Friday, August 4, 2017

Fly on the Wings of love, fly baby fly

I was a bit wary when I started reading Robin McAlpine's reflections on the controversy of recent days, because I thought he might simplistically portray CommonSpace as the victim of the piece - an interpretation which I think is quite difficult to sustain, especially after the ugly descent into witch-hunt territory when the website's editor 'named and shamed' Mhairi Black MP for simply hitting the 'like' button on tweets that were supportive of Scotland's leading pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell.  However, I'm relieved to say there's much more to Robin's article than that, and indeed it's an all-too-rare example of a column published on CommonSpace coming to Stuart's defence and pointing out the lack of perspective of those who constantly demonise him ("vendetta masquerading as virtue").

Basically Robin calls for "kindness not cruelty" towards both Wings and CommonSpace, which is a refreshingly ecumenical attitude.  But I think the deficiency of the article is that it doesn't really acknowledge that CommonSpace itself has failed that test in recent days, and therefore not all of the brickbats that have been thrown at the site are totally unreasonable.  Robin says that he can find nothing malicious in Angela Haggerty's Sunday Herald column about Stuart, and in terms of what she said directly that's true enough - but there was some fairly unsubtle innuendo in there.  She suggested that Stuart was making a mistake that was somehow equivalent to the one made by a well-known politician who was found guilty of perjury.  It's not terribly surprising that some of Stuart's supporters were angry enough to start thinking in the heat of the moment about whether CommonSpace was the sort of site they wanted to continue supporting financially.  Robin suggests there was a "campaign to de-fund" the site - based on what I saw that isn't really true.  Some people spontaneously announced they would be cancelling their subscriptions and there appeared to be a copycat effect.  The only hint I could see of a true 'campaign' was the Butterfly Rebellion explicitly urging people to unfollow the CommonSpace Twitter account en masse, which I thought was way over-the-top (and also very surprising, given that Butterfly Rebellion is an intelligent and quality website).

As far as Jordan Daly's infamous hatchet job on Wings is concerned, Robin's defence is that the column was not commissioned, but was submitted in the normal way and met the criteria for publication, and therefore there was no reason not to publish it.  That's fine as far as it goes, but I think it's a bit naive to imagine that an all-out attack on an important part of the independence movement can just be treated in the same way as any other article without there being negative consequences.  I think CommonSpace could have avoided much of what happened if they had taken the following steps -

1) The title of the column should have been softened.  Over the years I've written dozens of articles for other websites, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times my own suggested title has been used without any alteration.  An editor (or editorial team) can reasonably be expected to take some responsibility for the title of a column, which in this case was needlessly provocative by calling on readers to send the most popular pro-independence site packing.

2) There should have been a very strong disclaimer on the webpage itself that the column reflected the views of the writer, and not the editorial stance of CommonSpace.  There seems to be a feeling that this sort of thing should just be taken as read, but again, I think that's naive.  CommonSpace is well-known to have a past history of publishing brutal attacks on Wings, and not much of a past history of publishing defences of Wings.  Not long before Jordan Daly's column appeared, the editor had tweeted views on the Wings controversy that seemed very much in line with Mr Daly's own perspective - and of course her Sunday Herald column was published not long afterwards.  If there appears to be no obvious distinction between a columnist's views and the editorial line, people are naturally going to conflate the two unless you very clearly and prominently explain what the difference actually is.

3) The column should have been accompanied with another column putting the opposite view.  I have a feeling the justification for that not happening would be that "no column putting the opposite view was submitted", but if you want to be seen as being responsible and not causing unnecessary ruptures in the independence movement, I think you need to be more proactive than that.  A pro-Wings response should simply have been commissioned - ideally from Stuart himself, but if he wasn't interested I'm sure there would have been any number of other people willing to do it instead.

