Herald political columnist and Scottish freelancer David Torrance has announced he is quitting journalism, in part blaming the rise of “online bile” and “puerile” political discourse for his decision.
Torrance’s last column for the Herald – his 221st since starting in 2013 – was published on Monday.
In a column in the Scottish Review on Wednesday, headlined “Why I’m Leaving”, Torrance said political discourse had “narrowed” following the 2011 Holyrood election, leading him to become a “hate figure”.
Torrance said: “At times, I’ve felt like I was back in the playground, so puerile has been some of what now passes for political discourse, constantly under assault for expressing what would – in any other political context – have been uncontroversial analysis.”
He added: “When I started out as a journalist in 2000, always with the intention of writing about politics, I certainly didn’t intend to become a hate figure, let alone a figure of fun; all I wanted to do was chart Scotland’s politics as thoroughly and honestly as possible.”
He will start a new post as a researcher in the House of Commons Library on Monday.
Torrance started his journalism career at the Edinburgh Evening News in 2000 and moved to the world of broadcasting in 2001 to produce The Week in Politics and work as a Scottish parliamentary reporter for STV.
He returned to print journalism in 2013, writing for the Herald, the National and Scottish Review as well as writing biographies of Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and the former Liberal leader David Steel.
Looking back on his career Torrance added: “There’s much about journalism and commentary I’ll miss: the conviviality of committed, fair-minded and professional colleagues; what the former newspaper editor Max Hastings once called the ‘intoxication of access’, and the sheer exhilaration of covering a by-election or historic referendum.
“Even after 18 years, I never lost the thrill of seeing my byline in a newspaper I’d read as a teenager. It’s been fun, but change is good, and it’s time for something different.”
In his final column for the Herald Torrance wrote: “Sadly this is my last, but over the last four and a half years, I hope I’ve succeeded in describing Scottish politics as it is rather than how I or others would like it to be. It has, of course, been a privilege.”
Commenting in the Herald, Donald Martin editor-in-chief at Newsquest Scotland, said: “Torrance has been a popular columnist on The Herald.
“His analysis of the political scene, particularly on constitutional issues, is unrivalled. We wish him all the best for the future.”