The Scottish Silly Season 41

Until now I have stayed out of the silly season sniping between nationalists that has set in these last few weeks. I rather hoped it would abate after Robin McAlpine’s excellent oil on troubled waters effort, but it has re-erupted with a virtue signalling, holier than thou mess by Ross Greer in today’s Sunday Herald. I am afraid, Ross, that I am one of those irredeemably straight, white, old and male people. So you can discount what I say already.

To go back to the roots of the trouble, for the sake of openness, I should state that:

a) I think Cat Boyd was wrong to vote Labour rather than SNP. I would urge everyone in Scotland to support the SNP as the only practical route to Independence. However I do share the frustration of many with the SNP’s timidity on social reform and its continued, and frankly infuriating, failure actively to campaign about the benefits of Independence. Quite a lot of Independence supporters voted Labour, including some of my own family.

b) I think Stuart Campbell is wrong to sue Kezia Dugdale for defamation. I believe in free speech and if someone brands you with an unfair insult, the answer is to argue why they are wrong, not head for the courts.

However, having said I think they are both wrong, I should state that my very considerable regard for both Cat Boyd and Stuart Campbell is entirely undiminished. Why on earth should I expect people to act in the way I think they should act? And why should I assume that my judgement on these calls is superior to theirs, as opposed to just different? If everyone acted as I want them to, the world would be weird. Indeed, if I am so clever why am I typing up this at 3am? And why on Earth would the Yes movement want everyone to behave the same way all the time?

So in short, neither Cat not Stuart acted as I would have, but I accept they are acting as they believe best. In fact the criticism of both of them has been much more of a problem than their particular actions.

You don’t have to be perfect to work for Scottish Independence. But it would be a great help if we saved our bile for the unionists.

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41 thoughts on “The Scottish Silly Season

  • James Troup

    I have also fully supported Cat Boyd although I believe she was wrong for the right reasons. She feels a Corbyn Government at Westminster would be preferable to a Tory Government while Scotland is in the Union and I don’t think anyone can argue against that. With the Scottish Parliament having already voted for an article 30 resolution for a second Independence referendum, it may well have been done in the knowledge that it would not affect any future referendum.

    The Rev Stu Campbell has obviously been a target for Unionist supporters due to his fantastic work for Independence and I for one am happy to see him fight back against Kez Dugdale who is quite obviously showing such faux outrage for political gain and nothing more.

    As for Ross Greer, I sympathise with his and the Greens position at Holyrood , and their need to get away from the SNP shadow of co-supporters for Independence with their own distinctive arguments. Without the Greens , we would not be in a position of being able to run a second referendum as we would not have a majority at Holyrood, of pro Independence representation, that was able to push through article 30. Like Cat Boyd, I feel Ross Greer was wrong in what he said for the right reasons.

    There is a need to check ourselves in our online interactions and there is a need for SNP activists in particular to do so. Merely choosing a different path to Independence will attract the Ire of some of these activists that can go way to far. I understand it is born out of frustration and what appears to be a very timid SNP at this moment in time, but it is there all the same.

    For the future , I would dearly love to see the SNP drop their Mr Nice guy attitude to media reporters who deliberately distort their information, as Corbyn and his team did so well in the election – calling out the media for their bias as well as calling out the Tories on their policies. That was very refreshing to see and I would like to see the SNP adopt that attitude- they have far more to be proud of than the UK Labour Party. With their record so far in Government , during the many years of austerity and cuts to the Scottish Budget, they have all they need to be able to take on both the media and the Unionist parties at the same time.

    At least with Corbyns success, the SNP have been given permission to adopt a more radical approach to their policies, with the added bonus that they have already implemented many policies Corbyn’s Labour were campaigning on.

    • Robert Graham

      Labour will never support independence not now not ever , Miss Boyd really has to have a look at what Labour say and what Labour do , they are not the same , example being joining forces with the tories in local councils , thats Labour in scotland in a nutshell cant be trusted .

  • Dave

    The SNP has done its job, like UKIP, and helped deliver independence through Brexit and now, like UKIP, is suffering an identity crisis.

  • Phil Brammer

    I agree entirely. When we’re angry we lose perspective and need to take a deep breath, step back to see the big picture.

  • Vronsky

    “For the future , I would dearly love to see the SNP drop their Mr Nice guy attitude to media reporters who deliberately distort their information”

    Yes. Although Stu Campbell is suing Dugdale, it is something in the way of a class action. Slandering individuals within the movement for independence is standard fare for the media and the unionist establishments – they need a shot across their bows and hopefully Campbell’s action will just be the first of many such steps.