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On the subject of the abuse Stuart Campbell has to put up with on a daily basis, here's another invaluable contribution to the cause of civility and solidarity from "Richard Palmer" - the troll ringleader who briefly turned his fire on me last week.  He's now calling himself "Elite Baklava".  Is it just me, or is "we need to do something about w***s like Campbell" a bit of a sinister thing to say?  What on earth would that "something" be?






As you can see, the tweet in which Richard calls me a "f***ing fool" received two 'likes' - and one of them was from "David Al", aka David Allison, who was the Green Party's official candidate in the Barrhead ward at the council elections just three months ago.  Call me biased, but if it's now in fashion to have witch-hunts based on politicians' Twitter 'likes', that's where I'd be starting.

I've no idea whether the Richard gang have any direct involvement in the notorious A Thousand Flowers website, but the overlap in terms of politically correct zealotry and mindless personal abuse is pretty striking.

28 comments:

  1. I must resist thinking "Black Ops" or "Agent Provocateur" or"Brigade 77" or any one of the many other ways that the British Establishment hangs on to its power until it is ripped off them through violence.

    We have until now achieved great things through the democratic process. Maybe the "powers that be" realise that the next step is actually a small one (polls probably show Independence close to 50/50 - though we haven't had one for a while) and they are turning up the heat and waking up their 'sleepers'. Or maybe it's just a few precious egos being ignored and shout out?

    If it's the latter we can do something about that with some cool reflection, but if it's the former, we had better up our game. This has been a very damaging few weeks for the YES movement, and the MSM/BBC are loving it and stoking the fires. We don't have to help by pouring on the petrol.

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  2. Nodding in agreement down to ***, but I think you're barking up the wrong tree with Richard. I've followed him for years, since long before the referendum, because of other shared interests. He expresses strong opinions, yes, and sometimes provocatively, but I've seen nothing to suggest he's the ringleader of a troll network (a tweet with two likes kind of supports that) and if he has anything at all to do with 1000 flowers I'd be utterly, utterly astonished.

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    1. Having been on the receiving end of what can only be described as trolling from him (and outright abuse), I read through some of his timeline and I can confirm that he's been doing this to people for years and years and years. Why do you follow someone who behaves like that?

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  3. Cat Boyd , Angela Haggerty , two of the enemy within , they know they are damaging the yes movement , but their ego's won't allow them to stop !

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  4. James please don't get so distracted by the bitter witterings of some fringe people with zero popular supported.

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    1. I endorse Mr Murray's advice, Mr Kelly. I know it is hard because 'names do in fact hurt us' and can hurt us pretty sorely. However, we can adopt a Stoical attitude, and I mean an attitude which follows a Stoical philosophy rather than the vox pop usage.

      Mr Williamson is a decent person and he, like that other decent person, Mr Paul Kavanagh, have in recent days tried to cut through much of this ego -driven preciousness and to 'keep their eyes on the prize'.

      I do not agree with the starkness of "John's" comment above regarding Ms Boyd and Ms Haggerty, but we have to be aware that ego is pretty powerful, especially when one is young. I wish that I at the ages that Ms Boyd and Ms Haggerty are now, had had the confidence and articulacy which they express, but I fear that they are still prone to egocentrism (we all are, but as one gets older, we realise that we are not all that important!).

      Keep up your sterling work Mr Kelly! Your ego and self respect is much stronger than you think, because over the years you have demonstrated it to be so.

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  5. I do not tolerate personal abuse in my own life and I don't like it online either. I'm not contributing to CommonWeal / CommonSpace any more because they've just destroyed their credibility in my eyes with those attacks you mentioned, and also because I used to enjoy reading Michael Gray and Robert Somynne (Nathanael Williams), and they are no longer writing for it.

    I'm sick and saddened with this, because we need all hands on deck, or next call is going to be all hands to the pumps.

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    1. ejfj,

      it is admirable that you have such an attitude to personal abuse. I think it has two necessary adjuncts - the ability to turn the other cheek and the ability to forgive.

      I am not religious (although raised as a Calvinist), but I think that these two things are essential for us to live as a community.

