Responsibility, dignity, maturity – why angry movements persuade no-one

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Jimmy Reid addressing the UCS working in 1971

Commentator Christopher Silver takes a deep breath and discusses the recent spats within the Yes movement.

“Was it too busy in standard?” is a legitimate enough question to pose to a frontline politician like Yvette Cooper.

You can imagine the sense of glee when a Corbynista activist spied the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions enter the first class carriage of a train, sit down, take advantage of the extra leg-room, and peer over her smartphone.

Christopher Silver

Surely, here was a serendipitous demonstration of the core instincts of the Labour left: Corbyn sits on the floor with good honest working class folk, while the Blairites pay a premium to keep the great unwashed on the other side of the sliding doors.

Political righteousness is an exhilarating fix that goes straight to the head. In this regard social media is a veritable crack den, a paradise for the outrage junkie, a great sluice channelling all the angry truths and wrongs we burn to express.

I’ve thrown my fair share into the mix, and will openly admit that it often has the uncanny effect of making the user blind to the impact of what they’re publishing.

A new reality 

Filled with such potent stuff, the lads behind the Reel Politik Twitter account had neglected to realise that snapping an unsolicited photo of a lone woman on a train would be almost universally recognised as creepy and wrong.

Rather than highlighting the apparent hypocrisy of the Labour right, it fed a sustained news cycle about how women in public life are treated. Though they would later apologise, the group were initially undeterred by responses to the photo, noting:

“This has wound up all the right people, it seems. Face it, Yvette’s a bellend and a busted flush, you’re a c***, and we’re in charge forever.”

For context, it’s worth pausing to remember that no one has ever been killed by use of the term bellend. The richness of political satire is premised on the right to offend and we’re lucky to live in a society in which mockery of the powerful is a practice that we can revel in.

But prior to the invention of the smartphone, the three lads who run Reel Politik would have ended their train journey with a fun anecdote destined for embellishment in the pub. Today, such ephemeral scandals are built-in to politics in the social media age. This unmasking of the truth about Yvette’s elitist commuting habits has a potential audience of millions and becomes a matter of permanent public record. We’re still in a process of difficult and prolonged adjustment to this new reality.

Congregation is key

Still, the fact remains that people join political movements for all manner of reasons. It is understood that participation involves elements of both self-sacrifice and self-reward. The ability to self-publish almost anything means that the social reward is now regularly displayed for all to see: the all consuming passions, the in-jokes, the obsessions, the codes of behaviour that denote loyalty.

A scene from the Yes campaign, 2014

No genuine political movement has ever been free from any of these traits. But social media transparency has created an unfortunate focus on the issue of behaviour rather than ideas, it is the terrain of the opinions of the angry devotee, not the hard graft of the persuasive political activist.

In this regard, it’s worth reflecting that the great forum that took everyone by surprise in 2014 was not primarily digital. As with Corbyn, it was the sheer number, scale and variety of the public meetings that took place: the willingness of people to congregate in aid of a shared goal.

These were not people adopting isolating habits in isolated situations at home with a keyboard: these were real people interacting, disagreeing, debating and, crucially, sharing the same space.

In Scotland the Yes movement now exists in silos because the impetus to get folk to tramp down to a draughty community centre on a Wednesday night is not there, and cannot be artificially re-created.

Media not ideology 

Away from the energy of the congregation, people get bored and become more and more attached to the superfluous, the daft and the downright weird. The blogs cannot address this: unlike the elitist goals of post-war mainstream media, they’re not built on public service values. Instead, like the pamphleteers of the eighteenth century, their appeal is that they are self-consciously scurrilous and partisan.

Thus you have a split emerging in Yes that is more about the nature of new media than it is about political ideology. In broad terms, two distinct groups with directly opposed interests have emerged. On the one hand those who found in the movement a sense of belonging and a long awaited voice, on the other, those who saw in it an opening for some other project.

Power and platforms

This is why scrutiny is at the heart of the current furore embroiling what is left of Yes. The matter of whether a tweet from Wings Over Scotland was homophobic will now be ruled on by a court.

For many who support Stuart Campbell and see the success of the site he edits as a barometer for the success of Yes, the issue is entirely black and white. A leading politician sought to slur a plucky and popular pro-independence blogger as a homophobe. In this view Campbell is just a citizen, he’s just one of us and the only logical response is to get behind him.

But I think this is to overlook big questions of power and influence in the digital age, something that the law, especially around defamation, has consistently struggled to keep pace with.

To put it bluntly, if we are living in an era of “platform capitalism” then ownership of a platform comes with far more responsibility than the largely small-scale, personal and part-time efforts of the blogosphere of a decade ago.

Many people, myself included, are amazed that someone with such influence views a sneering personal attack invoking a father’s sexuality to wish that a son had never been born, as an appropriate use of that platform.

To view such a conclusion as po-faced or censorious is to miss the point. Personal attacks, (whatever their theme) from an individual in a position of leadership are inherently problematic, because they validate that behaviour to a wider audience. It becomes part of a “straight-talking” agenda that others seek to emulate.

Unlike Campbell, I’m not an editor and can’t begin to imagine the personal strain of maintaining a single large audience as a predominantly individual effort, so it’s not my call. But as it filters through to the mainstream – in newspaper headlines and in wider narratives about the way the movement is perceived, there is only a spiral of negativity.