    I can sympathise with The Greens’ need to distinguish themselves for the SNP but there are more intelligent and constructive ways to this than those we have seen recently from Greer and Harvie. I voted Green 1, SNP 2 in the last local elections here and would hope to be able to vote Green exclusively after independence. That Green vote is now in jeopardy

  • BrianPowell

    Stuart Campbell explained clearly why he was taking action, Cat Boyd still hasn’t explained what she thought would come of her action or what it was for.

  • Steve Clarke

    Cat Boyd wasn’t criticised so much for voting Scottish Labour, rather her bizarre justification that by doing so she was actually aiding the cause for independence. The justification was so ridiculous that it generated quite a response, and then of course we had the pompous cavalry riding in to decry “abuse” which now it seems includes any disagreement no matter how polite. Unfortunately there does appear to be a self-indulgent set of individuals who appear to crave any excuse to show how morally fine and noble they are, to the point where issues quickly escalate that would otherwise simply dissipate on their own.

    Every vibrant movement is characterised by vigorous debate, its absence is indicates a serious problem for any movement of political party, as we’ve seen elsewhere. The section of the Yes that I mentioned really has to come to terms with the fact that others have a different opinion on strategy, and their constant sniping in the media really has to end. Debate, discuss, by all means, but to try and dance to a hostile media tune while promoting their own presence isn’t doing Yes any favours.

    As for Campbell I don’t think he had much choice. The ridiculous accusation of homophobia was being widely taken up and promoted, not only by Unionists but also those who view his site as failing the Media Sycophancy Test, and he clearly felt the only way to end the smearing was court action. It may prevent politicians in the future using their position and parliament to smear individuals in an effort to score petty political points, which after all is exactly what Dugdale was about.

    • Muscleguy

      The thing about Dugdale was the initial libel was in public, she then used parliamentary privilege to repeat it. His lawyer’s assessment was that the parliament bit added about £10,000 to the libel bill. If she had been sensible and just stuck to Parliamentary privilege there would and could have been no action, unless she repeated it in public. In that case there would have been no addition.

      So Dugdale has not only been stupid to libel a man well known to be successfully litigant on such issues she did it in a manifestly stupid and arrogant way.

      The Rev Stu’s fundraiser for the expected costs has been over funded by 3X, just in case.

      Those trying to sue Andy Wightman saw him successfully raise his first tranche of needed defence funds. He will thus be able to defend his case. Many of us stand ready to give him more should he need it.

      There are enough of us that it shouldn’t need too many tenners and twenties in such cases and the technology exists to make it easy and open.

      The die was cast by the Orkney Four, they lost but Carmichael’s reputation is shot, outside of the Northern Isles anyway. Why they voted for him, why the FibDems selected him is beyond me. Maybe a proven liar is a good fit for the FibDems. By their people shall we know them.

      • fred

        “The Rev Stu’s fundraiser for the expected costs has been over funded by 3X, just in case. ”

        Don’t you just have to admire someone prepared to put other people’s money where his mouth is?

  • PaulinEd

    The Yes movement is microcosm of society, why it’s expected to have uniformity of opinion on anything barr wanting indy is a mystery.

  • Robert Graham

    well said , divide and rule is it great asset to those who would try to dismantle the independent movement, most folk have recognised the ploy by now .Lets hope those with more access to the media heed this ,and adjust their comments to suit .

  • reel guid

    Ross Greer calls the people he is decrying the “nasty few”. Well Ross if they are few in number – and I think you’re right – then they’re not really worth making a song and dance about every time one of them says something stupid or unpleasant. Call it out by all means but don’t make it a running battle.

    Bear in mind also that there have always been unionist agent provocateur at work inside the Scottish indy movement. Causing civil war among independence believers is surely their primary aim and we shouldn’t play the unionist game.

    Let’s all get back to giving stick to the unionists over the Brexit fiasco.

    • Habbabkuk

      Claiming the existence of “agents provocateurs” has always been a handy explanation for why nationalists and far-lefties always descend into factional in-fighting sooner or later.

      Needless to say, in 9 cases out of 10 the presence of those “agents provocateurs” is entirely fictional.

