Bella Caledonia Continues 28

I am genuinely delighted that the Bella Caledonia website is continuing and my offer to take it over is not needed. We need all the resources arguing for independence that we currently have and more.

We are however entitled to be somewhat perplexed by their statement today that

“Bella is not in debt, there is no prospect of bankruptcy, and there is no immediate appeal planned for cash. Any new donations will be transferred into the new company.”

This appears completely incompatible with an entire series of desperate appeals for cash immediately prior to the apparent closure, which stated in terms that unless large and urgent amounts of cash were stumped up the website would have to close. Just three days ago they published:

“The Advisory Board of Bella Caledonia confirms we are going to have to make the decision to close, unless an urgent fundraising appeal can be met. Mike Small has advised that despite his commitment to Bella, he will have to step down as editor as the position is too financially precarious and he is actively seeking other work. The Board is looking at other funding models.”

These two statements do not match. One of them is untrue.

My friendly advice is this. Folk are extremely committed to Independence, and many folk in Scotland are extremely committed to radical politics. Committed to the extent they will put their hands in their pockets to support you. But if you give the impression you are not being entirely straight whilst asking them for money, you are in great danger of seeing future funds dry up, especially where the money is being asked to pay your own salary.

If the “other funding models” means a search for state or institutional sources of cash, you will soon find that he who pays the piper…

Anyway, best of luck to Bella and I hope it goes serenely on and from strength to strength. I also hope that this episode has taught a little humility and a little less antagonism in their attitude to other independence campaigners and independence websites who do not share their precise viewpoint. No fellow campaigner for Independence anywhere in the broad range – including Stuart Campbell, James Kelly, Tommy Sheridan, Angus Robertson or even just me – should be attacked until we have defeated our real enemies.

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28 thoughts on “Bella Caledonia Continues

  • J Galt

    All very precious and storm in a teacupish!

    I mean how much effort does it really take to post up a half dozen or so articles a week on a blog?

    Does it really need an “Advisory Board” and a full time paid Editor?

  • Loony

    Maybe Bella Caledonia could do with hiring a fist rate writer capable of generating scoops that are global in scale and have the power to strike at the very heart of the establishment. Such people are not easy to find, but they have been found. May I make so bold as to recommend considering the services of one Chris Steele

    Given his background in British Intelligence (sic or sick if you prefer) maybe he is known to someone reading this blog.

  • RobG

    Many ‘alternate media’ sites who ask their reader’s to directly donate money are more likely than not CIA set-ups or are scam artists (no difference, really).

    In the early days of the internet it was expensive to put up your own web site, and if that web site had a lot of traffic (‘bandwidth’) it was prohibitively expensive.

    These days it’s dirt cheap. Technically, you can run even a big operation on just a hundred bucks a year.

    Of course, this doesn’t take into account ‘content’; ie, the amount of time/trouble that the web site author has to go to in order to put out valuable stuff that people will want to read.

    This does take an awful lot of time, but activists will do it regardless of this, and regardless of the money side of things.

    That’s why they’re activists.

  • Eric Carter

    Since when did a Scotsman develop the habit of actually seeing what is in their wallet?

    “Och! I can nae afford that!” is the usual response.

  • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

    C onsidering the revenue of upto 3000 dollars a day that some of the fake fake-news-sites in Veles, Macedonia claim to have been generating from click-bait ad revenue on Trump stories, perhaps B.C’s problems can be solved from stories about the maternal side of the family(already mud-be spattered from Clinton trolls) and the Trump golf coures .

  • Bert.

    Although the two quotes appear initially to contradict each other, there is no need that they do.

    There could well be an explanation. Given that, as you have indicated, it can cost less than £1,000 per year to run a website it is entire possible that a benefactor has been found. I know of very wealthy Scots who are very pro-independence. It might be that one such Scot has dipped in his pocket but, as is often the case, s/he is loath to be identified. I certainly know of wealthy Scots for whom £1,000/yr would not even pay for the toilet roll for the various lavatories in their various mansions. I know of one wealthy Scot who runs a sizeable ocean-going yacht and it would cost him more to start the engines (that’s just to start them) than the annual cost of running a website.

    It might be that a benefactor has simply sent along a pile of money anonymously.


    • craig Post author


      It costs me £700 to run this website. Bella has a completely different model – they pay the editor a full time salary and pay the contributors. Their last fundraiser raised £80,000. So I am afraid your thesis falls.

      • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

        With respect and for clarification, Bella don’t necessarily “pay the contributors”. I’ve had a couple of things on it. Money was neither mentioned nor sought.

      • Bert.

        I am not sure it can be said that your point completely demolishes my position though, if, as you indicate, their cost base is much greater, the benefactor might have to rather more benevolent than first thought.


  • Vestas

    Interesting. A few questions immediately spring to mind :

    1) What “new company”? The ONLY reason to setup a “new company” is to get rid of financial liabilities incurred by the “old” company” so who is getting the shaft from Bella this time?

    2) Assuming that 1) is incorrect then where has the “new” money suddenly appeared from? Obviously not croud-funded so who’s the mystery sugar daddy?

    3) Assuming there is no “new” money then where was all this exisiting “old” money going to when Small tried to close BC? Mike Small would presumably be the beneficiary?

    Something smells fishy about all of this…..

    • craig Post author

      I don’t think there is fraud involved. I think it is just histrionics designed to boost their cash contributions. But I don’t really know – more transparency is needed.

      • Vestas

        I wasn’t implying there was anything criminal going on, its just extremely strange that first there’s no money, then there is but not for the existing company. As to “transparency” – don’t hold your breath.

        I presume Small “owns” the current incarnation of BC, so he’d be quite entitled to clear out the accounts if it were closing. Probably not what people thought would happen to their money but these things happen with crowd-funding.

        Recently I’ve been finding myself more & more concerned about full-time paid “independinistas” (not my word, one of the people from BC used it) who as far as I can see have no interest in indy actually happening as its unlikely they’d have much of a role post-yes. Its also worrying that these people are almost all promoted by the MSM – The National being the poster child (sub-edited completely in South Wales AFAIK).

        I’m quite prepared to accept I may be totally wrong about this but when I see people like Haggerty regularly saying “no indyref before brexit” (ie over 2 years away) & McAlpine saying it’ll take 3 years after a yes vote to become independent I can’t help wondering. I mean how the hell can it take 3 years when there’s a functioning state in place already!

        Might be paranoia but I think not – I continue to be gobsmacked by the Britnat propaganda machine. For example I had no idea at all that Sony delayed the release of Oulander until after indyref1 at the request of Cameron until somone posted the link to the relevant email in the Sony database dump. That to most people (including me until this week) would be “tinfoil hat time” but its true.

        • Bhante

          Vestas January 12, 2017 at 11:16
          “I wasn’t implying there was anything criminal going on, its just extremely strange that first there’s no money, then there is but not for the existing company. As to “transparency” – don’t hold your breath.”

          It sounds to me like he was using this threat to close the website as a means to generate extra income, then after a flood of crowd funding gushed in he set up a new company so that he can stuff all the proceeds in his pockets. This Mike Small character sounds like a very dubious character.

          Craig, why don’t you just go ahead and set up a totally new website anyway – dedicated to independence – and then let the quality of the editorial policy speak for itself. There is no sense in relying on dubious websites run by possible trolls with questionable motives. If you make sure the quality of the discussion is good and it is not controlled by stooges intent on sabotaging independence it will be worth a thousand “BellaCaledonia”s!

  • Clydebuilt

    “We need all the resources arguing for independence that we currently have And more”

    Douglas Fraser (BBC in Scotland) thinks B. C. is one of the better Pro Zindy sites.

    Are we sure that B. C. is a pro Indy site?

  • Paul Taylor

    I don’t see that those two statements are contradictory. The first is about Bell’s finances, the ssecond about Mike Small’s and his ability to continue working as editor. Presumably the Advisory Board consider his editorship necessary to the continuation of the blog.

    • craig Post author

      Paul Taylor

      Actually, I don’t believe that you are genuine in contending that

      The Advisory Board of Bella Caledonia confirms we are going to have to make the decision to close, unless an urgent fundraising appeal can be met.

      and three days later

      Bella is not in debt, there is no prospect of bankruptcy, and there is no immediate appeal planned for cash.

      are not contradictory.

      The board are perfectly entitled to the view that Mike Small’s continued editorship is necessary. I wish him well and if the readership can fund his salary and the others who get paid, all well and good.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    Bella Caledonia crisis over, I find myself wondering whether Craig might feel inspired to realize his bail-out model in an entirely fresh venture…