Rump Yes 

As what’s left of the pro-independence movement consolidates and seeks to cast out the doubters and the distracted, it becomes an entrenched rather than a dynamic force in Scottish life. It will publish its reader stats as though each new click is a step on the road to independence. It will sing the same song of “sovereignty first” over and over again and feel content in the glow of this basic truth, waiting for the blindness of the feeble 55% to be cured.

It will remain a mysterious and confusing thing to most of the Scottish public: that “mainstream” who watch Reporting Scotland, complain about ScotRail and seek some kind of secure existence in an economy kept alive by cheap credit, supermarkets and house prices.

The Rump Yes project stems from an attitude that informs the worst of politics. As Stuart Campbell recently claimed, his platform speaks to a “silent majority” of true, honest, followers, who are, in a puzzling phrase coined by GA Ponsonby, set in opposition to a selfish, careerist and narcissistic “radical elite.”

Here we have the basic lingo of some of the worst politics on the planet seeping into how pro-independence opinion in Scotland perceives itself. The idea of a “radical elite” in Scotland is an absurdity, at least as a fatuous a construction as the liberal elite dreamed up by the American right.

It was the notion of a creeping social permissiveness, a plot co-ordinated by the liberal elite, that led Nixon to popularise the term “silent majority”. Instead of a war on the family, we have a war against iScot. Rather than the mystical “snowflakes” of the alt-right we have “squealing indy bedwetters.”

Dignity and responsibility 

If the Rowling-endorsed nastiness of the likes of Brian Spanner is ever going to stop, it requires both sides to accept that the success of an online brand and the ability to intervene in politics and public life, confers responsibility.

Ironically, responsibility is the core goal of the entire independence project. Sadly, many supporters of independence seem to view the existence of the union as an all-encompassing excuse for avoiding it at all costs. Like a number of things we might wish for, it is a quality that we are told will only emerge after independence.

Rather than swallowing the bitter pill that all political movements need to contemplate at some point – creating change means being held up to a higher standard and greater scrutiny than those who want the status quo – many seem to see vainglorious litigation, the tool of millionaires, as a sensible strategic step.

If the pro-independence coalition is to move anywhere, to mature, regroup and push for a renewed case on entirely different terms to the last effort in 2014, it needs to accept that a political struggle is about rising above the personal, the slanderous and the nasty, not revelling in it.

Stuart Campbell seems to disagree, as he so eloquently put it: “If some kind of arsehole-seeking virus wiped out half of the squealing indy bedwetters overnight, the truth is that nobody would notice or care and no harm would be done to the Yes cause (probably the reverse).”

Not exactly “work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation,” is it?

It feels good to be proved right and to feel that the truth is on your side. But self-righteousness will not persuade people of your point of view, it will not fill your community halls, it will not place power in the hands of the people – it is never enough to build real political change.

Last time round many of us believed that the new country we sought was embodied by the energy, the quality and diversity of the campaign that aimed to create it.

At points you could almost hear the echo of Jimmy Reid’s old call in the streets: “the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity.”

Of course, getting bevvied on Twitter wasn’t an option in 1971. Instead, people had no choice but to share space, and to behave, in order to demonstrate what they wanted to achieve.

But Reid’s basic wisdom still rings true – if you want to challenge power, first show yourself to be far beyond the gutter where the powerful expect to find you, or you have already lost.

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83 COMMENTS

  1. The case for and against wings and SC looks to me much more nuanced than you want to believe in this one eyed piece. A more balanced question is to recognise what wings and sc are doing (investigative journalism), that no one else seems capable or willing to do. His exposee of this this weeks Labour error strewn press release on our trains which went straight onto the front of page the Herald with no checks being the latest example. Who else is doing this sort of hardwork in our combating the nonsense that is being produced? I really wish SC would tone down his twitter stuff, in that much I agree with you. But I also am less of a purist than you and don’t want to divide people neatly into the good ones and bad and the black ones and white ones. So I can cope with Cat Boyd voting labour and so I can also cope with SC’s twitter escapades. They are both people – they get it right a lot – and they also get wrong. I don’t think being pure will get us anywhere far and the pursuit of purity will end sadly, like one of our world cup campaigns, with folk talking only to their selves about what might have been.

    ps You are a fine writer – I like your stuff because it is thoughtful and insightful. So I can also cope with you writing this piece I disagree with. Really, we all need to move on.

    • Anyone who can’t stand Stu on Twitter (He and I had a spat ages ago and believe me I understand that) FFS tjeu cam just BLOCK him on Twitter. He does a great job of investigative journalism. Do you realise how few real investigative journalists there are LEFT IN THE WORLD? I have a personal belief that as abrasive and at times amazingly offensive as he is on Twitter most of the anger is based entirely on jealousy.

  2. I agree that moderation of language would help convince more people.

    However, I do not think that Stuart Campbell fighting back against attempts to vilify him as a homophobe is unreasonable.

    Vilify him as thrawn, obsessive and foul mouthed -but not as homophobic.

    Casual use of the homophobic label as a way to sling mud and shut down debate devalues the seriousness of the real thing. It is convenient for those who wish to silence him, but wrong.

    The material that Stuart uncovers is immensely valuable. I would, however, want to translate it into more genteel language before using it in discussion with those of a sensitive disposition.

    Overall respectful but firm will do better, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow Stuart to be dismissed or labelled as homophobic.