  • fred

    “b) I think Stuart Campbell is wrong to sue Kezia Dugdale for defamation. I believe in free speech and if someone brands you with an unfair insult, the answer is to argue why they are wrong, not head for the courts. ”

    Assuming you believe that using someone’s sexuality to insult a member of their family is a good thing.

    • Republicofscotland

      On the contrary, it’s not the Rev’s fault that Dugdale is too thick, to be unable to recognise, a witty acerbic jibe, from a outright homophobic slur.

      Apparently you can’t tell the diffence either.

  • MBC

    I seem to recollect Cat Boyd was questioned on her stance on the EU on Question Time, I believe, and it turned out that though pro-Remain, she hadn’t even bothered voting in the referendum.

    Kudos to her for her honesty. But she’s a bit of a flake, is she not?


    Actually, let’s keep bile out of it all together. Let’s do everything humanly possible to keep difference(s) of opinion civil. It is possible to be passionate without being insulting; it’s possible to present a complex viewpoint (as you do, Craig, and as does Derek Bateman, as two supreme examples) without scraping the bottom of the sewer for insults. We will win many more hearts and minds of those undecided, or open to persuasion, if we do not trade insults with those who oppose independence.


    would it be possible to take uk goverment to uk supreme court for misapprobation of the oil gained from scotlans water,also is there some way they can be made to show reciepts an such , TOTAL RAISED, AN TOTAL RETURNED TO SCOTLAND

  • Proctor Lewis

    Agreed with the former but not the latter, what she alleges using a cowardly vehicle to do so was a criminal offence, an abhorrence that Stuart is well within his rights to demand satisfaction for.

  • Jo

    “… our bile for the unionists.”

    And there’s another problem right there, Craig. The presence of so much bile, from both sides, in the debate is switching many people off altogether. Opinion has become so polarised that meaningful debate is impossible to find. Debate consists of hurling insults and, yes, bile and little else.

    There are also SNP supporters who are becoming increasingly concerned that the Party’s performance in government needs to be the priority because in some areas it is on the slide. Those areas have to be dealt with and looked at urgently. NS is already being pressed on them every week. Improvements are needed. If the focus is seen to be on independence then even more votes will be lost. Surely enough have been lost already without risking more? Bile-throwing helps no one.

  • William Purves

    I do not wish to be subsidized by the English people. I think we should rescind the Treaty of the Union of the two Parliaments so we could stand on our own feet. Thus leaving more money for the English to spend on themselves.

  • Ian Foulds

    Craig, I haven’t read the other comments but for once I almost agree with everything you say – the other occasions need not be addressed.

    Did somebody not once say that they did not necessarily agree with what a person might say but would defend them to the death that they be allowed to say it?
    – extremely paraphrased!

  • Elaine S

    Stuart asked the Yes supporters whether he should go ahead and sue Dugdale, we agreed in a massive %. He also mentioned he would have to set up a crowdfund and we agreed we’d support him all the way. He did not just presume we’d support him and if we hadn’t then he would most likely have let it go but Stuart is important to not only the Yes movement but to honest journalism. What you miss out Craig is the abuse, the threats that Stuart has to endure, we’re not talking about 20 or 30 a day but hundreds and hundreds attacking everything about him. When he is wrongly and publicly accused of being homophobic in the Scottish Parliament where our First Minister is dragged into by Dugdale with the intent of defaming Stuart to get at Nicola when Dugdale’s own Politicians AND supporters aren’t exactly playing at nice. Stuart’s main problem is a caustic tongue but even a saint would be driven to it now and again when he is targeted 24/7 from all areas across the UK. when Dugdale publicly and wrongly called him Homophobic that set him up to be abuse 100 fold and threatened, Stuart over the last 5 years has even had a real evil b*stard as a stalker than went on for many, many months.

    For you to say he should just explain he isn’t a Homophobe doesn’t wash with the many unionist nutters that target him and this leans to Dugdale thinking she can defame many others publicly in same way. These are folk in the links below who defended Stuart the last time they dredged up that he was Transphobic when he wasn’t, when Thousand Flowers wrote a horrendous blog on him calling him out, again he went through hell and if I recall, as I remember at the time seeing what Stuart had written in conversation re Chelsea Manning dressing as a woman, he said something in lines of he couldn’t understand why a man would dress as a woman. ….if that brings the house down with accusations of being transphobic then freedom of speech of a straight person is being diminished bit by bit where the LGBT Police are watching our every word. It would be sad if we have come to a place where like Zionists are trying to silence those who criticise Israel’s brutality against Palestine that even our UKGov are changing laws on what is “antisemitic” when all it is is criticism for Israel, not Jews. What Stuart said with regards to Mundell and son, yes it was below the belt but in all honesty, the majority of the population of world has blurted out something when aimed at a person more about his betrayal of Scotland and how little he does for Scotland and made a reference of his coming out before he had his son…….not homophobic but maybe could have worded it different to say, both Mundells are pretty useless to Scotland and are Tories. We’ve sat back and been bombed daily by vile and hateful unionists from all over UK yet Stuart and one caustic comment is seen as far worse that the many names Stuart has been subject to, the threats, the stalking.

