Labour MP Tom Harris is offended by online critics

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.  The saying is as old as the hills and we were all made aware of it when we were young.
 
It’s nonsense of course as anyone who has been the victim of a cruel joke or a particularly well aimed jibe will testify to.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.  The saying is as old as the hills and we were all made aware of it when we were young.
 
It’s nonsense of course as anyone who has been the victim of a cruel joke or a particularly well aimed jibe will testify to.

Like the football dive though the “offence” can sometimes be exaggerated or the injury to one’s sensitivities feigned. 

Yesterday Mr Offensive himself, AKA motormouth TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, was at it again as he played up his panto-villain persona.  Clarkson insisted he would line up and shoot public sector workers who took part in Wednesday’s national strike – he’s now all over the airwaves as a result.

Good publicity for Clarkson who is surely ripe for a top panto spot playing the evil and sadistic … Jeremy Clarkson.  I wonder if he would have been afforded the same coverage had he threatened to shoot Scottish strikers?

Well perhaps, had the target of his inappropriate black humour been the Scottish Labour politicians who also decided to go on strike – I mean, show solidarity.  Anyone notice how according to BBC Scotland Labour going on strike were “showing solidarity” whilst SNP Ministers entering Holyrood were “crossing a picket line” … nice.

There was also the strange phrasing adopted by BBC Scotland when the First Minister went to the oil rich Gulf seeking business investment and education links.  BBC Scotland described the trip as a “plea” – a plea? So our First Minister was away begging then.

Secretary of State Michael Moore’s trip to Brazil was give it’s far more impressive title of “trade mission”.

When BBC Scotland manipulate words in that fashion then I am offended.

The Labour party in Scotland when not turning up for work; sorry ‘showing solidarity’ – are themselves complaining about offensive words.  The words in question though are not the sectarian kind sang at football matches, Labour don’t seem unduly concerned about those any more.

The words troubling Scottish Labour aren’t even “double dip recession” or “Longannet CCS sabotage”,  oh no.  Labour are offended by online criticism, or, as they like to call it ‘abuse’.

According to self effacing and unassuming Labour MP Tom Harris, the SNP has an army of online keyboard warriors with multiple personas venting their nationalist spleen at anything smelling of a red-rose rosette.  ‘Mr T’ Harris, like the erstwhile ‘A’ team character, wants to shut the online critics up.

‘They all believe we are traitors’, cried Mr Harris – who, claimed never to have witness an angry Labour supporter doing the same.

Mr Harris obviously missed the veteran union leader and retired general secretary of Unison, Mr Rodney Bickerstaff, won loud cheers from marchers in Edinburgh when he described Lib Dem Danny Alexander as “a prat” and “a traitor”.

Now, which party is it that Mr Bickerstaff might support?

Harris also failed to notice the thoughtful remark by Margaret Curran who explained that she would not want to know the identity of the driver if Alex Salmond was run over by a bus.

We have had a litany of Natzi, natz, nasty, Hitler, Mussolini, Mugabe, Fascists comments aimed at the SNP and their supporters from Labour/Unionist politicians and supporters alike – to pretend otherwise is to insult everyone’s intelligence.

Alex Salmond has been described as a c*nt on a Facebook page and we all remember the infamous and disgraceful description of Kenny MacAskill as the “toast of Tripoli” by BBC Scotland’s very own Glenn Campbell on the evening of the release of Mr Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi.  That particular comment resulted in another Facebook campaign against Scotland’s Justice Minister.

Yes, there are online views expressed by independence supporters that are beyond the pale, just as there are online views expressed by all members of every political party that fall into that category.

There is though one place Mr Harris won’t see offensive online abuse, and that is on a BBC Scotland political blog. 

Brian ‘toodle-oo’ Taylor’s ‘Blether with Brian’ publicly funded blog has been closed to comments from the great unwashed for days now.  Not much of a blether to be had, but strangely, even without comments, the blog is still offensive – funny that.

Politicians have always been lampooned and ridiculed.  The fact that there is so much aimed at Labour in Scotland has more to do with the lamentable state of the party and rising support for the SNP than any sinister co-ordinated campaign against Labour.

The Scottish Labour party are a real life ‘Spitting Image’ puppet show, beyond parody and ripe for satirical comment.  The online commentary is a symptom of a Scottish media that still insist on protecting Labour – thus, frustration has meant that the web has become the emerging de-facto Scottish media and Labour do not have the same control.

And before anyone starts with the ‘tinfoil-hattery’ claim, answers on a postcard please explaining why Johann Lamont’s fabricated rape question was completely ignored by every section of the Scottish media.

Online criticism is here to stay, Labour and the Scottish media both need to accept and adapt to a changing Scotland or they will both perish.