  3. I came to this article anticipating yet another pompous, high-minded lecture aimed at a Yes movement heartily weary of such self=satisfied, self-righteous preaching. I was not disappointed. I didn’t expect the article to be quite so ill-informed. Anybody who imagines there to be no ‘radical elite’ trying to own the Yes movement is seriously out of touch.

  4. Oh I don’t know, there was not a huge enthusiasm for Irish Independence until they hanged the leaders of the ‘Uprising’, then people were pretty angry, even the Anglo-Irish.

  5. Wings and SC consistently unearth and publish the lies and double standards that the unionist press and bbc in Scotland peddle as fact to the Scottish populous!

    Or have I missed something?

    The joke about Mundel, I found this amusing and not homophobic? The venom and vileness of some of the unionist bile aimed at Nicola Puts into context who the guilty parties are.

    Or have I missed something?

    As for tone, the English have never left a country they have had possession of by being politely asked to leave. Personally I want someone to wear on their sleeve and make it obvious how mich they detest the current situation. People identify with passion, persuasion and forcefulness, a feint heart won SFA!

    Or have I missed something!

    Is Wings or SC perfect, no, but they are good at what they do and we need them!

  6. We need somebody to tell Scots the inconvenient truth as demonstrated by the brexit/supreme court decision, i.e. that we are in no ‘union’, and hence Scotland is nothing but a mere powerless colony. Neither the SNP, Wings or any other ‘pro-independence’ political or electronic mouthpiece has done that yet.

    • We also haven’t pointed out that the sea is full of wet stuff, or done a powerful and hard-hitting exposé on the Pope’s religion. But hey, great work on sticking to the topic and not just droning on about something totally unconnected.

      • You say that Scotland’s constitutional reality is “totally unconnected”? Surely one of the biggest continuing “lies of the Unionist polity” is that no union exists and Scotland is to all intents and purposes a powerless colony? Independence would arguably be easier to achieve via the UNs ‘Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (also known as the Special Committee on decolonization or C-24), the United Nations entity exclusively devoted to the issue of decolonization’. But first people like you and the SNP leadership have to acknowledge this reality.

  7. Oh, how splendid that someone’s decided that THIS all needed to be dragged out a bit longer just as everything was calming down a bit.

    Unlike most of the useless carping whiners who’ve joined in the pile-on, at least Christopher is someone who’s achieved something of some sort of note in the independence movement – the excellent film Scotland Yet.

    Which was nowhere near reaching the financial goal required to pay for it to be made until nasty, vulgar old Wings Over Scotland and its hordes of grunting, Neanderthal readers stepped in at the last minute to fill the £11,000 gap in its £20,000 budget.

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/fighting-nightmares/

    It’s funny how many of the people forming the lynch mob were helped into their current positions by big pushes from Wings and its readers to generate the money they’d been unable to raise by themselves – hi Stephen Paton! Hi Bella Caledonia! But they eagerly trouser the cash while looking down their noses at the people who gave them it.

    The phrases Christopher clutches his pearls over in this piece, ironically, are both taken from another Wings post that was actually trying – and massively succeeding – to generate money for other pro-indy causes, in this case the terrific iScot.

    The magazine, which takes exactly the sort of softly-softly-catchee-monkey approach to reaching and persuading voters that Christopher appears to favour, was in real imminent danger of going out of existence through lack of funding.

    And how were the “radical” heroes of the indy movement responding in its hour of need? By assembling another lynch mob of furious Student Grant types to attack it over a bold and eye-catching front cover based on a classical painting, and demanding that it be cast out of the movement to die in a ditch.

    Such despicable behaviour deserved, if anything, a more fiery reaction than we gave it. But the Wings post did the trick, raising iScot’s coffers from £9000 to £26,000 over the course of a weekend while the Byres Road Café Collective wailed and wept into their cappucinos and prayed to Gerry Hassan for deliverance from the monstrous devils that had actually saved a precious and irreplaceable Yes resource.

    Hilariously, Christopher even used the unparalleled ability of Wings to generate funding for Yes causes to attack me personally on Twitter a couple of weeks back, making the outrageously untrue allegation that I was personally and cynically pocketing £100,000 a year.

    https://twitter.com/silverscotland/status/891648144475344896

    To be honest, I think most people put in my position and endlessly backstabbed by their own side as well as shot in the front by the enemy would swear a hell of a lot on Twitter more than I actually do.

    But enough personal beefing. I’ll just point out one thing about the premise of this snivelling joke of a piece: if “angry movements persuade no-one”, explain Brexit and President Trump. FFS.

    Of course, Christopher and his ilk would rather Scotland remained in the UK under Tory rule forever if winning meant campaigning slightly outwith the Marquis Of Queensberry rules occasionally and – Heaven forfend! – upsetting Kezia Dugdale by, um, having a pop at the public-speaking ability of a straight white male Tory MSP.

    But some of us are willing to do the dirty work if it gets the job done, even if it means we get endlessly reviled now and forever by the people who enjoy the fruits of our callous-handed labours while they swan about pontificating in judgement, occasionally deigning to descend into the realm of the grubby proletariat to hand out dressings-down to the shop floor.

    In the few free moments we have between vile tweets, Wings has been slogging away every single day since 19 September 2014, exposing the lies of the Unionist polity and the Scottish media and bringing facts and ammunition to hundreds of thousands of people. What have you done for independence lately, Chris?

      • It’s a fine line. You don’t necessarily have to be “nice” in a vicar-come-to-tea way but you must always be fair.