    I don’t think so! Time to put these politicians in their place, this is not what Dugdale is paid to do…….her job is to work for Scotland, not for the Tories. Even when media mislead or baltantly lie, everyone should write a complaint to IPSO, I had a lie written in the Sun corrected within 2 weeks of writing my complaint, maybe if this vile and unethical British media were chased up often by IPSO, it would maybe teach them to write more factual news. Letting everything wash over us and telling us to take it all on the chin day in day out, month in month out, year in year out where all it does it give the unionist media and Politicians the arrogance that they can do anything they want to us and we just roll over and take it. Not any more, they are supposed to adhere to SPJ Code of Ethics in Journalism but the majority stopped doing that a long time ago. We need to remind them how many times they break these rules.

    • fred

      Campbell is not a journalist, he is a blogger, there are millions of crackpot bloggers preaching to various groups of people with fanciful beliefs all over the web, they don’t count as journalists.

      I am reminded of the school yard bully who goes around hitting other children but when one kid stands up and hits him back he goes crying his eyes out to teacher.

      But then Nationalism and bullying always did go hand in hand.

      • morag branson

        Fred, Stu Campbell is a journalist and a damn good one at that.

        Mean and misleading comments do not suit anyone.

  • Bob Smith

    Why should unionists receive your bile? By your own argument, the best way is to argue that they are wrong. Getting rude and aggressive just loses the argument before it’s started and the unionists gain a lot of strength from stroppy proponents of independence who argue from a position of emotion and too many viewings of Braveheart.

  • Tracey Wilson

    I think Cat has the right to vote who she wants. Don’t understand why she voted Labour but it’s her vote to use as she wishes.
    Stuart I thought was wrong to sue Kezia. But over the course of the last few weeks I changed my mind. Unless you have internet access you won’t be able to read what Stuart says. Unlike Kezia with her newspaper column, which is read by more older people who believe unionist smears. Stuart has used the only route legally open to him. Since new paper stories only print a small comment from him (if at all) but a full page of the story, slagging him off. I hope he wins. Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to smear people and be untouchable.

  • Ann Jamieson

    Thanks for doing this at 3am. I hope the writing gave you peace. Robin McAlpine, Paul Kavanagh and now yourself have reduced anxiety for some of us in our rabble-like movement.
    I expect tribalism and simplistic ardverserial rhetoric in Westminster and the English legal system …not so much in Scotland. We are, it seems by nature, more inclined to discursiveness. So many factors play into this mess not least the relentless and spiteful propaganda of mainstream media.
    Like many I will do what I can to push for independence but I fear for us. I am an Adrienne Rich kinda gal…..if we want equality we have to change….everything. I know that if we are to build a more equal way of life here in Scotland it will be a long and most likely tortuous process (struggle). The ‘rise’ of Corbyn and the dark forces within the ‘Labour’ movement turn my stomach, understanding them as I do as profoundly paternalistic (at best) and undemocratic. Ugh!
    So many factions out to stop us. Time perhaps to circle the wagons, to take time to think our way through. But who will lead us? Nicola Sturgeon did well I think in her call to arms speech after the GE offering a new partnership with the grassroots movement. I want this approach to succeed but we seem to be stuck in harbour squabbling like the provebial drunken sailors. Could Salmond return to lead a new coalition? Could Mhairi Black co-lead with Salmond? He has the guile she has the wit and focus. Dirty job but someone has to do it.

  • Velofello

    “Campbell is not a journalist, he’s a blogger”. Oh Fred, I’ve met persons “who weren’t qualified” as Chartered Engineers who displayed remarkable talent of the subject. Dugdale used parliamentary protection to attack Stuart Campbell, the presiding officer failed in his duty to stop Dugdale raising the issue, essentially a matter between Dugdale and Campbell

    “One born every minute”, how many ones are there in hundreds Fred?

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