      Keep your eyes on the prize and do not be diverted by temporary irritations.

      I found Ms Boyd's decision, puzzling at best and I found the Jordan Daly/Wings spat petty and unnecessary. However, I am sure that there are many more things that Ms Boyd, Mr Daly (apologies if I have been presumptuous in assigning that title; I intend no offence), Ms Haggerty and Mr Campbell and I agree than on which we have serious differences.

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    2. Thank you, Alasdair! I admire your attitude too - in my personal live, I do believe in turning the other cheek - which I interpret as doing nothing to aggravate matters - and I don't hold grudges either, because even on a purely selfish level, they're bad for you, bad for your relationships, and corrosive to the soul.

      I do, however, find it pretty much impossible to do the turning of the other cheek and the forgiveness, though, before people stop slapping and shouting at me, i.e., while the abuse is going on. Afterwards, yes, although it may take a while before it's safe for me to open my yap about it...

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  6. The people who can potentially damage the yes movement are the narcissistic yes supporters. You see they are all about themselves, and the Yes movement is a convenient vehicle for their self publicity.

    They decide who is good and who is bad in their own wee world where they are the masters of the universe. This Stasi style thought police brigade are the ones who divide. Cat Boyd and the like are inconsistent in their political vehicles. We don't help the yes campaign by voting for unionist parties. We don't help the yes movement by trying to vilify anyone of a different opinion to your own.

    The yes movement should involve the whole of Scotland. Left, Right, Middle, extreme left and even extreme right. That's what a country is. We can be divided politically but united nationally. That's called a normal nation.

    Those that want independence on their own terms are deluded and narrow minded. When we get independence we will still have 4 or 5 parties all disagreeing on policy. We won't wake up to a utopian vision of Marxism or Nirvana.

    We will be an independent nation, with destiny in our hands not England's.

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    1. We will be an independent nation, with destiny in our hands not England's.

      If you live in the Central Belt, sure. For the rest of us it's no different, we're still being run by someone else.

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    2. It's a bit different - non-Central Belt MSPs make up far more than 9% of the Scottish Parliament.

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    3. One of the things I hope an independent Scotland will achieve is a) population growth in areas outside the central belt leading to other areas growing in political & economic power to balance the current bias, and b) further devolving of all sorts of political decision making out to local regions; the Norwegian model, you might call it. The current central belt focus is as much a product of the Union as the London focus we also 'enjoy'.

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    4. Spot on. We need to devolve away from professional politicians and to the people. Revolutionise the political system to a deliberative democracy.

      On another tack, I don't understand people doing Twitter. It is mind-numbingly banal and prey to ill-considered insults - to put it mildly. If you want to exchange that kind of abuse go down the pub and do it in private.

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  7. I just don't understand why there is this squabbling amongst people who are supposed to have the same objective, independence for Scotland. Surely we should be highlighting scandals such are as described here, laying bare how this country is being systematically asset stripped by those in power until there is absolutely nothing left.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/03/britain-world-beater-ripping-off-citizens-rail-fares-water-energy-bills
    I look at the likes of Dugdale and Rennie and wonder at their motives, and won't they be loving this skirmish.
    There are so few articles in the MSM which reflect the good things the SNP do in Scotland, eg the Dundee Courier, in their letters page I've occasionally counted 4/5 letters in a row all condemning the SNP, yet here there must be at least 50% SNP voters. Miles Briggs the tory perth MP has been in the paper nearly every day since the school holidays, I expect them to give him his own page or rename the Courier as the Miles Briggs appreciation show. Thats my personal gripe, the paper will be cancelled when either me or my husband are cancelled! Rev Stu is an intelligent, journalist who has the ability to dig out information which shows up a lot of people for the hypocrites they are and they don't like it. When MSM start being a bit (lot) more honest, blogs like Wings won't be needed, but I can't see that for a long time.

