, one of the two largest clubs in Scotland and the most successful in the history of the Scottish league, has suffered financial meltdown and has been liquidated.
  • The problems at Rangers stem from irresponsible, even reckless management of the club over a number of years, including the operation of an illegal tax evasion scheme for employees which was concealed from the footballing authorities in breach of league rules.
  • In the aftermath of Rangers’ demise, various parties are engaged in a squabble over its assets, emotional legacy and the right to form a ‘successor’ club.

As the plight of this enormous – and potentially highly profitable – club became clear, various figures within the game began to devise plans to somehow keep Rangers FC (or whatever ‘Son of Rangers’ club emerged) in the Scottish Premier League (SPL). When these plans became known, a supporter revolt arose which seriously threatened revenue for all the SPL clubs who would be involved in voting on them. The message from supporters was clear: don’t let cheats off without punishment, or you undermine the whole point of sporting endeavour.

The result of this groundswell of opinion is that, before the vote has even taken place, numerous SPL chairman have publicly committed to refuse the ‘Son of Rangers’ entry into their league. While other desperate attempts are made by the game’s governing powers to give the club a leg up, to prevent them being forced to restart in the lowest professional division, fan opinion remains clear and I expect that fan power will win out, relegating Rangers to Scottish Division 3 before the start of the next season in August.

And so to the point. What is it that Twitter has helped me to understand with respect to these three unsavoury tales?

In each of these cases, powerful and wealthy establishment figures have taken liberties with the rest of society – and subsequently attempted to evade, ignore or cajole their way out of punishment. The reaction of society itself has been incredibly consistent: a wholesale rejection of the behaviour of these toxic organisations and a demand that they be held to account.

It was not so long ago that we in the UK were looking on, in paternalistic fashion, at the struggles of ordinary Egyptians in Tahrir Square and their comrades in the Arab Spring. How terrible it must be, we thought, to live in a country where democracy is a facade and powerful, corrupt interests simply steamroll the average citizen.

Now, with such corruption revealing itself in numerous areas of our public life, we’ve had a taste of that medicine… and if social media is anything to go by, we really, truly don’t like it. The collective feeling that we would like to do something about it continues to grow.

Look upon my Twitter feed, ye mighty and despair…

Follow @daveshed