    • Keep fighting fire with fire Stu , they don’t like it when they are brought to book ! Dugdale used her time at FMQ to vilify you , that was out of order , she should have been discussing matters pertaining to Scottish governance , but she knew that . As for getting it in the front and back from these people Wings have supported in the past , could I say maybe you should just let them sink or swim , half of them are sitters on the fence anyway and would jump in any direction that suited them .

    • I am dismayed at defending you, Stu, not that you can’t do that for yourself. I still don’t much like you (On Twitter, although maybe in person you’re quite nice for all I know). But no one else does what you do. Frankly, what we need is more people who do the same on other issues, not attacking you because you’re abrasive and at times rude. There actually are worse things in the world.

  8. Disappointing response from “Rev Stu” which tends to bear out the author’s point I’m afraid.

    Following up in his final point, what exactly does the supposed defamation case contribute towards Scottish independence?

    • If you had the courtesy to have a clue what you were talking about, you’d know the answer to that was contained in our post on the subject.

  9. “Our”? Is that like the “royal we”?

    You really seem to have delusions of grandeur, “Rev”. But you’re certainly amusing, sort of. Not so much when you slap down anyone who dare question anything you do or say.

          • I rest my case. Busy bully bully.

            You really are quite hilarious. Maybe your cult reckon you’re cheaper than a night of stand-up.

            PS Of course you live in Bath. If you lived in Scotland you’d have been found out long ago. A bit like Tommy and the other bully types.

        • You need to look up the word ‘bully’. Being rude to you or answering back is not bullying. You need to stop whinging.

          • “Answering back” but not “answering points”, it’s the “Rev” way. Playing to the gallery with vituperative responses to anyone who doesn’t toe the line is actually bullying. Look it up.

        • You’ve got some strange ideas about bullying.

          I wouldn’t call myself a wings supporter exactly but it’s obvious that he’s often the victim of false accusations and unreasoning bias. A thick fog of irrational anger only makes it harder to consider what he might or might not have done.

    • “Our” as in Wings isn’t just SC’s work. Which does suggest you don’t read it frequently and are therefore perhaps less informed than you perhaps needed to be before criticising him/the site/its content?

  10. There is no doubt Stu has been a stalwart of thenindy campaign, and from his comments he obviously feels embattled.
    His critics point to his madly successful fundraising and continued campaigning with WOS, and its alleged “cult” following as if it’s wrong for Yessers to fight fire with fire.
    A lot of people get very angry on Stu’s behalf and there’s no doubt he is controversial to the other side.
    My suggestion would be that Wings publishes its full accounts, just to show how hard Stu works on our behalf, and all the costs associated with running such an effective campaigning site. Half a million quiz is a lot of the Queen’s pounds and it would be great to show just how its spent.
    That sort of transparency would be a brilliant way to silence critics and stick it up the Yoon MSM in my honest opinion. Don’t let them grind you down Stu!

    • My suggestion is it’s none of your business what is in his accounts. I contribute monthly and to his annual campaigns, and have also contributed to some of the others in need that his site highlight. I’m happy I’m getting value for money; if you aren’t then send your money elsewhere.

    • This is a great idea. Would be extremely illuminating to see where half a million pounds of crowdfunded cash has been utilised over the last few years.

        • So no sight of your “accounts” then, “Rev”? That’s a surprise…

          A man who clearly doesn’t live by the standards he sets for, well, anyone that he chooses to treat with contempt and hostility for daring to disagree with him.

          As for your acolytes who promise to keep paying, they sound like Leave voters who say they’ll take the pain just to be proved right. Martyrs to your “cause”, must be a comfort as you count their money.

    • What is the point of fighting fire with fire? That only speaks to a core support who are already committed. The real challenge is to win people over to swell the ranks of YES. You don’t necessarily have to be “nice” but you do have to be fair. There must be a positive, rational, inclusive vision to share.

  11. Gosh. I agree with both Chrisopher and Stuart, is that OK? I haven’t met and talked to Stuart, but I expect his robust style refects his personality. I have met Christopher on a couple of occasions and found him contemplative and is anything introverted by the standards of “the movement”.

    Stuart is rude. I’m over it. Since I am not “on” twitter I only hear about it third hand, the Wings web site’s content is invaluable and unless you are Kezia Dugdale’s mum is fact filled and a great read. The faithful at prayer. Stuart Campbell as John Knox is a cartoon that will keep me amused all morning.

    Christopher is correct that we will not gain many converts from the “other” side by presenting them with Stuart’s invective even though it is all true with all the hyperlinks in place. We need missionaries at the door with their leaflets and calm, reassuring voices.

    This is a great time to have all of these wee stooshies. We will all get on the same bus again when campaiging begins in earnest, and Stuart does the whip round for the diesel.

  12. A question, I get that we’re not kicked out of the movement if we use bad words, but must we also raise a pinky whilst drinking our tea?

  13. I recently tried to debate some pro indy v unionist points on twitter and was horrified by the vindictive hatred expressed towards me by the pro unionist responders. Including phrases like ‘you should be locked up’ , many references towards me being stupid,ill-informed, very contemptuous name calling – and very little attempt at reasonable debate. A commentator above mentions ‘unionist bile’ and he is dead right. At the moment too there is an attempt to question the legitimacy of our scotgov and make the term Scottish toxic. They dare not admit anything about Scotland or Scots is positive in case it inadvertently praises snp. So the opposition we face out there is full of venom and hatred, it is totally toxic and major tactic is to denigrate everything that happens in Scotland. let’s talk about the impact of that on this movement and how to stand firm against that – I dont mean seasoned politicians but us ordinary folk – rather than get into the sackcloth and ashes because frankly I was horrified and realised the opposition will stop at nothing. So we need to be very focused. Ive no time for the political correctness brigade in a broad movement. Its silly and self defeating.