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    1. The Courier is my local paper too. It astonishes me that they apparently think it's sound business sense to alienate half (more, in Dundee, I think) of their potential readership.

      If there is any business sense behind it, it can only be that they've identified their core readership as a Unionist demographic who definitely WON'T buy the Courier unless the paper constantly chants the proper ESSEMPEEBAD mantra as a sort of shibboleth.

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  8. A daily dose of sanity from James,pity we cant have some politicians ready to sit and think it through whatever needs thought through.Thanks for being reasonable in a turbulent sea of gang mentality and madness.As always a good blog helps minds to be open except the obvious closed to sense ones.They must know who they are.

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  9. To the person who is using the old central belt rule garbage. Independence is about the nation not Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness. I couldn't care less if the parliament was in Wick or Wigtown. As long as it's in Scotland for Christ sake.

    The parliament has to be somewhere and the capital and historic city of Edinburgh must be the choice. You could go through every nation in Europe and argue about where each parliament should be. That doesn't mean that we should leave it in another country so as not to upset people in small towns or islands. For feck sake drop that shit it really annoys me. We have the parliament where the majority of the population lives. 2 million people in the Central belt!

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    1. And here was me thinking it was in Edinburgh already! I'll bet shifting it - to - oh - Perth, for the sake of argument - would not do the leaks in the roof a bit of good.

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  10. Annonymouse Central Belt

    Thank you for your illustration of Central Belt arrogance. In the north the saying is,
    " The English are totally indifferent about us but in the Gallda they hate us."
    Let me play your population argument another way. The wealth of Scotland is created mostly to the north of the River Tay.The Scottish Parliament should therefore be in Aberdeen central to the wealth creating area.

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    1. I've seen you posting the same bollocks on CIF. Funny how Edinburgh can be the capital of and independent Scotland for centuries before the english occupation but can't be the capital after they're kicked out? Feel free to stick your face up a pig.

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    2. The independent parliament should be in Brechin.

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  11. Still not getting it. I just said I don't care where the INDEPENDENT parliament is. The capital seems the logical choice for most nations. I live in Falkirk neither Glasgow nor Edinburgh so have no bias. You cannot have an international parliament in a smaller town without the infrastructure of a city. Airports, Transport, Law Courts , Finance HQ's. People from every part of Scotland and abroad need to use the parliament. Someone from Stranraer could complain if the parliament was in Aberdeen. Someone from Glasgow could complain if it was in Edinburgh. Someone from Edinburgh could complain if it was in Inverness. This is a ridiculous argument.

    If anyone seriously thinks London rule is better than Edinburgh rule they need their daft heids looked at.

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    1. Absolutely right - I was being facetious earlier, for which I apologise. It's absurd, for now anyway, to think of the Scottish Parliament being based anywhere other than Edinburgh. The Parliament is always going to be "elsewhere", unless you just happen to be inside it! I wouldn't want the whole Parliament meeting in my living room anyway - I'd be out of teacups in seconds.

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  12. (LOL)
    All joking aside I wouldn't care if on independence the Scottish Parliament was on Ailsa Craig as long as we got one, but unless the self styled elite of the bistros and wine bars in Byres Road etc stop squabbling in public another referendum is put at risk.

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  13. Meanwhile Paddy Harvie decides to Label the good Rev as a homophobe and a transphobe.

    We are well into 1984 and thoughtcrime territory here but the pantwetting SJWs just can't see past their own personal bigotry.

    People like him are the reason for President Trump. Real people despise them and react against being labelled as evil just for using a perfectly correct word that they've decided is now racist, sexist, git-phobic.

    When will the obnoxious wee turd pay his share of the £900,000,000 tram bill that has bankrupted my city?

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  14. Is a thousand flowers not music-based?

    Derek

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  15. WeSaidNoToYesMen :-)August 8, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    Hahahaha, it's brilliant watching the People's Front of Judea taking on the Judean People's Front. Popcorn, indeed. :-)

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