Grouse Beater 142

I have signed the below Open Letter against the expulsion from the SNP of the long term blogger Gareth Wardell, known as Grouse Beater.


In writing this joint statement we, the undersigned – bloggers and other influencers in the campaign for Scottish independence, affirm our commitment to independence and to the unity of the independence movement in its entirety. It is not our aim to cause discord or to encourage members of the SNP to cancel their memberships. We hope only to raise our concerns and to ask that the Disciplinary Committee and the leadership of the SNP reconsider their decision, and we hope sincerely that the contents of this letter will be taken seriously and in the spirit in which they are intended. Yesterday the decision was made by the Disciplinary Committee of the Scottish National Party to rescind the party membership of Gareth Wardell, the well-known and much respected author of The Grouse Beater blog.

This decision was made as a result of an article he published addressing the issue of the GMB, a London-based trade union, acting in Scotland to deny people their democratic rights. Owing to the author’s reference in the blog to the Nazis’ attitude to trade unions in the 1930s and 40s and his quotation of the term “the Jew” – in the context of citing Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf – the leadership of the GMB union accused him of making an antisemitic attack on Ms Rhea Wolfson, who, unbeknownst to Mr Wardell at the time of writing, is herself Jewish.

We agree without reservation that antisemitism and all forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are always wrong. The campaign for Scottish independence is an open and inclusive social and political movement which welcomes the participation and activism of everyone who believes independence is the best option for the future of our country. However, after much discussion and careful consideration, we do not accept Mr Wardell’s contribution was indeed anti-Semitic or racist or discriminatory in the least. It is our firm belief that his words were deliberately and opportunistically taken out of context and weaponised against him and the entire movement in a concerted attack by the union, members of the Scottish Labour Party – to which the GMB is affiliated, and elements of the anti-independence tabloid press.

Frustratingly, this unjustified accusation was taken up by and supported by a number of high-profile people in the SNP – most notably Ms Fiona Robertson the SNP’s national women’s and equalities convener. In an article published on her own blog titled: Holding Ourselves to Our Own Standards, she made the claim that “most people… are not people who have enough background experience of anti-Semitism to make that judgement.” Yet she herself, without any qualifications in racism or antisemitism in particular, is – apparently. Misquoting and wholly misrepresenting Gareth Wardell, Ms Robertson went on in her piece to offer a somewhat problematic definition of antisemitism and from this establish her case that Mr Wardell was sending out a “dogwhistle” to anti-Semites and racists: The explanation is as follows:

if you are writing about a union leader who is Jewish, bringing up Hitler’s view on unions – that they were dangerous because Jewish people controlled them – and then specifically talking about the Jewish union leader implies a link. Otherwise there is no reason whatsoever to start quoting Hitler. It essentially says ‘Hitler believed that Jewish people controlling unions was bad, and this person is Jewish and is controlling a union in a way I don’t like.’ The link between those two dots is ‘so maybe he had a point’.

“Bringing up Hitler’s view on unions,” even when speaking to a Jewish person, is not in and of itself anti-Semitic. This is at best a tenuous grasp. Gareth Wardell at no point claimed unions were dangerous “because Jewish people controlled them.” This much is a serious misrepresentation of the point he was making. On this Mr Wardell was clear; that this was Hitler’s view, and that the Nazis used this pernicious belief in order to undermine and attack trade unions – which Mr Wardell describes as one of the “cornerstones of democracy.” Ms Robertson concludes this argument by suggesting that Mr Wardell’s conclusion is that “maybe [Hitler] had a point.”

This assessment, sadly, suggests only one of two things; either Ms Robertson has failed to understand the article she is critiquing, or malicious intent. The Grouse Beater article implies no such thing. It is reasonable to conclude, given the position of Fiona Robertson in the SNP, that her opinion has become the uncritically accepted opinion of the party’s leadership and has therefore informed the judgement of the Disciplinary Committee and its decision to expel Gareth Wardell from the party. We, the undersigned, hold that both this judgement and the decision to cancel Mr Wardell’s membership of the party are unwarranted and utterly unacceptable. This decision undermines freedom of expression within the party and the movement, and seriously damages the trust that we depend on, that the party will not dispose of us in order to satisfy a perceived need in the political leadership of the movement to appear above reproach.

Signed (28 November 2018):

Barrhead Boy
Craig Murray
David Hooks (PoliticsScot)
Gareth Wardell (Grouse Beater)
Jason Michael (Jeggit)
Mr Malky
Tommy Sheridan

I can see no room in the article to doubt that Gareth – with whom I have fairly regular disagreements – was quoting Hitler’s views on Jews and the Unions not in approval, but plainly as a bad thing and a terrible warning from history. I cannot say that his article was elegantly written or especially well expressed, and it is unclear why he decided to bring Hitler into the argument at all.