    • Too true j miller.

      I’ve seen some posts on bbc blogs that are openly racist towards Scots, far worse than I have seen on Wings. In general there appears to be a campaign to undermine Scots confidence ” ach their all the same’ is what the unionists are hoping for. Division of yes movement is one of the goals of this campaign, hence bbc proving into every aspect of government in Scotland. I can’t think of one instance the bbc has proved into determining what uk government costs, does, takes from Scotland and the mistakes it makes.

      Regards the son of Mundell joke, I’d have found this funny in any context, e.g. An SNP politican, royalty or 1970s teen heartthrob, etc. The same joke could have been made about the inventor of the condom and any offspring he or she may have had. Would this have caused a stir – no!

      Back to the theme of this discussion, unless Scots cause a change in the political environment that gets noticed we will continue to be a colony, we need to fight fire with fire. Jimmy Reed sought change, he was successful by being honest, forceful and direct. To working class Scots he was admired and trusted, to the ship yard owners and elites he was a rabble rouser. Perhaps in 10 or more years time some on here will look back and think yeas we needed wings and the like, otherwise we would have been steam rollered by the state!

    • Perhaps we should consider rather more often that, in practice, there is no ‘union’ as far as Scotland is concerned so these people you refer to and their actions and opposition to Scottish self determination cannot be considered as ‘unionists’. Their anti-Scottish behaviour may however be much more understandable when considered in the context of what the UN refers to as “the scourge of colonization”.

  14. This storm in a Twitter cup stirred and served up by the self-appointed popes of the indie movement re Stuart Campbell’s ill-advised legal case against Dugdale is a distraction from the real issue which is independence.

    It’s a distraction, and I would bet serious money that it will backfire not just on the jolly Rev but on the indie movement at large.

    Dugdale, the Unionist parties and the MSM will be going through every single thing Stuart Campbell has ever written or said anywhere since the beginning of time, and given the Rev is not one to mince his words, they will probably find something which justifies Dugdale calling him a homophobe.

    Remember, folks, whether the Rev is a homophobe or not is not the issue at all. The issue is whether Dudgale has any grounds to label him as such and whether she has carried out an act of defamation by doing so.

    Does the Rev remember that it was Oscar Wilde who brought defamation charges against the Marquess of Queensbury and who eventually lost and subsequently ended up in prison, which killed him? Angela Haggerty mentioned Tommy Sheridan the other day in the Sunday Herald, another case which backfired, but Wilde’s story is much the more poignant – and pertinent.

    If I was the Rev, I would think long and hard about the wisdom of proceeding with legal action against Dugdale, and right now, I’d be looking for a way out. The press will run the story morning, noon and night, and all the smart money is on the Rev losing, if only because he is bringing the legal action and openly courts controversy on Wings.

    Above all, watch Dugdale’s lawyers trying to trip up the Rev and see him perjure himself….and it opens the door to third parties suing the Rev.

    In short, it’s a reckless legal gamble which is not helped by the fact that Stuart Campbell is taking the legal action following the positive response of his readers on being asked whether he should do so or not.

    That hardly sounds like the decision of a man who feels himself to have suffered defamation of character…

      • Rev Stu, don’t do it, quietly drop your case against Dugdale is my advice.

        You will lose and probably end up being sued yourself. The indie movement will be dragged through the mud by the MSM every day, just as the Brexit calamity is unfolding – a convenient distraction. You will spend the next few years of your life tied up in the courts and shelling out on legal fees, instead of writing your blog. It will sap your energy and occupy your thoughts. And for what?

        You made a comment about Mundell’s sexuality, meant as an insult. Of course it can be construed as “homophobic”, by some. Very mildly homophobic, and not really of any importance I would say, but it’s not Mundell suing you, it’s you suing Dugdale. Which makes you not just a “homophobe”, but a litigious “homophobe”…

        What happens if you lose Stu? Have you thought about that? If the courts find that Dugdale was justified in calling you a homophobe, what happens next? Think, man. Maybe somebody will sue you?

        You are not a lawyer, it’s not your field. Why kind of a general fights a battle on ground he is not familiar with?

        And the way you’ve gone about this makes it sound like a stunt, not a legitimate legal action. No Scottish judge is going to like the fact that you polled your readers to decide whether to proceed with legal action….it’s a political stunt you are pulling, not a legitimate legal action, and Scottish judges don’t like that kind of thing. Sheridan was totally destroyed by the same impulse…

        Think, man…

          • My two adolescent nieces display more emotional intelligence than the Rev…

            You, Stuart Campbell, are paying 20,000 of your fan club’s money for a bunch of lawyers to go through every declaration you have ever made until they nail you – it won’t be be hard – and I’m the idiot, not you? Hee hee…amusing…

            They’re going to eat you for breakfast, man… you are paying the legal costs of your own trial, not Dugdale’s trial as you seem to think…

            Only an idiot would do that…

  15. Always better to talk about “suing” than actually doing it. But then the risk is low when you can get other people to pay for the supposed “case”.