But it is only in the prevailing atmosphere of witch-hunt that a man with no history of racism or fascist thought, would be condemned over a single instance of muddle, which has to be construed in the worst possible manner to be ajudged anti-semitic. It is the eagerness of the SNP leadership to participate in this witch-hunt, against an ordinary member, which is to me a matter of the deepest concern.

This is particularly serious in the light of numerous mainstream media articles which repeat the quote from Hitler with the clear, and entirely unjustified, inference that Gareth was quoting Hitler with approval. The SNP should not seek mainstream media approval at the expense of supporting one of the worst of all slurs against one of its own grassroots members.

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142 thoughts on “Grouse Beater

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  • jeffm

    SNP have sold out a long time ago, they have no intention of seeking any rerun of an independence vote, they want to remain in power in their little fiefdom, they are all talking and no action, like the Irish Party was, till Sinn Fein was founded to take Ireland out of the United Kingdom using radical means

  • Scott Cameron

    I for one will not be renewing my subs. The treatment Michelle Thomson received, and now this, highlight that the party needs to grow a spine. What happened to the comms group that was to be set-up to counter the MSM SNP Bad narrative?

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      I have a great deal of sympathy for Michelle Thomson regards the police investigation.
      Her treatment by the Tory press was to be expected.
      Her treatment by the BBC was an illustration of the slide of the UK into an Orwellian dictatorship.
      The tardy investigation by Police Scotland was worrisome.
      Her treatment by the Party is symptomatic of the infiltration of the PPE / SPAD class presently under discussion.

      Please be aware, Michelle Thomson attended this years conference of Mojahedin -eKhalq. Since we are debating the pernicious influence of the thought Police in Party administration I should be wary of calling for Michelle’s expulsion (if indeed she remains a party member), but being an all expenses paid cheerleader for a murderous cult really does bring the party into disrepute.

  • Republicofscotland

    So the PM flew up to Glasgow yesterday and spent 3 hours in aclosed shop. What was the point of the visit in the first place?

    Ironically the factory she visited was established by Roland Muirhead, who helped found the National Party of Scotland, and then the SNP in 1934.

  • Independent Woman

    This is one more example of the SNP’s desperate attempts to prove their respectable and responsible credentials. I am an SNP member and all I can say I am clinging on to my membership in desperation. I am holding on because my prime objective is Scottish Independence and I think the SNP is the only vehicle to achieve that.

    Their past behaviour in throwing innocent people to the wolves is reprehensible and, I think, counterproductive. As one of your commentators said – Grow a spine.

  • Blair Paterson

    I agree with you Craig it has got to the stage where even to mention the name Jew is looked on as a crime no matter what murder and theft they commit imagine where the Jews would be today if we had applied that same attitude to the nazis???

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I am afraid that this ‘antisemitic’ canard is being used against anyone who discusses Hitler, the Nazis and much of the Zionist faction within the Jewish firmament.

    I do not consider Jews worse than any of the other ‘minorities’ who are constantly seeking out offence when jockeying for political power. Indeed, the UKs Government supports absolute Islamic dictatorships and monarchies to much the same degree as they support Israel.

    But the unhealthy rubbish within Western media preventing adult discussions about the rights and wrongs of history, modern politics etc etc, is more likely to annoy more people than having the debates and seeing epreason and tolerance win the day. And unfortunately for the Jewish people, it seems to be them who are the subject of discussion in the worthy and unworthy arguments more often than others.

  • Molloy


    SNP (as an institution) likely poisoned, terminally, by neo-con neo-lib sociopaths.

    For me, there are enough good people (inc. CM) on this site to create an authentic (not fake democratic) leadership/political organisation.
    Real proportional representation real ‘every voice heard real honest vote counting real ‘no WMD’ (obvs through independence).

    Why the silence, mon braves?


  • Sharp Ears

    Why are the government still employing G4S following the Limpics fiasco.

    They have confirmed that a Briton has been killed in Afghanistan in a suicide bombing.

    Briton among five G4S employees killed in Kabul suicide bombing

    ‘G4S provides training for Afghan security forces.

    Charlie Burbridge, managing director of G4S Risk Management Group, confirmed the deaths “with great sadness”.
    He said: “Next of kin have been informed and our thoughts at this difficult time are with the loved ones of those who have died and been injured, and our brave team in Afghanistan who have lost colleagues and friends. We are offering support and counselling to all of those affected.

    “We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the British Embassy, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British and Afghan armed forces, other NATO forces and other private security companies who have all assisted us as we ensure our operations in Kabul are secure and continue safely.

    “We are committed to our security role in support of the people of Afghanistan, and we are determined that incidents such as this will not prevent the vital work that the international community conducts from continuing.” ‘

    We should NOT have a presence in Afghanistan. We have done too much damage there already.

    ‘Charles Burbridge is the Managing Director of Risk Management and International Accounts. His current role followed a successful period as the International Accounts Director for EMEA where he was responsible for the development of large scale international security accounts in G4S. Previously he had managed large scale US Government contracts in post conflict Iraq.