    It’s like an Indiegogo Legal Aid…

    • You’re a right whiny wee flower Big Tony, waah don’t be a nasty bully using those word things, waah show me the money, waah you haven’t sued (he has), waah but you’ve got money again. I’d say dry your eyes and grow up but there’s little chance of that happening BigT

      • You guys really are like a cult. Question the great “Rev” even lightly and it’s straight in with the playground ya-boo sucks. No wuestions even addressed, never mind answered. Just straight in with the studs up. Risible behaviour.

        Fools and their money and all that… and your Rev will keep milking it for as long as he can. Like a guy rattling a bucket in a pub. While you masturbate over his “advancing the cause”. Dream on.

  16. The Rev. Stu. Has done more to achieve independence for Scotland than any other person outside of the SNP.

    • Until independence is achieved, nothing has been achieved. The SNP ‘Government’ at Holyrood is merely ‘managing’ the shop on behalf of Scotland’s ‘administrative Power’, aside from the fact that practically all of Scotland’s major public and semi-public institutions remain as always led by elites opposed to independence. If the SNP really wanted independence they would simply use Scotland’s Westminster (and Holyrood) majorities to give notice to end the union now, and put an end to the ‘union’ charade in the same way it began (minus the bribes).

    • Well said CB. Yeah the Rev Stu. is a top bloke. Without the Wee Blue Book and the debunking of Yoon lies by Wings Over Scotland we would never have got up to 45%. The SNP wouldn’t have returned 56 MP’s. With the BBC and the rest of the Media increasing their attacks on the SNP with increasingly outrageous lies. We need The Rev.’s WoS and G.A. Ponsonby to hold our MSM to task.

      Excusing the lies as Lazy Journalism, is a deception.

  17. Lets not forget who the true enemy are!

    For years the nationalist movement has behaved above and beyond decency and in return has been beaten with a large stick by the unionists!

    Time to strike back against the evil empire!

    No more Mr Nice Guy!

  18. This shite is exactly why I don’t read Belly Cally. Newsnet was my first read every day and the comments section was very informative. Never visit now and I was pointed here by a link on Scoop it by Peter A Bell. Won’t rush back.

  19. I was dismayed when I read the tweet that was the origin of this debacle. I was more dismayed by the Wings followers, in their droves, painstakingly techsplaining the difference between homophobia and straight down the line extreme offensiveness. It seemed to me that they were so secluded or stuck in their own sub society bubble that they failed to see that they were the energy driving this fuck up to a higher level of fucked upness.

    A better question than homophobia, yes or no, might have been did we really need this tweet?

    A better question in the here and now, where we have to live with the presence of this tweet, is to ask why, this tweet and one particular response to it or to its creator, from one particular opponent of independence, has been deemed worthy of a long to be played out legal ritual. A process that will further line the already flush pockets of a bunch of advocates who will play out this battle to an MSM that will spin it, while it is happening, into a mega box set of negative stories about the independence movement. By the time we get to the verdict, this independence movement will have gained absolutely nothing from it whatever the result happens to be.

  20. I am sorry Christopher. I got put off reading your article after the first couple of paragraphs: far too much mention of Labour and far too much mention of Corbyn when those two are not helping but hampering the Yes movement. So I went straight to the comment section.
    Scotland would never get its independence by looking at Corbyn or Labour, so I think it is high times the adoration of those two abandoned the scene in pro independence sites.

  21. “Vainglorious litigation” eh? There are many ways to change the world and despite having been through the entire Scots, UK and ECHR legal mill to help end discrimination against gay people, I’d be the first to admit that litigation is by no means the best and is certainly not the easiest route to change. However, sometimes it is the only route to change.

    Stuart’s tweet was patently not homophobic. I’m not a great fan of the term ‘homophobe’. However, it does read better than bigoted arsehole so I suppose we’re stuck with it. To call a witty joke homophobic is to cheapen homophobia at a time when gay folk are still being beaten up on the streets of Scotland merely for being gay. It’s still a brave man who walks the streets hand in hand with his partner, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.

    Had I or Paul Kavanagh (or, indeed, anyone else) had the wit to tweet it, no-one would have turned a hair. The leader of a political party in Scotland would certainly not have used up her column in a tabloid and wasted her entire time in Parliament at FMQs with her “Thurr’s been a tweet!” nonsense. No, Dugdale was cynically stretching the notion of homophobia way beyond its limits in an attempt to take down one of the most powerful tools of the independence campaign, namely Wings Over Scotland. In doing so, she was jumping on a bandwagon set rolling by the useful idiots of the hard left, pro-independence movement.

    To my mind there are therefore 3 reasons why Stuart’s suit is most certainly not “vainglorious”, but essential litigation:

    1. With my gay hat on it is essential that persons earning the label homophobe should come to be regarded as being as worthy of public opprobrium as persons labelled as racist. Dugdale has cheapened the notion of homophobia by applying it to a man who hasn’t a homophobic bone in his body. Homophobe shouldn’t be merely an insult one should laugh off, Stuart is quite right to seek redress for Dugdale’s unwarranted defamation.

    2. With my equality hat on, it is essential that gay or straight people should feel free to make jokes which reference any sexuality. As a gay man who wants equal regard with everyone else, I am not a po-faced Social Justice Warrior who wants to be treated with kid gloves and wrapped in cotton wool lest I be offended. It is part of the human condition to have a laugh and to rip the piss out of each other. I live in perhaps the only country in the world where the word cunt is regularly used as a term of endearment between young men! I am minded that the likes of Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, John Inman and Lily Savage did far more for gay equality by making folk laugh (and yes, sometimes AT gay folk) over a long number of years than any amount of litigation, legislation and certainly any number of po-faced Social Justice Warriors ever will.

    3. With my independence hat on it is essential that Stuart takes a stand against the notion that Unionist politicians and press can throw any unwarranted slur against pro-indy supporters with impunity.

    Serious bit over: “Big Tony”, have you ever considered changing your moniker to “Big Girl’s Blouse”?

    • You miss the point Roddy MacDonald. The Rev’s tweet about Mundell is a PERSONAL attack, okay? What does the sexuality of Mundell have to do with anything in Scottish politics?

      If the Rev had made a comment about Mundell’s weight, height, hair cut, race, religion, almost ANYTHING that isn’t political, then it would have been equally abusive. You don’t make personal attacks on people if you want to be taken seriously in politics…

      The Rev’s tweet can be construed as homophobic, which doesn’t mean it necessarily IS homophobic. You and the Wee Ginger Dug are perfectly entitled to say that you don’t find the tweet to be homophobic in nature. But so is Jordan Daly in his Common Space article when he says he DOES find the tweet to be homophobic…it depends how you want to read it.

      What nobody can deny is that it is a comment which is PERSONAL IN NATURE…

      In any case, it is a stupid tweet at the worst, stupid more than offensive, and if the Rev had just left the matter there, most of us would never have known anything about it. But Dugdale, stooping to a new low, brings it up in the Scottish Parliament (I think?) and then the Rev, off an ego trip of epic proportions, files a law suit for defamation. He will lose.For sure.

      And once the Rev loses, then we can ALL call him a homophobe and get away with it….there’s something to look forward to….that is going to be FUNNY…

      Anyway, girls and boys, you’ll all be getting a stern telling off from Gerry Hassan sometime soon for your bad behaviour…

      Scottish politics has never been so petty, never been so devoid of intellectual content, never seen so many bullshit artists as have mushroomed into view as over the last few years…

      • Thank you, Redgauntlet. By the way, don’t you find that the Byres Road cappuccinos stain the fingers of you gauntlets, or do you only don them for anonymous keyboard warrioring?

        In any event, you can always count on a Holy Wolfie who knows nothing of the issues at hand to make your point for you. You see, those of us of a similar age to Mundell who fought through these issues over the last 40 years actually know what happened. Those on the left who are flinging about labels of homophobe with gay abandon now that we gay folk are winning this particular fight should perhaps look to their own record on these issues. Labour or Tory, the record on these issues is indistinguishably poor.

        I mentioned my disdain for the word homophobia. There is, however, one set of circumstances where it fits the bill down to a T. That is the case of the closet homosexual so scared of his own homosexuality that, as Shakespeare put it, the lady doth protest too much. For example, in the Armed Forces, the homosexual Service policemen were by far the worst among the Queerhunters, or in the courts, the homosexual Magistrates would hand down the stiffest sentences, lest they be seen as ‘soft’ on the perverts and folk start asking questions, jeopardising their place in the closet.

        Of course, that situation evolved once the fights had been fought and we come to the only actual, documented by his own voting record, homophobe in this whole sorry saga. Even after the example of Edwina Currie, who for the 20 odd years before Mundell even entered parliament valiantly rebelled against her party and voted for gay equality at every opportunity, and *still* rose to Ministerial rank, Mundell either voted against gay equality or contrived to absent himself from every vote on gay equality issues until his party changed its tune.

        The most sleekit, cowardly example of his homophobic behaviour has to be 19th January 2000 in the Scottish Parliament. This was a vote on a legislative consent motion to allow Westminster to enact the order of the ECtHR to equalise the ages of consent. Arch-bigot Phil Gallie (Con) had tabled a ‘long grass’ amendment to refuse consent and to put the matter out to consultation, presumably to the Orange Order and the more conservative elements of the Churches. All of the Tories (including Mundell) voted for his amendment. The amendment was defeated. Seconds to one or two minutes later, there was then a vote on the substantive motion. All the Tories voted against, except Mundell who had miraculously managed to absent himself in that short space of time. One can almost imagine him nigh-on tripping over himself as he fled the Chamber, running like a frichted bird from his own conscience. And that set the pattern for his voting record on these issues right up until David Cameron decided to make the Tory Party gay-friendly. It’s noteworthy that the ECtHR decision came about in a case brought by 2 very brave teenage laddies and here was a grown man whose record you say is off limits because it’s personal? Get tae …

        In true Wings fashion, here’s the link to the parliamentary report for that day:
        http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=4203&i=27310

        Mundell rose to Ministerial rank solely because the Tories would rather a cowardly, arse-licking, imbecile in the post than play into the SNP’s hands by appointing a member for an English constituency as SofS for Scotland, even if it meant ennobling an intelligent party hack to hold his hand.

        So do take your holier than thou, Holy Wolfie self-righteousness and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

        • Roddy, cheers for the heads-up on Mundell’s two faced standards. No surprises there, but I didn’t know the details of that sordid story.