    Prior to joining G4S, Charles was a Head of Strategy and Credit Review, specialising in distressed debt restructuring in the Global Restructuring Group of Royal Bank of Scotland.’ Shame on you Mr Burbridge.

    • Mighty Drunken

      Why is the government still employing Capita?
      Smart DCC Limited a subsidy of Capita was given the contract to install smart meters in all properties. The project is over budget at about £20 billion, instead of the planned £11 billion cost. The project is way behind schedule and there is no real benefit from the smart meters as they have been implemented.
      Also the first set of smart meters are pretty rubbish and some use the energy supplier’s own network, which means if you change supplier they lose most of their functionality. How could that happen in a properly implemented program?

      “Real” smart meters would allow devices in your home to know when they should consume energy and when power is constrained. This behaviour is needed if we are to substantially reduce our carbon emissions. Instead smart meters are just meters which don’t require a person to read.

      Is there a competent government imposed program at the moment?

      • Sharp Ears

        Well said. They go ‘dumb’ apparently. As dumb as the BEIS crowd in power especially the moto mouth in charge, Claire Perry, Energy and C L E A N Energy Minister.

        The other day in the HoC she was bigging them up –

        Claire Perry: Business case for smart meters ‘overwhelmingly positive’
        The minister says smart meters ‘will make our lives simpler and easier and our bills more affordable’

        After six years since their introduction, she has only just had one installed in her New Forest residence where she lives with her second husband and family, and her father Roy Perry who is the leader of the Try controlled Hampshire County Council.

        PS I did not know about the installation outsourcing. Nothing ever changes. C(r)apita rules. OK.
        I am going to refer to them as ‘dumb meters’ rom now on.

        • Blunderbuss

          “Business case for smart meters ‘overwhelmingly positive’ The minister says smart meters ‘will make our lives simpler and easier and our bills more affordable’”.

          Overwhelmingly positive for electricity companies but not for consumers. The main purpose of smart meters is to enable electricity companies to “manage demand” by charging higher prices at peak hours.

          • MaryPau!

            I thought they had recently halved the estimates of the potential savings to be achieved. My sister and sister in law both had one, and were very surprised to find they started to get (over) estimates instead of bills following their installation. This continued until they objected. I am holding out as it would not work in my cellar anyway (no phone signal) despite edf telling me I have to have one by law/my current meter is obsolete and needs to be replaced.

          • Clark

            Estimates and Direct Debit – what I guess is happening (though it should be easy enough to confirm or refute) – the “energy companies” aren’t primarily energy companies any more. They’re just billing companies, or at least the parts of them that deal with domestic customers have little or nothing to do with generation and distribution.

            Instead, I strongly suspect, they’re supplying liquidity to the financial system. “Estimates” mean they can effectively invent their bills (within limits), and direct debit means they can simply extract that money from their customers’ bank accounts. With millions of customers each, they can increase their estimates by a proportion they choose in any given month, and make that much proportion of their total take available to the financial system – and that’s real money backed by millions of people’s wages, not concocted money leveraged from fractional reserve or whatever.

            “Smart meters” are a software freedom issue. Without control of the software in their meter, the user has no control over their energy supply. They can be remotely disconnected, or remotely cut off for certain times of the day.

            A smart meter is also a powerful surveillance tool, capable of reporting the precise times at which individual appliances are used, or even which broadcast media you are listening to (by monitoring modulation of the power drawn). We should expect such data to be sold. Therefore smart meter installation should be accompanied by a Terms and Conditions contract; for heavens’ sake read it with the eye of a lawyer before agreeing!

  • james Cormack

    The SNP have to adopt an informed view on events in the Middle East over long period of time and steer away from these far left loudmouths who clearly don’t know the difference from Amman and a man, or a Sunni and a Shi-ite. It is a complex region and needs a full and detailed examination.

  • Jon

    It’s hard to believe GB didn’t know Wolfson is Jewish. Then who in their right mind brings up Hitler in Scottish politics. Yes Unionists often use the “H” word, but only when referring to the SNP leadership. Anyone on the pro Independence side knows full well the damaging referring to Hitler that can be inflicted by Scotlands media.

    I’ll not be spending my membership of the SNP!

  • Disinterested Bystander

    I don’t want to put the cat amongst the pigeons but I get the distinct impression that there are a number of commenters on here that are coming the fake moral outrage with their statements about resigning their memberships of the SNP. I mean how many people on here are really, honestly and truthfully members of that organisation and not the usual shills, shysters and wind-up merchants with their multiple user names that inhabit this blog?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    There was no logical justification for the author bringing up ‘Hitler and the Jews’, or the ‘anti-Semitism’ row in the Labour Party at all in this essay. Would he have brought it up if he’d been critiquing Arthur Scargill with whom he compares the subject, one wonders? And even though couched in terms critical of Hitler, that could be read as a coded threat from a person with nationalist views. It’s pretty well known in Scotland that the Wolfson family is Jewish. I don’t know whether this trade union leader is from the same family, but it’s a very well-known and prominent family.

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