          Why are you so aggressive / defensive? Can we please not swallow the David Torrance view of the binary YES movement, split down the middle between “blood and soil” nats and the “hard left”? It’s pish, factually incorrect. I don’t live in Glasgow and I don’t like Capuccinos by the way…

          As for the Rev’s tweet, it is a matter of complete irrelevance in the general scheme of things. But the Rev is making a mistake in taking Dugdale to court. It’s a waste of time and money, and he will lose…

          In terms of personal attacks, they are badly looked on in ANY professional situation, not just politics. You can’t be a sports reporter and slag off a fitba manager because of his religion or sexual orientation, you can’t do it in business, or in any walk of life. There are some areas you just can’t go to without losing credibility. It’s called professionalism…

          • you seem particularly aggressive/defensive yourself, redgauntlet. perhaps look before you leap next time?

            if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gunna love somebody else, can i get an amen up in hyere…

          • Obviously, this stooshie takes me back to places I’d rather leave in the past. Like most gay folk I was content to forgive and forget Mundell’s past homophobic cowardice. That was right up until his hubris got the better of him and, following Dugdale’s example, he also started throwing around Twitter accusations of homophobia against a man I know full well hasn’t a homophobic bone in his body.

            After that tweet he became fair game. Not only that, but those who wish to piggy-back on Dugdale & Mundell’s false accusations of homophobia because they don’t like Stuart / are jealous of Stuart’s success are behaving exactly like the homophobic witch-hunters I had the misfortune to actually have to fight against in my younger years.

            Dugdale, Mundell or Campbell’s relative sexualities matter not a jot. Watching this witch hunt unfold against Campbell *really* gets my goat, especially as I am fully aware of the hypocrisies involved. Witch-hunting someone with false accusations of homophobia is absolutely no different to witch-hunting someone because of their homosexuality (real or otherwise).

            If disdain for homophobia is to mean anything, then seeing someone falsely accused of it should rile any decent citizen as much as encountering anyone to whom the word may correctly be applied.

            You haven’t detailed your legal qualifications so your anonymous prognostications as to the outcome of Stuart’s suit is of no more value than casting chicken bones. I suggest you re-read my original comment as to why Stuart’s tweet was in no way homophobic.

          • Roddy, the witch-hunt is of the Rev’s own making here, because he is taking the legal action which has raised so many eyebrows eh? Not Dugdale, not Mundell… the Rev has organized his own witch-hunt. Which has just started. And will have negative effects for the wider indie movement. The legal action which has got us all scratching our heads and wondering if the guy needs psychiatric treatment….

            What? The offensive, abusive, obnoxious Rev Stuart Campbell, taking somebody to court for name calling? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black? Campbell doesn’t need anybody to defame him, he commits a defamation on himself on a daily basis, the man makes a living out of it….

            He doesn’t have a good name to tarnish, Roddy…eh? The fact that he is capable of landing a glove on our Unionist adversaries from time to time does not detract from that fact. The man has verbally abused several of us on this thread as it is… no, I don’t give two shits, just saying, man, eh?. He abuses, name calls and insults people on a daily basis, your Rev, pure as the driven snow according to you…

            That’s what so many of us cappuccino drinkers are trying to get you slaves to Campbell to understand. You, Roddy MacDonald, an Irn-Bru drinker no doubt, you say there is not a homophobic bone in Campbell’s body. How do you know that? Why should I pay more heed to what you say than what Jordan Daly says?

            See if I ever see you Roddy or the Rev, I will order a capuccino and shove it down your throat for your lip, pal…rhetorically speaking of course…

            Personally, I think the Rev is a closet gay. That’s what I suspect Roddy. I suspect that’s why he reacted – overreacted – to Dugdale’s havers.

            That’s why you defend him so staunchly. That’s why you and others are so fanatical about him. That’s why you are all so UP HIS ARSE….

    • “Serious bit over: “Big Tony”, have you ever considered changing your moniker to “Big Girl’s Blouse”?”

      All playground insults. No answers, ever.
      Cult behaviour, personified. Keep on believing, and keep paying up. The world’s out to get you and they’ll never understand.

      • Since you have no knowledge, experience or insight to bring to this discussion other than you apparent view that “Stuart Campbell is nasty”, you’re only worthy of playground insults. Cheerio!

  22. I’m with Rev Stu, have been from the start, outstanding investigative journalism. and yeah, I like plain speaking.

    • He’s a blogger not an “investigative journalist”.

      Serious journalists tell both sides of a story. Serious journalists don’t sue minor league politicians for “defamation”.

      He has an internet connection, a bunch of opinions, and a few mugs willing to pay for him to confirm their own prejudices. A cult leader. Salesman, manipulator yes. But don’t insult the term “investigative journalism” when there are real journalists out there taking far greater risks than some arse saying “yah boo sucks” to Kezia Dugdale ffs.

  23. Given that Stuart Campbell won’t publish my comment on Wings, I’ll post here:

    Who is the idiot now, Campbell? You just got yourself arrested…

    …the Rev files a law suit and he thinks that he won’t be sued by someone on the Unionist side? Hello???? Is it just me or was it not completely obvious that was going to happen????

    Confidence is a source of error, as Cioran said – google him Campbell…

    What a genius you are….and your wee fan club getting in a froth….you guys seem more interested in self-righteous indignation than winning independence.

    Which is something, if it happens, the grown-ups will deliver…

    Salmond inviting up that wnker Davis to his show at the North British Festival, Nicola lamenting the National in the SNP, and the Rev behind the dock….what a great week for the Unionists….

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